Borchardt Consulting

Law of Unintended Consequences

Posted on: May 8, 2012

 

Water Ripples

Unintended Consequences Ripple Through Our Lives

As parents, we make choices hundreds of times a day.  We make them for ourselves and for our children.  We try to be good role models.  We try to be knowledgeable on issues about our children’s lives.  But, this is a complicated world and it’s hard to keep up.

 

Even though we try our best, the Law of Unintended Consequences can still come up to bite us in the butt.  What is the Law of Unintended Consequences?  Well, that’s when we can’t see far enough ahead or around the corners of our decisions –when the intended solution actually makes the problem worse.

 

Parenting decisions are full of these unintended consequences.  I recently talked with a mom who said, “We put bumpers in our baby’s bed.  We felt like such rebels!”  Her feeling was that she was protecting her baby from the bumps and bruises of hitting his head on the crib or having his arms and legs become entangled in the slats.  She had been told by her physician that a bare crib was best but that advice didn’t feel comfortable to her.  Bumpers are cute.  Bumpers are soft.  Bumpers make a baby’s world more comfortable and they wouldn’t sell them if they weren’t safe.  Would they?

 

In short, she felt she was being protective of her baby boy.  She was being a better mom by providing him a comfortable, well-padded sleep place –until she discovered him dead in his crib with his face pressed up against those bumpers.

 

The Law of Unintended Consequences – A perverse effect contrary to what was originally intended, such as when a decision has a perverse outcome that causes the opposite to what was intended.

 

Unintended consequences happen frequently in our lives.   When the American Academy of Pediatrics first stated that babies could sleep on either their backs or their sides they could not predict that a whole new industry of unsafe products called “Sleep Positioners” would develop.  Later, when doctors encouraged parents to only place babies on their backs to sleep, no one could have predicted that many parents would follow that advice so closely that babies started developing flat heads and developmental delays.

 

As parents, we grow, we learn, we gain experience and hopefully, we get lucky enough not to be seriously bitten by the Law of Unintended Consequences.

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