I got a little ramble-y on this one, but bear with me.
I’ve been hearing a fair amount of parenting whine lately that goes like this:
You childfree people refuse to respect our choice to have babies. You people say you want respect for your choices, but you won’t automatically respect me as a parent! *foot stomp* Grow up, childfree losers!
Okay, so some of them don’t say “losers” but even when they don’t, the “losers” is implied by their tone.
Here’s the thing about respect: Just because you do something, doesn’t mean you deserve respect for doing it. If you do a shitty job, no one is going to respect that.
If someone chooses to become a brain surgeon and they become a great brain surgeon, that’s worthy of respect. If someone decides they wouldn’t be a good brain surgeon, for whatever reason, that’s something we should respect as well. Opting out of something that you know you couldn’t do well, that’s a good thing. Would you insult and belittle someone into becoming a half-assed brain surgeon? I think not.
Now if someone decides to become a brain surgeon, and does a piss-poor job of it because they don’t really want to work all that hard at it, that’s NOT worthy of respect. That’s shameful.
Of course parenting isn’t brain surgery, but it’s still a huge job that requires quite a bit of maturity, responsibility, sacrifice and planning ahead. But all too often, we see many, many parents who think they can half-ass the job of parenting, and yet demand full respect and benefits for their half-ass job. I’m not going to respect that.
Here’s what’s really upsetting. Luckily for those of us grown, if we need a brain surgeon, we get to shop around. If the first brain surgeon we meet is a complete flake and probably someone who graduated last in his class in medical school, we can high-tail it out of there and find another brain surgeon. Kids don’t have that opportunity. Kids are stuck with whatever half-assed parent they get, and that horrifies me. Absolutely horrifies me!
Okay, one can argue that CPS (Child Protective Services) can come and take the kids away if the parents are too bad, but the problem is that CPS is overwhelmed with all the shit-parents they have to investigate every day, which leaves them with too few resources to do anything except in the worst cases. And let’s just dwell on that for a second: CPS is overwhelmed. This means there are a LOT of people fucking up the job of parenting. And you know there are a lot more people who haven’t even fallen on CPS’s radar yet. Obviously, there are a lot of awful parents out there.
So don’t tell me to respect you for having kids. ANYONE can have kids. If you want respect, you need to prove you’re not half-assing the job.
Now let’s just forget about all the severe abuse and neglect cases for a while, because I don’t need to tell you how awful and irresponsible that is. Let’s just talk about the everyday lazy parents who don’t want to be bothered to do the real work involved in parenting. Crappy parenting has become the norm in this society so much so that most people just overlook all the day-to-day crappy parenting. The stuff that won’t kill the kids, but certainly isn’t good for them or helping them to become productive citizens.
Let’s at least start with some basic qualities of good parents. Good parenting requires:
- Planning ahead
- Financial Responsibility
And of course, we’re often told we’re “selfish” for not being required to change our lifestyles to adapt to a child, so let’s add one more:
- Change your lifestyle
Which really would fall under “sacrifice” but I want to highlight this as its own issue, since it comes up so damn often.
By that measuring stick, an awful lot is expected of parents. But are most parents up to it? When you are out and about, whether you are childfree, fencesitter or parent, take these points with you and take assessment of the parents you see in life, whether they are friends, coworkers, relatives or strangers you see while out shopping. Honestly, try to be objective, but what do you see?
I’m going to tell you what I see. I see people taking their children to R rated movies at 10pm. Who can justify this? Yea, so this won’t kill the kid. It might traumatize the kid if it’s got any frightening scenes. It might likely bore the kid. It’s likely to annoy other audience goers. And why? Someone please tell me why?
I rarely go to the movie theater anymore because I think they charge way too much for way too little so that Hollywood fat-cats can live in multi-million dollar mansions. But the last time I went to the theater I went at 10pm to an R rated movie and couldn’t believe how many kids I saw. I went at 10pm convinced it was the time to go to AVOID kids. And of course, the kids were crying and fussing loudly during the movie because they were bored and tired and didn’t want to be there.
Now tell me, why should I respect those parents? What is so mature and responsible about this choice? Nothing. Where is the sacrifice, planning ahead or changing of their lifestyle? There isn’t. Where is that patience (you know, waiting for it to come out on video)? Not there! And of course, they are not being financially responsible – if you can’t afford a sitter, you certainly can’t afford the cost of the movies!
This behavior is the behavior of half-assed parents, and there is nothing worthy of respect if you’re going to half-ass the job of parenting. What they are saying, essentially, is:
“I don’t care if I have kids. I’m not changing my life. I’m doing what I want to do anyway, and so what if my kid has to be dragged along, and he’s tired, cranky, noisy and/or gets frightened by the images on the screen? So what if other people don’t like it. TOUGH BALLS. I’m gonna live my life any way I damn well please. It’s all about me! You childfree fuckers can just kill yourselves if you don’t like it.”
And we let people like this raise children? Lovely.
What’s with the people who are so busy chatting on the phone while out in public that they aren’t even watching their kids? Forget about “hang up and drive” how about “hang up and parent your kids”?! So often I see them shuffling along in the store, phone glued to their ear while they talk about nonsense gossip, and they just assume their kids are following behind them like little ducks. They are so engrossed in their conversation, they don’t even notice when the kids get in trouble!
Last week while out in public, a gal was so busy yakking on the phone she wasn’t watching as her kid was messing with the automatic doors and his hand got caught. Of course, mommies like this always think it’s the store’s fault for not making the doors safer, but why the hell aren’t these women watching their kids?
Now tell me, why should I respect parents like her? Their cell phones are more important to them than their kids! They certainly pay more attention to the phone than the kids. (I never understand these people who are always on the phone when out and about. Maybe I’m just less rude than most people, but if I’m going to talk to you on the phone, I’m going to wait until I’m home and can give you my full attention. I’m not going to expect you to entertain me while I’m doing my grocery shopping or picking up my photos at Walgreens. But that’s just me.)
What is so mature and responsible about these cell-phone addicted parents? Unless they are calling for emergency services, nothing! It’s not mature or responsible to ignore your kids! If you’re out and about, let people leave you a message, get your errands done, keep an eye on your kids, and then go home and talk on the phone all you like. Where is the sacrifice, planning ahead or changing of their lifestyle? Oh no, they couldn’t possibly miss that call – it’s IMPORTANT. It might be some good gossip!
What about all the people out in public with screaming kids? My husband has this theory that you can’t go anywhere in public without at least one screaming kid, and I laughed when he first said it, but since then, I’ve found he’s right more often than not. Sometimes we’ll move a few aisles away to avoid the screaming kid, only to run into another screaming kid. And all too often, the parents aren’t doing anything about the screaming kid. While a screaming kid is but an annoyance (and a good reason to carry your headphones and music player with you everywhere you go), it still shows a huge lack of judgment on the part of people with children. If your kid is that miserable, do something to help them! If the kid is just a brat, stop taking him out in public. If he’s tired, why are you dragging him out when you know he’s tired? Why not get a sitter? Or have the other parent or a relative watch the kid while you run your errands! There is no excuse to intentionally make your kid and other shoppers miserable just because of your bad attitude! I’ve been saying it for years, but I’ll say it again: if you think making your kid and everyone else miserable is “your right” you make a shitty parent and a shitty human being. I’m not going to respect that kind of parenting, and no one should.
Then there are the mommies who run around saying that the childfree movement in general says that “kids should never be allowed in public” and you know that’s just a lie. That’s not what we’re saying! We’re saying: Don’t take your kids to inappropriate movies late at night. Don’t take your kids to bars. Don’t take your kids out when you know they’ll be miserable and cranky. Don’t ignore your kids while you talk on the phone, and don’t ignore your kids while they scream. If you are absolutely incapable of being considerate of others in public, you’re not capable of teaching consideration to your kids, and that makes you a bad parent. I’m not going to respect bad parents!
And before you whine, “You childfree people can be jerks, too!” Fine, sometimes we can be, and you know what? It doesn’t matter. We’re not responsible for teaching the next generation how to behave. YOU ARE. So you need to behave better than us or you need to opt out of parenting. If you want to be a parent, you don’t have the right to be a jerk. That’s the choice you made.
Don’t try to claim “The Hardest Job in the World” or “Most Important Job in the World” status if you’re not willing to actually work hard and treat the job like it’s important. Maybe if you were making more responsible choices and raising well-behaved and happy kids, we’d respect you. In the meantime, don’t hold your breath.
And for those of you dipshit mommies who are going to cry, “FINE! Don’t respect my choice but I won’t respect yours, either!” First of all, that’s childish and secondly, go back and read the sixth paragraph and try and figure it out, if you can. Maybe get your mommy to explain it to you if you still don’t get it.