Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Looks Can Be Deceiving

     A lovely snapshot of a friend's children, right?

     Today, I'm back over at Rory's for Coffee Chat discussing an article written by Issa Waters, No Excuses Parenting Isn't Hard. Curious to see what had Rory riled up I went to go have a read.

     Articles like this make me angry. After the anger fades they leave that lingering taste of disappointment. What was the point of that? More important to me is why would BlogHer have ever picked up that piece for their family section? I thought they were known for some integrity but maybe I'm overstating it.

     Before I go on, I'd just like to say if you liked that article, if it spoke to you, please explain it to me. I will willingly eat crow on this one if I have completely missed the mark. I read some of her other stuff from her blog and found it rather thoughtful, not this article.

    I'm not a parent, so you will find no parenting tips or judgement but I do have eyes, a brain and forty some odd years of life behind me. This is what I got out of this article.

    Provocative title, kind of guarentees a look see. Expressing her love for her child, okay, segue into child abuse, an odd comparison story, some strange conclusions and end with a catchy phrase.

Parenting is supposed to be a loving relationship between parent and child, and it should look like one, and that shouldn’t be hard.

     What did I just read? What was the point? Other than a whole lot of self congratulation about loving your child therefore you would never be abusive see how wonderful I am?

     This isn't a factual piece, not one single line of fact. Not a helpful piece, no external links, no tips on anything. Is it meant to raise awareness of a very serious topic? Hard to do with no facts. A discussion starter? No, doesn't really pose a question either. Okay, so it's an opinion piece, written by a parent, on parenting.  Fine but with less than a year of experience under her belt a very shallow perspective on the whole thing.

     What killed me about this article was the abuse tie in. I have some experience there and the trite, facile way she treated it makes my blood boil. It trivializes a very serious problem. By her definition, everyone I know grew up in an abusive home.

     The assertion I love my child therefore I will not abuse my child is ridiculous. Abuse has as much to do with love as rape does to sex, nothing. Unfortunately, most abusers would also claim to love their victims. Now we can bandy around definitions of love and what it means until the world ends and never agree. Abuse is about absolute, often brutal control rather than guidance. Not love, not hate.

     Her scenarios are flawed, we can be just as bad to each other as we are to children, probably more so. Feigning shock and surprise, all I can say is either you don't get out much or you really don't pay attention to other people. You want to see shocking adult to adult behaviour, go to a Little League game.

     You want to talk about abusive child adult interaction, fists through doors, trips to the ER, climbing out you window fearing for your safety, days of abandonment until a neighbour finds you, that's abuse. It doesn't happen in public, the trigger isn't as predictable as a spilled drink. If it really were that easy to spot, would victims have such a hard time being believed and helped?

     No where in your scenario is there an attempt to make even a passive assessment of the situation despite your "concern". Engaging the parent in conversation as you help clean up the mess,"I'm glad it's not just my kid who spills things", "Don't worry mine does it all the time too". Anything to diffuse or at least assess the situation. It's far easier to sit back, judge and pat yourself on the back for not being that person.

     I can't think of a single parent who would hold up what you describe as anything other than a parenting fail.

 I’ll bet there are people who aren’t actually assholes trying to be mean to their kids because they think that’s what parenting is. 

     Are you kidding me? That statement is absurd.

     As for your closing statement, take a good look at the picture at the top. What do you see? Two children happily playing on a crisp autumn day? That's what I thought when I received it, oh how my friend laughed. What is shows is a little girl all pleased with herself because she just sucker punched her brother and he's not laughing he's wailing, All in the instant it took to pose for a picture. Looks can be deceiving.

     I'll agree, parenting isn't hard. Any idiot can have a child. Being a good parent, that's hard. It shouldn't look like anything, it should be everything.

     If you'd like more information on child abuse or prevention, this is a great place to start.


  1. Paul, first let me say I am delighted to meet you! By way of Brenda Youngerman's post regarding the same Waters article. Your query in response to her blog post had me thinking, Dangit! Great squstions, but what does HE think? So I followed your main blog link in hopes you shared a thought or two ... you did, thank you! And honestly, of the 4 posts on this topic I have now read, yours is the most sensible and straightforward.

    I didn't write a blog post on this (yet). I did leave a comment on Brenda's post.

  2. Welcome Ruthi, Too bad we couldn't have met over a less serious post. I read Brenda's reply about it generating discussion, unfortunately the discussion is more about the article rather than addressing the issues. I look forward to reading your post.

  3. Oh, you did fabulous!! See....it took someone who is somewhat removed from these judgie "mommy wars" to really give a great perspective! You really sifted through the article and sorted out the emotionalism and bad parallels and showed them for what they truly are. I went back and re-read the article and now what was bothering me is crystal clear: it does completely have that self-congratulatory tone. And implies that mothers who "Abuse" as she describes it, do not love their children.

    well done -- I really hope this awesome debate talent is a genetic trait we share, and I just require some fine-tuning! :)

    1. Thanks Rory. Although I do sort of agree with her point we should be better, I would amend that to each other rather than just our children. The casual treatment of abuse was what did it for me. I really had to wonder about the point of that post because she has some other quite interesting ones. I'll chalk it up to an over abundance of enthusiasm on her part.

      We sure do share the debate trait, I've read enough of your writing to know LOL

  4. Wow Paul, this a great piece. I saw the title of that post, thought I would read it, and then didn't have time and deleted the email I saw it in. Now I'm glad I didn't read it.

    The thing you said about her being a parent for only a year now really struck me. I've been a om for 11 years now and it most definitely takes longer than the first year to know enough to expound on parenting.

    Glad she thinks she knows what she's talking about.

    1. Thanks Jennifer.
      What would be really interesting is to see how she feels in 10 years? Revisit the piece and see how or if things have changed. I hope for her sake it doesn't, that her journey through parenthood isn't such a challenge. It could happen, right?

      The more likely scenario will probably be another, I'll Never , post like the ones we just did for Listicles.

  5. It was really great to read your post from the perspective of a non-parent. I read Rory's and it's a fantastic post from a mom's perspective. Yours is different but in a good way. Point well made. I got really riled up when I read the original post... as a mother of 3 kids, with the oldest 11 years old I can attest to the fact that parenting is in no way easy... but you do the best you can with what you have and hope to God that the kids won't be scarred for life!!!

    1. Thanks Susi, Abuse is unfortunately something I have had experience with and the stories I've heard are heartbreaking as are the results that linger years later. Although I don't disagree with we should be nicer to our kids, the way it was done was just not constructive, at least not to me. Judging from the comments I'm not alone in that.

  6. I love your post! Not only are you dead spot on with EVERYthing you said.... you did it in such a brilliantly laid-out, concise manner that everyone can understand it!
    I am in total agreement with you on every single one of your points - but the most vibrant point you make has to be that the abuse that article is 'referring' to does not occur in public - and she appears to have written the article to be self-serving and tell the world that she was a wonderful mother - and there but for the grace of God go she - I don't have children that act out and if I did I would never lose my temper (BS!) ---

    1. Thanks Brenda,
      There are so many wonderful writers who could have done this piece justice. Even other posts of hers were more interesting and thoughtful. I just keep wondering, what did BlogHer see in this one?
      Loving a child is easy, being a good parent isn't.


Thanks for your comment, I hope you enjoyed your time in the "Kitchen".