The singularly worst thing to come of modern technology, for the parent, is the internet. Some days I think of my offline childhood and long for those simple days where we only had pirated Radio City VHS tapes of Disney cartoons my grandmother would bring us back from her visits to Karachi, and all us cousins would exchange with each other and watch, ad nauseam. Somewhere in the middle the screeching, pinging dial-up arrived and we promptly became affixed to our computers, the phone line forever engaged because one was connected. And now, from our clunky, enormous desktop computers and huge hulking laptops we have whizzed forth into Facebook and Huffington Post articles and iPads and YouTube and tumbled headfirst into Perpetual Parental Panic.

It’s the new PPP, only for parents. Imagine your life for a minute without all the articles eagerly telling you how shouting at your children is so awful for their self-esteem. How time-outs are bad now. How red-4 in candy is carcinogenic (don’t eat the red MnMs, kids). And above all, how some smug little cretin thinks they can tell you how to parent “properly”. Back in the day, the only people telling you how to do everything was a nosy relative, and now thanks to the internet, the whole world is your opinionated aunt.

Don’t read the articles, they say. Well of course don’t read them, even if they have titles like SAUSAGES ARE POISONING YOUR CHILD and your child is at that exact moment eating a sausage and you read an article yesterday about how positive parenting means you shouldn’t say no to your precious flower, so you panic and try and think of a way to say “don’t eat the poisonous sausage” without saying “don’t” and your brain quietly collapses, and the sausage is eaten. Did our mothers ever panic because they didn’t know whether the apples were organic, or the bottled mineral water clean enough? I don’t think so, because we drank from the hosepipe in the garden and lived to tell the tale. Times are different now. That much is true. Our water is filthier, our air is more polluted, global warming is wrecking the weather, allergies are on the rise because of all the GMO farming. But summer is summer, and our parents were blessedly free of that annoying mother on a Parents’ Whatsapp group sending forwards about how it’s going to be really hot this week so try and stay home all day, wear a hat and oh, drink lots of water! Really, Annoying Mother? Thanks for telling us how to cope with summer because until this year, our country was Arendale, frozen over by our conflicted ice queen and we had no clue how to manage warm temperatures.

Perhaps it’s a sign of our particular times. The world is increasingly an uncontrollable, dangerous place and our worries are chiefly about how to keep our children safe in it. But maybe it always was, we just didn’t know every single detail about it, and thereby our parents didn’t feel as terrified about our place in it. Or maybe geopolitics doesn’t matter at all, we’re just petrified of messing up our children. Is it some scourge of my generation, to be a hysterical parent? Is it some pre-millenial (what are the 1980s babies called anyway?) inheritance to be suckered by all the people selling me organic cotton onesies and cold-pressed baby food and handmade wooden toys? Granted, they’re adorable, but how necessary are they really? And why should one’s worth as a parent hinge on these kind of choices?

The real problem is that these “choices” and other idiotic obsessions are obscuring one’s real job as a parent: to raise children with the right values. Children who are considerate, responsible, kind. In the long run, it doesn’t matter an ounce whether they were cloth-diapered and never ate Happy Meals or spent all summer watching television and eating potato chips. It won’t matter that you only made their formula bottles with Evian if your child is that nasty one who shoves and eats other kids’ lunches. You can bake all the cakes at home you like, but if your child is the class bully, who cares how much banana bread you made? If your child grows up thinking it’s okay to cheat as long as you get good grades, are you going to justify that by saying “but she didn’t have any screen time until she was five”? We need to stop worrying, stop letting everyone else tell us how to be a parent, stop using ridiculous benchmarks to evaluate one’s parenting. This is not the magic formula that will ensure our children turn out “right”, and it’s high time we stopped letting strangers on the internet fool us into thinking that if we just get X and Y right then we’re all set. Good children are not the sum of their organic applesauce and BPA-free plastic bottles. If anything, that’s the ultimate fantasy because- how easy! Reality check, though- good kids won’t magically happen if you stop saying “no” to them or don’t shout or don’t ever banish them to their room or whatever newfangled fad erupts. You’re the parent. Trust yourself. Focus.