In the four years I've spent blogging about motherhood, I
can say with hard-earned experience that we are a little messed up in the
parenting arena. At the very least, we
are a little messed up in the "judging other parents while we cling to our own superiority" arena.
We do our best, and we should, but in our current culture of parenting in fear, we are missing the mark.
Take for instance that time my car broke down the night
before an airplane trip I was taking with my 3-year-old. Not realizing I had left my son's carseat in
the back of the broken car, which was now at the garage for repairs, I realized my mistake walking out our door to the waiting cab.
I snapped a quick photo of my son, strapped in
as best as I could in the back seat of the taxi cab and posted that
sucker on Facebook under the caption "Worst Mom Ever"—tongue firmly in cheek. BOOM!
By the time we had arrived at our destination, a virtual firestorm had
erupted on my blog page. A small army of
carseat moms were ripping me to shreds, wishing for the death of my son (to
teach me a lesson, mind you) and stealing the image I had posted and using it
to create a number of new Facebook pages dedicated to featuring my son as the
poster child of improper car safety.
When I lost my daughter to childhood cancer, I gave up any illusion that control was part of the parenting equation.
Another time, I snapped a quick photo of me and my young baby
in our happy place, Target, not realizing that rather than focusing on our joy,
social media users would condemn me for putting my infant's car carrier in a
shopping cart improperly. Those moms,
too, also managed to rip my mothering skills to shreds.
And then there was the time I was banned from an attachment
parenting page for foolishly suggesting that allowing your child to cry it
out before naps was in fact a parenting choice and not the same as abuse or torture, as some very enthusiastic attachment
parents were suggesting.
Man, the judgment rains down upon you when you are a mom,
but when you are a mom blogger, you see and feel it in these extreme ways that
just make you shake your head, and, yes, sometimes weep.
[W]hat's more likely is that we are harming our children in our attempts to protect them at every turn.
When I lost my daughter to childhood cancer, I gave up any
illusion that control was part of the parenting equation. The truth is, and I know this far better than
most, that bad things happen. Very bad
things happen, and there are not always things we can do to prevent them. We do our best, and we should, but in our
current culture of parenting in fear, we are missing the mark.
New York Magazine recently featured Jennifer Senior's article, which details this culture of fear beautifully, "We Live in an Age of
Irrational Parenting." Amen,
sister. Preach! I could not agree more as I vigorously nodded
my head up and down as I read her words. Despite study after study, and statistic after statistic that points to
2015 America as being the safest time and place in history to raise children, more
than ever before we are limiting our children and our parenting because of
fear and this illusion that we can control any and all bad things from
happening to them.
We can't, folks. What's more likely is that we are harming
our children in our attempts to protect them at every turn.
Now it might just be that I was raised the youngest of four
in the 1970s and 1980s—that era when our mothers smoked and drank when we
were in utero, or a dozen of us regularly piled in the back of some pick-up or
station wagon—or it might be that experience I have with losing a child, but a dose of laissez-faire parenting is alright by me.
Love your children. Protect them. Keep them safe from
running in front of cars and playing violent video games and taking candy from strangers. But, please, let's ease up on the fear, the judgment, the condemnation of others
who parent differently and the false belief that every moment of every day is
something to be controlled.