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Literacy hour - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
Literacy hour
This comment on a parenting web forum is an example of one of the reasons why I avoid parenting web forums:
"hi ya i had this with my lo she 9 months and she been theething like made i asked my h/v and she said stop all fresh juice only give her diluted juice but must be suger free, dont purt any her foumla milk in her foods only fresh milk and dont give her so much paracentmol coz that could cause it too
and i done so and its worked its better all round now which is nice."

It's not that I think being able to write is necessarily correlated with quality of parenting; it's just that I find it hard to wade through posts with lousy spelling and no punctuation. It slows down my reading and that frustrates me - especially when time is such a scarce resource.

I say "parenting", there, but I don't think I've ever seen a man make a post (or comment) on a baby/child forum; they're always pitched at "mums", and to read some of them you'd think "dads" were a different species entirely. That's another reason why I mostly avoid parenting web forums: I am sick and tired of the "lol men just wudnt understnad" attitude. My daughter has two parents. OK, there is currently one thing that only I can do for her (since addedentry steadfastly refuses to lactate) -- and at the moment I'm just spending more time with her than he is, because that's the way our jobs worked out -- but everything else is as much an issue for him as it is for me.

The other reason why I mostly avoid parenting web forums is the fact that they're nearly always anti-science, anti-evidence, anti-knowledge: they're an arena where perceived experience ("well it worked for me") trumps everything, and so-called experts are not to be trusted because they're always changing their minds (that is, they change their guidelines on best practice in response to new research... shocking behaviour!). I know that there are some areas of parenting where science can't give you the answers; I know that there are areas where there probably isn't enough research to be able to pronounce definitively. But there are also lots of areas -- particularly in medicine -- where there is considerable knowledge, and I'd rather talk to a health professional than ask a randomly chosen person on the internet what their opinion is. That's not to say that health professionals are infallible, or even that different health visitors, GPs etc will offer the same advice. But even if I accepted that experience trumped everything, I'd rather go to someone who has experience of dealing with thousands of children, not just one or two!

Anyway, time to stop ranting before Img wakes up. :-)

ETA: Since everybody seems to be namechecking mumsnet, I should in fairness point out that the example comment above is not from mumsnet!

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Current Location: United Kingdom, England,Oxfordshire,Oxford, Iffley

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Comments
nja From: nja Date: November 2nd, 2011 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wel thats just you're opinoon LOL.

Re your Flickr photos - I went to buy a calculator the other day, and was astonished and disappointed to see that the fx-85GT is available in grey, shocking pink and bright blue. Worse, the student union shop stocks the pink ones, presumably for grown women studying science at university who can't bring themselves to own anything that isn't pink. I had to make do with a grey one, because they didn't have the blue ones and I didn't want to catch girl germs off a pink calculator.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 2nd, 2011 01:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. EURGH GIRL GERMS!

If you get a chance to get a photo of the pink & blue calculators, please could I use it? I am starting blogging about this stuff but sort of not advertising it yet because I am not good at starting new blogs & actually keeping them going so I want to build up a few posts first.
braisedbywolves From: braisedbywolves Date: November 2nd, 2011 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
But even if I accepted that experience trumped everything, I'd rather go to someone who has experience of dealing with thousands of children, not just one or two!

I am totally devil's advocating here, but isn't this what they are doing by posting on mumsnet (or off-brand alternative)?
j4 From: j4 Date: November 2nd, 2011 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fecund as mumsnetters may be, I don't think any of them have as many children as your average health visitor has dealt with!

(Thousands of people who have 1-3 children, each shouting as loud as possible, are not the same as one person who's dealt with thousands of children.)
aldabra From: aldabra Date: November 2nd, 2011 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
When I asked the health visitor things she recited government information leaflets which I'd found on the internet already. I don't think they're allowed to tell you anything that arises from their experience rather than the government line, presumably because it would make them suable if your kid died.
(Deleted comment)
rmc28 From: rmc28 Date: November 2nd, 2011 01:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree entirely with your rant :-)
jinty From: jinty Date: November 2nd, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Clearly YMMV re fora, and IIRR you have previously indicated that I've had different experiences when using Mumsnet than you have - mine have mostly been pretty good and I think you haven't really fancied it much. I find that although MN does have its fair share of grammar- and spelling-free zones, it is mostly pretty well written (often very amusingly too). It has posts by male parents too, and gay ones too, cor blimey - so when I go there I expect to see a reasonable amount of diversity & commenting. It does depend a lot on which bits you look at though, and even the areas I expect to have some interest in are sometimes very maddening - I find that the Feminism section has got some very interesting postings & posts, but also some incredibly annoying ones that I'd rather avoid, and on balance it makes my life easier just to not bother with that section.

The thing I like about the "it worked for me" is not that I feel I have to trust their advice or viewpoint, but that it tends to give me a view of how much variety there is out there, within the fairly normal mainstream experience. If you read guidelines that say that a baby should start walking at one year (say) then it's more likely to make me worry that A hasn't yet walked much than if I hear from a bunch of parents saying that their baby started toddling at X, Y, and Z months, which adds up to a much wider range of dates.

I absolutely agree with you about the maddeningness of the "lol men just wudnt understnad" attitude.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 2nd, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think we've seen different bits of mumsnet. :-} Either that or you're more tolerant. (Or both!) Certainly never seen a post by a man, let alone a gay person! (BTW I'm afraid I wouldn't go near a thread about feminism on any web forum -- far too much of a magnet for trolls and idiots.)

I agree that there are some areas where a variety of experience is useful in itself (especially developmental milestones, as you say*). But there are other areas where I don't think it's helpful & it just reinforces the "oh well nobody really knows so you might as well just do what you like" attitude.

*Also developmental milestones don't seem to change that much, and there's not likely to be new research saying that children don't actually need to learn to walk after all, so people's experience 20 years ago is probably just as relevant as their experience 2 years ago -- whereas with feeding the guidelines have changed a lot e.g. my mum says she gave me rusks from about 3 months (and one of the health visitors she saw said that she should give me the "bloody juices" from a roast joint of meat because I obviously needed more substantial food!! -- she didn't take that advice...), but that's definitely deprecated now.

BTW re walking, I think I may have already mentioned that one of the midwives/HVs/etc told me at an antenatal class that most children should be doing a bit of walking & talking by age 2, there's no need to worry at all before then, & even then it's not so much time to worry as time to think about checking that there are no underlying problems getting in the way. So if you were worrying (rather than just using it as a hypothetical example) then IMHO there's really no need to! :)
jinty From: jinty Date: November 2nd, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

I may be more tolerant of Mumsnet than you simply because I hadn't previously had my tolerance worn down by lots of forum-exposure... But yes, there are posts by fathers (saw one today, about access as a separated parent: plenty of sensible-sounding things said on his part) and by lesbian & gay parents, including specific sections, though I'm only talking about seeing folks on the more general sections.

Bless you, I'm not worried about A walking, tho you are good to reassure me! She is doing quite well on that front. No, it was just an example, inspired as much as anything by the fact that my uncle didn't walk until he was well over two years old. Some of the other babies on the thread for Sept 2010 births could walk autonomously long before A could, but others couldn't, so it was just an example of something that I could see quite a spread of experience on.

jinty From: jinty Date: November 3rd, 2011 12:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I forgot to say earlier - perhaps even more depressingly, the things that put me off the MN feminist sections aren't trolls or idiots (you do see those, but they aren't the main feature of those sections). No, it was the (other) feminists - or at least the people who reckon feminism is something quite different from what I do. The sex-negative, Dworkinite, separatist, men-are-pretty-much-all-pr0n-using-gits ones. Or perhaps they count as idiots?
the_elyan From: the_elyan Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
My favourite quote about mumsnet came from the Guardian's excellent April Fool's Day Royal Wedding tickertape:

"We hear mumsnet.com have voted the Royal Family the second most important institution in the history of the United Kingdom, after mumsnet.com"
jvvw From: jvvw Date: November 2nd, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think there are areas where people's personal experiences are useful and areas where it isn't. It might be handy to get other people's ideas for easy-to-prepare meals for babies for example, but it obviously makes sense to go to the NHS if your baby is ill.

Our health visitors were no help with our crying/sleep problems and I certainly knew far more about breastfeeding than one of the GPs here that I saw, so I can see why people turn to avenues other than health professionals. I suspect a lot of people are also desperate by the time they ask on internet forums and have already tried other avenues.

I find Mumsnet annoying, but less because of the standard of spelling/punctuation (though I don't recall any examples as bad as the one you give) but more because I find most of the views there rather dogmatic and uninteresting. I wouldn't be surprised if it's good for specific subtopics though.

(by the way, if you haven't seen it, this website is worth a look: http://www.parentingscience.com/)
j4 From: j4 Date: November 2nd, 2011 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, there are areas where other people's experiences are useful -- they're the ones where I've tried to wade through the bad spelling and shouty nonsense... :-/ Mumsnet isn't as bad as the example I gave (have ETA that it wasn't from mumsnet!) but it's bad enough that it irritates me. Maybe I'm just an intolerant old grouch.

Health visitors have been very little use for anything so far, to be honest. Not surprised they were no help for crying/sleep -- two of our HVs have told me off for not just letting Img "cry it out" (one recently, & one when she was only 3 weeks old!).

Parenting Science - looks interesting, thank you! I had a look at Evidence-Based Parenting earlier, too (some interesting links via their twitter feed but it's not as good as I was hoping). I was vaguely hoping to meet rational parents locally via Oxford Uni's Babylab (or the Brookes equivalent -- I signed up for both) but I haven't made it to any of the coffee mornings yet & they haven't called us for any experiments yet. Maybe one day...

Edited at 2011-11-02 09:51 pm (UTC)
jinty From: jinty Date: November 2nd, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

One of the sorts of things I find other people's experiences useful is precisely about when to know your child is ill (or when you should worry about something else). Ok, if your child has a high temp or any if the meningitis danger signals then you don't piss around on a parenting forum, but it's not always as clear / extreme a case as that. Say your baby bangs her head: very common but scary if it's the first time. Knowing that babies do commonly bang their heads when they're starting out in standing up and getting round makes it less worrying.

And sometimes the information on this sort of site can be more expert than what you find on your medical sites: I know there are women who've been advised by one or two specific posters on MN to go to hospital & get themselves checked out for potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancies. Some of the symptoms are fairly abstruse and better known to people who've actually suffered one than to many general health practitioners.

(I'm still not going to piss around on parenting forums checking out whether to worry or not at the time, but doing a lot of general reading in quieter times means I have a sense of whether or not to worry if/when something does come up...)

monkeyhands From: monkeyhands Date: November 9th, 2011 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely to see you back on LJ! I've been off for a while myself but I'm currently procrastinating quite urgently because I'm running a training workshop tomorrow, so I had the pleasure of seeing this post.
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