As someone who spends at least half of my workday in front of a computer, specifically on parenting blogs, it’s hard to avoid articles telling parents what not to say or do. Or parents telling other people what not to say or do to them. So I’m not going to do that here, because as much as I try to tune out what rubs me the wrong way, I also believe that considering other people’s opinions, even the ones that challenge my own, is a good thing. This is how I broaden my horizons, this is how I connect to others. Opening up my mind this way lends itself to a deeper understanding of myself (and others) and my own thought patterns and processes.
You know what really drives me up the wall as I wade through all of the endless parenting articles everyday? All of the stereotypes! There’s a label for everyone: every parent, how they parent, and why they are they way they are. There are so many “experts” it makes my head swim. There are terms upon terms and styles upon styles. It’s really only a few that I think are pointless and in fact detrimental to the landscape of how we evolve from one generation of parents to the next. Us millennial parents will be passing on the torch at some point, to our own kids. We’re in a time of information overload, sweeping generalizations, and far too much stagnation and judgment. What kind of ludicrous ideals are we setting up for them?
1. Gender-based stereotypes
What is it with men either being represented as bumbling fools in the media or larger-than-life heroes who still don’t know how to change a diaper? Can we be done with all of that please? Can we be done with letting men off easy from learning how to contribute equally around the house because they weren’t raised that way and it’s “just not in their genetics?” (That would be me, tongue in cheek, making a sweeping generalization.) The family unit is the starting point and likely the most significant place for our children to begin developing gender stereotypes — and we should be using this as an opportunity to shape the next generation.
2. Cultural stereotypes
Every single culture has an offensive parenting stereotype attached to it. We all know the stereotype about European parents being overprotective and overbearing and doing EVERYTHING for their sons and letting them off easy. “Tiger Parenting” is supposedly representative of how domineering Asian parents are. If you ask some, minority cultures don’t value education or don’t supervise and control their kids. Hey, it’s not me making this stuff up. They are widespread, well-known stereotypes and if you think your feathers are ruffled about it, believe me, mine are too. While I fully realize that this stereotype, as well as the other ones I’ve listed, will never go away, a girl can dream.
Ugh, I hate the term. I realize there are some (perhaps many) who don’t help the cause of vaccine-questioning parents. Can of worms! Everyone run for the hills! Everyone freak out and get really mad! But seriously, the threat of severe illness and death is no joke. Which is precisely why parents who question vaccinations and take immense amounts of time to research all of their options and try to learn what exactly is going into their children, don’t deserve to be lumped into the pile of those who believe that they are all bad. To be clear, both of my children are vaccinated. Not because I was 100% confident in my vast knowledge of them either, but because I went with the overwhelming science at first, only to end up with a vaccine injured daughter. I now respect that science changes and is never 100%. From one generation to the next. Logic is a formal structure that is rooted in self-evidence and complicated by personal experience.
4. Attachment Parents
Oh you’re still here after that last one? Great! So attachment parenting. Can I get an amen? I’m no Mayim Bialik, but I’m no Erica Jong, either. Most parents aren’t any ONE TYPE of parent, subscribing to one style. So all of these lists telling us what we are all about if we co-sleep, or wear our baby in a sling, or breastfeed past 12 months (or at all) can suck it! I’m so tired of getting labeled. I’m just a mom. A parent. The end.
5. All The Mom Types
All of ’em. Pinterest moms, yoga moms, homeschooling moms, Paleo moms (waves hiiii!), SAHMs, WAHMs, all of the other acronyms for moms. Some of it is necessary I suppose, to try and describe the vast expanse that is we. Us. But it gets out of hand. It starts to get snarky and mean. It loses it’s purpose to define and enrich and begins to pit us against one another. Hence the you-know-what-wars. Not even gonna say it.
What about you? Are you bothered by all the stereotypes?