Should Parents be Angry About Being Parents?

So, there was this post. Which basically called a bunch of mom bloggers to task for what was determined to be an unacceptable form of public parenting.

I don’t care much for the original post. It’s lazy link bait, the kind of writing that trades in ‘being provocative’ and taking on women who have built a following. She comes across judgmental of anyone who talks about the frustrations of parenting. She passes off opinions and suppositions as fact. I’m all for telling stories. My preference is that they’re honest.

I got into a long conversation with a bunch of other bloggers about it yesterday. One of them wrote a post about it that you should read, too. It pretty much summed up the general reaction.

But.

The woman has a point, even if she didn’t make it.

Parenting has become more public. Whether you have a blog or not, whether you’re a brand or just a dad trying to get through a day at home with the kids without losing your sanity thanks to the third repeat of Cars 2. Social media lets us make private moments public. And sometimes, we need to vent.

It’s one thing to talk about your own weaknesses and challenges and frustrations with the job.

Raising children is not all gooey-lit moments of wonder and unicorns and ice cream sundaes delivered by Mr. T and his pet monkey. (Tell me that doesn’t sound awesome.) Yes, it’s amazing that your precious darling has discovered her toes and just can’t stop putting them in her mouth #ohmygoditisthecutestthingeverinallofhumanhistory.

That’s a little much, too.

Maybe I’m more conscious of it, four years into the gig, but I’ve noticed this undercurrent of anger lately. As if the children are responsible for deep resentment and frustration. Status updates calling their kids assholes. Posts about lost freedoms and missed opportunities.

Comments on my blog this past weekend, where a father told me that his 31-year old son has always been a dickhead.

Doing that? That’s not a fair fight. And I don’t think it matters how old your kid is.

Slide1

If you’re unhappy with your life or your job isn’t what you hoped it would be or you can’t seem to find time to make the changes you want to make, guess what?

It’s not your kids’ fault.

Or maybe it is.

I remember a conversation with my father. We were talking about why he did what he did for a living. I asked him if being an electrician was what he WANTED to do. We think we’re entitled to this now. That our work and passions should align. So, I was asking.

He gave me a look. It wasn’t angry. It wasn’t rueful or bitter. It was just a look that told me my father couldn’t understand how I could even ask the question.

“I did what I did to provide for my family.” While my parents and I have our differences and some considerable distance between us, I don’t know that he ever made me feel that his life was my fault.

There’s a lot of air given, about how the media creates unfair standards of beauty and body image. About how harmful it is to portray Dads as clueless dolts. About what the Kardashians are doing to society.

But there is a lot of content out there that is really shitty toward kids and the demands they put on you. I wonder what message THAT sends.

  16 comments for “Should Parents be Angry About Being Parents?

  1. May 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Alan, I love this. Again, so honest. I hated that woman’s post, but I also agree with your assertion about how parenting has become so public. It is often tempting to word-vomit our parental stresses onto FB. There sometimes IS an undercurrent of anger and resentment. My advice? Get a good therapist. Start taking yoga. Give yourself some “sanity time” rather than allowing pent-up frustration and resentment to come bubbling out of you without any boundaries- on your blog, on your FB page, to your friends. There is always a line. I try not to cross it, but I’m sure I have sometimes. We all do. But I think we should be mindful of the very fine line between sharing the burden with like-minded people and writing/saying things we wish we could take back. Great job with this post.
    Stephanie @ Mommy, for real. recently posted..The Mother’s Day Blues

    • May 15, 2013 at 6:46 am

      Thanks for reading and the thoughts, Stephanie. There’s no question this is a hard job. But to blame people who didn’t ask to be here for our responsibilities is unfair, IMO. And the ‘sanity time’ piece is a good point. I feel I’ve heard a TON of conversation from parents who feel guilty taking time for themselves. I understand the origin of the feeling, but that puts too much burden on us. No matter how great the job, everyone needs a break once in a while.

  2. May 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    You’re certainly on to something regarding the underlying current of resentment toward kids. Uh, birth control, people. Anyhoo, while I think that’s a subject to explore (the resentment, not the BC), I don’t think the Michele chose the right targets because I follow both of those women and never have I seen either of them write something hateful about their children. They dish up honest parenting with a side of love AND snark, and I don’t see the problem in that. I feel like Michele wanted more eyes on her article and did it at the expense of some pretty fantastic (and wildly popular) Mamas. But we all bring our personal experiences into our reading, which is why it’s so subjective and up for argument. And judgement. Lots and lots of judgement.
    Stephanie (www.whencrazymeetsexhaustion.com) recently posted..Oversharing: But I’m Bleeding

    • May 15, 2013 at 6:49 am

      Thanks, Stephanie. That is one of the great things about social. Fans of both — who I admit to not reading incredibly often — who are more familiar with the truth and nuance of their work were able to come to their defense. This is a whole other tangent, but there isn’t a standard for reportage with bloggers, so things like research and standards can kind of go out the window.

  3. May 14, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I bitch a lot about my kid on my blog. But it’s almost always tongue-in-cheek and couched in amused resign-ment. Yeah, he frustrates me, and even more frustrating than how much he sometimes frustrates me is how much it doesn’t affect my love for him. Not only an I stuck with the guy, I LIKE IT!

    There’s a line between truly resenting your kids and PRETENDING to resent your kids. I walk it on my blog and Twitter and FB every day. It’s a thin line, and one that takes nuance and, in most cases, a grain of salt (it doesn’t hurt if the people reading a post know me personally or have read enough of my to “get” it) but it CAN be walked.

    I hate having to explain my jokes, or lay bare the “character” that’s at the center of my writing, but even worse would be for the majority to think I actually hate my son.

    Reading comprehension and a good sense of humor go a long way, but I agree that it’s harder and harder to parent privately anymore, and if you’re gonna blog or be on social media, it’s your responsibility to manage your own image and the way you’re perceived – both to the outside world and to your own family.

    I do my best to make my truest, most immutable feelings clear, and that – I think – allows me to write on a more immediate basis about the times I am pissed or annoyed at my kid.
    Dad and Buried recently posted..You Threatenin’ Me?

    • May 15, 2013 at 6:53 am

      It is a line. I’ve certainly had my moments with my kids, but I don’t always write about them. Sometimes, there are things that are just between all of us. Does that make me a little less ‘raw’ or ‘immediate’ of a blog? Probably. But I had a kind of mission statement for my blog that took shape pretty quickly, akin to Smallville’s old rule of ‘no flights, no tights.’ I think it seves me well.

      And totally agree about the line you can walk. I hope it’s clear that my feelings are directed at the ones who seem to cross it on a regular basis — and frankly, it feels like a lot lately — and not those who don’t.

  4. May 14, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    I agree with so much of this. Parenting is frustrating, but I don’t really know that anyone ever promised that it would be unicorns and rainbows (as my daughter would say). I’m shocked that people are shocked by it. Hello, I remember being a pain in the ass and while I expect nothing less from my child, I also see it as my job to raise her into someone whom I like (at least, most of the time). Many of the bloggers, including those in the article, often write lovingly about their kids and share frustrations of the institution of parenting. I think that is awesome. Really, really awesome. But other bloggers are flat out nasty toward their children. I wonder how parents will feel when kids grow up and start their own blogs and write stuff about them. When I’m writing about my daughter (who can and does read what I write), I follow the Golden Rule and think about how I would feel should she make similar comments about me.
    Shannan recently posted..Snapchat images do not disappear or get deleted

    • May 15, 2013 at 7:02 am

      Shannan — Thanks for reading and your comments. There is that line and it can be hard to walk.

      For me, the line is to talk about the frustrations of parenting through the lens of my own limitations, if I talk about them at all. I kind of settled on this lens of ‘what I learn from my kids’ as an editorial mandate and it works for me.

  5. May 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Alan,

    What is it be reasonable anyway these days? Perhaps it’s a case of Much Ado About Nothing — the social forum has become a canvas for trolls – of all kinds – and too much commenting — of all kinds. I think your dad would agree with me.

    But thank you for always talking sense, or at least trying to 🙂

    Rose from NYC
    Rose recently posted..What’s a computer anyway?

    • May 15, 2013 at 7:03 am

      Rose — thanks for reading.

      I think, because it’s so new and people are still figuring out how to use it in their own lives, that there are few thoughtful pauses between typing and publishing. Maybe we could all use more of those.

  6. May 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Okay, so here’s the thing. I fall into that trap occasionally. Am I missing opportunities? Am I no longer free? If I am, it’s not my kids’ fault. It’s my own. And my blog has helped me stay out of that anger trap.

    Thank you for a thoughtful post that manages to point out some potential pitfalls of this type of blogging without sounding like… drum roll please.. Judgy McJudgerpants.
    Kristine Castagnaro recently posted..All Signs Point To Old

    • May 15, 2013 at 7:05 am

      Kristine —

      Thanks for reading. We all make sacrifices for our kids. No question. There’s no way you can parent without making them.

      But I tried to remember that going in. It’s not always easy to accept it. But I try.

  7. May 15, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. We know that parenting is extremely difficult but in my humble opinion, I think it’s not appropriate to let the world know how much you really desire to go back to your child-less life or badly want that you can do something to let them follow whatever you want. If there are are times that you can’t do the things that you want because of your child, it’s not their fault. Parenting is frustrating but it’s not a reason for you to be angry to yourself or to your kids. 🙂
    Janet Dubac recently posted..Enjoying the Present with Our Kids

  8. May 28, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Parents definitely should not be angry about being parents. I know that a lot of times people do it on their blog because it “sells” or whatever. When you have kids, whether planned or not, they become what you do. You may have to miss out on parties or whatever you used to do. Raising kids is like the most awesome thing a person can do, even if it’s not all unicorns serving ice cream sundaes to Mister T.
    Stay At Home Brad recently posted..Father’s Day Memories, $50 Amazon E-Gift Card Giveaway

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