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August 15, 2006

Breeder wars

Probably no other subject, other than abortion, can devolve quicker into snark matches than parenting. While Lauren (formerly a regular, and about the only reasonable voice, on Feministe) pens an excellent, out-of-the-park post on parenting and attitudes toward children, the comment section highlights how some people refuse to debate in good faith, especially if it might mean letting go of their emotional security blanket of blaming the usual suspects in the Left pantheon of villains, aka America, Capitalism, the Patriarchy, White people, the Middle Class and Xtians.

(an aside...it ain't Xtians tenting women, beheading civilians or hanging teenaged girls for pre-marital sex, but you'd never know it from the running around in circles and shrieking from the Christophobes)

Even if we dismiss the outright silliness that mere giving birth makes women superior to men (or any childless female), or that "authentic" feminists never have children, we still are dealing - by and large - a group that suffers a St. Vitus attack in its left leg anytime a phrase like "individual responsibility" wanders across a page. And heaven forefend any criticism of public school systems!

Let's start with some basics.

Children used to be viewed as our stake in the future, a legacy of our values and culture. Too many times they are either considered either social accoutrements or a plague. For every adult that sucks in their breath when a child accompanies their parent(s) into a restaurant, there is a parent who refuse to control their child's behavior in public places.

With the decline in basic social politeness came the sense that the greatest value in the public square was not to be bothered. It has become a fucking right that screams its sensitivity and intolerance. Shut that kid up! Take down that cross! You had better not light up that cigarette near me! Don't look at my kid that way!

If I have a bone to pick with my generation (baby boomers) is where too many have decided to be their kid’s friend rather than their parent. Children may have differing levels of knowledge, but they have no wisdom; and I’m as embarrassed by children outrageously misbehaving in public unrestrained by their adult “friends” as I am by adult “friends” who believe their kid’s opinions on politics or world affairs are earthshakingly noteworthy.

It should be noted that parenting is not easy. But a worthy parent is one who can listen to their child scream “I HATE YOU! I WISH I NEVER WAS BORN!” without collapsing into a whimpering puddle of goo.

We do our children no favors by refusing to raise them, with all that one word packs into it.

Is it women that do the majority of the child raising of small kids? Yes. Does it constitute some Patriarchal conspiracy to Oppress and Exploit Womyn?

No. It doesn't. Should fathers do more? For those who don't pull their fair share, OF COURSE! Children deserve both parents. But until artificial wombs are perfected, it remains a biological fact that only women spend nine months pregnant, give birth and are capable of breast feeding. Circumstance or choice will find many mothers with/without supportive partners and/or family. Most mothers will choose to breastfeed or otherwise be the primary caregiver to infants. What may look from the outside as an exploitation of a woman because she made the choice to stay home for the first few years of her child’s life, may not necessarily be exploitation. We should not discount the huge desire of moms to remain home with their infants and how lucky they feel when the household finances allow it. Same for that small percentage of families where dad stays home.

Parents who choose to do the heavy lifting of child raising themselves are not “failed”, “forced” or “exploited”, anymore than a homeowner who does the heavy lifting of renovating their home on their own is “exploited” as “free labor”.

It’s just a different choice made by those that feel it is in the best interest of the family.

Children are little human beings of great future potential. Potential for good or evil. How they realize that potential depend largely from their interactions with adults -- parents and all others.

It is something we should always keep in mind when we encounter any child in any setting.

Posted by Darleen at August 15, 2006 12:22 PM


the comment section highlights how some people refuse to debate in good faith

Like calling everyone who disagrees with you about Israel and anti-Semite? That kind of bad faith?

Posted by: Josh at August 16, 2006 08:29 AM

Y'know, I stared reading this thinking I was going to disagree with the whooole thing. Nope. No such luck.

The one thought it did queue was that, when I became a parent, I figured the "I hate you!" moment was gonna really upset me, instead of making me want to burst out laughing. I also REALLY thought it would be a much older age....

Anyways, absolutely dead-on about parental responsibility; it was one of the nervous-making elements in our decision to homeschool; after all, now it's all OUR fault, right? :)

So, good article, bravo!

Posted by: W. Ian Blanton at August 16, 2006 02:25 PM

Excellent post...and you got it right.

Your remarks that "Children are the primary responsibility of their parents" and "All choice involves trade offs" and last "No one owes you anything" are so true. I'll label those the three Big Things.

When discipline, accountability, responsibility and love are part of the total equation I've noticed great results...even with my kids! The first three traits are missing in a big way with families I see today.

We need to look back at what the Great Depression gave to us.(no, not the Zoloft depression, the Great Depression....soup lines, several families ( not to mention generations) in a house at the same time, widespread joblessness and total poverty). It gave us the generation that saved the world...literally. And they certainly understood the three Big Things

Posted by: Hugh Slatery at August 16, 2006 05:24 PM


If you want to disagree with how Israel handles some things, or criticize specific policies...fine. That is not anti-semitism, fuctional or engrained.

Hold Israel to a stricter or different standard than any other country? Declare that Zionism is racism?

Sweety, that IS anti-semitism. And I will declare it as such.

Posted by: Darleen at August 16, 2006 08:27 PM


Excellent point about the Great Depression! Many families pulled together, pooling what small resources they had. Neighbors organized, watching each other's kids, helping out if someone got sick.

And making do with so much less.

I'm always amazed at some of the people on that thread who equated "compassion" with GOVERNMENT programs!

Really easy to be "compassionate" with someone else's money, eh?

Posted by: Darleen at August 16, 2006 08:32 PM

Hold Israel to a stricter or different standard than any other country? Declare that Zionism is racism? Sweety, that IS anti-semitism. And I will declare it as such.

Double standards aren't anti-semitism. They're double standards. Zionism is a political ideology, not a race or ethnicity. You need to show that those things spring from an animus toward Jews qua Jews, which you haven't done. Until you establish that, it's just your opinion, and we all know the cliche about those.

Your comments in the motherhood thread are thoughtful and measured. Odd that Israel turns you into a Malkinbot.

Posted by: Josh at August 17, 2006 07:29 AM

Odd that you chose this thread to be an idiot, Josh. Try to stay on topic, ok?

As for this topic, I agree with every single word. Great job, Darleen.

Posted by: caltechgirl at August 17, 2006 10:59 AM

There's an ad on TV for a cel phone company, where a woman and her teenage daughter are having a screaming match.

... except the words are all the exact opposite of what it seems they should be. Especially when the daughter venemously snarls "I *love* you!", as she stalks up the stairs, and the mother, stiff-lipped, replies, "I know you mean that." The excellent acting totally makes the joke.

The tagline is something like "The dialog has changed." It's a bizarre ad, but hysterically funny.

Not entirely on-topic, but your invocation of the "I hate you" instantly brought the ad to mind.

Posted by: Strider at August 18, 2006 02:46 PM