Yes, I experiment on my kids. I have two girls and raise them by myself so it may be easier for me to do this than those who share their children with another parent.
A little background: When I had my kids I saw it as an opportunity to raise them in a way that would provide them with opportunities for optimal performance. For me, growing up was not easy and there were many things I wish I had that I wanted to give to my kids. Now, I’m not talking about the toys and fancy parties but food, exercise, and access to state of the art learning opportunities. When they were still very young, I was a student at Berkeley so they would attend classes with me and I’d take them to the museums and other fun areas around campus. I was pretty strapped for cash so this helped me entertain the kids at no cost while giving them phenomenal learning opportunities.
When my first daughter was about 2 she developed a raging case of eczema on her legs. It was so bad it would bleed. The doctor said that she would have to take a topical steroid but be warned that her skin would thin. I thought that was awful and asked the doctor if it could be environmental or nutritional in nature. She responded with a self-assured No.
As any good parent, I Google’d it. I’m not one of those parents who believes Google answers trump doctors but I do find merit in really good research that perhaps many people miss. I found a study that suggested eczema could be a response to a lactose intolerance. Of course many of us young parents are familiar with elimination diets to find culprits in our children’s diets. Lo and behold after 3 days dairy free, my kid had pretty legs. Mind you, I never touched her skin with the steroid cream. So I marched back into the doctor and declared my findings as a triumphant success. Ha – in your face Dr. M.D. She adamantly opposed my findings.
Here we are 10 years later and my daughter has never tolerated dairy well. It went from eczema to a nasty tummy ache over the years. She loves ice cream and is willing to suffer the pain for a sundae now and again. Recently, we took ourselves off gluten. After a few weeks gluten-free, my kid ate some ice cream and reported back to me that she experienced no stomach discomfort. She has a newfound love for self-experimentation.
Here’s the point: While some may think I’m awful for declaring my kids as “experiments” I think what I’ve done is given my children a life tool that will allow them to experiment with their lives to find their optimal performance levels be that through exercise, study, diet, or play. We are all experimenting in this world and if we aren’t then perhaps we’re missing some amazing experiences.