I know. The title. Pretty grabby isn’t it? I don’t know if it rubs you the wrong way, or gave you immediate anxiety or you simply found it intriguing and clicked on the link, but I have a confession to make. I won’t be giving you any real “answers” to that question today. Bear with me as there is a point to the title.
As my boys sat enjoying their lunch a few days ago, I decided to do what 99.9% of stay at home moms do when they have 6.25 minutes of “down time.” (Haha! A twin mom with “down time”…sounds hilarious as I type it!) I went online and began browsing random articles on Facebook and parenting sites. One article in particular grabbed my attention. I won’t give the exact title or share the authors name because that’s borderline bullying considering I’m going to be stating just how much I disliked it. For starters the title was along the lines of “This is how you can tell if your baby has a mental disorder.” Really? Baby? MENTAL disorder? I sighed and clicked because you can’t judge an article by it’s title right? I guess? Turns out, I was right to be upset and here’s why.
For starters, the term “mental disorder” was used 15 times in the first two paragraphs alone. I counted. TWICE, just to be sure. I began to wonder if perhaps she would end the article with “For more information on the super- drug that will cure your tiny still developing baby’s MENTAL DISORDER contact 555-5555. This article was sponsored by Superdrug Incorporated TM.” As I continued to (reluctantly) read the article, I became more and more appalled. Now, I am no expert in anything other than banana split making (I have an ice-cream addiction), but I believe that 15+ years of parenting experience in raising 4 prematurely born children has given me the ability to call BS on certain kid rearing subjects. The article was all wrong or misinforming the reader. For example, the author stated that missing several milestones in the first few months of development would be cause for concern. Surely, she would mention how babies born prematurely don’t fall into this “danger” category considering nearly all milestones will be missed? That preemies can take months or even a years to “catch up?” No mention of that. She continued to describe how physical features can also be a sign that a child has a “mental disorder.” So, if your kid looks “different” than other kids that’s a red flag. I stared blankly. Hyper kids could need medical intervention. Sigh.
In the end, I understood that the author was simply saying that a combination of several “red flags” could be cause for concern if a parent already feels something may be wrong. But that wasn’t clearly stated. The information provided was entirely too vague and could send a less seasoned parent into a panic. I’ve seen that panic and concern in parenting forums. All in all, I felt the article was not researched responsibly and I (kindly) left a comment stating my concerns. (By the way, I welcome constructive comments on any of my articles.)
You are probably (or should be) reading this article on TwinMom.com. The vast majority of readers are parents of multiples. Many of us feel the fear and worry most parents feel at some point, but we usually experience it before our babies have even left the hospital. Complications such as IUGR (what one of my twins had – I’ll explain that in another article), twin-to-twin transfusion, prematurity and countless other issues that have a higher likelihood of occurring with multiples are all bookmarked subjects in our laptop or smart phone browsers. (Am I the only one who has to purge those 387 saved pages?) Those are scenarios we prepare for even before the due date. Do you know how nerve wrecking that is? Google becomes our best friend and click-bait titled articles promising to tell you the ONE THING you can do to keep your kid from EVER getting sick intrigues us. Once you finally read it, you end up feeling regret over using your precious 6.25 minutes on a pointless article. But the title worked right? Be careful with some of the parenting websites that are only looking to get hits. So much bad advice out there.
So back to the question at hand: Is there something wrong with your child? I have no idea. There are too many “red flags” to look for when it comes to our children’s health and some things can and SHOULD only be answered by medical experts. I can share my personal experiences with my own children, but that would require a one on one conversation or me writing an article about a specific subject. I can’t tell you not to look for answers on the internet, but I can tell you to tread carefully. Do careful research and stick to reputable websites (and for the love of God stay away from WebMD! I was convinced my oldest twin would be needing cranial surgery after a couple of hours on there – no joke. He was perfectly fine.) If something concerns you enough, do “light” research, which for me that’s anything less than 18 hours straight of googling, and make a doctors appointment. When it comes to my children I always err on the side of caution. I would have saved myself a lot of anxiety and worry had I simply made appointments when my concerns first came about.
On a positive note, it seems that more and more people are beginning to notice how much incorrect or inaccurate information has been circulating on the internet. (You can thank the most “exciting” election in the history of the United States for that one.) Both Google and Facebook have recently vowed to crack down on fake news sites or sites that provide misleading information. It’s a start! But in the meantime, be careful and take my 15 year old daughters advice: “No…Stop it. Do NOT self-diagnose again Mother.” Good advice Chris. Good advice indeed.