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The Parenting Trend That Is Harming Us All

Photograph by Twenty20

A recent segment on the Today Show sparked outrage online, over the apparent mocking of gifted children and their parents. Personally, I did not care for the segment, but it wasn't necessarily because I am the mother of a gifted child.

I am just so tired of the toxic culture we have developed, where it is not only acceptable but considered amusing—and often profitable—to make fun of other parents. It has practically become an industry.

We love to label parents. Then we make assumptions about them, lump them into groups and go to town.

No matter how you may choose to parent your children, there is someone out there who believes you are very wrong. That person will often will tell you so, usually in very unsavory terms.

It started out on blogs and in parenting forums, and then spread to social media. Then mainstream media joined in on the "fun." There seem to be no boundaries or taboos. Everybody is fair game.

Laughing at someone else's expense is nothing new, but it appears to be growing more mean-spirited.

Laughing at someone else's expense is nothing new, but it appears to be growing more mean-spirited. And it is rarely one-on-one. A gang mentality easily develops and things get very ugly, very quickly.

Anyone who is offended is told to lighten up. The problem is with them. They don't understand satire. Or have a sense of humor. They need to grow thicker skin. "Get off the internet if you can't handle it."

I want to ask you a question: Is this how you would respond if someone was making fun of your child? Would you say these things to your daughter? Would you consider it your son's fault if he were upset by being called names, being the butt of his classmates' jokes, being excluded, or taunted or bullied?

What if your child was the one making fun of a classmate or peer? Would you laugh along with him? Pat her on the back and tell her she's hilarious? Explain that the other kid just doesn't have a sense of humor?

I want to believe the answer is, "Of course not!"

What may seem like a little "harmless fun" has the potential to have very negative consequences. I'd like to see more people thinking—and talking—about that.

If that is the response, it begs another question: What makes it OK for adults? Why do we encourage, support and even applaud grown men and women making fun of each other?

Humor and satire are sometimes purposely used to veil intentions that are insensitive at best, malicious at worst. Not always, of course. But the simple fact is—there is nothing funny about judgment and prejudice. In any form.

It's important to think about, because while parents are busy making fun of each other, children are watching. They're likely to mimic the things they see and hear.

What may seem like a little "harmless fun" has the potential to have very negative consequences. I'd like to see more people thinking—and talking—about that.

Most of all, I'd like to see the trend of making fun of other people's parenting choices die a swift death. I choose not to participate. Will you join me?

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