To Sum it Up: Politics of Parenting
February 14, 2010
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When writing my post, “The Politics of Parenting” I found myself without a conclusion. I ended with a “what do you think” cop-out. I started writing it because I thought it was a concept worth exploring (that not only can most of us identify the current valued set of “good” in parenting, but that it is not practiced by the majority.) After mulling it over for a couple of days and reading the great comments that the post garnered I think I am ready to conclude.
Yes, the Politics of Parenting, or more specifically what is seen in society as the “good” way to parent, is influenced by many things, but I believe the over-arching one is by what is “trendy.” There is good news in this for all of us: that means it is not so much about “right” or “wrong” as it is about taste. You can ignore that claim that you are harming your child if you don’t abide by all things ‘crunchy.’ You are not a bad parent. Just not in style. And as all of us Mom’s know- staying up with the latest fashions is always more challenging once you have a kid. (Hello my favorite sweat pants- I don’t look good- but I am comfortable.) But if you want to be ‘crunchy’- go for it, its got some good stuff. Just do what you feel comfortable with and works for you.
Wait— before you get the wrong impression!! I believe that most of us could name at least one thing on that list that we do not believe should be just a trend. It should be “the way” and we are willing to get on our soap box to defend it. While I am sure we could find someone who would wholeheartedly defend each of the things on the list as not optional, most of us could probably agree that some have higher stakes then others. Julia believes not vaccinating your kid is not a good ‘trend,’ it is dangerous. While I don’t feel you are a bad parent if you give your kids the occasional treat, don’t make anything from scratch or don’t buy all organic food– I don’t think that ‘healthy eating’ should just be a trend. Please feed your kids healthy food. It is not quite as simple as everything being potato/patato. Do your best to evaluate what those high stakes ones are.
Breastfeeding is an other I think is not going to fall off the trendy bandwagon anytime soon- even (most if not all) formula feeding Mom’s agree it is the best option. But what I hope does go the way of the dodo bird is the tactics of ‘promoting’ breastfeeding (or any other parenting option) by the use of fear and/or guilt and/or restriction of others rights. (See this post by the Fearless Formula feeder… scary.) You get more bees with honey people. Yes, get on that soap box for what you believe– but try to stick to telling us why your way is so great and refrain from telling everyone who doesn’t agree that they are “damaging” their child. Unless you have some pretty darn good science behind you, like bulletproof.
The truth is that all parents hear that something they are doing is “wrong” at some point from some one. As I said, I doubt very much that many parents do every single thing on the current “good” list. And if they do, someone they know is probably telling them they are doing something wrong too. We all feel guilty sometimes and we all question what we are doing. Parenting is an art not a science. But for just about anything you are going to get called out on, there are lots of parents that would agree with you. Trust yourself and don’t let what is ‘trendy’ rule what you do as a parent. You know your kid better then anyone else.