We’ve known each other a while now. We don’t always see eye to eye, but despite our differences, I think we can all agree on two things:
1 – I’m a pretty amazing person, all around.
2 – I can’t remember the second thing.
My actions, behavior, personality and general comportment on a daily basis are completely and 100% irreproachable. As such, there’s no reason to bother judging me; there’s nothing to judge.
Besides, you don’t see me judging you, do you?
Sure, most of you like terrible music and watch terrible television shows and believe in terrible deities and subscribe to terrible ideologies and some of you wear Crocs and some of you like Avatar and some of you are Jets fans and a handful of you Tweet too much and a gaggle of you are too nice and a bunch of you aren’t nice enough and several of you have ugly, ugly children and at least one of you is a fan of Ke$ha.
Still, I sit here silently, not saying a word. Because you’re entitled to your opinions. And because I’m a good person.
But you know who are some real assholes? Parents.
Now that I am a member of the parenting tribe, the associated flaws – which I’ve spent plenty of time decrying in the past – are even more glaring. I’m not gonna bitch about the annoying-yet-ultimately-harmless habit of shoving baby in everyone’s faces (for the last time, posting something on one's own Facebook page that one can voluntarily opt in or out of viewing is NOT the same as emailing photos to a list of people who didn’t ask for them). Instead, I’m going to bitch about how ridiculously judgmental and moralistic some parents get about the way other people raise their kids.
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about Crying It Out, i.e. torturing my child to sleep so that my wife and I can catch some much-needed shut-eye. Then I made the mistake of publicizing the post on reddit.com. And then I sat back and reaped the whirlwind.
Apparently, torturing children is wrong, and every other comment on the link let me know that I was evil. People excoriated me for causing brain damage in my child, creating an emotionally damaged child, putting my needs ahead of my child’s, hating my child, etc. Despite the fact that I posted the link in reddit’s humor section (which is in itself fairly redundant), I was vilified as a monster.
If I actually were torturing my child then great, that vitriol is totally warranted. Congratulations: except for the fact that posting anonymous comments on a message board has absolutely no effect on anyone’s behavior, you’re doing a wonderful job protecting children everywhere from terrible parents like me, and you're truly making the world a better place.
Unfortunately, I'm not actually torturing my child, I'm merely experimenting on him, like we all do with our kids. Because for every argument that Crying It Out (or not breastfeeding or watching Teletubbies or letting him dress as a girl for Halloween) is horrible for your baby, there are five more that say it’s essential and beneficial. It’s not like I’m funneling booze down the kid’s throat. He's going to go to college eventually (knock on wood!), far be it from me to spoil his experience.
We can all agree that certain things are bad for children: booze, perverts, drugs, rap music, too much free time, not enough free time, TV, porn, racist parents, heavy metal music, driving, fast food, rap-metal music, watching the WWE, the Black Eyed Peas, etc. But there are just as many things that are up for debate, like: just how much torture is good for a baby and how much is bad? How long should children of all ages be allowed to sit in their own feces? Is it wrong to get in your baby's face and show him how it feels to be cried at all night? And so on.
The debates are endless, and rightfully so, because as everyone jokes: kids don't come with instruction manuals!
Except for the ones that all other parents keep in their heads and push on you every chance they get.
I'll say it again: you're entitled to your opinions. But you don't have to be such an asshole about them. Because that's all they are: opinions. You're not Dr. Spock, and even if you were, I prefer Dr. Ferber. Or Dr. Seuss. Or Dr. Octopus. Or Dr. Giggles.
Many parents, upon finally becoming parents, suddenly feel entitled to comment on the way everyone else raises their kids. They’re worse than Born-Again Christians. I'm begging you, on behalf of non-judgmental parents everywhere, leave me alone! Stop pawing at me with your grubby little guild.
If in 20 years my kid is chained to a chair in the basement screaming for Baby Ruths, then fine, you win, I blew it. Turns out encouraging my wife to drink during pregnancy was a bad idea. But until you've got some proof that what I'm doing is harming my child, I’m gonna keep experimenting.
To paraphrase Homer Simpson, “He's my kid, I own him.” Raising a kid is a tough job, so maybe you should just concentrate on your own and count your blessings that I'll take care of mine.
You don't have to thank me. But the least you can do is keep your mouth shut.
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12.22.10 @ 8:25a
This is my new gospel. I plan to go tell it on the mountain!!
12.22.10 @ 12:57p
I think all parents should practice abstaining from child-rearing related judging.
All other kinds of judging remain fair play.
To wit: Ke$ha. Really, America? You suck.
12.22.10 @ 4:38p
While I enjoyed your post, I have to say that you DID do a lot of judging that isn't necessary.
"We can all agree that certain things are bad for children: booze, perverts, drugs, rap music, too much free time, not enough free time, TV, porn, racist parents, heavy metal music, driving, fast food, rap-metal music, watching the WWE, the Black Eyed Peas, etc."
1. Alcohol is a drug.
2. Drugs are not "bad," they are in a morally gray area. They are tools that either enhance or degrade one's lifestyle based on their responsibility, consumption, and genetic predisposition to addiction. Just as you said, society isn't correct about a lot of things about you, so why is everything else "right?" This goes for both drugs that are prescribed, over the counter, and even some that are illegal because of special interests.
3. Perverts. Really? REALLY? This is something we need to stop worrying about. America is locked into a state of fear, unable to enjoy life, and let other people enjoy theirs because of the "potential" dangers, and not the reality where most people are just minding their own business and wouldn't lift a finger.
4. Rap music. You've never listened to it seriously, have you? If you are one of those parents that believes violent video games cause kids to be sociopaths, I could understand where you're coming from. But you only get sucked into the extreme partying and misogyny if you lack the intelligence to see through it. There is also an underground that doesn't have the same atmosphere and a more lyrical and mature tone. Personally, I like rap/hip-hop because it's completely illogical and you can go anywhere with it.
michelle von euw
12.22.10 @ 11:54p
James, as far as #3 goes, I blame SVU.
You know what words should be banned from parents' vocabulary? "Can I give you some advice?" There's no polite way to answer that no.
12.23.10 @ 2:28a
I personally don't care what parents do to their kids, how they screw them up. What I object to is the whole "it takes a village" crap. I didn't have kids and don't feel responsible for anyone else's. Sure I might say something if a kid is playing in traffic, but if the parents are there and ignoring it I'm walking away. I probably have something else to do anyway.
Let's face it, no one blamed Lizzie Borden's parents for the way she turned out.
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