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During the past year, we both welcomed our firstborns into the world—and immediately joined the ranks of perpetually petrified parents. We had read all the books and bought all the bottles, but we were still ill-prepared for everything there is to fear. Why aren’t they sleeping? Have they gained enough weight? Aren’t they supposed to be rolling over by now? Who’s going to watch them when we return to work? Should they be sucking on that?
Evidently, this terror doesn’t go away. If our relatives and co-workers are to be believed, it will only become more intense as our boys grow older and begin to confront adversities on their own, out of our soothing reach. And, according to a growing body of research, being a kid today is even tougher than it used to be. Instagram and TikTok have made the ups and downs of teenage angst a 24/7 affair. Athletics are more cutthroat, thanks to the rise of club teams. Climate change. Partisan politics. School shootings. A 2018 study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics found that the number of anxiety diagnoses for those ages six to 17 increased 20 percent between 2007 and 2012—and that was before COVID-19 upended children’s lives.
Enough with the scare tactics. The question isn’t, “What should you be afraid of?” but rather, “How do we make sure our kids are ready to confront, endure, and rebound from life’s challenges?” The experts we spoke with for this issue’s cover story say that although not all mental and behavioral health problems are preventable, parents can prepare children for bullies, broken hearts, and missed shots by helping them develop a deep well of resilience they can draw upon—starting the day you bring them home from the hospital.
That news arrived just in time for this pair of new parents. Because, as we’re quickly learning, there’s only so much we can control (hello, projectile vomit!), which is why it’s important to get ahead of the things you can. In The Best Medicine, an exhaustive guide to the preventive care you may have skipped during the pandemic, you’ll discover how to do just that. At the same time, we’re thrilled to cut through a seemingly never-ending period of doubt and uncertainty with stories of hope—from horse-based therapy that’s helping children with disabilities to a Denver startup using artificial intelligence to detect and treat the early stages of kidney disease. We hope this issue inspires you to take proactive care of yourself and those you love—because even when the little ones are covered in puke, they’re still pretty cute.