Here's a newsflash for anxious moms and dads: Research shows that every style of parenting causes children to grow into "profoundly unhappy adults."
According to the study, released by the California Parenting Institute, a balanced approach is no better than overprotective or permissive parenting styles.
"We found that anything between those two extremes is equally damaging, always resulting in an adult who suffers from some debilitating combination of unpreparedness and isolation," lead researcher Daniel Porter told the Onion.
Yes, the Onion. Fortunately, the "findings" are simply sham research posted by the Web's most notorious lampooners.
Nevertheless, within hours of the fake story, the Internet was ablaze with the news that well-meaning parents were doomed, Yahoo reported.
CPI, which in reality is a well-respected California institute, was flooded with e-mails and phone calls from concerned parents.
"I'm totally aware that it's satire," Robin Bowen, executive director of the CPI, told The Santa Rosa Press Democrat. "But it's spreading through the Internet and people's blogs … and it's looking like a news story."
"We even had parent educators who work here say, 'When did we do a study?'" said Wendy Hilberman, CPI's director of marketing and development. The institute issued a press release on Friday to clear up the misunderstanding.
The fallout from the hoax is further proof that "bad parent" studies act like kryptonite for supermoms and dads.
In real news, recent headlines suggested that "negative parenting" creates aggressive kids, using strollers makes toddlers fat and exposure to SpongeBob SquarePants interferes with a preschooler's brain function.
No wonder parents (permissive, draconian and helicopter alike) are on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
How do you deal with studies that suggest you're screwing up your kid? Do you make parenting decisions based on what you read in the news?