Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids
Publication date: Dec 4, 2012
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What if there’s a 0.95 percent chance that a kid who bikes to school will get in a wreck, but a 95 percent chance that a kid who’s not allowed to bike to school will grow up more tentative, complacent, lazy, and/or unhappy, because riding your bike to school is awesome?
Ever wonder if all of those “mom-isms” that you heard when you were little are actually, scientifically true? This Mythbusters-meets-Snopes.com parenting book runs down a list of frequently-heard old wives’ tales, grandma’s advice, and common parenting quips that may or may not be based in fact. Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings attempts to prove or debunk these using the latest research and science, yielding some results that may surprise you. (You don’t really have to wait a half hour after eating to swim… Only about 10% of your body heat will escape out your head if your entire body is equally uncovered… And unbandaging a wound to let it “breathe” will actually make it take longer to regrow cells!)
Frankly, this is my kind of parenting book. I love how the author used up-to-date research to point out which of these parenting warnings actually have scientific backing. It answered some questions that I’ve had (such as the legitimacy of the “five second rule”), and debunked some things that I had always taken for common-knowledge facts (carrots do NOT improve your eyesight). Jennings also inserts his own sense of humor — slightly sarcastic, somewhat self-depreciating, and occasionally irreverent — which kept this book lighthearted and easy to read, instead of reading like the FAQ section in the back of a textbook.
Jennings does, however, come at his book with a bias, that of an anti-helicopter parent, advocating the “Free Range Kids” promoted by Lenore Skenazy’s book of the same name. I haven’t read the book (yet), so I can’t comment too much on the movement itself, but the philosophy obviously permeated Jenning’s advice and commentary in this book. Although in the preface, he mentions he wants to avoid topics that can’t be scientifically proven or disproven, or which have other moral implications (“minefields like homeschooling, circumcision, co-sleeping, TV banning,” he names a few). But there are a few of the topics he chooses which do stray into these categories — such as when he advocates chicken pox vaccinations and opposes “pox parties” where parents purposely try to expose their children to chicken pox to build up a natural immunity; and when he discourages the use of “unique” spellings of kids’ names. Some of his humor serves to poke fun at helicopter parents, so it’s perhaps not a book for the easily offended or those who take on a “better safe than sorry” approach.
Overall: An enjoyable, informative read that would be a great baby shower / new parent gift or to keep on the shelf for when you need cold, hard evidence to back up your belief that reading with a flashlight will NOT ruin your eyesight or that picking up a bird’s feather will NOT give you diseases.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book!