Let’s Just All Agree We Suck at Parenting and Move On

I think every parent should have two primary goals to achieve while raising children.  Your first and most important goal – your kids don’t kill you in your sleep. My personal fear is that my daughter will smother me with her panda pillow pet (the must have girl accessory for winter 2011) or my son will bludgeon me into an irreversible coma with his X Box limited edition Halo controller. The secondary goal all parents should strive to attain is that their children don’t end up calling your basement home.  Of course you want to shoot for the stars and raise a child that will change the world.  But, really, c’mon what’s more realistic is raising a child that remembers to flush the toilet, brush their teeth (I would love if they would mature into adults who would also floss, but dare I dream that big?) and the good Lord willing, the ability to hold down a job.  Everything else that happens is pure gravy with a side of Texas toast.

This month much buzz (and by buzz I mean millions of mothers weighing in on blogs etc with their outrage, shock and I think a whole lot of jealousy) has been generated by a new book called: The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.  In it Mrs. Chua, a very accomplished Ivy League law professor,  shares the inside story of raising amazing children and her two daughters are indeed that. One of them performed at Carnegie Hall at 14.  Let’s compare that to my 14-year-old who forgets to wear socks with his shoes in winter and them proceeds to walk in a half foot of snow.  Advantage – Mrs. Chua. Her secret – she’s a big bully and her kids do what she says so they can continuing breathing sweet, sweet oxygen.  Bravo for Mrs. Chua. I wish I had the balls to force my children to practice their instruments for 3 hours a day and browbeat them so they had the highest grades in all of their classes.  But, alas I’ve been a ball-less parent from the get go.  I couldn’t even do “the Ferber” on my kids when they were babies. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Feberizing it’s a sleep ritual started by a Dr. Ferber where to get your infant to snooze through the night you let them cry it out in intervals. Nope, I lasted about five minutes of my baby crying before I rushed and hoisted the red-faced, sobbing, snot smeared, cuddle monkey out the crib into my bed.  Which means a number of horrible things about me, including, that I’m a big pushover and that many nights you can still find my ten-year old sleeping in the “marital bed.” Oh yeah, you read that right – ten-year-old in my bed, right in the middle of my husband and I.  Can you say I’m a horrible mother?  Oh yes, I am because right now, in the dead of winter, I’m glad she’s in my bed.  The kid is a human electric blanket and the extra body in the bed seems to lessen my husband’s snoring.   So please do not leave any comments pointing out the long-term damage I’m doing to my daughter and my marriage.  I’ve already pondered those possibilities and moved on.

Now, wouldn’t it be great if instead of getting all worked up over how other people raise their children we could just agree to disagree or even better admit, that at times, all of us have sucked, big time, at being parents.  Imagine the time it would free up, all the worry, guilt, and competition it would exorcise.  I know, I’m asking a lot of everyone.  It would be the equivalent of a nationwide parental We Are The World sing along.  Everyone would have to check their sanctimommy at the door and join hands as we  croon love and acceptance of other’s parenting strategies.  Just in case this doesn’t work I do have a back up plan.  Let’s blame science for everything our children do that is less than awesome.  It totally gets us off the hook and we can stop doing a daily compare and contrast on how other families run their lives.

I even have hard science to support me in this plan.  It’s been proven (right now by me)that no matter how incredible loving and supportive you are, or no matter how hard you stress success to your kids, or the fact that you throw amazing birthday parties and deliver a Christmas that would make Martha Stewart weep with envy, chances are you’re still going get a kick in the ass by at least one of your children.  It’s 98% nature and maybe on a good day 2% nurture.

My findings are based on visiting with friends over the holidays.  Out of the six of us we all had at least one sibling that was either cuckoo or borderline cuckoo, two who were living with their parents and three that were total losers.  It’s what I like to call sibling roulette.  I’ll use myself as an example. I have two wonderful, amazing parents and 3 siblings.  We were all raised exactly the same way, but out of the 4 kids, 1 is crazy (surprise – it’s not me) and 1 is currently living at home with my parents (once again not me).  My parents are batting 500 which sounds crappy unless you take a look at my husband’s family.  He has 2 siblings and they’re both well, I won’t say crazy, but I will say loser and borderline loser with an overture of could be wearing crazy pants soon.  Thus proving my theory that as parents we have no control over the final outcome of what our children will grow up to be.  It’s all up the magic of DNA.  Oh sure, there are always some families that will prove my theory wrong with each sibling being outstanding, (and I’m sure it’s your family that will do this), but if you’re honest with yourself I think you will find my data is beyond reproach.  Now if by chance you have a child that does grow up to be President or something else amazing DNA be damned. It is your God given right as their mother to take credit for each and every accomplishment.

Meanwhile, as you wait for this to happen I urge you to sit back, relax and know that no matter how many times you drill your kid on their spelling words, break out the flashcards or pay for SAT prep classes you and your child bear zero responsibility if they are successful, happy, productive members of society. It’s science and if things don’t work out the way you hoped then you can blame science.  Which is so much better than blaming yourself or more importantly blaming your child.  Isn’t that what we’re looking for, forget the fountain of youth (we’ve found that and it’s name is botox) we’re on a 21st century quest for blame free parenting, who I’m a kidding we want a blame free family, where nothing is our mistake and especially never ever our kid’s mistakes. It’s is beyond better than the alternative – admitting that at times we all suck at being parents and that our children are actually capable of being less than perfect.  It’s the truth, but this way is so much better – isn’t it?

*Many thanks for reading Snarky In the Suburbs and sharing it with your friends.  To stay up-to-date on new posts and to take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) and click like or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.

7 thoughts on “Let’s Just All Agree We Suck at Parenting and Move On

  1. Lynda says:

    My husband and I saw the delightful Mrs. Chua on a Sunday morning news show the other week. As we sat there watching in disbelief, we slowly looked at each other, knowing what the other was thinking: We. Suck.

    Case in Point: My 5th grade son was complaining about homework, and instead of berating him and forcing him to complete it without errors, I told him this, “Babe, this is how it works. I have my nice house and nice car. Your grades don’t affect me at all. If you don’t care about square footage and leather seats, then stop what you’re doing and go watch the Disney Channel. If getting into a good college matters, then finish your homework and quit whining.” He finished. Mrs. Chua would probably beat me…

    • snarkyinthesuburbs says:

      My poor kids have been shell shocked. All this week I’ve been going “Tiger Mom” on them or my version of “Tiger Mom” which is probably 1% of Mrs. Chua. Too bad I don’t have the stamina for extreme parenting. Really, it’s been exhausting and they could murder me in my sleep – let’s never forget that.

  2. Angela says:

    Love it, Lynda! I used to tell my kids, “I already graduated; I’m not doing your homework. You want to graduate, it’s up to you, not me.” And as soon as they had that diploma, I changed overnight from “Mom” to “Landlady”. No kid wants to live and home and pay rent! A couple of my kids did live at home…briefly….and they paid rent.

    Go, go Mrs. Chua!

    Thanks, Snarky. Love you!

  3. Dancing Divorcee says:

    My 12 year old boy still sneaks into my bed whenever he can. Don’t knock it, that’s how I’m going to make my fortune – therapizing tomorrows f**k ups. A-men to that!

  4. momonthedge says:

    Oh, man. We tried Ferberizing our oldest kid. He ended up barfing all over the crib. When I told the pediatrician this was exactly why I wasn’t going to let him “cry it out,” he told me that the kid knew I would come in and that’s why he was barfing. He basically said a 9-month-old had trained me to avoid cleaning up barf at 2 a.m. Yeah, well, the doctor sure as hell wasn’t coming over to clean up vomit at 2 a.m.

    The kid did not sleep through the night until he was 7.

    I think I’m the opposite of a Tiger Mother. I’m a Scaredy Cat Mother.


  5. Mel says:

    Ferber only work with first kid… After that I would do anything to make kid #2 and #3 quiet as soon as possible so as not to wake older kids and doom me to a day of cranky tired kids.. I do have to confess to being a strict mom ( not in the “tiger mom” league but I wear my mean mom crown with pride on most matters..They don’t need to be the best but I do expect them to do their best and be respectful.. I mix my mean with plenty of love and effort to give them a happy childhood in the hopes that they will not only become productive members of society ( not living in my basement past college age) but also make enough money between the three of them to afford to put me in a nice retirement home instead of some state run place to be molested by orderlies..

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