Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Glad I Didn't Renew that Subscription to TIME Magazine...

because they apparently think I'm a lazy, coddling, lying, creating-a-narcisstic-going-to-be-obese-and-entitled-child kind of parent. So, you know. Eff them.

I recently came across these three "you're a shit parent" related articles while perusing the interwebs:

The first "new" article warns parents of the danger of lying to their kids about concepts such as "the paci fairy," contending that we are setting our children up for a future of narcissism and entitlement. Because, I'm guessing, they think someday our kids will grow up to realize that we (let's clutch our pearls in horror, shall we) 'lied' to them to spare their little toddler feelings and will automatically jump to the conclusion that the rest of the world owes them a constant stream of the same sort of emotional protection? Okay.

I especially love the fact-based, scientifically supported wording of this particular paragraph:

"Parents who let kids hang on to pacifiers as long as they want tend to follow the permissive parenting style, which is linked to children growing up to be more narcissistic than their peers, according to Twenge."

With all the "tend to"s and "according to"s, without any real factual data to back this stuff up, how can NOT go rushing towards your cherub-faced little toddler and rip that paci out of their yappers RIGHT THIS SECOND?! Lest you unwittingly raise the next Paris Hilton or Tiger Woods. Narcissistic psychos.

I also really enjoyed (note sarcasm) Jennifer Shu's cold-turkey advice that "simply stating 'We don't use pacifiers anymore' works pretty well," as an alternative to the paci fairy "lie." Does that work for some kids? I'm sure it does; and probably really well & fantastic for those families. But assuming that all kids will react the same way (and agreeably, at that) to having such a major source of comfort yanked from their universe seems remiss to me. And in our culture, where parents turn to the "experts" for advice on how to do EVERYTHING, it seems unfair to both the parent and the child.

And really, let's talk about the great lie that is the paci fairy. Do we not also fall back on ideas/lies like the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and Santa Claus, or for my tribe, Hannukah Harry (awesome SNL skit)? I wonder if these same people who worry about creating narcissistic kids with the paci fairy refuse to take their kids to sit on Santa's lap at the mall. Do they simply toss their kids' teeth unceremoniously into the trash? Do they simply reject any of the "lies" we tell our kids to preserve the innocence of childhood and the magical tone of the milestones of their young lives?

From my perspective, the paci fairy serves two purposes. One, it does soften the blow of letting go of a trusted friend and source of comfort. And really? WHAT is the problem with taking the emotional well-being of your child into account if you feel just throwing a paci away is going to traumatize him? I reject the idea that my kid is going to grow up a spoiled brat if I take his feelings as a toddler into account. Reject. The second, and maybe, in my opinion, MORE important purpose, is fostering his sense of imagination. HOW is this a bad thing? When Ethan gave up his paci, we talked about the paci fairy for days---what she looked like, where she lived, what the card we made for her should look like, what Ethan wanted to say to her, how she was going to give his paci to a little baby who needs it. His imagination was alight with ideas AND he took ownership of the process---let's not forget, this was HIS paci to give up. Not only that, he got a tremendous sense of having done something nice for another little baby by giving his paci away (and how often does a toddler give a tiny rat's butt about his peers?)

To my way of thinking, the "paci fairy" is a tremendous opportunity for a child to be empowered, creative and take the experience of growing up into his own hands. You can read about Ethan, my apparently doomed-to-be-narcissistic kid, preparing for the arrival of the paci fairy here.

And let me just say here, TIME magazine, that the concept of the paci fairy IS a "cold-turkey" method of giving up the paci--she comes and takes it one night and POOF! no more paci).

The second and third articles rail against the lazy, coddling habit of co-sleeping, of course. The family-bed is called a "maladaptive parenting technique" and the articles contend that children who co-sleep with their parents will spiral out of control towards a life of obesity, sleep disorders. One researcher, who found that Asian cultures co-sleep at a much higher rate and yet manage to be intelligent and successful members of their societies actually suggests that maybe "Asian babies need less sleep," than their American counterparts. Um. I'm sorry, what now??!!

Please be sure that I don't judge families who don't co-sleep; I know that it simply doesn't work for a lot of people for a number of reasons, from kicky kids to simply just not wanting to share a bed with their kids. I've long gotten past the days where I cared one way or the other where people put their babies to bed or how they get them sleep at night.

BUT, I take great issue with "news" sources reported shit articles like this so that some new mother or father, happy in their family bed, starts to reconsider their decision for fear of "ruining" their children. It's exhausting enough being a new parent (or the parent of a toddler, preschooler, and I imagine elementary-aged, tween and adolescent) without having to second guess EVERYTHING from paci fairies to your sleeping arrangements because some fool in some article in some magazine says that you're a bad parent if you do X instead of Y or god-forbid you do Z.

Seriously, Time. You are on my list.


Kayla said...

The anti co-sleeping thing drives me crazy. How do they think babies have been sleeping for thousands of years?

lonek8 said...

I missed some of these articles (too busy reading US weekly to bother with TIME), but I completely agree with your assessments. in general that is why i don't read magazines like that - i really don't need any additional reasons to raise my blood pressure and get pissed off about the state of society and the media. Grrr!

ps: have you seen the most recent issue which talks about how much knowledge is lost every summer break? They talk all about how our kids are falling behind the rest of the world because we have these ridiculous (and outdated) summer breaks, and of course the less privileged fall further behind because higher income families can afford to supply their kids with learning opportunities when school is out. Now this is something i happen to agree with, but never once did they discuss the option of year round schooling (having three one month breaks throughout the year instead of all bunched up together). instead it was just about parents finding programs for their kids to do in the summer so they don't fall behind. Bugged me that they didn't offer any suggestions on how the school system can be reworked to help our kids and instead made it all the parent's responsibility. Which, in light of the articles you linked to, seems to be their bread and butter - parent's = bad, lazy, overprotective, coddlers, etc.
I'm starting to feel I should have written an entry about this- sorry to hijack the comments!

pps: I love the Paci Fairy idea! none of my kids really used a pacifier but Sophie sucks her thumb. I'm not sure how to work the Thumb Fairy.

Sarah said...

Totally agree with you.

Kate-- year round school for k-12 would be awesome, especially if colleges still operated on semesters. I'd get my VERY OWN BREAK. Love it.

Becca said...

Totally agree with you Sarah! We have two TOTALLY different kids and I am so glad Wes never took a paci because he is extremely stubborn and we'd probably have to skip the paci fairy and tell him that the government was sending an armed team to come take it away from him. How's that for emotional maladjustment, Time? He'll probably suck his thumb until he's in college, sigh. He also spent a lot of time in our bed as an infant because it was either that or no one in the house was going to sleep.

I guess an article called "Eh, you do what works for your family" wouldn't sell many magazines.

And I totally agree with Kate and Sarah about year round school. It is an undue burden on working families of all income levels to patch together childcare for three months of every year.

Amy said...

Becca, I am laughing at your article idea. I can see it as the next bestselling parenting book!

These articles are clearly written by people without children or with kids who are grown. When you're in the trenches, it's a whole different ballgame.

Kimmywizzie said...

I love how "they" know best. Who died and made them Dr. FREAKIN' Spock. :)

Bottom line is you have to parent your child as you see fit.