Motherhood is like Ivan Drago, it will break you, if you let it. Mouthy kids, messy house, everybody obstinate, demands unending, crying, whining, clinging, pestering, need, need, need. It is utterly exhausting.
Louis CK has a great bit called, “Why?” It about sums up what parenthood can do to you.
I share all this because I read via a friend’s Facebook feed this mom’s lament about a truly crappy morning with her darling angels:
I lost it this morning. Really lost it. After the kids were all dressed for school, breakfast eaten, teeth brushed, backpacks packed, I turned on the TV. I have a rule that the kids can only watch certain channels. Annabelle never, ever, ever sticks to this rule.
You can go read the rest to see how she proceeded to handle Annabelle. Let’s just say this, at least mom didn’t let the disobedience stand.
This mother is worried about people judging. Maybe some non-parent is going to judge, but most parents are nothing if not utterly humbled. Kids will do that to you. I’m convinced that it starts with pregnancy and the uncontrolled, public fart that happens at least once. A parent is not a parent if he or she hasn’t lost his or her dignity. Sometimes, it’s lost and never returns. And this is with normal, regular old kids.
In addition to my “normal” children, I also have an autistic child in the mix. Having a special needs kid sent me to the books. I needed help.
Through my desperate searching, I did find one gem. There is a great book for parents struggling with disrespectful, entitled brats. I wish I had bought and read and implemented the principles years ago, but I was so buried and overwhelmed back then and no one told me. So, I’m telling you.
Read this book. When things start spinning out of control again, read it again. Lock yourself in the bathroom (yes, I still do that and no, it still doesn’t work) and refresh yourself with the principles.
For me, the maddening parenting thing is making the same request over and over and having gifted and talented children looking at me slack-jawed and drooling and acting as though I’ve just spoken in an obscure Chinese dialect. Oh, you know The Look. We all know The Look. This book will help you with that look.
Women want to believe that they’re impervious to things like age and ovaries. So, during peak creative years, women push their energy into relatively time unlimited endeavor–career–instead of a very time limited endeavor–having babies.
Young mothers are scorned for being stupid, giving up their potential, subjugating themselves to a man’s world.
Ironically, by subscribing to a dirty man’s definition of success — rutting like animals and climbing the corporate ladder by any means necessary — women deprive themselves of doing the one thing that is essentially female–giving birth.
Newsflash: Only women can do it. There are requirements. A woman must have a functional uterus, fresh eggs, good health and it’s really helpful to have economic and emotional support. In old-fashioned terms, that was called a husband.
Imagine the shock, then, when women find out that they’ve been lied to about their reproductive ability:
A decade ago, a fertility ad campaign on public buses in several big cities sparked a vicious backlash. It featured a baby bottle shaped like an hourglass, to warn women their time was running out. But women’s rights groups called it a scare tactic that left women feeling pressured and guilty.
Another ad campaign? Sure, says Mingo.
“And it needs to come on when men are paying attention,” she says. “Heck, put it on in the middle of a football game or something!”
Women are afraid of losing career opportunities. It’s not like there is one choice or the other. I’ve always worked while having kids.
Still, it helped that because of medical training waiting to have kids was no option because it limited options.
When you know you want kids, and maybe a big family, two things should be a priority:
1. Getting married.
2. Getting pregnant.
So, women in their 20s need to strike while their hot body and biology work to their advantage. This, of course, is very politically incorrect advice.
Telling a woman to carve out time to date, join social institutions (like, horrors!, churches) that encourage marriage, etc. just seems so old-fashioned.
Well getting married and having kids young has many biological and sociological and cultural advantages.
Women need to be told the truth about their limitations so they can change their life choices accordingly. Many who want and should have children won’t be able to because of the lies they believe and they’ll find out the truth too late.
Very interesting (but rather wrong) piece about the younger generations blaming the Boomers by Walter Russell Read by way of Monty at Ace. The comments are far more insightful.
Says Alex Scipio:
Sorry, Prof. Mead, but you have widely missed the mark.
When the 18-yr olds, the lead Boomers, were given the vote in 1972 and shortly began their careers in office, the Debt was $400B. For this America had purchased and/or conquered a continent, invented air and space travel, modern manufacturing, fertilizers and pharmaceuticals, invented and commercialized computers and telecommunications, and won every war we had tried to win.
The Boomers? Have invented nothing. Have discovered nothing.Have generated wealth only in bubbles based on intenet (also invented by their parents as ARPANet) fantasy.
Sure – Boomers are in everywhere pretending that they have anything good to say or any worthwhile thoughts. But take a look around. The world of the past 50 years is a steady decline of cultural and societal courtesy, manner, education, volunteering, education, exploration, education (did I say education?).
Even better, John Lynch concludes:
I’m Gen X, and I’ve been stuck listening to Boomer [folderol] my whole life.
Now the Boomers are all doom and gloom. That’s not because the world is really all that much worse off than it’s ever been. It’s just the impending death of the Boomer generation. They’ve mistaken their own decline for that of the nation and the world.
The Boomer generation has always thought that nothing happened until they arrived (see that beautiful piece of propaganda, Mad Men) and are equally convinced that nothing will happen once they are gone. All the environmental millennialism has its origin in the Boomers. From The Population Bomb to Global Warming they’ve persistently believed that not only are they a social force but a cosmic one as well.
The world will survive their passing. I’m already enjoying the lack of 60s music on the radio and the blessed silence about Woodstock and the Vietnam War. My generation has accomplished far more, with less noise, and we won our war.
History will not be kind.
A couple thoughts:
1. I blame the parents of these indulged brats. The WWII/Great Depression parents, in an attempt to shelter their children from all difficulty, brought up a bratty, superficial, spoiled generation.
2. Learn the lesson. Children today have even more wealth and good fortune (for a while) than the Boomers started out with. The OWS-ers are astonished and dismayed because their Boomer parents sold them the same tripe they believe about themselves. So these little snowflakes are upset that the world is not interested in their brand of special.
Discipline, hard work, responsibility, right and wrong, common sense, diligence, fidelity, and humility don’t go over big but they’re characteristics that win over the long-term.
Overindulgence makes for rotten grown-ups.
Before kids, I’d board a plane looking for my seat, beg, beg, begging the airplane god that no kid was near me. Once I had kids, my judgmental superiority came back to me in a rush. Now, people looked at me and my delightful cherubs as devil’s spawn and prayed to their gods for mercy. The wheel of life and all that.
So Amy Alkon, falls into the former category and wishes to banish bad babies having bad days. In that case, I’d like to banish bad old people, bad NSA people, bad flight attendants, and really, pretty much 90% of my fellow passengers on airplanes. Why? Because they suck.
Most air travelers are tired, angry, irritable or sick. Most airplanes are now bovine-packed breeding grounds of festering frustration. It’s likely I’ll catch a cold or a bad attitude, or more likely both, on an airplane.
It’s pretty to complain about the errant toddler but that would take the focus off the menopausal chick screaming at her husband a couple flights ago or the mean old lady swearing in Spanish at anyone who touched her bag in the overhead bin. You know, the nice, civilized adult people who ride planes. Don’t forget the guy who drops his nervous fart that just won’t go away and from which there is no escape.
Air travel used to be a nicer, more refined experience. People dressed up, and sat a couple people to a row. Flights weren’t overbooked. Planes were new. They fed you. The stewardesses actually seemed to like people and aim to please.
Now, you get more respect and less hassle on a city bus and that is no exaggeration. At least you can get on a bus without having to throw out your bottle of water and being frisked and x-rayed down to your undies. Plane travel is demeaning and annoying.
But I’m not going to blame only the environment, the procedures, the staff and the experience. I’ll blame the passengers, too.
There are two sorts of passengers: The ones who travel all the time and the ones who travel for special jaunts. The regular travelers suffer the special jaunt travelers. The regular travelers have a routine. They know how things work. Then there are those who bumble around, pack wrong, take forever through security, seem lost in space and generally monkey up the works for everyone.
I’d like to set aside special planes for the casual travelers.
So, here’s my list of people I don’t want anywhere near the travel experience: NSA staff, flight attendants, casual travelers, crotchety old ladies, farting men, screaming middle aged couples and really anyone else unwilling to stoically endure a two hour trip.
Fact is, as much as I’ve traveled, I’ve seen far more annoying adults than annoying toddlers. Toddlers get a bad rap, but it’s mostly undeserved. Far more often, kids and babies are a welcome respite from the hell promulgated from some acting-out adult.
And I eagerly await the day when Amy has a kid of her own. She’ll then be praying to the please-don’t-cry, please-don’t-cry, please-don’t-cry god and making a trip she may not want to, but will have to make. She’ll have the pleasure of the apprehensive stares and the judgmental glances. She’ll get to change a diaper in a 2×2 foot closet and try to entertain her child when the flight is three hours delayed on a runway with no food and water and no hope of escape. Yeah, that’s heaven, right there.
Air travel is no fun. No reason to single out toddlers. The whole experience is usually pretty awful.
Morally superior Gen X moms and dads seem entirely reasonable until they see the limits of “limits” like time-outs, banal blabbing and gentle cajoling. Kids regard their parents with utter contempt. Well, some do. Depends on the kid’s personality. And parents, once exasperated, go there. No, they might not spank their child. They’ll yell. Or arm yank. Or threaten. Or push. Or thump (thwack in the head with fingers). Or pinch. Something, anything, to reorder the disordered relationship–the one where the kid is running the show, and the parent feels drug around by the nose by a two and half foot troll.
Parental yelling today may be partly a releasing of stress for multitasking, overachieving adults, parenting experts say.
“Yelling is done when parents feel irritable and anxious,” said Harold S. Koplewicz, the founder of the New York University Child Study Center. “It can be as simple as ‘I’m overwhelmed, I’m running late for work, I had a fight with my wife, I have a project due — and my son left his homework upstairs.’ ”
Numerous studies exist on the effect of corporal punishment on children. A new one came out just last month. Led by a researcher at Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy, the study concluded that spanking children when they are very young (1-year-old) can slow their intellectual development and lead to aggressive behavior as they grow older. But there is far less data on the more common habit of shouting and screaming in families.
Something jumps out at me: as the child of parents who viewed spanking as their Christian duty (spare the rod and all that), I can assure the researchers it is not like yelling is new. Yelling happened in the bad old days, too.
Re: parenting styles: Kids are resilient. An occasional “losing it” moment isn’t going to scar a child for life.
However, when a parent creates an environment where he or she is consistently out of control, where he chooses to respond to a child in anger, rather than reason, the child realizes the child is in control. Someone owns the buttons. Either, the parent is controlling the nuke button or the kid is. I would suggest that the kid will grow increasingly insecure when he can’t count on mom or dad to be in charge. He doesn’t want to be in charge. He wants to relax into well-known boundaries.
So, parents need to keep an eternal guard on their emotions. Some kids are very smart and manipulative and get a kick out of mom and dad being as easy as a wind-up toy. Teenage boys seem to especially enjoy spinning old mom like a top. The parent teaches disrespect for both himself and the child.
I hate to burst the bubble of New Agey parenting types who scream at their kids for not eating the lentils, you’re no better than the out-of-control spankers of yore. The key is who is in charge? Screaming just declares your impotence just as reckless spanking indicated a desire for immediate control without thought. In both cases, it’s the easy way.
Parenting is brutally difficult. It is a constant personal challenge. The big picture: What is right for the kid? is lost in a personal haze of fatigue, hormones, blood sugar, emotional misery or whatever. Every parent realizes his personal limitations almost immediately–a crying, inconsolable infant is often the first test of many.
So yellers need to knock it off and grow up. Someone has to be the parent. It should be the parent.
I’m not going to tell you what my my decision is, but I want to know your opinion.
There have been all sorts of articles written about Helicopter Parents and now, there’s a new trend called “slow parenting“. Slow parenting is just as the name implies–yank your kids out of activities and slow down. There is competing evidence, like came from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers that kids do better with more activities and need at least ten years of consistent, hard work to achieve mastery. And then, there was his extolling of the schools that go year around and for eight hours a day, including Saturday.
Slow parenting might be a new trend, though I’m dubious. Aggressive, strung-out parenting seems to be the norm. Kids have their extra-curricular activities and then they come home…where they are the victims of aggressive schooling.
All the parents complain about aggressive schooling and then, they comply. Their kids come home with projects beyond their ability and the parents are forced to “help” or else the child will be consigned to B+ status.
There is a method to the schooling madness. By making every piece of homework a little too difficult and a must-check and sign by parents, teachers off-load responsibility. If the kid is uneducated, it’s not the teacher’s fault, the parents just don’t care enough and aren’t involved.
Beyond the state’s control of the individual’s behavior, is there any evidence that front-loading education accomplishes anything besides making kids tired and frustrated with school?
And while kids seem to know more minutiae do they have the context to put this information in?
My concern is practical–kids are tired, worn-out and have less time to just play. My concern is also scientific. It seems that there should be evidence that these methods actually work. Children are scheduled heavily and working evenings and weekends when the time could be spent doing other things. Does this work pay off? What are the outcomes to this approach?
If SAT scores mean anything, education has declined, not improved. From the Wall Street Journal:
High-school students’ performance on SAT college-entrance exams stalled, and the gap widened between low-scoring minority groups and the overall population, raising questions about the quality of teaching in U.S. schools.
There should be evidence that broad academic front-loading is helpful and effective. If not, kids need to be cut a break. They have their whole lives to learn taxonomy, but there are only a few years to play.
It’s looking more likely that Ashley Biden was set up, but fully enjoyed snorting some cocaine. The Deceiver (via Instapundit) says this story reminds them of the Rielle Hunter media blackout and imagines that were the story about Bristol Palin, we wouldn’t hear the end of it (something John Hawkins noted when the story broke earlier this week).
The Deceiver talks about Joe Biden’s drug war stance:
And over the years, there’s been no bigger drug warrior than Vice President Joe Biden. As a senator, he championed laws against shipping drug paraphernalia though the mail, going to raves, and using marijuana for medical reasons. He helped create the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He even coined the term “drug czar.” So if you or someone you know has been affected by America’s draconian approach to drug enforcement, or if you just get a kick out of your tax money being thrown at one failed drug-prevention effort after another, you can thank your old buddy Joe.
So, Joe’s policies couldn’t prevent his daughter’s demise.
Forget policies for a minute and just judge him as a parent. Is it his fault his daughter enjoys a line from time to time? What about Sarah Palin’s fecund daughter Bristol?
We are also on the eve of the anniversary of one of the worst American acts of terrorism–the Columbine massacre. April 20, 2009 it will be 10 years post-Columbine. Are the parents to blame for their kids?
Pollock said she is alarmed at much of the angry talk aimed at the parents of Eric Harris and Dylan Kelbold. “I don’t blame the parents,” she said. “If they (children) don’t want you to find or see something, you’re not going to find or see it.”
Having raised five teenagers, Pollock said, “you cannot always choose what your kid is going to be.”
The parents of victims of the killers certainly felt that there was some responsibility:
Eventually the parents of the Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, appeared willing to speak, but the threat of lawsuits drove them to silence. The families reached an impasse: the killers’ parents would talk only if the victims disavowed legal action, but the victims would waive lawsuits only if the parents spoke.
The Harrises and Klebolds settled their last lawsuits in 2003. Their homeowners’ insurance had already agreed to pay $1.6 million, but five holdout families demanded information. The killers’ parents were deposed in a closed federal courtroom, to which the plaintiffs gained access by agreeing to a gag order. Fourteen days before Mr. Cho opened fire at Virginia Tech, a district court judge ruled that the transcripts of these meetings would remain sealed for 20 more years.
It was an ugly compromise. The victims got answers, at the price of hiding them from experts and the public. The Harrises and Klebolds endured eight years of vilification and legal action.
So, are Biden, Palin and the killer’s families culpable in their kid’s actions? At what point is a child responsible for his own actions?
Barbara Boxer Seeks To Limit U.S. Parent’s Rights
An assault on all fronts. I swear.