I get the irony of having a parenting blog, and then complaining about other blogs telling me how to be a parent. To be clear, I don’t intend this blog to be a how-to guide for doing anything, but more my take on things, based on my own experiences and opinions. Hopefully you will see some of your own life in here, and maybe things I’ve dealt with might help you in the future. For instance, both my kids are left-handed. I am not. So, there are situations where that difference has come up (buying a left-handed vs. right-handed guitar, or should lefties be treated as “normal”), and I will write about that.
I hate Facebook. I am on Facebook, but I do not like it. It’s not that I don’t value social media, and the interaction between people that it encourages. I hate how it sometimes turns some of my friends into blithering idiots. This is strong wording, I know, and I don’t even really mean it, but it got your attention, so… If you’re on the ‘Book, you know that, unlike Twitter (which I like better, and am more active on), people seem to use it as a platform to pontificate about some subject or other in a way that they would never do if they were engaging with you face to face.
Twitter has a limit to how much you can say in one post (tweet). Sure, you can link to longer pieces, and you can use services like TwitLonger that get around the 140 character restrictions, but for the most part, brevity is encouraged, and makes for a more to-the-point experience. Facebook, on the other hand, is endless. And for every pic of someone’s unimpressive dog or random leaf they just had to share, there’s a diatribe about what’s wrong with whatever, and here’s why, and “it wasn’t that way when we were kids,” and blah blah blah.
When it’s someone I know commenting on a popular or timely article, that’s one thing, but when it’s a friend asking, “What the f**k is a – insert new, hugely popular phenomenon that is meant to appeal to people much younger than said friend, and they know this, and also know full well what it is, but pose the question to seem just slightly out of the loop because they have more important things to think about, and want to make sure you know it -?” For instance: “What the f**k is a Skrillex?” I cringe, and quickly move on and try not to read any of the comments, most of which are from yet other friends who quickly pounce on modern culture, denigrating anything that they weren’t in on the ground floor for, and inevitably moan on about the Star Wars prequels and the inferior quality of mp3s.
So, what does this have to do with parenting? Since a good chunk of my friends are parents, I see lots of links to click-bait articles, quizzes, and lists about parenting that they all too often fall for, click on, and comment. And then I’m sucked in too. Such-and-such commented on a comment? Well, I have to see that original comment, and what they commented about it. After all, I may or may not agree with them or the comment they are commenting on. But wait, while I may or may not agree with my friend, all these other commenters are idiots! And I certainly don’t agree with this article, nor the random stranger who wrote it. Who are they to write about how they think things should be? They’re just some faceless blogger who I am now taking so seriously that I too may comment, and will most certainly address on my own blog!
Of course, it’s only made all the more attractive/infuriating if it’s being suggested that there is an appropriate way to raise my kids, and I am not adhering to it. Which is almost always. I’m not talking about common sense things like: “Don’t let your kids lick aloe vera off of their burned fingers.” Or: “Don’t let your kids put matches out with their fingers.” I mean more broader topics, like a very popular meme from earlier this year stating:
Of course this is complete bulls**t. I know, because my parents spanked me, and while it’s true that I don’t actively go around disrespecting others, I don’t think being spanked taught me anything more than it hurts. But I had many people in my feed, people who I grew up with, some who have kids, and even some who don’t, give this meme the old “like” thumbs up. Really?! You hit your kids? In 2014? And you’re proudly, even smugly, advertising this to your friends, friends of friends, and I’m assuming in-laws and business associates?
My point is that these opinions are far reaching, can reflect back on you, and are generally not your idea in the first place. Sure, you may agree with the notion that kids shouldn’t get an award for simply showing up to a track meet or some other contest, but you didn’t write about it, you just “liked” it. And how much thought did you put into it? Teenagers don’t necessarily deserve trophies for showing up to a tournament, but maybe a 7-year-old would like a little ribbon for participating in their school’s track meet. Is that ribbon going to have a lasting impact on their lives? Will they expect to be pre-approved for a mortgage because one time years before they got a ribbon for something, and now everything should be handed to them for the rest of their lives? No. Don’t be such a friggin’ Grinch, she’s 7.
Think about the power that a successful meme or blog post can have. The ripples that expand across the Internet, reaching past your feed, your world, and out into the zeitgeist can drive traffic back to that blog. The more views a blog has the more attention it gets, and (theoretically) the more successful it is. The more successful, the more money it can generate. What posts get the most attention? The ones that convey the most outrageous ideas. Ergo: Hit your kids!
That the blogger actually believes what they are writing is almost inconsequential. The fact that they chucked it out there, and you caught and ran with it, with all your friends and followers running right behind you, is the goal, for the most part. It’s common sense. Sure, you’ll have people who are trying to be helpful, I suppose, but more often than not, they are “advising” because, let’s face it, they want you to know they “get it” a little bit more than you do. Even if “getting it” means knowing how to pull your strings. Plus, they know how to use WordPress.
A recent perusal of Facebook over the last few days yielded these gems:
Wearethatfamily.com claims that goodie bags given out at the end of Birthday parties are a no-no: “We take our kids to parties so they can give a gift, but they take a small one home so they won’t feel bad? It’s not their birthday. This concept of spoiling kids is temporary fun. It’s okay for them not to be the center of attention.”
While I agree that kids don’t always need to be the centre of attention, I would say that a goodie bag isn’t so much given so guests don’t feel bad, I think it’s more of a gesture of thanks for coming, and bringing a present. There’s nothing wrong with showing a little gratitude, which is something we can teach our kids by having them give out little gift bags at the end of their Birthday party.
Wearethatfamily.com also say that families “simply can’t center our lives around our children when we are centering our lives around Christ.”
So, no goodie bags, and their children shouldn’t be as important as a carpenter turned magician who lived over 2000 years ago? I’m sure their kids feel the same way about the importance of their parents vs. Santa.
Huffingtonpost.com managed to cobble together a list of 11 Things Only Parents of Boys Will Understand.
For the examples in the list, think “girls don’t” in place of “boys do”: Girls don’t give the best hugs. Girls don’t think farts are funny. Girls aren’t physical. Girls don’t love unconditionally. What a load of sexist bulls**t. I understand that this is A. written by a person who doesn’t have a daughter, and B. on huffingtonpost.com, so it’s not to be taken seriously. Still, almost everything on this list can be applied to either sex. I don’t want to get too far into double standards, and I know this is a bit of fun, but as a parent of a girl, with another one on the way, the generalizing and attempt at being both cute and provocative negate the whole thing, rendering it an exercise in simply filling in space.
Yet I did click…