You Are Not Filthy (But Ought to Be)

I have talked about this before. Germs are not only not bad, they are necessary for children. Without them, we don’t mount an immune response and end up with all kinds of problems as adults. I thought of this today as I read an article by Art Caplan, Ph.D. called In praise of germs: Why common bugs are necessary for kids. In it, Caplan adjudicates everything I believe about childhood cleanliness and the need to let your kids get sick, including, “The study strongly supports a growing body of evidence that you need to put away the disinfectant and expose children to the real world of germs and microbes.”

I also thought about an idiot named Heather who once posted on her Facebook wall, “If your kids are sick, please keep them home!” News flash, Heather: you are not only selfish, you are ironically making life worse for your own children as well as others. If you can’t take care of a sick kid or you can’t stand the thought of your little one running a fever, you really have no business raising a child in the first place.

Hey, I know you’re afraid. The media is constantly telling you to be afraid. A few people a year die from flesh-eating staph. A few children a year end up with autism because of a vaccination. It’s scary! (Never mind that about 16,000 children die every day from starvation and malnutrition.) Be afraid! Sanitize everything! Live in a plastic bubble! Raise a generation of fat, asthmatic, iPhone-twiddling wieners. See if I care.

Maybe you should let your kids play in the mud once in a while instead of smearing them with creams and gels from a bottle.
Maybe you should let your kids play in the mud once in a while instead of smearing them with creams and gels from a bottle.
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3 Comments

  1. As with most issues/arguments/discussions, I choose to be attacked by both sides, since I think we can go too far in either direction and prefer balance/moderation.

    Sure, the popular modern trend is to disinfect everything, quarantine every child with a sneeze or red itchy bump, wear a mask over nose/mouth and avoid public places where people might have (gasp!) germs. This is silly of course, as you say.

    The opposite seems to me just as silly.

    Some place in the middle there is surely a best way.

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  2. My whole point was that we have ALREADY gone to the clean extreme. And it’s a giant mistake.

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  3. Yeah, I was born with hay fever. When I was a kid I was miserable and I stayed indoors a lot. But I never went for those allergy shots or any of that nonsense. As a result, my hay fever is nothing but a minor nuisance. I was raised by a germaphobe mom who wouldn’t even touch door knobs with her bare hands. I rebelled and I’m doin okay. While I do wash my hands frequently, I sometimes do not wash my hands before touching food in the presence of my mom, just to get under her skin. Sometimes when she’s around, I’ll even eat an apple without washing it!! That’s fun!

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