Third step in being a more scientific parent: Don't buy into ideology

In this series, I will be reviewing the basic concepts in thinking that will help you become more scientific or evidence based in their parenting. 
Many people think that being an evidence based parent means being pro-vaccine or following accepted wisdom (which may not even be scientific) about parenting decisions. I disagree, I believe that being an evidence based parent refers to applying a scientific method of thinking to your parenting decisions, that includes looking at the evidence on parenting objectively. 
This does not mean you always have to do what the science says, but accepting what the science says and considering it alongside your own personal beliefs and circumstances is essential to being an evidence-based parent.

People as a rule want to put labels onto things.  You're an attachment parent. Or a tiger mum. Or a free range parent.
I wanted to do this too when I was working out my identity as a mother. I wanted to connect with a parenting movement that would just tell me what to do so that I could just follow that and be guaranteed my child was going to be okay. It would be lovely and comforting, wouldn't it? To just find the magical right parenting style and follow what it said all the time.
Unfortunately, parenting ideologies are primarily constructed out of marketing. Some have some basic correct psychological theories at their root but they almost always veer into misinformation as they try to extend their philosophy into areas in which they do not belong.
Lets use attachment parenting as an example. The foundation is solid: secure attachment is very important to human development and being responsive to your child's need is how this is formed. Yet many attachment parenting groups have gone from this solid base to calling time outs torture and refusing to set limits on their children's behaviour. There is no scientific basis for either of these and not setting limits may even be harmful. Many attachment parenting groups will also advocate elimination communication,  no vaccines, organic food  and 'natural medicines' none of which are  based on any correct science. From a reasonable basis it has quickly devolved into pseudo-science and misinformation.
Parenting books are also a lesser version of this. They are mostly written by people who are not experts in child development and they usually have no references or proof that their recommendation is correct. In the event that they do quote science they are often wrong and once they start talking about what other cultures do or referencing our hunter gather past you know that you are in trouble. Parenting is highly cultural and these parenting books for the most part are simply a reflection of the cultural values that you personally believe in. They may be echoing back to you what you want to hear but if you follow them too strictly it may very well be taking you down the wrong path.
The funny thing is for the most part, these parenting books and ideologies actually over think and make it all seem harder than it needs to be. They do this so they can sell you things; books and affiliated merchandise that will make you the parent they say you need to be. In fact most things in parenting don't matter all that much and make a difference only in small degrees if the basics of good parenting (warm, authoritative, non intrusive, good role model) are there.
Following an ideology in your parenting means being closed off to new ideas and if you want to be scientific you need to be the opposite. You need to do your research, of course, and make sure what you are being told is actually correct but if the science says you were wrong, you should be able to accept that and change your behaviour to what the new information now indicates is best.
Its hard, nobody is saying its not. Many scientists struggle with it and you will every once in a while see one still insisting that their theory is correct in spite of the ample data disproving it. But if you want to be scientific, you need to be open and willing to drop your ideas once they have been disproved otherwise you are merely feeding in to misinformation.


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