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Daddy Days: Kids are good for your health

Caleb Harris
Caleb Harris lives in Pflugerville with his wife and six children.

It seems there’s a perception out there that kids are bad for your health. Whether it’s the lack of sleep they’re often paired with or the shift away from taking care of your personal health they often represent, kids get a bad wrap in the area of healthy living.

I’m not sure this is fair. Even if it were true, that wouldn’t be a reason to avoid children. Although 2020 has shown the populace is collectively failing at reasonable risk assessment, the “bad” is far outweighed by the good of having kids.

And even when you hear about the ways kids are bad for parents’ health, you're not getting the full story. For instance, the common trope that kids cause high blood pressure. Interestingly this one isn’t so much pushed by the medical community as it is by common experience. People see kids (perhaps six of them) being corralled by an adult (perhaps me) and assume it’s a strain on the body and a blood pressure raiser.

However, have you ever held a sleeping baby in your arms? I don’t remember what that popular blood pressure reducing drug I always see advertised on TV is called, but this has to be at least that effective. And with way less side effects.

How about the whole, “my kids are always getting me sick and bringing home colds” thing? It’s easy to blame kids for adults’ problems. And young kids are certainly not the most hygienic of beings. However, there’s another side to the story that kids bring germs into the home. They also bring in significant amounts of fresh air.

Look up residential air quality studies and you’ll see that the air in the average house is not great. Keep researching and you’ll likely also see it’s the source of all of your problems (allergies, insomnia, musty smells and an inability to dunk a basketball). But kids can do wonders on this front. Since they go in and out of the house at least 193 times a day, they are constantly introducing fresh air into the house. Next time they leave the back door open, instead of shouting “shut the door,” you should be shouting, “thanks for airing out the house!” And then go dunk a basketball.

Kids also get blamed for adding stress into parents’ lives. According to someone, stress is the leading cause for everything. And apparently kids dish it out to parents like they’re serving themselves dessert. If you’re a parent and have wrinkles, weight gain, weight loss, hair loss or sneeze sometimes, it’s probably because of stress and definitely because of kids.

But this blaming kids for how adults handle the demands of life is pretty silly. And if we gave kids credit for all the joy they bring or focused on their anti-stress properties we’d see how the kids-cause-stress assessment is inaccurate.

A new baby smiling has to be one of the least stressful encounters in all of life.

And even when they spill mustard on the carpet, keep you up all night or make more noise than a passing train, what’s the actual cause of the parents’ stress? The kid’s actions or the parents’ reaction and handling of it?

Harris and his wife live in Pflugerville with their six sons. Please email comments or suggestions for future columns to thoughtsforcaleb@gmail.com.

Caleb Harris