A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
Print Friendly and PDF

The idea of the “bullshit detector” as a mindset that separates truth from fiction was coined by George Washington in 1782. Actually, that fact is bullshit, but I bet someone will retweet it.


Bullshit is all around us. Digital communication, perpetual advertising, the 24-hour news cycle, and social media allows BS to flow like never before. (Sorry for that image.)

Grownups (mostly) understand this, but unfortunately children are the most susceptible to BS. The consequences of having a weak BS detector are most serious for teenagers, who are wired to experiment and push boundaries.

I don’t mean to be dire. Most kids eventually learn to detect BS at some level. Education and experience teach kids how to make choices over time. But preemptively guiding your kids to develop a BS detector can do three things:

  1. Keep them from wasting time, money, and mental energy.
  2. Empower them to practice critical thinking early on (a necessary skill in our digital economy).
  3. Protect their sense of openness and wonder, by teaching them to constructively direct their attention.

What Bullshit Is

“Communication or actions viewed as deceiving, misleading, disingenuous, unfair or false.”

In his bestselling essay “On Bullshit,” retired Princeton philosophy professor Harry G. Frankfurt wrote that “bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.”

I found this useful definition of bullshit from Simon Hayes on Quora: “The key ingredient in all flavours of bullshit is the undisclosed agenda.”

Bullshit is intentional misdirection. Unlike pure lying, it often contains elements of truth, which better conceals the bullshitter’s agenda. Bullshitters are only concerned with their own advantage. They usually don’t mean to harm others, though that’s often a consequence of bullshit. And some bullshit is worse than others.

FEATURED VIDEO

When to Introduce the Concept

Kids start knowing the difference between the truth and lying by age 3. This is also when they begin to become more cognitively aware of the consequences of lying. Many kids at this age have a very strong sense of fairness. (Anyone with young kids has heard the phrase “It’s not fair!” many, many times.)

At that age, kids are also exposed to the concepts of manipulation and trickery in their stories, fairy tales and cartoons. However, they might not connect the lessons in those fables with their own lives.

Therefore, they need a bit of guidance to develop their a baloney detector (in kid speak).

How to Help Your Kids Build a BS Detector

Questions Are The Most Powerful Tool

A requirement for BS detection is a habit of instinctively asking questions. The ability to “think in questions” is also necessary for critical thinking, and a key life skill.

The best way to get kids in the habit of questioning is by asking them open-ended questions:

  • “I wonder how they know that?”
  • “That seems incredible! Does that make sense to you?”
  • “I wonder why they chose to say that?”
  • “What do you think is really going on here?”
  • “What do you think ______ is hoping to get out of this ad, statement, etc?”

Don’t tell them that their answers are right or wrong. Engage in conversation. Keep it light. Over time, they’ll learn to constructively ask questions themselves – even when you’re not around.

Simply being able to ask questions (and at later stages of development, knowing how to formulate good questions) is the best way to discover that a bullshitter has an “undisclosed agenda” as mentioned above.

Use Teachable Moments

Respectfully pointing out BS when it occurs can help provide context for how it works. If your kids are young, point out examples of BS in the media, on product packaging, and in ads, rather than focusing on people who are full of bullshit.

Sometimes I’ll simply point out a TV ad that seems misleading.  I’ll say “What do you think this ad is selling?” Or “What do you think it really means?”

Building on the research element noted below, I might look up the sugar in a cereal featured in an ad on TV and ask “How can a cereal that’s more than half sugar claim it’s healthy, when we know that too much sugar is bad for our health?”

Fairytales, children’s stories, and cartoons also provide accesible teachable moments. The villains in these tales are often great bullshitters.

(BTW, giving a kid an allowance and making them use it also quickly attunes kids to marketing BS.)

Deploy Humor

There are two ways of using humor to build immunity to BS. The first is making fun of blatant, ridiculous examples of BS. The claims of almost any “As Seen on TV” product are a reliable target for this.

Joking around as a family also helps kids develop healthy perspective and skepticism. It also helps them appreciate the nuances of language – language being the chief weapon of bullshit.

Research Together

When some dubious claim comes along, be a positive role model and investigate it. This is practically a family game in my house.

A quick Google search is usually enough (though it’s possible to go down a rabbit hole, double and triple checking the information found on Wikipedia, etc.). The rule of thumb for quick research is to seek information from an unaffiliated source.

In some cases, however, the most fun way to verify a fact is by talking to a real person – a parent, grandparent, a family friend, or teacher. Simply saying, “Let’s ask your mom what she thinks” also sets a positive precedent for getting second opinions.

As They Get Older

As kids get older, you can start talking to them about some of the specific markers of BS in language and communication. Some of these include:

  • Friendliness without friendship – salespeople and politicians are the worst at this. When someone you don’t know fawns all over you, it’s almost certain they want something from you.
  • Vague language – so often the sign of bs.
  • Claims of authority without expertise
  • Claims without facts, or (more insidious) claims with unrelated facts

With older kids, you can also check out these great animations about critical thinking. They’re designed for kids aged 12 and up or so – but younger kids might like them too.

Older kids can also learn how to perform quality research.

Protecting Wonder

The first rule of BS is to expect it. It’s never too early to introduce the cliche that “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

But there’s a fear that in teaching kids to expect BS, they’ll grow up as cynical doubters or disengaged pessimists.

It’s important to guard kid’s openness and natural sense of wonder. I loathe the idea that, in anticipating bullshit (manipulation and insincerity), wonder might wither into unthinking skepticism.

However, my belief is that by having the understanding, practice, and confidence to question and think for themselves, they’ll have richer lives and remain wide-open to wonder.

Indeed, one of the greatest benefits of having a finely tuned bullshit detector is also having a a finely tuned detector for sincerity and gratitude.

Carl Sagan pondered this enigma. He wrote:

“If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You never learn anything new. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, maybe once in a hundred cases, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress.

On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful as from the worthless ones. If all ideas have equal validity then you are lost, because then, it seems to me, no ideas have any validity at all.

Some ideas are better than others. The machinery for distinguishing them is an essential tool in dealing with the world and especially in dealing with the future. And it is precisely the mix of these two modes of thought that is central to the success of science.”

Swap the word “science” for “life” in that last sentence.

Our kids will be subjected to bullshit throughout their lives. At first, having a BS detector can help them make smarter choices at school, on the playground, and with their allowance at the store.

As they grow older, having a well-honed BS detector can help them kids make smarter choices with their health, finances, and in their work, community and romantic relationships.

*Warning

Some parents may not want to teach their kids to ask questions, think for themselves, and preemptively detect bullshit. That’s because someday the kids might call their parents on their bullshit. Understandable, perhaps. But this is the place to note that the most insidious source of bullshit comes from oneself.

Also, if you’re really good at this teaching your kids to understand bullshit, they probably won’t believe in Santa for very long.

Further reading:

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.


This article was sponsored by Lovevery. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Summertime is here, mamas! And while we couldn't be more thrilled about beach outings and pool days, both of those activities require one major thing—getting into a bathing suit. No easy feat when you're not pregnant (FYI: we tested many and these are our favorite five), but it's even tougher when you are prego and your body is changing daily.

To help, we've rounded up 15 super-cute maternity bathing suit options for you. From sweet one-pieces (like Old Navy's watermelon-pattered cutie that has matching options for dads, toddlers and girls!) to color-blocked bikinis that will ensure your bump gets nice and tan, we've got something to fit every mama's personal style and body. Because we want you to love your pregnant body and celebrate it—you know the saying: Suns out… bumps out!

The best part? They start at just $22! Happy shopping, mamas.

Motherhood Maternity ruffle front one-shoulder swimsuit with UPF 50+

Motherhood Maternity One-Shoulder Swim

Super flattering with a ruffle and in navy polka dots, this suit will be your go-to all summer long.

Price: $39.98

SHOP

Hatch Antigua maillot

Hatch Antigua

Did we mention we love ruffles? This beauty from Hatch is sweet as can be, and while it's on the pricier side, the quality is there and it will last you multiple pregnancies.

Price: $218

SHOP

ASOS Design maternity recycled glam high-neck swimsuit

Asos maternity high neck swim

Who says you need to be in a boring black bathing suit all summer? Let's embrace color (and some sexy drama!) with this high-neck suit that will have everyone asking where on Earth you found such a fun maternity look.

Price: Sale $33.50 (Regularly $48.00)

SHOP

Motherhood Maternity 'Beach Bump' maternity one-piece swimsuit with UPF 50+

Beach Bump Swim

This suit is anything but plain with it's adorable "beach bump" sign.

Price: $39.98

SHOP

H&M Mama swimsuit

H&M Mama Swim

Spice up your pool days with this super fun pattern that is also super flattering—after all, it's hard to spot flaws with all that leopard going on. The wrapped top, low-cut back and ruched siding all add to why we love this one so much.

Price: $29.99

SHOP

Hatch color-block bikini frutto

Hatch Colorblock Bikini

Show off the bump in this color-blocked bikini that looks like something straight out of the 1950s.

Price: $208.00

SHOP

H&M Mama swimsuit with ruffles

H&M Mama Swim

Bohemian perfection, this suit is perfectly on-trend for the season.

Price: Sale $24.99 (Regularly $34.99)

SHOP

A Pea in a Pod rib knit striped maternity one-piece swimsuit

A Pea in a Pod Striped Swim

Preppy but also a little bit sexy thanks to the cleavage-baring peephole, this suit screams "summer" in the best way possible.

Price: $98.00

SHOP

Summersalt Maternity ribbed voyager bikini top + bottom

Summersalt Maternity Ribbed Voyager Bikini

Summersalt is one of our favorite swimwear brands and they just released maternity options! Giving their ubiquitous high-waisted bikini bottoms the prego treatment, this is one suit that will grow with you from first to third trimester.

Bikini top price: $50.00

SHOP

Bikini bottom price: $45.00

SHOP

Pez D’or stripe one-piece maternity swimsuit for Nordstrom

Pez D'or Stripe Swim

Love you some stripes? Then you can't go wrong with this halter-neck option that is flattering and cute all at once.

Price: $98.00

SHOP

Old Navy Maternity halter v-neck swimsuit with UPF 40

Old Navy Maternity Halter V-Neck Swimsuit

We're obsessed with this suite for two reasons: One, that crazy cute watermelon pattern! Two, the halter cut with tiny peephole is perfection and there's lots of support thanks to an extra strap at mid-back.

Price: Sale $22.50 (Regularly $44.99)

SHOP

Gap Maternity tie-back print one-piece suit

Gap Maternity Tie-Back Print One-Piece Suit

This one-piece is as pretty as can be with it's tiny floral print! We love that the straps criss-cross in the back and that the sweetheart neckline drawcord is adjustable.

Price: Sale $58.99 (Regularly $69.99)

SHOP

Pink Blush ruffle trim ruched one-piece maternity swimsuit

Pink Blush Light Blue Ruffle Trim Ruched One-Piece Maternity Swimsuit

Oversized ruffle? Check. Removable straps? Check. Ruched siding? Check. Adorable baby blue hue? Check.

Price: $46.00

SHOP

Jojo Maman Bebe flamingo halterneck maternity tankini

Jojo Maman Bebe Flamingo Halterneck Maternity Tankini

Tankinis for the win! Perfect for pulling up when you want the bump to get some sun, but tugging down when you don't want to show some skin.

Price: $59.00

SHOP

PregO Maternity Wear roll waist dot bikini set

PregO Maternity Wear Women's Maternity Roll Waist Dot Bikini Set

We love how sporty chic this suit is and that you can wear it after pregnancy, too.

Price: $68.00-$72.00

SHOP

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

You might also like:

Shop

Babies love it when their mamas sing to them, and Carrie Underwood's son is no exception. But does he love his dad's singing? Not so much.

If your mom has a voice like Carrie Underwood's, chances are your lullaby standards are a bit higher than most. And, if a recent video from the singer is any indication, even Dad's singing may not quite make the grade.

The country singer shared a cute video clip of her son, Jacob, reacting as her husband, Mike Fisher, sings him a song. Let's just say the little guy isn't having it: Jacob cries throughout his father's mini-performance...That is until Mama steps in to sing the same song.

The clip shows little Jacob calm immediately when he hears his mom's voice (relatable, right?). Mike takes that opportunity to step back in and resume his vocals...but Jacob begins to cry again. "Everyone's a critic," Carrie captions the adorable video.

But don't take this to mean you have to be a recording artist in order to sing to your children! Even the most tone-deaf among us can (and should!) sing to our babies—not just because it's fun, but also because singing to your babe comes with some pretty awesome benefits. The act may even improve your baby's attention span and increase positive their reactions towards you, as we've previously reported.

FEATURED VIDEO

While Carrie and Mike opt to belt out the song "I Still Believe" by singer Vince Gill, you don't have to get too fancy. Singing a good old-fashioned lullaby to your kids is a great idea (they work for a pretty good reason). We are fairly certain that most babies out there love the sound of their mama's voice more than just about any sound (with the possible exception of the "Baby Shark" video), so keep up the family singing sessions even if you don't have a hit song on the charts.

You might also like:

News

I am generally not considered a sentimental person, and I do not keep a lot of junk. When I moved to college, everything that wasn't part of my closet fit into a single trunk. By the time I got married, I had shrunk those keepsakes down to a single box. When I got pregnant, the box had shrunk down to a tiny container I shoved under my bed.

Then we had kids.

The sheer amount of stuff we received from well-wishers was overwhelming. I figured that we needed most of it—babies are high maintenance, right?—and took comfort in the fact that when our child got bigger, we could ditch the bassinet and the bottles and shrink down our lives again.

I could not have been more wrong. The stuff continued to pour in, and it became impossible to throw anything out. Some of it was useful and consumable, like diapers, and some of it was thoughtful and small, like a special stuffed animal, but most of it was simply too much…like the 1,398 toys that began a procession through our lives over the next three years.

It was nobody's fault. My children have four grandparents, two great-grandparents, and five aunts and uncles within a 20-mile radius. Many of them express their love through purchases. Constant purchases. For Christmas, birthdays, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, your regular Saturday. There was bound to be a build-up.

FEATURED VIDEO

The problem was that my children received so many presents the gift-giving itself began to lose meaning. Every time a family member came by the house, my 3-year-old expected a treat.

The amount of stuff piling up in our house started to grate on me, but I didn't know what to do. My oldest child has the memory of an elephant: the other day he cried because he couldn't find a specific drawing that he made in preschool 12 months ago. And my family was constantly checking up on their gifts: "Where's the special bear I gave you, little guy? Do you play with it a lot?" I didn't want to offend anyone.

Then I had an evening that changed my life as a mom. We went to a friend's house for dinner; they had young kids too, about a year or so ahead of us. We walked in and I was shocked at how completely their house had been taken over by their kids' belongings. You couldn't see the living room floor because there were toys everywhere—not in use but stacked up to the ceiling. They apologized for the mess, and it didn't seem to bother them, but I was panicking on the inside.

Was this what was in store for me as a parent? Were my children going to accumulate so much that I wouldn't be able to find my own life under all the mess?

We went home that night and put the kids to bed. And I ransacked. Three years of accumulated playthings, old "special" clothes, and my concerns and ideas about disappointing our relatives, were all ruthlessly sorted through.

If I was going to be a good mom, it would have to be on my terms, and my terms included the right to dispose of accumulation. It included the right to gently but firmly inform relatives that we may not have room for the stuffed bear as big as a house as a Christmas present this year, could there be a special place at their house to keep it? It included the right to shape my family's values, even when they clash a little with those closest to us.

I love our extended family very much, and I am glad they shower my children with affection, including gifts. But every mom has her own way of keeping her sanity, right? And for me, the key to a happy household now includes the occasional purge, when the kids are looking away, and knowing inside that your family will love you anyway.

You might also like:

Life

If you buy Parent's Choice baby formula at Walmart you need to check to see if your product is being recalled.

The manufacturer of Walmart's Parent's Choice Advantage Infant Formula Milk-Based Powder with Iron, Perrigo Company, is recalling the product because it may be contained with metal. There are no reports of babies experiencing adverse effects, but the company says it is proceeding with the recall out of an "abundance of caution stemming from a consumer report."


If you buy this formula look on the bottom of the tub to check the lot code and use by date. If it is lot Code C26EVFV with a "use by" date of February 26, 2021, it is part of the recall. Don't use it and take it back to Walmart for a refund.


These tubs retail for just under $20.

The FDA suggests "consumers with any health-related questions should contact their healthcare provider", and you can also call Perrigo Consumer Affairs at 866-629-6181.

You might also like:

News
Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.