Thursday, July 27, 2006

Boring Parents

The number of catty things to say about this woman who is bored by her children are mind-boggling, so I will limit myself to one. Given that the only things that seem to interest her are her hair, shopping, and work, if she wants to find the source of boringness in her household, the mirror is a good place to start.

What truly mystifies me is why it is presented--by both sides--that the only parenting approaches are either devoting one's every moment to waiting upon their every need, or dodging them at every opportunity. Are the only places to put one's child in the priority list somewhere well above God or somewhere well below the hairdresser? Must one either talk as if one delights in wiping up every drop of drool, or spend one's days complaining to the girlfriends about the fiends you bore?

I certainly hope not, because neither approach sounds human to me, or beneficial for children or parents. What one does with children is raise them. This implies that they start out rather lower-downish and end up rather higher-uppish. It also implies that the parent is higher-up and remains there until the child catches up.

So, no, good parenting does not require one to remove from one's mind every thought or interest that has not entered the mind of a two-year-old. Quite the opposite. My chief duty as a mother is to be a worthy person of emulation: spiritual, intelligent, curious, interesting. My second duty is to actually spend time with them--and yes, enjoy it-- so they have the chance to know and emulate me.

Fortunately most pursuits worthy of human endeavor are every bit as interesting to children as to adults, especially if the adults give them half a chance to understand what's going on. I feel no obligation to surround my children with things I don't care for, no matter how proper they are considered to be for children. I don't like children's television, beeping electronic toys, elaborate crafts. We don't have them. I do like reading, cooking, music, running around outside. We do those--together.

There still are, especially at this stage, a fair proportion of things that they enjoy that do not particularly enthrall me. I do not get a huge thrill from climbing up a flight of stairs over and over. I don't like drool. That's ok. Love means caring enough about a person to put up with an occasional divergence of interest or moment of ookiness. I also have no interest in football, but I do not run screaming from the house every time DOB wants to check the stats, nor do I proclaim to the world that my husband is a boring lout. (Because, as it happens, he is not.)

The author winds up by proclaiming that all children need is food, clothes and being told that you love them. Perhaps. But if you tell them that you love them while avoiding any contact with them, what exactly do you mean by "love"?

Edited to add: A belated HT to Barbara Curtis of Mommylife for passing on the article. Although I shouldn't need such kind remarks to remind me of my netiquette, I do very much appreciate them.


the Joneses said...

Wow, I'm glad you're back online! I didn't even read the link because I know it would irritate me. I suffer from the "I'm not interactive enough" guilt, but at least I recognize that my children are interesting people, even if as companions they sometimes leave a little lacking (something that improves with time, I have to say).

-- SJ

Rose said...

Precisely! Thank you for posting this so promptly and sparing me the trouble of simmering my thoughts down to a coherent rant. I read this article yesterday and thought pretty much the same thing. She's playing the straw man argument, by pretending that there are only two options, in strict opposition to each other, and that she's simply chosen the one more sensible to her personality.

Of course it's not good to smother children with too much attention: that gives you spoiled brats. Ignoring your kids and foisting them off on the nanny at every opportunity, on the other hand, will turn them into aggressive over-compensating bullies or withdrawn, insecure wallflowers.

And HER life didn't seem that much more interesting than the lives of the moms she sneered at. With her constant hairdresser appointments and obsession with planning her coordinating outfits (matching purse and shoes with every skirt?? Good grief! If I do much more than stick earrings in my ears then I feel like I'm wasting time fussing over my looks) she sounds like an empty-headed society lady of the (take your pick) 18th, 19th, and early 20th-centuries, who let servants run her household and spent her days in front of the mirror.

Christa said...

Well written! Thank you for your insightful response to the Bored Mother. It would be so easy to bash her every word, but I think she speaks for herself! It is so sad that she is missing out on the growth that comes from raising kids. Yes, some of it is boring, a lot of it is hard, but so much more is rewarding and enriching.

Kristen said...

Thank you, Karen. I wrote about this on my blog yesterday, but you expressed many thoughts much more beautifully.

Libertango said...

Jaw dropping article. I, too, can think of lots of catty things to say. I agree with Rose in saying that her life doesn't sound all that interesting. I can only imagine how bored her kids are with her.

I agreed with one comment that was tacked on after the article in saying that the proof of how well-adjusted they are won't be evident until they are adults. And as another commentatored stated: I hope her kids return the favor when she's old and in need of care.

How very sad.