That’s right, I have nothing to add in my expert opinion, because I am not an expert. Not in anything that I can mention on a blog that my mother reads, anyway.
So, here I am, looking at 40. This is an interesting age, and I think it is especially interesting for me as the youngest in my own family, where hitting 40 is once again just the thing that everyone else got to do first.
Do I feel old? No. Maybe? Just a tad sometimes? But while maybe I can look back on 26 or 31 with fond “oh, to be young again” bemoaning, I also know a few 50, 60, 70+ year olds who think the same of 40. So maybe I should stop mourning the loss of my youth and embrace the fact that I am still, in fact, young.
But as I age, there is one thing that I STOP doing, slowly. And that, my friends, is thinking that I know it all.
I saw a “trending” article on the facepage about a mom named Stephanie Metz, who posted on her blog last month a diatribe aimed at the agents of “modern parenting” and how “the mentality of our society in 2013 is nauseating” to her. Stephanie is a mother of two young boys, and as a mother of two boys myself, you’d think I relate to this lady. And I suppose I probably could. If I could see past her arrogance of presuming to know how the world works for ALL other parents from her perch behind a computer screen somewhere in South Dakota.
I’ll avoid my bitchy instinct to comment on her annoying habit of writing her blog in centered text.
Seriously, this is annoying
as hell to read. Why the hell are you
centering the text. Who taught you this
nonsense? Stop it. Stop it right
this very minute.
But I do want to take just a moment to address the substance of her post from October 25, entitled, Why My Kids Are NOT the Center of My World.
I assumed I would agree with this post, based on that title. Jim and I try really hard not to let the kids think that they are sun around which our world revolves. They have their shining moments, but they have their backstage ones too. We try not to spoil, or to let them have expectations that we’ll just do something for them.
But then I started reading it, and it was downright comical at parts.
A small sample:
In completely selfish terms, bringing my boys into this world was such a great decision – for me. They bring me so much joy, they fill my heart, they make me happy. But I often question whether or not it was the right decision for them. My boys are typical little boys. They love to play guns. They love to play good guy versus bad guy. They love to wrestle and be rowdy. That’s the nature of little boys, as it has been since the beginning of time.
How long will it be before their typical boy-ish behavior gets them suspended from school? How long before they get suspended from daycare??? How long will it be before one of them gets upset with a friend, tells that friend to go away and leave them alone, and subsequently gets labeled as a bully?
The mentality of our society in 2013 is nauseating to me, friends.
Do you see what I mean about the center text? That’s annoying.
Once I realized she was starting off on a “let my kids have their guns” stance, I realized maybe we’d have issues. I get it, you want your kids to play with their toy guns. Newsflash, mine have them too. But also, newsflash AGAIN, not all little boys play with fake guns. And newsflash times three, guns in school are an actual documented real threat, and schools have to do SOMETHING. They set anti-gun rules and regulations. If you hate it, home school your kids. But is it really that big of a deal that your kid can’t bring his Nerf gun to school? Is this such a necessary part of his childhood?
She carries on about how modern parents are too protective. They answer to their children too quickly, they don’t let them feel agony of defeat. They will not be prepared for society, she notes, because their folks aren’t letting them learn to be disappointed.
While I don’t disagree that parents like this exist, the idea that it is new or modern or the plight of the Mom and Dad of 2013 is downright laughable. There have always been parents who hovered over their children and protected them from the big bad, and there have always been children who received a rude awakening when finally dropped into the real world. Where do you think the term “Mama’s Boy” came from, anyway?
Stephanie goes on about how we overreact to bullying, and how her boys will be prepared for the real world, because SHE is clearly winning at motherhood as she preps them for the fight by letting them know that they can’t always be the most important person in the room.
Take that, modern parents. Schooled!
For the most part, however, I find her post naive and uninformed. At best, she is being disingenuous in parts, although, if she is not, then she is clueless.
At one point, on her anti- anti-bulling rant, she writes: “…if Sally calls Susie a bitch (please excuse my language if that offends you), Susie’s whole world crumbles around her, she contemplates suicide, and this society encourages her to feel like her world truly has ended, and she should feel entitled to a world-wide pity party. And Sally – phew! She should be jailed! She should be thrown in juvenile detention for acting like – gasp – a teenage girl acts.”
That’s fine and all, except that there’s nothing accurate about it.
Girls call each other bitches all the time in school. Still happens. And they really do still just deal with it, just like we all did when we were younger.
Stephanie is equating every instance of name calling with every instance of true bullying. The latest incident of a girl who killed herself in relation to being bullied, it wasn’t because of one little comment, and no one was jailed for just acting like a teenager. It was documented systematic abuse of a girl who was subsequently failed by everyone, from her school to her own parents. It was far more serious than a single instance of name calling.
I felt my skin crawl a little reading Stephanie’s rant, as she cheapened the true struggles of those who ARE bullied, by suggesting that it’s all in their heads. It’s not. That’s great when so many of us can look back and say, meh, it wasn’t so bad, I dealt with it. But to suggest that our experience then MUST be the one everyone else feels, that’s just ignorant. Did you know that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people aged 15-24. It’s not a punchline. Should we really brush these people off like they just weren’t tough enough to take it?
I say this to Stephanie and those who nod their heads along with her: My world does not revolve around my children completely either. That said, I can teach them to function in society while simultaneously protecting them from the truly bad things of the world, just like my own mother and father did for us. I can teach them not to put up with being crapped on by others, without telling them that it’s just a part of life, and toughen up.
Because it’s not.
Most people aren’t shoved into lockers by their employers. Co-workers actually are NOT allowed to walk around calling each other bitches. It’s okay to teach them that they don’t have to accept being pushed around, figuratively and literally. It doesn’t mean I am tuning them into losers with no critical thinking skills. Quite the opposite, I am trying to teach them conflict resolution. Who knows if it will stick. But it’s my job to try.
I can also teach them to come to me with their problems, big and small, and, lacking the ability to reach a solution on their own, I will come to their aid. Not because they are the center of my world, but because I am their mother, and that is my job.
They don’t have to just sit and take it. Sometimes they can come to me. Sometimes they can come to their father. Sometimes they can go to each other. And other times, yes, they will be told to figure it out. But I won’t teach them that figuring out solutions to all their problems MUST be done on their own. That dealing with problems in the silence of their own thoughts will somehow magically make them better adults.
And I won’t assume that their experiences will mirror my own. That’s just, well, dense.
Stephanie does not seem to understand that there are more than two kinds of parents out there. It’s not just her kind, and the wrong kind.
But it was her end notes that really got me: “I know of two gentlemen that are going to be able to accept failure and move on having learned something from it… I know of two gentleman who will be hurt emotionally, but who will be able to work through the hurt and carry on with life.”
I find this hilarious.
Try not to break your arm patting yourself on the back there, lady. No one knows exactly how their children will turn out as adults. Especially in light of the fact that the two gentlemen who Stephanie is raising are pretty much still babies.
Stephanie is not an idiot, and I suspect she is not at all ignorant or dense or naive. But she certainly is presumptuous. Stephanie clearly thinks she knows that which she cannot possibly know. I imagine, as I wind my way through understanding junior high, my brother and sisters with grown children are laughing at the things I have yet to figure out.
My mother is enjoying this the most.
You can’t possibly be an expert on what other parents do, or how they do it, or how your brand of parenting teens is the right way to parent teens, when your children are more than a decade away from that milestone.
Stephanie mentions she is 29.
Talk to me in ten years, honey. You’re not quite the expert on raising hormone-filled boys and navigating middle and high school behavior that you seem to think you are. Nor are you all that knowledgeable on how to navigate the world of bullying just because you once faced a bully or two yourself.
This isn’t your story. It’s theirs. And you have yet to see a glimpse.
In my expert opinion, I say, you’ll learn.
And you’ll realize how ridiculous you sound.