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Monday, July 19, 2010

Parenting: You're Doing it Wrong, Part IV

Monday, July 19, 2010 By

This the last part of a four-part rant. Read the previous post here.

Well, I have one thing to say to the mom who crossed the street to avoid me at First Friday this month:
Suck it.

Oh, yeah, you heard me. You and your superior attitude can suck it.

My child is not perfectly dressed in an outfit that costs more than my car, because when it is a casual event I let her dress herself – and she cannot yet read a price tag, nor does she (yet) equate the cost of one's clothing with her personal worth. I'm sure high school (and your kids) will take care of that, but whatever. Dressed thusly, she can do as she pleases without worrying about ruining clothes out of which she will have grown in six months. She is five years old, and has better sense than you. So suck it.

My child’s hair is not perfectly coiffed – and, in fact, is not even brushed – because that’s the way she likes it and because it does not matter. Is she going to work? Her hair is wild, it’s natural and it is scalp-pulling-bow free. She is in no pain, and is free to run, jump, skip, hop, sing, dance and behave as a five-year-old should, without inhibition. She is five years old and has more fun than you and your child combined. So suck it.

My child was not in church on Sunday. Nor will she be. Because despite your conviction that my innocent five-year-old – who regularly discusses Jesus with her six-year-old cousin in conversations I keep meaning to video – will be burning in eternal hellfire because every inch of her has not yet been baptized, I believe that good spiritual training begins with her parents. And we’re teaching her to be generous, to be thankful, to use humor wisely (something I have yet to learn), to be responsible for her actions, to name and to manage her emotions, and to think critically about her beliefs. I also come from a religious background that requires a person to understand what it is that his or her church believes in order to join it. I still believe that. And yet, despite her lack of church attendance, my child is five years old, and displays more kindness and neighborly love than you can muster. So suck it.

And let’s face it: at heart, it’s not really about parenting choices, now, is it? It’s about maintaining control over other people. It’s about utilizing social pressures to force conformity to your world view. For argument’s sake, let’s say that your world view is the absolute truth. In that case, how will a child with no contact with your world view know how “right” you are? How can you lead by example, if you choose not to exemplify your beliefs to anyone who does not share them?

There aren’t that many things worse, in my mind, than treating children this way. When you shun a child based on a mother’s or father’s reasonable but different parenting choices, you have violated what I believe to be a spiritual mandate to care for the weak, the defenseless, and the young. In your zest to establish yourself as the “right” kind of parent and member of the community, you have forgotten the basis of all world religions, of most professional codes, of the Hippocratic Oath: do no harm to your fellow man (and your fellow woman and child).
Other than perpetrating violence or causing mass harm, there aren’t many other ways to mess up to society than when you treat a child badly. Because those children grow up to be adults who act on the treatment that they received during their childhoods – and emotionally fragile children can grow up and perpetuate violence and mass harm.
 And every time women disrespect the reasonable – although perhaps not popular – choices that other women make as mothers, we do something that is worse than buying into a weird, Anglo version of nuveau riche marianismo. We do something worse than just hurt another woman’s feelings. We do something worse than fail to allow critical thought to establish the status quo, as opposed to weak-minded social pressures and “Mean Girl” tactics.

When we shun another child because of a mother’s choices, we devalue children. We judge their worth at an age when their worth is universal. Their worth is without measure. Their worth is divine.

And your worth, as a mother, is also divine. And that is why it is so important to lead by example; and for our children to see us actively practice charity, generosity, and kindness. Now, this post doesn't demonstrate that. I am aware of that, and I am aware that this last part of my rant is not a lead-by-example moment. But, then again, my child can only read three-letter words. So I don't think it will move her backwards too far.

I hope that bitchy mothers, somewhere, read this. I hope they slap the sneers off of their own faces, take a second look at the child of a "bad" mother, and invite that child into their homes. It's a rewarding experience, to have a positive impact on a child's life - as my husband and I have experienced.

Oh, yes, there are mothers whom we judge.

We just don't take it out on their children.


  1. dude you rock. i'm not a mom but you totally are exactly how i want to be as a mom someday!

  2. Thanks, nimil! It's a tough job, but one I'll never quit!