‘Loud Kids’ Don’t Exist, but Some Kids Get Noisy

This week, Fatherly's resident parenting expert talks about why make up sex is a bad idea, how to keep a 5-year-old quiet and why you might want to avoid that baby powder.

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I’ve been hearing a lot of stuff about how baby powder is dangerous to use. Is it true that it can cause cancer? What should I be using on my baby instead?


Atlanta, Georgia


I live in Ohio, Tyrone, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Georgia, so I know how important powder can be in warding off swamp crotch. The stuff holds the same power for dank parts of a baby. But baby powder isn’t the only option in the fight against chafing, which is great because nobody actually knows if it really is safe.

You’re probably asking about baby powder because you’ve heard of some 9,000 lawsuits facing Johnson & Johnson over their product. Or maybe you read that a judge awarded a man $117 million for his claim that their baby powder contributed to his aggressive lung cancer. And while both of those bits of news are crazy eye-opening, they simply aren’t science. Because a judicial ruling is based more on argument than empirical facts. So, that begs the question: What are the empirical facts?

Well, it’s true that talc, the main ingredient in baby powder, contains asbestos in its most basic form. Asbestos is a known carcinogen. But industry rules mandate that asbestos is removed from talc before it’s used in consumer applications. That’s why it’s used in a wide range of products from supplements to makeup.

Still, there are studies that have linked the use of baby powder to cancer. That’s partly why the American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents not to use it on children — a stance it’s held for about 50 years. Consider one study that suggested the risk of epithelial ovarian cancer could rise 20 to 30 percent with the genital use of talcum powder.

That said, there are plenty of other studies that have found no link between baby powder and cancer. In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, full of folks who would know these kinds of things, only goes as far as labeling talc “possibly carcinogenic” when used on genitals. Confused yet? Me too. The point is that there really isn’t firm ground to stand on when considering baby powder. The best idea? Use something else that works just as well. Happily, there are some great alternatives. The trick is to look for products that contain cornstarch or arrowroot and avoid talc. That way you’ll keep your baby dry and your mind at ease,

Yo Fatherly,

When my wife and I fight we have a tendency to simmer for a while. It sucks. We’re really bad at making up and always have been. The problem is that I know our son is watching and I know it affects him. Do you have any tips for making up after an argument?


Boise, Idaho


Yo, Grant. The fact that you want reconciliation with your wife to go better is a really great sign that things can change. So let’s just acknowledge the huge fact that you’re a conscientious dude who clearly cares about his family. Cool. Now, let’s get to work on fixing this situation.

No matter what you’re fighting about, there are some really great ways to repair a relationship after an argument, but none of them involve make-up sex. Sorry. (I’ll get to why in a moment.) What they do involve is a huge helping of humility. Let’s consider a recent study on the subject of making-up that revealed women find a man crying to be one of the best ways to repair a relationship. Crying and apology. Not necessarily at the same time, but hey, why not? Sure, the study was based on a pretty small sample size. However, couples therapists are quick to point out that allowing vulnerability can go a long way in helping people come back together.

So, right. What does that look like in practice? Well, first of all, it’ll help if you can bring the argument itself down a notch. It’s totally fine to take a time out so you can breathe. Once calm, do your best to own your emotions. Couch your language in “I statements.” The trick here is to not blame your partner. That just leads to more defensiveness. If you can own your feelings, hopefully, she can too. And if your wife is talking about how she feels then go ahead and repeat back to her what you’re hearing. Don’t make assumptions. This will go a long way to finding a resolution or at the very least a calm stopping point that will give you both time to consider the core issue.

Importantly, you shouldn’t just leave the argument hanging. When you hit that calm place, remind each other that you love each other (you do) and try to figure out the trigger that set the whole conflict off in the first place. This is what’s known as a post-mortem. It sounds macabre, but it makes sense: you are placing the fight on the table and opening it up to figure out what happened and why.

Part of that process will be acknowledging things you might have said in anger but didn’t mean. Apologize for that stuff. Acknowledge it was unhelpful in finding a resolution in a rational way. Again, you want to remind yourselves there’s a reason you’re together and have a kid. There’s a reason you want to make it better.

If you actually do this making up in front of your kid, it will go a long way in helping them feel more secure. It will also show that people can disagree and still love one another. That’s a huge thing for a kid to internalize and carry into adulthood.

And finally, here’s the thing about make-up sex: if you regularly jump in the sack to resolve conflicts there’s a huge chance that you’ll begin to see fighting as foreplay. That’s not going to help anyone.

And remember, if all else fails, maybe cry a little. It’s worth a shot.

Hey Fatherly,

My little girl is 5-years-old and she’s freaking loud. Like, she has zero volume control. It’s a problem and an embarrassment. Is there a way I can get her to be quiet?


Muncie, Indiana


Sounds like you girl has a bright career ahead of her as a political pundit on a cable news network. So that’s nice! In the meantime, however, I can see how that would be a pain in the ass.

Volume isn’t always about volume. The issue is actually probably not sound. More likely, your daughter is struggling with is the idea of context. Because it’s not that she’s loud, necessarily, it’s that she’s loud in places where loudness inappropriate. I assume if you guys were frolicking in some Indiana field you wouldn’t have any problem if she were shouting with joy. Importantly, if you would have a problem with that, then the issue might be managing your own expectations. After all, we have to understand that kids will be kids. And sometimes kids are loud. And there has to be room in your life for that.

In order to teach your kid the volumes required for various social contexts, it’s important that they’re exposed to various social contexts. Kids learn more from experience than they do from being told stuff. So it will help if you take your daughter to a variety of places where she can understand different expectations of volume. A baseball game, for instance, is different than a church, which is different than a children’s museum, which is different than an art museum. You get the drift.

And when you’re in these places, you need to model volume regulation. If she’s loud in a quiet place, get close and lower your voice and ask her to look around at other people and notice how they’re talking. Don’t respond to her inappropriate loudness with a loudness of your own. That sends exactly the wrong message.

After a while, your girl will get the hang of this. And if you’re down with supporting her future career, just teach her how to shout “wrong!” as loud as possible, on cue. She’ll be on the air in no time!

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