The Bad Mom Bias
I read an article yesterday on the Perils of Texting While Parenting. It was a somewhat helpful article, after all it’s probably good to remind many of us parents that we should pay attention to our kids when circumstances dictate. Yep, if we are at a pool with young kids, we probably shouldn’t be texting. When one is walking across the street, one shouldn’t be texting, whether with kids or not. Texting while driving – clearly a bad idea no matter who is in the car.
But I read the article with a view to the subtext, because before reading the article I noted some Facebook comments from a couple of moms I respect (thanks Susan and Danielle!) Now, they may have had a different slant on this than I ended up with, but this is what I’m thinking about now after absorbing that article. The real peril we should be talking about is the peril of constantly being attacked as being a bad parent, just because you are a real, human person who makes mistakes. And really, I think the too often occurring theme in media is not about bad parents, but more specifically “bad moms”. It seems like every choice a mom makes is the wrong choice according to someone.
For me, I’m sure I’d be judged a terrible mom by some helicopter type standards. I don’t really care what random strangers think about my parenting skills though. My husband and I are on the same page and I know my boys feel loved. I parent with a goal of my kids learning to be independent long before they are 18, at least in the ways that make sense. I let them play alone in our yard. I sit in my car or on a bench while they play at the park and I don’t watch their every single move. I actually let them use the monkey bars or spin around like crazy on a merry-go-round. I don’t freak out when they use playground equipment “wrong” and climb on top of things that are high. Yes, they might get hurt. They might also gain some confidence. My kids are not that young and I get to decide what feels safe to me. Just because you think I should supervise better doesn’t actually mean I should. My baby is almost 5, and the oldest is about to be 11. Sometimes I put the oldest in charge of his brothers, because I want him to learn how to have that type of responsibility while I’m close enough to help in an emergency. I let them climb trees and ride their bikes on ramps and dig in the dirt. I let them do a lot of things, although still they aren’t as free as I was as a kid.
Sure sometimes I should pay more attention. But I’m human. And when you think I’m texting I’m might be reading an e-book. I’ve paid just as little attention when reading a real books to be honest. But anyway, this shouldn’t be about justifying what we are doing should it? Do we really deserve persecution as parents, as moms? Yes there are truly bad parents out there I’m sure. There are probably many more parents who make mistakes and suffer the consequences. But is it just me or does the media like to lump them all together? Do we really have to have articles that make it sound like texting has created monstrous parents who suddenly couldn’t care less what happens to their children? I think it’s just a convenient place to lie the blame. And when you read all the comments on the article you might laugh at how many of the commenters are along the line of “why don’t people just talk to real people more, instead of all this texting nonsense”. Yeah, get rid of texting and Facebook and Twitter. The children of the world shall rejoice and no one shall ever be hurt again. Heck maybe we better get rid of the whole internet. And all cars. And all the pools. How far do we have to go to be doing enough to count as the good parents? Maybe I should go to school with my kids to make sure they are being supervised closely enough.
You see how crazy it can get? How extreme? Why must there be blame for most parents because a few people are truly careless and even more people make mistakes and bad things do happen? Is a broken arm in childhood from the monkey bars any worse than a young adult who isn’t ready to behave like an adult because he or she was too sheltered as a child?
Kids get hurt. People get hurt. Sometimes we need to look at why the hurt is happening and change something, like laws that deal with distracted driving. But sometimes we need to just sit back and quit spewing the judgment, because none of us knows everything about a situation, even if it happens right in front of us.Featured image © iQoncept – Fotolia.com