Free-Range Kids

OCD Won't Make You a Better Parent

"Like an addictive drug, the reassurances had less effect each time."


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 around a wire may seem safe, but what happens if the wire suddenly springs free and your kid is right there and it slices his eye? Blindness, that's what happens.

The entire parenting world thrives on implanting and augmenting OCD. That's why there are classes teaching kids to crawl in gyms advertised as a safe place for kids to learn to wiggle, look around, and listen.

As if your home is Area 51. As if whatever your child was born with (knees, skulls, curiosity) isn't safe enough, and no environment is safe enough either, if it isn't a "professionally developed indoor climbing and play structure."

In her column, Comforto says she and her husband finally found a specialist who explained that this compulsion was to research and seek reassurance. "Like an addictive drug, the reassurances had less effect each time, so he required more and more to get over his fear," writes Comforto.

But when you live in a society that doesn't even require research to discover danger, it's almost impossible to stay sane. In August, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled children's socks with a pompom on the ankle because the pompom can fall off and pose—what else?—a choking hazard.

By the time a pompom is classified as a deadly threat, you are living in an OCD culture.

The prescription for dad was to expose himself to the things he found most scary—like wearing dirty shoes into the house—and discover that this didn't result in death. Don't succumb to the brain-eating, joy-draining belief that we can make our kids completely safe if only we control for every variable, supervise every interaction, and throw out the laundry hamper.

NEXT: Vaccine-Related Heart Inflammation Risks for Young People Much Lower Than COVID-19 Heart Inflammation Risks

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83 responses to “OCD Won't Make You a Better Parent

  1. Fuck Joe Biden

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      2. Not at all. It is our new obsession.

      3. No it isnt. This is exactly the type of society biden and democrats want.

      4. He’s a bird, singing to his potential conservative mates. Give him a break. Saying “Fuck Joe Biden” on these comments is his only chance of getting laid.

        1. Kind of harsh coming from an incel. But hurry. Someone said something mean about Biden! Lol.

      5. Joe Biden and endangering children do go together.

    1. Don’t worry, I got your back. Fuck Sleepy, Creepy, Crazy, Cranky, Tankie, Corn-Pop, Lunch-Bucket, Basement-Bunker, Shotgun, Pudding-Cup Joe!

    2. Maybe not for the same reasons but I agree, fuck Joe Biden. By the way, I’m not your conservative friend nor am I looking to bang you.

  2. > Hazard number one? The laundry hamper.

    As a kid I used to play hide and seek in the laundry hamper. Jeepers Cripes I’m lucky to be alive!

    I had it easy though. My mom grew up in the mountains and used to roller skate down the hairpin curve down the mountain. Today her knees are a solid mass of scar tissue due to all the inevitable skinning. I’m lucky she lived long enough to have me!

    I don’t know what the hell is wrong with these parents. But I suspect that’s whatever is behind them is also behind this lockdown extremism. A zero risk mentality is highly dysfunctional, but it seems it’s what runs our world now. Heck, this might be the number one divide between red and blue states. Rural and less than suburban peeps don’t see the worlds as a deadly place, while urbanites/suburbanites see danger everywhere. And the media is all to willing to validate their irrational fears.

    Heck, as a kid I once caught a rattlesnake and put it in a jar and took him home to the immense freakout of my parents. Jeepers cripes it’s amazing I’m still alive. No bicycle helmets either. Although my mom did eventually become a health nut and made me eat yogurt and wheat germ and shit.

    1. What about the paint chips you ate?

    2. Another thing I notice different between rural and urban parents is getting their kids a driver’s license. Most rural states have a lower driving age than more urban states. But I’ve rarely met a rural parent who was overly apprehensive when their kids got their drivers licenses, especially if they were in sports or other after school activities. I’ve met several urban and suburban parents who were “I am not sure if they are ready to drive, think of all the bad things that could happen”. Rural parents are more like “here are the keys, don’t do something stupid, thank God I don’t have to pick you up after football practice anymore or go to the school in the middle of the night to pick you up after a game.”

      1. To be fair, driving around the city and driving around the country aren’t the same thing.

        1. Yeah because there aren’t speeding seed trucks and logging trucks to often on narrow dirt roads in the city.

          1. No, there aren’t. But there are many more idiots.

            1. I don’t know about that. Okay more idiots but have you ever seen a grain truck driver who’s been working 16 hour days for weeks on end trying to get one more load in before the grain silo closes for the day? Or a gypo log truck driver trying to get in one more load for the day?

              1. I’ve seen them. I lived in a place that literally shook when those trucks went by.

                All I’m saying is that there are more cars in the city. More kids jumping lights. More pedestrians. More people on bicycles acting like the law doesn’t apply to them.

                But you must say I’m wrong because you must.

                Talk about OCD.

                1. Did I say your wrong? I just pointed out both are dangerous just in different ways. Talk about defensive.

                2. “I don’t know about that. Okay more idiots” in fact I even admitted to your assertion that there are more idiots.

                3. Talk about OCD getting defensive and striking out even when someone agrees with you.

          2. There is a reason autonomous vehicles have no problems on rural roads, but run into all sorts of unpredictable situations in the city. City driving is much more complicated than country driving.

            1. Gotta love the city kids who can’t conceptualize a road without asphalt or painted lines.

            2. Then why do the cityfolk drive so damned slow when they drive on our rural highways where I am? Why do they slow down by 10 MPH or more when going around a 2 degree curve? It’s not the pickup trucks doing this, it’s the damned Subaru wagons and various CSUVs that the city and suburban peeps love so much.

        2. The dangers to kids on country roads are far higher than the dangers to kids on urban roads- if only because the kid in the city is likely doing 35 mph while the kids in the country are doing 95.

          1. I would like to see your data on that. The sheer number of drivers in a city dwarfs the number of drivers on an empty country road where speed traps exist behind every moderately sized billboard.

      2. Currently, I’m a bit of a freak for taking a tween kid to an abandoned parking lot and letting him get behind the wheel.

        It’s funny to get “He’s too young!” lectures from deep thinkers who, in a few years, will be telling me that age is just a number.

        1. Old enough for a taxpayer funded sex change operation, old enough to drive. Just saying.

      3. My dad made me learn how to drive shift in the mountains.

        1. At my request, we went to a large parking lot covered with ice, and worked to get into and out of all sorts of trouble. My father being an engineer and Star or Life Scout (can’t recall which), thought it was an excellent idea. We had fun!

          It paid off when I lived in Maine and remembered the easy rules of driving on packed snow: slow down, stay in a lower gear if you’re in a standard, and most importantly – keep your foot off of the brakes! (I hate ABS!).

    3. Well, the world is a dangerous place, however, rational parents will counsel childdren what Jefferson counseled to his Nephew: “the homage of Reason, rather than blindfolded fear.”

      The laundry hamper? Not bad, especially if it’s ventillated. Inside the washer/dryer or the refrigerator? Not good at all! Real life is not The Little Rascals.

      Skating at a rink or on a driveway? That’s sufferable. Skating or skootering downhill on a public thoroughfare meant for automobiles like you’re Tony Hawk or Pee Wee Herman? Not wise.

      When you do it thoughtfully and willingly for self-preservation, it’s not being a Safety Nazi, it’s being a Safety Partizan! As Paul Harvey always observed, “Self-government requires self-restraint.”

      1. Yeah, one of two scares drummed into me as a kid was abandoned refrigerators and “stranger danger”.

        1. Abandoned refrigerators can indeed seal up and suffocate children. TV Stations in the Appalachians like WLOS in Asheville NC used to broadcast PSAs warning about them, prolly because Hillbillies kept them on their porches and even in their front yards. It is not too much effort to remove the door.

          While “stranger danger” does exist, the biggest human dangers to children are those they know in positions choldren are taught to grant authority and trust e.g. parents (especially in custody disputes,) relatives, ministers, teachers, truant officers, law enforcers, etc.

          1. The best thing about “stranger danger” is the cute rhyme.

            The worst thing about “stranger danger” is the catchy rhyme.

            Wasn’t there a Star Trek episode (next generation) poking fun at the concept. Back in the 80′, before everyone lost their minds?

        2. For me it was falling through the ice. My mother couldn’t have hammered that into me any more. Then my mother couldn’t understand why I was scared shitless when she tried to teach me to skate on her cousin’s pond.

      2. I visited some of my parents friends north of Seattle, in the winter. Place was on a hill next to the coast. Local kids were tobogganing down the snowed in road at breakneck speed, stopping only when they hit the ocean. Shades of Calvin and Hobbes. I bet they survived too.

    4. Says the guy happily applauding the nanny state and paternalistic government.

      1. Who dat?

    5. My mom grew up in the mountains and used to roller skate down the hairpin curve down the mountain.

      Nice! I used to ride my bike down 3000 vertical feet of Rocky Mountains, no helmet, to get to work in high school. Can’t count how many times I almost died sliding around sandy corners. Good times.

      A friend of mine actually did die in his car on the same road. I drove with him exactly once. After him folding the tires next to 800 foot drops I never got into the car with him again.

      1. I’m guessing you cracked your bony ass (head) too many times. And you’ve never been to Colorado but keep dreamin son.

      2. That is incredible stupid. You shouldn’t brag about that. Please wear a helmet.

        1. Seriously?

      3. In high school I once took my bike from the summit in Sequoia National Park all the way down to the valley. Holy shit was that stupid! The brakes, they do nothing when you’re booking at 60mph on a bike!

        Bicycle helmet? What’s that?

      4. An aquaintance in high school actually did die taking his motorcycle 70mph+ around “suicide hill”. Lost control and hit the barbed wire fence. Barbed wire fence. At 70mph+. Decapitation.

        We still remember him at our reunions.

  3. Nicole Comforto married a beta male provider.

    1. I’m surprised he was able to impregnate her.

      1. Mailman, plumber, her cousin or some seed donator she found on Backpages.

    2. Shes a beard

    3. “Nicole Comforto, a novelist in Seattle…”

      Say no more.

  4. If you’re not freaking out, you’re not conscientious.

  5. Blindness, that’s what happens.

    When did Dan Ackroyd start writing for Parents?

    1. “but what happens if the wire suddenly springs free and your kid is right there and it slices his eye? Blindness, that’s what happens”

      That’s some funny shit

    2. leap from incredibly remote danger to immediate threat

      Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

      1. This was a running joke between me and my ex-wife. We used to say that every time we saw one of those ads with the ridiculous list of warnings and disclaimers.

  6. This is what feminization of men gets you.
    I have never had to put my head between my knees because I might faint like some Victorian era woman.

    1. During the battle of Conteros Robert E Lee fainted while giving a report to Scott. Lee had been going for 48 hours non-stop scouting enemy positions and guiding troops into place without sleep and very little food or water. Lee, upon coming through, first act was to apologize for his succumbing to his weakness and to state how embarrassed he was by his actions.

      1. *Contreras.

    2. We all know what you trying when you put your head between your knees..

      1. Real question what male hasn’t tried that once when they were younger?

        1. Never tried it because I’ve never packed a Ron Jeremy class and I’ve never been that flexible. Oh well.

  7. I also wonder how much having one kid as opposed to multiple kids plays into this. I wasn’t nearly as bad as this Dad but I also freaked out more with my first child than I did with my subsequent children. There is some truth to the old joke, with your first child if they drop their pacifier on the floor, you immediately boil it and sterilize it before giving it to them, by kid number three you pick it up, blow off the bigger crumbs and dog hair and plop it back in their mouths. I remember reading what to expect when you’re expecting and similar books front to back before my first son and taking birthing classes, we skipped both for our next two.

    1. Agreed. It isn’t this cold calculus about your genes but rather experience. You know that the fever your kid has right now is not going to kill them.

      We called the nurse practitioner like weekly for my first kid. By our third, we realized that kids are actually quite resilient.

      I wonder how much of the millennial kid scares are actually caused by parents who don’t have their parents around to help them raise the child. Our first kid had problems feeding from mom, and the granola nuts out there had us convinced that formula was murder. At some point I called my mom, and she was like, “You were bottle fed. You are fine. Stop worrying about this and make sure your wife gets some sleep instead of beating herself up”.

      We have created a country of risk adverse, min-maxing parents who do not accept that there could be any risk in life.

    2. I also wonder how much having one kid as opposed to multiple kids plays into this.

      Worse, as Overt alludes to, a culture of one-kid families. The one-kid freak out parent who turns to their one-kid neighbors or their own one-kid parents for advice. A group of people who think the way they raise(d) their one kid(s) is the way everyone should raise all of their kids.

  8. Exhibiting exactly the same compulsion to leap from incredibly remote danger to immediate threat, the magazine said that hampers made from fabric stretched around a wire may seem safe, but what happens if the wire suddenly springs free and your kid is right there and it slices his eye? Blindness, that’s what happens.

    That reads like an idea for the Final Desination series.

    1. “Blindness, that’s what happens.”

      When I read this, my brain substituted in: “Do you want blindness? Because that’s how you get blindness.”

  9. Moral of the story. Stop turning men into cucks with your toxic masculinity bullshit.

  10. Diagnostically, this is obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD.

    Is that accurate? I doubt it. I’m borderline (i.e. I don’t like to admit it) OCD. But I understand risk tolerance and probabilities. It’s not being OCD that makes one idiotically fear laundry hampers.

  11. But CDO would be different, because it’s the real deal.

  12. I think a lot of the psychological problems we are seeing in so many kids like autism and gender identity issues are a direct result of these efforts to keep children locked up under glass so they can’t get hurt.

    1. Sounds accurate. Best let them run free and wild.

      If they survive they’ll be alright.

    2. Or it could just be better diagnostic criteria as we learn more about the disease.

      1. More likely its the insurance industry and doctors colluding to get money out of it.

        When its just “he’s a pansyass” the insurance company won’t pay for therapy, but if its “he has OCD” the doctor makes bank.

  13. This is what happens when you remove family influence. The people pushing all this have one motive and I’m frustrated it’s not discussed since it’s a fundamental of libertarianism: Greed. They’re trying to make money and to do so, they’re willing to frighten the parents out of their minds and undermine their confidence in their own rationale. The cure is to put down the fear porn reading material and listen to others who have raised children in a realistic world.

    Young parents have decided they are experts because they are reading/listening to the experts. Everything is black and white, which is a dumb way to raise children. Grandparents and other older people are dismissed, because doctor so and so says…


    1. The truly idiotic thing about listening to the “experts” is that many of them are childless.

  14. TIL that pompom and pompon are both acceptable spellings.

  15. This whole generation (or parents) needs a binky (for themselves).

  16. Meanwhile, there’s a “Moneytalk News” video playing on this page working to drum up OCD in parents. Talk about bad ad placment!

  17. JFC, why did the woman marry such a weenie in the first place?

Comments are closed.