The story broke last year, and yet the global Big Floss industrial complex would still have us believe flossing is a vital part of any oral hygiene regimen. That’s right, an Associated Press investigation into the medical evidence supporting public health flossing recommendations found there is little evidence it provides any real benefit. And yet my dentist and my children’s dentist continue the inquisition at every checkup about how often we floss. I admit, I shrug and mumble something about “we try our best” when asked, because I lack the energy to engage in this debate. But make no mistake, I’M DONE FLOSSING. I’m done barking at my children about flossing.
And then there’s bathing. Everyone I know had a baby book or two that became their Bible with their first child. A book they clung to like the life preserver it felt like during that first year or two. One of my go-to books emphasized the importance of the soothing ritual of a bedtime bath, every single night. So we blithely followed suit…for years. It was often enjoyable, but at some point, it started to feel like a beat-down. And then one day I realized, the children haven’t actually rolled around in feces of any sort, would the sky fall if we skipped the bath tonight? Turns out there’s a school of thought that whole-heartedly endorses this view. I promise, Google it! Sweet escape! And thus began the “Filthy Friday” tradition in our house. Sometimes followed by “Stinky Saturday.” Applied liberally to any day of the week.
And onto…pacifiers. Oh the stress I carried over my son’s pacifier addiction. He had to have two to sleep with, one to suck and one to rub against his cheek. I’ll never forget the mom who dropped her jaw like I had just revealed that I have a third nipple when I mentioned my son still used a pacifier at age four. He had a pacifier-shaped grill, to be sure, but it corrected within months of breaking the habit. Will he require orthodontia because of our negligence? Maybe. But odds are good he would’ve needed braces anyway. And if you employ the trusty Google, you’ll find there’s a strong school of thought that supports self-soothing well into the preschool years.
Lastly: the panic over the mold in our children’s bath toys. My oldest happily played with and chewed on the same bath toys for years until the day I closely examined one of the water squeezies and realized the inside was black with mold and mildew. And guess what…he’s A-OK. Countless research affirms that exposure to dirt and environmental pathogens strengthens the immune system. My husband has a charming phrase he picked up during his youth in west Texas: God made dirt; dirt don’t hurt!
What if we focus on the really big things, like putting the kids in a proper carseat every time they’re in the car, feeding them some fruits and vegetables, and safeguarding the swimming pool. As for most of the rest of it…I’m kicking back with a glass of wine and a bowl of popcorn. And I’m not going to floss after.
About the author: Joanna McFarland Owusu is a freelance writer and researcher based in Dallas, Texas. A federal government analyst in a former life, Joanna now spends her time wrangling two little boys and a toddler daughter. Her work has appeared on The Huffington Post,,, and


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