Ugh. When childless people Have Something to Say about parenting, I just feel like throwing my poo like an orangutan. I really cannot with that. Let's take New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, for example. I say "New York Times columnist" and you're probably already throwing up in your mouth a little. And I should know better to read something titled "A Childless Bystander's Baffled Hymn" all the way through without first making sure I have easy access to a glass of wine. (At the office now, not happening, must give in to troll bait and rip him a new one instead.)
I mean, I don't even believe Bruni wrote this for parents. I think he wrote it just to kvetch with his other childless friends. But let's go there, folks! Just because it's April Fools' Day, let's have ourselves a little dialogue with Mr. Baffled by Parents.
Things Parents Do that Baffle Mr. Bruni
1. Why do we give our kids "last chance" warnings when we don't really mean them? First of all, I rarely see this happen. My last chance really is the last chance. The ONE TIME Frank saw this happen has defined parenting forever. But fine -- let's address that one time someone gave their kid several second chances. So what? Parents get tired sometimes. Some parents give their kids second chances because making the right choice the first chance you get is hard for kids to do.
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2. Why do we treat children like adults and give them lots of choices? First of all, who says there's anything fundamentally adult about having choices? Maybe we're interested in what our kids will choose. Maybe you learn things when you make choices. Maybe it's easier to get your preschooler dressed in the morning if she chooses her outfit. You pick your battles. You want the pink polka-dot dress today? Fine. Wearing a coat? Not a choice.
3. Why are parents always fretting over doing a good job as parents? Oh, I don't know, probably because it fucking matters. Also because our parenting is being constantly judged, even by childless knuckleheads like you. True, some parents overthink it. But most of us are just trying to do right by our kids. And what the hell, we actually think parenting is an interesting topic to talk and think about.
4. What's with all the praise all the time? Oh my God, I don't think Frank even spends time with real parents and children at this point. There are some special flower children being raised by very privileged Manhattanites who get praised all the time. But most of us work a balance between correction, encouragement, and just letting our kids be.
"So parents, cut yourselves some slack," Bruni concludes, after telling us everything we're doing wrong. Frank Bruni author of the first three quarters or so of this column? I'd like to introduce you to the other Frank Bruni, the more generous guy who wrote the last couple paragraphs of this column. Apparently you two have never met and differ greatly in your opinions on parenting.
Okay. I got it out of my system. Parenting rant of the day over.
How do you feel when childless people tell you how to parent?
Image via Brandon Grasley/Flickr