Thursday, January 9, 2014

Looking for LOLZ in all the wrong places?

(NB:  LOLZ= laughs out loud, aka humor)
I was going to write a post about how a certain child of mine has been somewhat slacking in the potty-trained department and how unfun that's been to clean up after.
And then I read this article on someone else's Facebook feed.  In case you don't feel like reading it, here's the quotation from it that should sum it up:

It’s not laughable when they are the tiny ones with lisps and shiny smiles blissfully unaware of the sign that just announced, to the ENTIRE world, they pooped in the tub.  Someday they won’t be 4 and someday they might care...Frankly, this kind of behavior is as enjoyable as watching a hunched over man, his hands in the stocks, a tattered shirt blowing in the rain of a smoke-filled Middle Ages afternoon while raw sores and stiff muscles covered in rotting food attempt to shield a broken spirit.

Talk about a slap in the face! The author was specifically decrying the recent trend of "kid shaming" (and probably also "pet shaming"), where parents hang signs on their children which announcing their recent naughtiness.  You've probably seen them on FB, Buzzfeed, or the like.  While I have never hung a sign around my children's necks for pooping in the tub, I have definitely posted about it on the blog and/or FB.  I've also posted about other things they've done and said that, were they older, might bring them embarrassment.  The question I must face in light of all of this is, am I scarring my children for life?  Is the author right to assert that we ought to "privately parent and publicly praise" our children?  Is there ever a time where it is acceptable for a frustrated mom to put out there in the FB and blog world that her children are giving her a run for her money in a specific sort of way?
Part of what makes the situation a little bit unique is that communications media have changed a lot, even since I was a kid.  If I did something outrageous (and I did), my mom would have had to write many separate letters or make separate (sometimes expensive long distance) phone calls to tell all of the people that I communicate with in the mere click of a mouse.  I have so many more people's attention at my easy beck-and-call than before the internet was so widely available.  I suppose when I am praising my children, this is a great thing because it magnifies the audience.  But when I'm "shaming" them, it also puts it out to a wide audience.  If I had heard my mom repeating in phone conversations with about 100 different people one of my recent peccadillos, I would probably have been ashamed.  Is it any less shameful that I'm broadcasting it without my child having to hear it or see it (since she can't yet read)?  And that raises the other question of what happens when she is old enough to read?  Will she look back through her toddler year blog posts and FB statuses with mortification or enjoyment?  I imagine that it depends somewhat on her personality, but still, maybe not.  Maybe it would be mortifying even though I trust that she will know it is all written out of unconditional love.  But is unconditional love the real message she would get from reading the Poopocalpyse post?  Hmmm.
On the other hand, I do feel a bit like the author might be overstating the case.  Maybe not in the case of a parent hanging a sign on his 13 year old daughter accusing her of twerking at a school dance: that is pretty darn humiliating, especially considering her age and the subject matter.  But for the four year old who pooped in the bathtub…is he or she going to be scarred for life about other people knowing it?  Is there ever a time when it is okay to share those little annoyances which just come with the territory of parenting?  She's taking this too seriously, right?
But then I ask myself, if it is okay, why don't I do the same for annoyances caused by my spouse? How would Allen feel if I posted on FB, "Wow, the hubs put a diaper on backwards. WTF?" (I don't think he's ever done that, but just as an example.)  And I KNOW how I'd feel if he posted on FB, "How freaking hard is it to close the bread bag instead of letting the first three pieces get stale? #mywife"  I would not be happy. I would be the opposite of happy. But when I do that sort of thing about my kids, it's cute and funny?  Hmmm.
I have to think about it a bit more, friends in bloggy land, but that article definitely was like being doused in ice cold water. It made me sit up and take notice and actually question if I'm being unintentionally unkind and damaging to my kids while trying to relieve my own stress level and try to look on the funny side of the unpleasant or exasperating situation.
My question remains: how do you know when and where and with whom it is okay to share/vent about your frustrations with parenting?  If you have insights about this, please share (although if you could refrain from saying, "DUH! OF COURSE IT'S TERRIBLE!" I would appreciate it.)

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