Ruining Your Child for Life. Or Not.

Mom on windshieldYesterday afternoon, one sentence in the subject line of an e-mail completely deflated me:

“Carrying Your Child Could Cause Them Back Pain for Life.”


I thought about my son lying on the bed between my husband and me the night before, complaining that  his “back always hurts,” while we gave him a massage.  

Then I read the rest of the press release, which asserted, “Today’s parents and grandparents have lost the generational wisdom for carrying children the right way, and today’s children are the worse for it, because they carry these habits with them into adulthood.”

And for a moment, I blamed myself for ruining my child’s “spinal health” for the rest of his life, because I carried him all wrong while chasing his big brother, the toddler, through the supermarket a decade ago.

That’s right, the author of a book series called Stop Second-Guessing Yourself, second-guessed herself.

But really, how hard is that to do these days? We parents are bombarded with messages of how we’re parenting all wrong, if not completely ruining our kids in one way or another, with sensationalized warnings based on statistics that change over time.

For instance, Amy Henry of wrote for the Wall Street Journal just last week about studies that make warnings and then contradict those warnings:

“Teenagers whose parents overprotected or overcontrolled them as children have less gray matter due to the excessive release of the stress hormone cortisol in their prefrontal cortex, the brain area associated with mental illness… But the same study found that brain growth can also be stunted if parents neglect their children.”


But wait, there’s more:

Children with working mothers lead unhealthier lives.

Germophobic parents are hurting kids because dirt is good for them.

Some women are born bad mothers.

If you pay too much attention to every study, you could drive yourself crazy, which is why I suggested we all stop second-guessing ourselves in the first place. In our efforts to raise our children the best we can, we have eroded our self confidence in parenting.

Last night, as I massaged my son’s back again, I realized that his brother has no such back problem. His brother also doesn’t spend hours kicking soccer balls in the backyard or at weekly team practices. So maybe it has nothing to do at all with how I carried him when he was little. No, it absolutely has nothing to do with how I carried him.


I deleted the “Carrying Your Child Could Cause Them Back Pain for Life” e-mail and stopped second-guessing myself. For today, anyhow.

Share, share, that’s fair: What makes you second-guess yourself, moms?

No responses to “Ruining Your Child for Life. Or Not.”

  1. Amy

    Jen, you are my hero! I NEVER and I mean never read these studies anymore. Sometimes it makes me feel guilty as I delete some warning that another concerned mom friend has sent me out of love and concern before reading it. But seriously, I am neurotic enough without having these often baseless and contradictory studies thrown at me 24/7. I feel for all the mothers out there lying awake at night worrying about the damage that they may have done to their child based on the latest finding. And I used to be right there worrying and frantically searching for more information and even looking up and trying to read and decipher the scientific data that went with the study (as if I’m qualified to do that). Quite honestly, I gave up “studying the studies” through some work I did with a women’s personal renewal group I joined over a year ago based on Renee Trudeau’s book The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal ( There was a chapter in the book on managing your energy and when we went through that chapter I realized just how much of my energy I was spending worrying about these stupid studies. I had to just dump it and because I need boundaries I promised myself that I would never read another one! I’ve been study-free for seven months and counting and am loving my less neurotic self.

  2. marie

    I breast-fed my youngest son until he was 15mon old. At the time I really didn’t worry about it because it worked for our family and he finally weened successfully. Then, when he as about 3 he said, “mommy, I liked your milk better than the one I drink now.” I nearly fell on the floor, thinking “omg! I scarred my child for life! I’m sure this will cause all kinds of things as he gets older!” I quickly asked him, “what was different about it?” thinking, maybe he really didn’t remember! He explained that mine was warm and sweet. Now I knew he remembered, and that I have now, officially, messed up my kid! Well, after spending way too much time worrying about it, I can report now, at 13, he is a fabulous, middle school teenager that has no memory at all about his early years and frankly, forgets to even put on his shoes as he walks out the door! So to all those new moms out there, don’t fret! Just try your best! Of course you are going to doubt yourself and blame yourself, thats just because we love our kids sooooo much! One day those sweet babies that you are taking care of today will grow up and reflect some of your possible mistakes, but also reflect all of the wonderful attributes you have helped them discover about themselves as well! The imperfections are the learning lessons of life that makes things appreciated in the long run!

  3. Janine

    hey, I’ve raised four kids to adulthood (ages 34-23)..they survived, I survived in fact ALL of us are currently sucessful and thriving individuals (yup, even me-second childhood haha) so I guess WE didn’t do such a bad job in raising all of US…..
    ..and the only one with back pain is me…go figure. Take verything you read with a HUGE grain of salt. ‘Experts’ come and go..the proof is in the puddin’, they say.

    My puddin’ turned out mighty fine…if your has, you did/are doing great!

  4. Soraya

    Kids do not come into this world with a manual…so, I guess we are all only doing our best!!!

  5. Lana

    You are right. We cannot let all this overwhelm us.

  6. Renee Schafer Horton

    This is so needed. My children are 21 through 27 and, because none of them are yet married, I feel like they are still my problem, worrywise (why I think I will stop worrying about them once someone else is taking care of them, I don’t know) and worry I do. Most of the time I’m fine, but i’ll read a study and think, OH MY GOD! I DID IT WRONG! NO WONDER THEY (fill in the blank). Why men never think about what they did, how they did it, as parents, I don’t know. But I do know that we moms tend to second-guess ourselves. I blame the scientists doing all the studies :-)

  7. Second Guessing Yourself | Whole Mama

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  8. Tamlyn

    Thank you. Seriously. :)

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