Fatherly Stuff: Your Baby Can Read? Reading Between the Lines

Feb 25, 2013

Your Baby Can Read? Reading Between the Lines


Question: On the day that your child was born, what kinds of hopes and dreams did you wish for them? To be a great leader? Perhaps a great actor author or athlete? Maybe it was as simple as hoping they follow your path in life or depending on the person, praying they don’t follow in your footsteps.

In any case, despite the various end results we all fantasize about, the common thread they all share is the simple desire to want what is best for our children. Those desires have a tendency to evolve into a fear of being inadequate, and ultimately the roadblock to our child’s pathway to success.

As a result, corporations feed off of those aspirations in order to convince us that their product/service/institution will give our children the greatest chance of becoming a success.  We respond to their advertisements and scare tactics with our wallets. There are quite a few examples of this that cross many child-focused industries, but I’d like to briefly focus on one: The YourBaby Can Read Programs (YBCR).

YBCR is a series of videos, books and flashcards that are supposedly tailor designed to the thought patterns of infants, in order to give them a head start on literacy comprehension as early as nine months old. This is my well-planned, scientific rendition of the process:
 
This must be what the E-Trade baby used
 

 

Here is the infomercial:


If you watch the infomercial closely enough, you’ll see how they attempt to implant that fear thing I was talking about earlier. Viewers will observe these babies doing seemingly amazing literary feats and panic after realizing that their own child is not doing half of those things.
How is my child going to become the POTUS if he/she can’t read Charlotte’s web at the age of 3? If my infant cannot kick their legs when shown the word, “kicking” on a flashcard, how can I expect them to win the Nobel and/or Pulitzer?
We again respond to these emotions with our wallets and convince ourselves that the only way we can ensure the success of our child (and validation as a parent) is by purchasing the entire YBCR system.
Well, before you hand over your credit card information, you might want to hold off until you read the rest of the paragraph. You know that saying, “If something is too good to be true, it probably is”? Well, apparently the Federal Trade Commission thought the same thing about YBCR and hit them with a lawsuit to the tune of about $185 million because of misrepresentation of their product.

What is the lesson can we learn from this situation? In a nutshell, before you purchase any product that promises you grandiose results, do your research by checking product reviews, and check sites like the Better Business Bureau (www.BBB.org) to make sure the company is legitimate.

There are plenty of fun, low cost ways to help enhance your child's reading ability. Here are a few articles that might be useful:

http://www.icanteachmychild.com/2012/02/10-steps-to-teaching-your-child-to-read/

http://www2.ed.gov/parents/read/resources/edpicks.jhtml

http://www.familyconnect.org/parentsite.asp?SectionID=75&TopicID=351&DocumentID=3913
 
Also, I wrote an article highlighting the benefits of reading to your child as early as possible.


Question: Did you purchase or were ever tempted to purchase an infomercial-based product that promised to enhance your child's ability?

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