As universal and fundamental as parenting is, not everyone agrees on what the rules really are. Parenting styles vary widely, and many times, conventional wisdom gets challenged by new scientific developments.
If you are a new parent or considering becoming one, it’s important for you to decide on significant yet controversial parenting issues, especially these most recent ones. Take a look at both sides of these debates so you can carefully determine what would be best for your child.
The debate on child vaccination has become hotter in recent years. These days, it’s not just a question of when to vaccinate your child or against what diseases, but whether you should vaccinate your child at all.
Supporters: Vaccines save lives. Because of vaccination, children become immune to serious – and even deadly – illnesses such as measles, whooping cough, polio, influenza, and hepatitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Opponents: Injecting objectionable ingredients into a young child’s body may lead to adverse side effects such as seizures, paralysis, autism, and even death. Instead of vaccines, the natural immune system of children is the best way for them to deal with bodily infections.
While there still exists the longstanding debate over breast milk versus infant formula, the burning issue these days is whether breastfeeding in public should be tolerated. This debate has gained so much momentum that even lawmakers have started to discuss it.
Supporters: Nursing mothers have just as much right as anyone else to be outside their homes. They also have the right to choose how best to nourish their child. The reality that a baby may have to be breastfed in public should not hinder these rights.
Opponents: When in public, decency and protection should be highly considered. Breastfeeding may be natural, but in the presence of other people, especially strangers, it may create an atmosphere of discomfort. Moms should look at other feeding options more suitable in public.
Many adults today grew up with spanking as a form of discipline, but concerns have since surfaced about the emotional and psychological effects of corporal punishment on a developing child. Is it okay to spank your young one, or should you avoid physical discipline?
Supporters: Spanking is effective for children because it delivers a clear and immediate message that their behavior should stop. An appropriate level of physical contact is not abuse but a tangible lesson that a young mind will be able to grasp.
Opponents: Various studies link corporal punishment to mental illnesses such as depression as the child grows older. There are other discipline methods that do not involve hitting, such as timeouts, redirection, and positive praise.
While this is especially a hot topic among moms, it has increasingly become a question for dads, too: Is it fine to go back to work after having a baby, or should a parent keep their focus at home?
Supporters: Working moms and dads can always prioritize family first without sacrificing their own passions, income, and sense of accomplishment. The key is proper time management.
Opponents: Stay-at-home moms (a.k.a. SAHMs) and dads have the optimum opportunity to raise their children well, as their time and attention are focused on the children.
Co-sleeping is the practice of letting the child sleep in the same bed as the parents, typically in the child’s first year. Even though this practice has been extensively studied, science is still fuzzy about whether it benefits or harms the child.
Supporters: There are various practical advantages of letting the child share the bed. To name some, it makes nighttime nursing easier, helps babies fall asleep more quickly and have better quality of sleep, and greatly improves intimacy between parent and baby.
Opponents: The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against co-sleeping for safety reasons – it may, for instance, trap the baby in bed covers. Studies have also linked the practice to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
For some families, circumcising a baby boy is dictated by culture or religion. Others decide freely that circumcision is best for their sons. But many other parents are questioning whether this procedure is necessary or even remotely beneficial.
Supporters: Aside from religious, traditional, or social reasons, science backs the vote for circumcision. The medical community agrees that it helps prevent real health problems such as urinary tract infections and infection of the penis.
Opponents: Circumcision presents more risks than benefits. These risks include surgical complications, extreme pain that may cause breathing difficulty in infants, and effects on the baby’s temperament and emotional health (some have been observed to become irritable).
As a parent, you have practically complete control over what your kids eat. But if you follow a vegan diet for overall health, is it okay to put your kids on that diet, too? This question is highly controversial these days as more parents opt to raise vegan children and at the same time, more news stories surface that serve as cautionary tales against it.
Supporters: Experts say vegan diets can be suitable for all ages. It can in fact be key in preventing “toxicity symptoms” in children, such as headaches, bleeding gums, breathing difficulty, and concentration issues, all caused by fatty foods and the like.
Opponents: Children have vastly different dietary needs from adults. Putting kids on a completely vegan or raw diet may lead them to become undernourished, anemic, and underweight. Plus, it may also cause a sense of social limitation and isolation.
TV is no longer the sole attention-magnet for children. These days, toddlers, school-age kids, and teenagers are glued to smartphones, tablets, and computers. This prompts a plethora of parenting questions, first of which is: Should children have access to technology?
Supporters: With the appropriate content and parental controls, technology can be a massive contributor to a child’s development. Not only does it open up a world of learning, it also engages kids to actually learn, as it is more interactive than other mediums.
Opponents: Try as parents might to protect children from the many risks of online exposure (such as bullying, harassment, and child predators), even tech security experts would say that these dangers still constantly slip through the cracks.
Holding Back From Kindergarten
“Redshirting” is the decision to hold back a child for a year before starting kindergarten. Parents who opt this have various reasons for doing so, but others believe the eligible age is still the best age for a youngster to start learning formally.
Supporters: The main reason parents have for redshirting is to help their tots become more ready before starting school. A year can make them more physically and socially mature, and once they enter kindergarten, they can also be more academically inclined than their peers.
Opponents: Earlier access to educational resources is a head-start that can make a difference in how a child advances in school. In addition, starting kindergarten as an ‘older kid’ may create a sense of social isolation in a child.
Crying As Sleep Training
As a parent, it likely breaks your heart to hear your baby cry, but at the same time, it can definitely make you lose sleep at night. Many couples let their young children “cry it out” as part of a technique known as sleep training. Some say this method is beneficial for both children and parents, while others are concerned over the potential harmful effects on the child.
Supporters: Sleep training is an actual science-based program with various approaches to suit a baby’s needs. This program results in less stress for parents, better growth for the child, and ultimately, better sleep for everyone.
Opponents: There are also scientific studies that show how the “crying it out” method can lead to mental, emotional, and physical damage for babies. In addition, loving parents know by instinct that children need their soothing, as young ones are much less capable of handling distress on their own.
Perhaps what these debates really show is that various children need various parenting styles. You do not have to subscribe to any popular child-rearing approach if you believe that it does not suit your child. Instead, it is always best to do some research, closely observe what your child needs, and decide on a parenting approach that fits those needs.