Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I got an interesting email from a reader last week, asking for my take on this article, entitled "Bad Parents and Proud of It." I read the whole piece with interest, as it dovetails with something I have been thinking more and more: We live in an age of confessional parenting. Even before I read the article I was starting to notice that more moms were writing essays about their "dirty little secret" that they give their kids sugar/are anti-extra curricular activities/use their children as child labor...! According to the article, traffic on certain sites increased exponentially when content involved "mommy confessions." Why is that? Is it simply that we want to hear what other people in our situation are saying and doing? Perhaps. But part of me thinks we like to read these things because it makes us feel better about ourselves. Jerry Springer for the mommy-set.
Somewhere along the way, it has become cool and almost necessary to downplay the things we do for our children. I am as guilty of this as anybody else. Whenever anybody gives me anything resembling a compliment about my children, I find some way to undermine it or give some apropos of nothing example of how I'm a "disaster" as a mom. And maybe I am a disaster. But that's not the point. At least not of this particular post...!
When did it become uncool to take pride in our parenting?
I am all for breaking down the walls of parental judgment. Your kid isn't sleep trained and is 4? So what. That wouldn't work for me, but hopefully it works for you. Your 3 year old isn't potty-trained? Guess what, mine either. But this article indicates a trend that goes deeper than this. It indicates a sort of badge of honor that parents are starting to desire for doing things like pushing over their toddlers and letting their kids watch 6 hours of tv a day. Now, can't lie, there have been days when D has watched so much tv his eyes are glazed over. But I am ashamed of this. I want to fix it. I don't want a plaque, or a slap on the back with the corresponding "we all do that" speech.
Like most thing, there is a thin line at play here. I happen to own every "mommy book" that references cocktails. "Sippy Cups are not for Chardonnay," "I laughed I cried I drank a Margarita"--all that stuff. So clearly I am firmly in the camp of people who never will be and never want to be Miss Perfect Mom. Playdates are better with a little champagne. That being said, I do feel proud about some of my parenting, some of the little ways I am raising my kids. And I hope to accumulate more little nuggets of pride as they grow older and need more guidance. Will we be living in a world where, even to my friends, I won't be allowed to express that pride? And, as the article points out, what will it feel like if and when our children hear or read the way we are talking about them?
**Thanks to Atul for the link to the article!