damned if you do, damned if you don’t


Yet another parenting catch-22 reared its head this week: apparently, our children are not getting enough sunshine, and it is all our fault, for having been too vigilant with the sunblock.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics says that up to 70% of our children have insufficient levels of vitamin D, which can lead to higher blood pressure, diabetes, and a host of other medical problems.

All I have heard, since becoming a mother, is that my children should be swathed in SPF 45 immediately upon awaking, and again every eighty minutes, and that it is better for them not to be outside at all between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm. Now, I find out that my children might end up with rickets, a bone-softening disease last seen in the days of Tiny Tim.

The new advice regarding sunscreen seems to be that kids need it if they’re going to the beach all afternoon, but might not if they’re going to be outside for twenty minutes. But we are supposed to consult our children’s pediatrician first. Yeah, I’m sure my kids’ doctor really wants to take two hundred phone calls today to discuss the finer points of each family’s sunscreen habits.

Again, as mothers, we are stuck. Co-sleep and you’re a bad mother; let them cry it out and you’re a bad mother. Get the vitamin K eye drops and you’re a bad mother; reject them and you’re a bad mother. Have children with farmer tans and you’re a bad mother; have children with bowed femurs and you’re a bad mother. It’s enough to drive anyone batty. However, I am kind of excited about this particular study, because applying sunscreen on my three uncooperative children takes up WAY too much of my time, these days. The next time I slack off, at least I won’t have to feel bad. They’ll be getting their vitamin D.