I guess we write posts and blogs and lists such as the 20 Sure Fire Ways to Guarantee Happy, Well Adjusted Children in order to point out the ludicrous contradictions in the information that is presented to parents, and to also inject a little humour into our lives. ‘If you can’t laugh….’ and all that. As we read such lists it becomes clear just how many different parenting ‘camps’ have been set up over the past few decades. It’s then not much of a leap to get to the parenting stereotypes that most of us can call immediately to mind without too much trouble: The young mummy, the yummy mummy, the old mummy, the tiger mummy, the attachment parent, the Gina Ford baby-rearers, the Bidulph brigade, the competitive dad, the alpha mummy, and the slummy mummy. There’s a clear picture of all of these parodies in most of our minds. They’re funny, light-hearted and harmless. Let’s face it, when the kids seem to be laughing at us, it provides a little light relief for us to laugh at others. When the stereotypes are so extreme, so far-fetched as to be ridiculous, I find this habit largely guilt free. It’s not like we are actually laughing at anyone really, because people like that don’t really exist. It’s when these stereotypes, made a little more subtle, a little more realistic, are manipulated by those with a vested interested in pitting parents against each other that I become a little miffed.
- A radio debate with a Gina Ford advocate and an attachment parent agreeing to disagree on what best suits families and children is not going to do much for ratings.
- A politician saying, “You are all doing a rather great job regardless of preferred parenting style, and socio-economic background, and therefore you don’t need my opinions.”, is not then going to be the most interesting of interviewees.
- A marketing exec who states, “You have enough tatt in order for your kids to be happy from now until the end of eternity, and don’t need what I’m offering.”, is not likely to hit that month’s targets.
- The parenting expert who states, “Actually, don’t buy my book, but ask your Mum, trust your instincts and failing that call the doctor – they will rarely let you down.”, is not going to be flavour of the month with the publisher.
- Happy, comfortable, confident parents are less likely, I would imagine, to turn to blogs for advice and input and guidance and therefore aren’t going to be that great for stats (yes, I spot the problem here).
And isn’t it striking, that suddenly the stereotypes stop being silly and funny and harmless, but become something more sinister: parents who can’t be trusted; parents who are ruining it for the rest of us; parents who could do better; parents who aren’t quite good enough. Not one of them is a positive role model. They are all deeply flawed. So just who are the good parents? And how can we ever become one?
If you want to see parenting parodies at their best in all of their full, insightful, witty, glory, then go and meet the Mums at Jo Sandelson’s blog You will find them there, and so much more. Here is an extract from her about page:
“Hello! My name is Jo Sandelson and my latest project is a cartoon blog, Heir Raising, which takes a wry look at bringing up children.”
This post is part of my NaNoWriMo challenge. If you like what you read, please share