Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mommy Wars

 I'm recovering from a weirdo massive headache and fever combination that I was struck with yesterday and am still a bit foggy.  This probably isn't the best time to make a blog post, but since I live on the edge, I'll do it anyhow.  Plus, since there's a 94% chance that I'm going to insult a ton of people, this is a good excuse.  "I know not of what I speak, I'm still sort of sick."   Heh.

I made a Facebook post last week about how I really wish that I had more friends that are mothers, but that there are many reasons why I don't.  I got replies that implied that I was about to go on the attack.  That's possibly a valid assumption for those that know me casually, but I don't hatefully go after people with this blog, I simply feel that writing things down is the healthiest way to vent.  It avoids direct and random freak outs on the public at large, which could result in my being punched in the face.  After 30 years of age, you're just not as physically resilient as you used to be… regardless of how fearless you are about being hit.  Fact.

I am a judgmental person, and I'm not sorry.  When it comes to parenting, I admittedly tend to border on self righteous about my views.  Maybe it's because I've spent years dealing with the children of many parents and have seen it all.  I feel that has given me a unique perspective about the direct correlation between how folks parent, the effect it has on their kids, and how it has an impact on the way other people see those kids because of it.  Maybe it's just how I'm wired.  I don't honestly know, but I either way, I'm not likely to ever change.  So without further ado, here goes.

I don't always dislike children, but when I do, it's usually because their parents aren't doing their job."

(This is not universally true.  There are some great parents I know who realize that their kids have behavior issues, they do everything in their power to address it and find strategies to help their kids succeed.   I am NOT talking about this group of people. None of us got handed a guide book after delivering our babies and the majority of the folks I know love their children desperately and just do the very best they can do.)

I am your quintessential loner and have never envisioned myself even considering being a part of a mom's playgroup, even as a new mom… it's just not me.  That doesn't mean that I don't see the value in having other people in your same boat to share your trials and tribulations of parenting with.  After all, it's the hardest job anyone will ever do.  You really do need support and reinforcements.  Since I don't usually connect organically with most folks I meet, and since I'm also reticent to lots of socializing, finding other parents to pal around with was always recognized as an uphill battle.  What I did not take into consideration in the beginning was how much of a divide different parenting styles could be in a friendship.  Whoa, let me tell you.  It singlehandedly overshadows any of my other obstacles in finding other moms to have as friends.  Let me break down some classics that are easily recognizable.

1)  The "Laid Back" Parent: We all know them.  You agree to go out to dinner with a family for the first time.  Ten minutes into the meal, their kids are running around the restaurant, throwing food,  siblings hitting each other, screaming, being disrespectful to their parents, ect.  The parents are drinking their sweet tea and completely disregarding the fact that everyone is put out with their children and it's not even a blip on their radar.   It's happened to most of us.  I am instantly mortified when I find myself in this sort of company.  If my son decided to lose his mind and act like this in public, he would immediately been removed from said place and taken directly home to be dealt with.  Inappropriate actions have consequences just like good behavior is always praised and recognized in my home.

Some people think I'm too rigid.  But they don't consider the elephant in the room.  When you allow your kids to act in this manner, you are doing them a great disservice.  Why?  Because EVERYONE HATES THEM and it's YOUR FAULT.   This has been weighing on me for a while and it feels damn good to say it.

2)  The "Screamer"Parent:  This species of parent is the loudest and usually the most ineffective.  They can usually be found in their natural habitat, like a Wal Mart or Winn Dixie.   Sometimes though, their skills of disguise will make you befriend one before you realize what you've gotten yourself into.  It's only when you finally hang out with them in their home (or yours) that you see the truth.  Usually it will go like this:  The child(ren) are typically wild, that's already established, but in an attempt to not be too judgmental, you go against your instincts and assume it's a phase.  While attempting to have an adult conversation, you find yourself distracted by inappropriate behavior by one of the kids.  You look at the parent and may see irritation, but no action.  The behavior continues, the parent finally says, "Stop it."  They are ignored, blatantly.  This is when your eyebrow raises slightly.  Then the child just continues to push the envelope and you see the parental explosion when it's three seconds too late to back away safely.  The parent proceeds to scream wildly (now you know where the kids get it from), sometimes they curse at their kids, threaten to beat the shit out of them, possibly smack them on the butt if they can catch the offending child, blah blah blah.

Here's the kicker.  It doesn't matter.  The kid doesn't give a shit.  Why?  Because all of that screaming means nothing and the kid knows it.  They don't actually deliver an effective consequence, follow through consistently or make good on their stupid threats in any way.  They just scream, shake their heads and give up as their child carries on doing whatever they want until the whole process starts over again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.   Fantastic!  Now you not only have a headache from the kids, the parents have made it a migraine and the kid is still an asshole despite the big scene that was just made.   This is when you get an imaginary call that your bird died and you have to haul ass out of there before your own child thinks that this is normal or acceptable in any way.   (Yes, we all lose our tempers and freak out during our careers as parents.  Anyone that says they don't is a liar and I'll tell them so.  I am specifically referring to those that do this chronically.  I can't believe I'm even spelling this out.. it's that obvious.)

Again, parents… a disservice is being done here.  Why?  Because EVERYONE HATES YOUR KIDS and it's YOUR FAULT.  In addition,  you have shown a really ugly side of yourself and now no one wants to be your friend, either.   Congratulations.

3) The 'Isn't She Cute?' Parent:  I won't delve into this type with too much detail.  It's self explanatory.  The child talks back to them (or you) rudely and disrespectfully.  The parent says, "Isn't she SO smart?"
The child tears ass through the Target aisle, knocking everything over and the parent says, "She has so much energy, she's surely going to be a great athlete!!!"
The examples go on and on, but at the end of the day all I have to say is this…. That shit isn't cute.  Disrespectful back talking isn't cute, physically hitting others isn't cute,being ugly to other children isn't cute, acting like a savage in public isn't cute, none of it is cute to anyone but YOU.

4) The 'Stripper in Training' Parent:  This category is specifically for parents of little girls, and it may just be the most disgusting and scary.   If your daughter is ten and comes to school dressed like she's about to leave at two fifteen and go work the late afternoon lunch shift at the Pony, please go kill yourself.  Kids should dress as kids and act like children.  Allowing and encouraging 'boyfriends' in elementary school, giving them cell phones and letting them leave the house with their little kid asses hanging out and a face with make-up on it is vile.   That is all.  People don't hate your kid, they feel sorry for them.  They hate YOU.

Seriously, I could go on and on, but enough people probably already think I'm directing this at them and are mad at me.  To that I say, 'Don't be.'  Everyone knows at least five parents in each category, if you see yourself in one that I described, that's not on me.  That's on you.  Besides, what do I know anyway?  It's just my lowly opinion and I never claimed to be an expert.

Fact is, there are a lot of parents who may look at me and then read this and be surprised at how I view things.  Good, I say.  Don't assume anything by the way I look.  I take parenting very seriously and realize that I border on 'old school' in regards to certain opinions… why is that a bad thing?  Older generations as a whole seemed to do a much better job than many nowadays.  Besides, you could do everything to the best of your ability and right and still end up with a teenager or older child that goes off the deep end and takes a totally messed up path.  I know that all too well.  Why not give them every tool available to ensure that they have the skills necessary to be everything they can in this difficult world we live in?  We all mess up no matter how hard we try to do right by our kids.  It's just the parents that so blatantly do a crap job that upset me so.

Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that it's not so easy in this world to find people who have similar world views, lifestyles and passions.  When you're looking for a support system as a mother, it gets even harder.  Much as many wouldn't like to admit it, how people parent their kids matters a whole lot.  I've met more than a handful of women who I like very much on a personal level, but who I simply cannot get very close to because of their familial dynamic, parenting style, and ultimately and sadly, their kids.   I suppose that makes me the bad guy because I can't set those things aside for a friendship, but anyone that knows me knows I'm totally ok with that.  


  1. I battle with parenting stuff all the time. In my own head, how others perceive me as a parent, and trying to make friends with other moms/parents with's hard as shit. I have "that kid"...sometimes. He's Oppositional Defiant and it's not what I bargained for as a new mom, but it's what I got and I do the best I can with it. He's an awesome kid, but a challenge. My other kid is an FAS they push each other's buttons, and mine. Nothing is simple when it comes to parenting. I think I fit into the "she has extenuating circumstances file" of a mom. I'm not great at it, but I try my damndest.....

    1. Darlin, we ALL battle with parenting stuff, because you're right, nothing is ever simple. Believe me when I say that while I don't know exactly what it's like to walk in your shoes, I have had my own battles as a parent…. perhaps you may have heard about an inkling of it here and there. I've often wondered how my child's actions reflects on me as a mother, how it would affect him in life later, all of those things have kept me up more than a thousand nights.

      You are actually one of those mothers that I wish I knew better, for what it's worth. XOX

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  3. First off let me say I agree with you on most everything you said here, and most of it for me was comic relief watching someone write down so thanks for that.
    The only thing I want to bring up , is that I do not feel my child is a reflection of me in or out of public, as soon as I feel that way I must submit to the idea that the child is not fully an individual. As one person can not truly control another person, it might seem that way from time to time, and in some ways as parents we have moments that feel like we have to be, or need to be fully in control of another human being with their own thought, wants and feelings regardless if they are not child or not.
    If my son starts to act up in a restaurant , I am like you I remove the child. But not because I am embarrassed of them, I like you want to remove my child, based of off how he is being seen, and how he is changing the environment for others in a negative way.
    To me there is nothing other then looking at my child as their own person and giving them as much freedom as I am able to given their safety. But I do not think that makes me a "Laid Back " Parent at all. So I would like to add one to your list if I may. Children are always ( hopefully ) going to have their own minds, and do ( in the end ) what they really want to do regardless of what people or parents tell them to do or not do.

    X) The Controller : Watching everything their kids do and commenting on anything that child might do or is doing. When the child does not react well the parent go's into full discipline mode, before understanding why the child is doing what they are doing, with out talking to their child. Every action the child makes is gone over with a razor blade, and anything that child does that is not up to the approval rating of the parent is used as a point for discipline.
    I see this in Target all the time, the kid just wants to look down at something and is not walking at the speed the parent wants them to " Keep up!" " Come on", would you like being told that if you wanted to just look at something ? Regardless of your age, your are a person, with a right to feel and do things, if it meets someone else's approval or not.

    1. Menton: Thanks for your perspective. I'd like to think that parents such as you and I have walked enough of a different path from the norms of society to really recognize and celebrate the need and importance for a child's individuality. Someone told me many years ago (they were a parent three times over) that control over another human being is a complete illusion, you can only really have that 'control' until the day that your children realize that you actually cannot make them do anything that they don't want to do. Having raised one and being in the process of raising another, I'd wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment.

      From my perspective, good parenting is not about control, it's about balance and boundaries.

      Boundaries are obviously necessary for the safety of the child and to give them a sense of security in the world. They inherently test limits because they biologically crave boundaries and structure. Without those things, they truly do end up feeling lost… it's irresponsible to give a child no limits when they emotionally and mentally are not prepared to handle that. They simply don't have the tools yet. (However, I don't feel or mean to insinuate that this is what you're referring to.)

      Balance is where I think your contribution comes in, providing the opposite end of the spectrum to what I covered in my post. Being overly controlling or a 'helicopter' parent is as counterproductive to a child as someone not interested in providing limits at all. I labeled the 'Laid back' parent as such, not because they epitomize the phrase, but because that is how they choose to see their questionable behavior. The same applies for the 'controller', who often view themselves as 'a disciplinarian', when in fact they do more to stifle their child's spirit and individuality than teach them to make good choices on their own.

      Everyone has the right to make choices, regardless of the human being's age. I personally do my best to parent by showing my child that while there is always a choice, one must be aware of the potential outcome of those choices, whether they be good or bad. Nazi style parenting did me no good at all as a child, and I'm fairly sure that tactic had the complete opposite outcome than what was intended.

      Ultimately, I think what most questionable parents are lacking today is common sense.

  4. Most parents are downright fucking shit and not at all fit for the task.

    1. Darling u.v. ray…..

      Your eloquence is always inspirational, but I'd really appreciate it if you'd stop beating around the bush and just make your point. ;)

      I completely agree with you.

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  6. Could not agree more, and please do not think I was tying to say in anyway I thought of you like, this, we just share somethings as I was venting right along with you.
    From you facebook pics alone I can tell what a wonderful mother you are, and I hope you do not mind me saying it makes me very proud to call you 'friend'.

    I agree would you 100%, there are no simple black and whites to this. It is all about each individual person dealing with other individual people. That is IF you can find someone that has individuated themselves. There are no Opra shows, or books that can tell one how to raise THEIR kid, no simple answers. As you said, the hardest job in the world.

    I also would like to say I know I am not a mother, that is all to clear to me. I can make a painting with many people in it… or one person in it… but you guys MAKE PEOPLE. You have all men beat by a long shot. All hail to good mothers !!!!

    1. I absolutely did not take it personally at all! We've known each other a very long time and I'm proud to have you as a friend as well.

      May I add, you're a darn impressive dad yourself. We did good after all. ;)

  7. I loved this post! Though I'm not yet a parent myself, I can still observe and judge others when I spot shitty parenting (you don't have to shoot heroin to know that it's bad for you). Recently, I've been bombarded with horror stories pertaining to my cousin's lousy mothering. She has four children, and they essentially run the house. She seems to exist only to follow them around with paper towels and a broom, to clean up their wake of destruction. This cousin, who I'll just call "K", is a flaky, new-age "anti-disciplinarian." She's your type 1, Laid-Back mommy, but to the extreme. It's almost as if she goes out of her way to avoid even displaying the illusion of authority over her children. Anything they do, no matter how disrespectful, possibly harmful, or just plain bratty, is permitted as part of their innocent charm. When my uncle was out visiting K, one of the kids kept trying to climb into the back of his truck, where he had a collection of rusty tools. Not wanting her to be harmed, my uncle kept asking her to stop and eventually threatened her by asking rhetorically, "Do I have to give you a spanking?" The child looked up with eager eyes, because she thought he was offering to give her something. She had no idea what a spanking was.

    Now, I'm sure we could debate all day over the potential merits/detriments of spanking a child (no thanks), but what amazes me from the story is that (1) the kid did not even know what the term meant -- there was no recognition of negative consequences, and (2) that she thought she was going to be rewarded for her bad behavior. To my mind, this cousin's shitty mothering is setting her children up for failure in the real world. We learn by establishing long-term memories based on cause-and-effect events. We don't stop touching a hot stove because it feels good. There have to be consequences for actions, both positive and negative, or a child never develops any sense of boundaries, nor any real framework for acceptable behavior.

    Again, great post! Entertaining and very thought-provoking.