I was going to write about all the new parenting studies that tell us we are bad parents. You know the ones that scare us, chastise us, and go against the last instinct that we have managed to hold onto despite every media organisation, Facebook link and bitchy parent in the schoolyard telling us we are wrong.
Last month we killed babies with swaddling, gave them ADHD by taking Tylenol, hurt their horomones by using plastic; we didn't give them grit and worked them too hard. We over-managed their homework and taught them bad math. We texted too much, they texted too much. We gave them dumb names.
We do everything wrong. And if there is a moment when you think you did something right, someone, somewhere is ready to refute you.
But finally an article came out from the esteemed New Yorker magazine that got it right. It was a small article but it's resonance was large. Under the low-key headline New Parenting Study Released, is this finding:
A recent study has shown that if American parents read one more long-form think piece about parenting they will go fucking ape shit.
Frieda Duntmore, a thirty-nine-year-old Baltimore-high-school teacher and the mother of twin six-year-old girls, recounted standing in line at a supermarket, reading a magazine article about how being a parent sucked, and then recalling that, that very morning, she’d read another article, which said that being a parent was awesome, and that anyone who didn’t have kids might as well just take their own life. “All of a sudden, I felt my skull start to split right down the middle. I put my hand up, and there was literally blood there.” Duntmore paid for her groceries and fled. “About fifteen minutes later, my skull pieced itself back together, so I figured I’d forget about it,” she said.
Yes, the article is satiric. No such study exists. But it could, couldn't it?
How many times do you read about a new study and get that feeling in your gut, the one that tells you that you are the worst parent ever but it's too late to change. These parenting "hate reads" are common fodder of parenting magazines, blogs and newspapers (I am guilty as charged as well.)
They get passed around Facebook pages and discusses on the schoolyard, no parenting theory or parent is immune from the sounds of contradictory evidence.
The (fake) parents in the (satiric) study from the New Yorker chose to deal with it this way:
... they began a protocol of recovery. They cancelled their Facebook accounts, and they go online only when absolutely necessary. If they leave their house, they wear horse blinders, which Waterson’s husband, an inventor, has adapted for human use, and which can be purchased on Waterson’s Web site. Upon greeting other parents, they hand out pre-printed cards (also available on their Web site) that read, “Please do not talk to me about my children or your children, or children, or schools, or schooling, or learning, or Tae Kwon Do, ballet., etc. Also, please ignore the horse blinders.
“Most people just smile and walk away,” Duntmore said. “But, once in a while, someone wants to talk about Crimea, which is a treat.”
We could all use a pair of those blinders.