Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sometimes, Bitching is Just Bitching

There's this weird thing that I've noticed happening more and more all over the internet, and I wish it would just stop already. You know what it is too, c'mon, admit it, we've all done it from time to time and now it's turning into a competitive sport, which is only going to make us all tired and crazy and grouchy.

Say it with me: It's time to let go of Comparison Parenting.

I think we all know what I'm talking about, those statements we hear where the speaker asserts their opinion and follows it up with "because I love my child more". I don't mind the 'and this works for us' sort of statements or summaries, or even a strongly written piece on child psychology; I'm not concerned with those sorts of things. No, it's more the Tiger Mom vs French Parenting vs Free Range vs fill in your favorite or most obnoxious parenting trend here. Some of these philosophies are just as out of balance as the other parenting styles they decry. Frenchie Mama complains American kids are spoiled; her children eat their vegetables. Tiger Mom dutifully requires her child to work hard because we are too soft on our kids and they aren't disciplined enough. Yeah, I get it. We're all fallible parents--- inevitably so--so that no matter if you let them walk around the block alone at 7 or if you are considering getting a GPS chip installed so you can track them everywhere, we are still going to eff up.



"No one tells my kid what to do. I'll go all Mama Bear on their ass."
"My parents won't follow our rules for our kids when we let them watch the children for the weekend." 
" I can't believe my child's (teacher, school, friend's mom, father, mother) did that!"

Somehow it's easier to be affronted and put someone else down instead of looking at our own situation and how our own actions and thoughts influence how we feel about that other parent or other person. Today I came across a very confusing article entitled "Why It's Important for Parents to Bitch About Their Kids" by Clint Edwards. He states that he received flak from other parents from some previous posts where he apparently complained about his kids.

Okay, so most of us do it from time to time, some of us daily, some of us not so much. Complain, that is. Yeah, we can gripe and grumble and so what? A vent sometimes is healthy and normal; getting fixated on a problem, though, means that it's time to stop bitching and start getting solution-oriented.
I get the authors assertion that sometimes, bitching means that parents can feel better, less alone, when they can complain to each other and realize "hey, yeah, my kid is normal because this other parent's kids are going through this too." Community building? Hey, that's good, right?

But that's not the crux of Edwards's post. He goes on to declare this little head-scratcher:

"This is exactly why bitching about kids online is so important. It gives parents confidence. It allows us to laugh at stressful situations. It grants us a feeling of shared camaraderie and an understanding that we are sharing similar challenges and it's okay to be frustrated. It's okay to feel like you are doing it wrong. It's okay to be moody and sleepy. It doesn't mean that parenting isn't rewarding and it doesn't mean you don't love your children.

In fact, it means you love them more."

What? I am fine with most of it, truly believe it, but that last part about loving them more because you bitch about them? More than what? More than if you didn't complain? More than someone else who chooses not to complain?

More than what, Mr Edwards? More than WHAT?

The author goes on to make a comparison of motivations, which you can read for yourself, and assumes that the parent who doesn't complain about their kids is doing that just for show. Not bitching, that is. Really? Is personality not a factor? Lets try to apply this strange logic to something many stay at home parents sometimes bitch about: housework. In fact, take my husband and I. Joe does housework and will tell me every.single.thing he has done. Me? Meh, I know I did it and I don't want to make my eyes glaze over, so I just don't really talk about this unless there's a problem. The sink isn't draining well? That's a problem to discuss. Just talking, though, about how dirty the floors are lately or how I hate doing dishes over and over and over again or how the laundry is always waiting for me... really? I'm boring the hell out of myself right now. It doesn't make me feel better, it makes me dislike the tasks I have to do even more, so I don't go there, I just try to get it done.

The same goes for taking care of the cats. Griping about it doesn't mean I love them more. I mean, they have their proclivities, those kitties do, and frankly, there are far better smells in this world than cat food and cat box. Yet, at some point if I complained about them so much, someone would likely be tempted to tell me "Maybe you just shouldn't have cats."

In short, bitching gets old.

My parent-friends discuss their concerns in a myriad of ways: one has a remarkable teeter-tooter of what I'll call "gripe and dote" regarding her kids. Another is a gracious mother who calls to problem-solve-- she comes from an educational background and is less emotional in her descriptions of her children. A teacher mom friend has extremely comic interpretations of her children-- I can laugh until I cry when I hear her describing her kids' misadventures and malapropisms. A school friend mom I like is fairly mum about her child's challenges because she's a very private person. None of these women love their kids any less than I do or any more.... we just have different personalities and different ways of processing our own frustrations. Some parents talk and talk and worry and do nothing, others don't discuss their fears or concerns with the rest of the world, just their spouse and mentors or teachers who are directly involved with the family and have a vested interest. They consider this as protecting their child, and who can deny that this is, indeed, a thoughtful and rare thing to exercise such discretion?

Later the author cites the virtue of bitching online about one's child --and yes, I've done this, bitch online that is, I'm just not grabbing for a halo or trying to make myself feel better about it. He states that "Bitching about kids is not about being a bad parent. It means you are trying to find a way to become a better parent." I find that statement to be a bit of a panacea-- it's okay to gripe because there's something noble behind it. Really? Bitching is just words, it's the actions we take to solve problems and help our children through challenges which make us better parents. Making myself relatable to other parents is nice, but do I have to throw my child out as an offering if everyone else is doing so? Just so they might not feel bad or judged? I mean, isn't that doing exactly what the author cites, making a social decision based on what others might think? Then, am I being a bad parent if my bitching isn't genuine?

See how weirdly confusing all of this is? Once again, one parent is put in a one-down position so that the other parent can say "me and my group, we are okay, in fact, we are better and care more".

Let's just do what we all need to do: take responsibility for making our own decisions as to what makes us happy and feel good within ourselves as parents. If that means complaining with the hens, go for it-- some days it feels good to vent. If that means singing their praises, do that too. Balance is key, right? But let us not decide to glorify complaining. Sometimes, bitching is just bitching. Simple as that.
Bitching about kids is not about being a bad parent. It means you are trying to find a way to become a better parent. - See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/why-its-important-for-parents-to-bitch-about-their-kids/#sthash.T472RcNQ.dpuf
It allows us to laugh at stressful situations.


This is exactly why bitching about kids online is so important. It gives parents confidence. - See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/why-its-important-for-parents-to-bitch-about-their-kids/#sthash.T472RcNQ.dpuf

his is exactly why bitching about kids online is so important. It gives parents confidence. It allows us to laugh at stressful situations. It grants us a feeling of shared comradery, and an understanding that we are sharing very similar challenges, and it’s okay to be frustrated. It’s okay to feel like you are doing it wrong. It’s okay to be moody and sleepy. It doesn’t mean that parenting isn’t rewarding and it doesn’t mean that you don’t love your children.
In fact, it means that you love them more.
- See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/why-its-important-for-parents-to-bitch-about-their-kids/#sthash.T472RcNQ.dpuf

his is exactly why bitching about kids online is so important. It gives parents confidence. It allows us to laugh at stressful situations. It grants us a feeling of shared comradery, and an understanding that we are sharing very similar challenges, and it’s okay to be frustrated. It’s okay to feel like you are doing it wrong. It’s okay to be moody and sleepy. It doesn’t mean that parenting isn’t rewarding and it doesn’t mean that you don’t love your children.
In fact, it means that you love them more.
- See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/why-its-important-for-parents-to-bitch-about-their-kids/#sthash.T472RcNQ.dpuf
his is exactly why bitching about kids online is so important. It gives parents confidence. It allows us to laugh at stressful situations. It grants us a feeling of shared comradery, and an understanding that we are sharing very similar challenges, and it’s okay to be frustrated. It’s okay to feel like you are doing it wrong. It’s okay to be moody and sleepy. It doesn’t mean that parenting isn’t rewarding and it doesn’t mean that you don’t love your children.
In fact, it means that you love them more.
- See more at: http://www.scarymommy.com/why-its-important-for-parents-to-bitch-about-their-kids/#sthash.T472RcNQ.dpuf