OCD Won’t Make You a Better Parent
If you’re wondering where our culture is headed, take a look at this column in The New York Times: “A Marriage Stressed by Obsessions and Compulsions.” Nicole Comforto, a novelist in Seattle, writes about the first time her husband seemed to freak out about a non-danger. He’d spotted a red spot on their four-month-old’s lip and immediately went to Google it.
The results had him so distressed that “he even had to put his head between his knees to keep from passing out,” writes Comforto. Naturally, with enough searching, he found evidence that the red spot could mean his son had a fatal disease. (He didn’t.)
Gradually, the husband’s worries started to metastasize. He grew afraid of their backyard blueberries (had chemicals leached into the soil?), leftovers (botulism!), and running a kid over (okay, I have that fear too).
One time, after he tossed a bit of scrap lumber into the wood stove, he succumbed to absolute grief, convinced that the wood “was probably treated with arsenic.”
Diagnostically, this is obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. But it is also modern parenting. The poor guy has it worse than most, but he is standing—shaking, hyperventilating—on a platform built for all parents, thanks to the entire child safety industrial complex.
Pick up any copy of Parents magazine and you will be inducted into this scared new world. One of its archetypal cover stories was the “Ten Hidden Health Hazards in Your Home.” Hazard number one? The laundry hamper.
Exhibiting exactly the same compulsion to leap from incredibly remote danger to immediate threat, the magazine said that hampers made from fabric stretched a
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