674: Natural Parenting
Title text: On one hand, every single one of my ancestors going back billions of years has managed to figure it out. On the other hand, that's the mother of all sampling biases.
This comic relates to the anxiety of having a first child, particularly an unplanned child, and is a play on the double meaning of the expression "do what comes naturally".
Doing what comes naturally is a euphemism for couples pairing off and forming intimate relationships, including sex. It is also advice given to new parents, advising them not to second guess themselves so much, to alleviate the stress that comes with parenting.
The couple Cueball and Megan find themselves as unexpected parents. Both parents experience anxiety over how to manage their life with the child. The new father defuses the situation and states that parenting can not be that hard and they should just do what comes naturally. Naturally the couple to find themselves with a second child. This adds insult to injury as now they have two children and still no idea about how to parent. As the first child was an "accident" the birth of the child was because of instinctual urges. Therefore, assuming nothing has changed in their relationship it would be natural if they produced another child.
The title text claims that parenting can't be too hard because, up to the present, all of your ancestors have produced an unbroken line of children who figured out how to raise at least one child that is able to continue this unbroken chain. Randall jokes that this is the "mother" of all sampling biases: Had anyone of ones ancestors completely failed at being parents, that person would never exist. Therefore this sampling is heavily skewed by sampling only those that were all successful in at least one instance. It does not take into account the number of people in the past who do not have any lineage today to speak of, or the number times our ancestors failed at being parents to children we are not directly descended from. The baby says, "Baby!", either copying Cueball, or saying its name, Pokémon-style. This is also the topic of 441: Babies and 1384: Krypton.
Natural parenting may be an allusion to attachment parenting. This strategy for child-rearing normally entails extended nursing and encourages positive reinforcement. Sometimes modern medicine and processed foods are restricted as well. Natural parenting approaches can vary greatly from parent to parent. Because of the awkwardness and stigma of breastfeeding, as well as its traditionalism, attachment parenting can elicit powerful opinions from both its opponents and proponents. Various media and politicians have seized on this hot topic, as well as motherhood in general. Extreme natural parenting methods became the notorious cover story of TIME Magazine in May 2012.
- [Cueball and Megan are standing with a baby in between them.]
- Cueball: Oh man, we made a baby.
- Megan: Don't panic. Don't panic.
- Baby: Baby!
- Cueball: Parenting can't be that hard. Let's just do what comes naturally.
- [Beat frame.]
- [There are now two babies in between them.]
- Megan: Aw, crap.
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