Saturday, July 9, 2011

"I will NEVER be a BAD PARENT!"

I'm not a mom, but I like reading parenting sites. I think this started when I was doing a report for a class and my topic, for whatever reason, was the safety of homebirthing. My search for anecdotes led me to a parenting site, The site's slant was more liberal than I'd agree with, but the topics were interesting and I had fun reading the (tongue-in-cheek) 'Bad Parent' articles ("Why I Never Let my Four-Year-Old Win at Games," "Is It Wrong to Raise your Child in a Sub-Zero Climate?", "Why My Kid Won't Attend School this Fall," "I Let my Four-Year-Old Swear," etc.) And after finishing my report, I continued to visit the site every now and then.

(Another reason I started reading parenting sites: there were two or three years that I positively 'knew' I'd be pregnant every month, so of course, you see, I believed my becoming a parent was imminent and it was necessary to read them. But now, even in my patient waiting, I read on.)

Every now and then I read the comments section after an article. Now, I know that the anonymity of the internet allows people to be far more biting than they'd ever consider being in real life, but the vitriol and ugliness of the commenting moms astonishes me. Moms attack moms for anything and everything. An article about the crazy conditions at Octomom's house, for example, led one mom to throw in a jab at working moms who send their kids to daycare:

"If she hired 2 or 3 extra staff and then rotated them out every few months so none of the children could establish any permanent bonds, bought a bunch of play-doh, some flashcards, glue sticks and sparkle, PRESTO – she would be providing the same sort of enriching environment kids get in daycare all day. Win- win!"

What in the world is the point of that? Does that count as 'educating' other moms on the possible risks of their choices? NO.

Here's another one, and it's not from the comments section but instead from an article about Kraft's new macaroni and cheese with added cauliflower:
"If you’re feeding your kid neon orange macaroni and cheese, are you really so concerned with health that the ½ serving of cauliflower that’s being mixed in with a cup of the processed cheese and white pasta is really making you feel better about what you’re serving for dinner?"

(So, all you moms that are feeding your kids macaroni and cheese out of a box, now you are aware of your appalling disregard for the well-being of your family.)

And here's a comment from Mom 1 to Mom 2, who had commented on Mom 1's original post about pets and hygiene, saying that she didn't worry about the dog's germs too much because germs help develop immunity:
"Umm..thanks for the reply...I'm glad to see that people let their kids pick up germs on purpose though. My kids rarely get sick too...and I'm border line germ-a-phobe. So I guess we're both right. Does this mean if you drop your fork at dinner, you just pick it up and keep eating??? I mean...same concept, right??? And if so, then why wash our hands? Germs are good for us, right??? No one is saying be spick and span, but come the hell on? But, that's how you roll. Not my problem."

These aren't nearly the worst of it. I didn't want to spend all day copying and pasting.

It's not just parenting sites, either. I seem to hear it everywhere. So-and-so's a bad parent for choosing public schools... vaccinating... not vaccinating... feeding formula.... co-sleeping.... letting their baby cry... spanking... not feeding organic... breastfeeding too long... weaning too quickly... sending their kids to daycare... not sending their kids to preschool... homeschooling... planning a c-section... using a pacifier... letting the dog lick their baby's face... watching too much TV... not having a set bedtime... not disciplining strictly enough... disciplining too strictly... being too clean... being too dirty... etc., blah, blah, blah.

Of course, I'm sure every mom has her own opinion about all of these issues and perhaps even feels strongly about several of them. For example, I am firmly convinced of the necessity of vaccines and plan to fully vaccinate my kids in the future. In fact, I even think that everyone should vaccinate! But if someone doesn't, is he or she a bad parent? Of course not!!! Who IS a 'bad parent'? Hmmm. Let's start with the handful of mothers who appear in the news for killing their children, abandoning them, abusing them, or selling them. Let's agree that THEY are, indeed, 'bad parents' (and if we can, let's try to be merciful... after all, there but for the grace of God, etc.). And then let's stop there!

I know I will do many things that I now say I'd never do with my kids. But one thing I intend to stick to is this: I never, ever want to spew that crap, online or in person. I hope that my love and best intentions for my kids will be enough for others, and I hope to attribute that same goodwill to other moms. In a world where there truly are bad parents, calling everyone a terrible mom trivializes the real sadness out there.

No one is perfect.

(It occurs to me that I am being judgmental of judgmental moms. I'm not a mom yet, though, so it's okay.)



  1. Loved this post! I agree. . . Mom's are too judgmental of other mom's, and if anyone should give grace to others, it's other mom's.

    I am a mama to 2 one year olds. (long story!) My kids have a nanny, I vaccinnate, my kids had both breast milk and formula, I love them to pieces, I don't hurt them, and I would do anything for them. To me, I'm a good mama. :) But of course. . . everyone has their opinions.

  2. Thank you for your comment! You sound like a super-cool mom. If you DIDN'T have a nanny with two one-year-olds, I'd be shocked. Yay for great and reasonable moms like you!