If there is one phrase that is guaranteed to get the eyeballs twitching it is this, ‘a new report has shown…’ This phrase has long been co-opted by barely pubescent internet content creator’s whose sole intent is to create snappy content that will keep us all clicking (I’m told that is apparently good for advertising). Like Gollum with his ring these trivia miners are so focused on uncovering new and titillating news bytes that they will literally accept anything with the moniker ‘research’ or ‘report’ that happens to land in their mail box. Without so much as a cursory examination this ‘research’ is promptly repackaged (making it slightly less palatable and cerebrally nutritious than dung wrapped in a copy of the National Enquirer) before being slopped onto a web page somewhere, waiting like a jobs worth in the school carpark to force its unwitting victims into a painful eye roll (the kind in which one laments the state of the world in general).I know the cost of these eye rolls first hand as I suffered a particularly forceful occurrence just last week which resulted in a rare headache that lasted for hours.
These ‘reports’ are, if nothing else, an equal opportunities employer for general stupidity. They either tell us what we already know, such as ‘breathing air is likely to sustain life’ or something patently ridiculous of the sort ‘couples who own at least one pet badger, an egg whisk, a self-cleaning oven and a set of modestly priced hand luggage are four times more likely to buy fish on the third Tuesday of March during a leap year.’ The origin of these ‘reports’ are either shrouded in mystery or derived from some spurious institution such as the ‘clickbait institute for pointless studies’ of which I became the self-appointed dean and chancellor of a little over two minutes ago. They are also just as likely to contradict each other, telling us variously that a glass of wine is either likely to result in small pox, cancer and social ostracisation or eternal life, wealth and fame.
All of this brings me to the report I want to talk about today, which is I suspect from one of these aforementioned schools of research. Why then am I sharing it with you? Well, the reason is as simple as it is singular. It is pretty tricky being a parent and this report agrees. Obvious or not, in this era of Facebook, in which every family online looks like they’ve come out of a mixture of a food commercial where everyone is jumping for joy or a bank mortgage promotion, in which every family looks like an extra for the Wonder Years, it’s nice that someone says it like it is i.e. that it can be a bit difficult sometimes. This may be the journalistic equivalent of teaching grandma to suck some eggs, but it is heartening to hear nonetheless.If you’re not feeling like you’ve quite reached the apotheosis of the whole parenting thing, here are some choice bullet points to make you feel a little bit better.