Brace yourself: this is a rant, full of my colorful opinions, hyphenated non-words, and sarcasm. If you’re looking for real advice or if you are feeling judge-y, you should probably just click over to another blog that exudes self-promotion and lacks a sense of humor. (Email me for suggestions!)
So. On with the show.
Where Have I Been?
Since I have not blogged for months and months, you might naturally think that I had fallen off the spinning earth. That is, unless (a) you know my children, in which case we’re probably in some carpool together, or (b) you are my Facebook friend, in which case you *know* that while my pithy commentary may ebb and flow like a college student’s sobriety, I do, in fact, still exist.
Yup. I’m still here. My major time-sucks include dealing with my tween’s hormone fluctuations, my bravest child’s plethora of new fears, and my baby (now in Kindergarten), who does her level best every day to resist change, and the presence of – and I quote – “stupid people.”
My minor pursuits include willing my lone adrenal gland to “Suck It Up” and Function For Two (hey! every middle-class citizen employed by corporate America does it… right??) and trying to perfect my pilot program of Clean-Your-House-with-Mind-Control, and some light reading.
I have also squeezed in a little time to devour sappy romance novels and slog through the occasional essay on the latest in literary criticism. Knowing I cannot dodge reality ALL day, I also try to keep up with the basics of politics, current terrorism threats, and who in Hollywood shoplifted/got high/gained weight/fled the scene of an accident.
Parenting Trend Round-up
But what has really got me going are the rampant extremes in parenting that have taken center stage over the past ~9 months. Lest you wonder how I feel about some of these over-hyped trends, I’ve pretended I was asked by each article’s editor to create a subtitle for each. Let’s see if you can guess what *my* titles are synonymous for. And because I’m really cognizant of the fact that you’re undoubtedly multitasking right now, I’ll give you some hints in the parentheticals, and lest you think I’m hallucinating, I’ll even link to each ridiculous article. (You’re welcome!)
- Breastfeeding Just for MOMMY – Because She CAN’T. LET. GO. (Thank you, Time, for the visual on this one. *snort*)
- Creating New Generations of Bullies Under the Guise of “Excellence” and “Success” (Tiger Mom, anybody?)
- The Insecure Parent’s Guide To Creating a Family Culture of Total Dependence (aka Attachment Parenting for Dummies. Where “Dummies” isn’t a code word for “Beginners”.)
- Learning from Robins and Wrens: Spitting Food in Your Baby’s Mouth is Fun! (SERIOUSLY???? NO ONE, not even the fruit of your womb, wants YOUR spit in his/her mouth. EVER!)
- Mom Genes: You Either Got ‘em or You Don’t (well, DUH! “Nature vs. Nurture” is soooo yesterday!)
I have more of these (of course I do!), but I’ll save some for a different blog post. Or my ebook on parenting. Pre-sales to commence shortly.
A few details about my favorites follow….
The Parenting Tiger
Honestly, what good is going to come from a nation of over-achievers that are shamed and bullied into awards and accomplishments? Shrew-ish, self-serving mothers attempting to validate their own existence by berating their children into performing at high levels sounds about as enticing as, gee, I don’t know… tossing a toddler into pool full of piranhas and expecting them to swim.
Unless, of course, you are trying to ensure that therapists world-wide will be employed forevermore. Because that’s where the children of Tiger Moms are going to end up: on a counselor’s couch, blubbering through a box of tissues every week that they cannot figure out why, despite the fact that they’re gainfully employed and upwardly mobile, that they’re insanely anxiety-ridden and unhappy.
The Parenting Pussycat
If this namby-pamby approach weren’t so dangerous, I may just fall off my comfy leather couch laughing hysterically. Letting your CHILD be the boss, as if parenting = democracy? Hell, if you like that kind of action, head on over to the Middle Eastern dictatorship of your choice, because that environment will be as equally sane and nurturing as what you’re about to put yourself and your family through.
This brings to mind an old friend – with whom I have no contact anymore (you’ll see why in a minute) – who told me she would always be a “soft place to fall” for her two baby boys. [insert eye-roll here] PUh-leeze. Do you think her child’s future employer, or the admissions board of her college of choice is going to appreciate that?
In case you’re actually pondering that question, let me answer it for you: NO! NO ONE is going to want to be around, let alone issue salary to, the train-wreck-of-a-person that this style of parenting is going to create. Though consistently honoring unreasonable demands, failing to set limits, and shying away from confrontation might seem easier for everyone now, you’re going to end up raising either (a) at best, a highly dysfunctional adult who likely won’t ever move out of your basement, or (b) at worst, a criminal.
Then again: if your goal for your child is for him/her to never be self-sufficient, or if you feel the criminal justice system is under-utilized, well, I guess… knock yourself out.
Here is what I think (cuz I’m sure you’re still wondering…): parenting really IS the toughest job in the world (Oprah might have said that first, so don’t attribute that quote directly to me, OK?). Being a mom (which is the viewpoint I’m sticking to, because I don’t know anything else) is filled with uncertainty and compromise and 4 parts pain-and-angst, 1 part joy (if you’re doing it right, that is. If joy is more abundant than pain, you’re probably screwing up your kid pretty royally – or maybe you’re simply over-medicated. Just sayin’.). Focusing on the extreme, the obscure, and the unrealistic isn’t going to change the pain-to-joy ratio – it’s just going to prolong the pain part.
So what might I suggest? Here are a few things to try:
- Acknowledge that having a love/hate relationship with parenting is pretty normal. (In fact, since ignoring it won’t change it, so you might as well wrap it in a bear hug and hold it close….)
- Beware of extremists and other “flavors of the day.” Question everything. And – just like someone insisting that they’re telling the truth probably isn’t – anyone proclaiming to be a parenting expert should include not THEIR biography at the end of each article or book, but an honest, impartial bio of each of their children. THERE is where you can gain valuable insight about their level of parenting expertise.
- Laugh. Enjoy the irony. And come back here to A Broken Compass to guffaw your way through my own special brand of craziness and sarcasm – if nothing else, your life will seem AMAZINGLY normal in comparison!
p.s. As I work on resurrecting my blog, I’d love for you to leave a comment; however, don’t be a hater or bother me with pesky or irrelevant facts. My self-concept continues to be quite fragile, and I *know* you don’t want to be responsible for my next nervous breakdown.