“Half of what we will teach you is wrong; the problem is we do not know which half.”
that eating carrots will NOT improve his vision!
That is exactly what the Dean of my medical school told our incoming class 33 years ago. His statement struck me as odd at the time, and yet I realize there was much truth in what he said. With each passing day and each new major advance in healthcare, I appreciate that medical science is a journey of discovery – and yes, we often discover that what we “knew” to be true is plain wrong.
For example, physicians were certain that ulcers were caused by stress. Doctors and parents “knew” that eating chocolate would make a teenager’s acne worse. And, as pediatricians, we confidently instructed parents that young babies were safest if put them to sleep on their stomach so that they would not aspirate. Of course, each of these obvious, scientifically grounded “facts” has been shown to be false.
Fast forward to the present. I am a pediatrician – married to another pediatrician and father to three teenage children. One would think that, with all of this medical savvy, my wife and I would be immune to parenting errors and medical misinformation when it came to raising our own kids. I wish that were the case!
As all parents learn – usually quite quickly- there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Even pediatrician-parents. Despite our twenty years of combined medical education beyond college, my wife and I sometimes found ourselves subscribing to old wives’ tales or parenting pearls that, in reality, were parenting myths.
I realized that if two pediatricians found themselves believing in pediatric myths, then more needs to be done to educate parents (and pediatricians) about these myths. My first step was to gather as many of these myths as possible. After I assembled several hundred parenting misconceptions or myths, I wrote a book for parents of young children that dispels and debunks more than 150 of these myths.
You can learn more about this book, BabyFacts — The Truth about Your Child from Newborn through Preschool, at the book’s website. My goal now, through this WebMD blog, is to share information with you about many of the health myths that parents absolutely need to know about. And, whereas my book focuses just on myths that pertain to young children, this blog will have a broader scope since I will also identify and dispel misconceptions that affect school-age children and teens as well.
Every few days, I will be writing about one or more new popular misconceptions about children’s health, development and safety. This blog will not focus on old wives’ tales that are silly- amusing as they may be. Everyone already knows that if you swallow a watermelon pit a watermelon will not really grow in your stomach. To the contrary, this blog will focus on the parenting myths that too many parents (and some pediatricians) believe to be true.
I hope you will follow along as I challenge many of the parenting “truths” you and many other parents cling to. I know you will be a smarter, and thus a better parent for it!