Why I Don’t Make Jokes About Kids and Parenting
I keep seeing it: TOP 100 Tweets About Parenting This Week. I read them, and they are hilarious!
But there’s always this tickle of doubt in my mind.
If I knew that these parents were truly, deeply respectful of their kids day in and day out…
…And I knew that their tweets only reached the minds of other people who truly, deeply cared about kids…
…Then I could laugh along with them. It’s ok to be exasperated at people you love and to make hyperbolic jabs in good fun as long as it takes place in the context of a healthy, respectful relationship.
But I know good and well that most parents don’t respect their kids much at all, and most of their audience doesn’t either.
Here’s one list from early January 2017 from Huffington Post.
There are 21 tweets. Here’s how the themes break down.
- Kids are bothersome
- Kids are incompetent
- Kids tell shitty stories
- Kids are ungrateful
- Kids try to trick you
- Kids don’t listen
- Kids’ bodily functions are a burden
- Kids can’t listen
- Kids drive you to insanity
- Kids are messy
- I’m an inadequate mom
- Kids are irrational
- Caring for kids is bothersome
- Kids are exhausting
- I don’t care about the things kids care about
- Kids are exhausting
- Life with kids is drudgery
- Kids’ dreams stress me out
- I need to get away from my kids
- I’m a slacker mom
- I don’t like being with my kids
Only one or two of them are focused on the parent’s feelings of inadequacy without blaming it on the kids.
All the rest are about how much children suck.
That’s it. That’s the sum total of what passes for humor about parenting. Kids are irrational, messy, annoying, bothersome, too much trouble, exhausting little monsters that we need to get away from.
Parents might think “that’s not what I MEAN”, but if that’s what you SAY then it has an effect.
It has an effect on people who don’t know and love kids, since that’s what they hear about most of all.
It has an effect on how our society treats children as a whole, since this is the collective story about kids that we put out there.
And honestly, it has an effect on parents as well, since how we parent is a habit put together from the messages we get from our culture.
Additional Reading: Parenting Isn’t An Instinct
Here’s my challenge to you:
- If you believe you need to vent about the stress of parenting, do it with a trusted friend who you know respects kids as much as you do (or more!)
- Once you are done venting, do the necessary work to CHANGE the situation that causes you stress. This can be simply re-framing how you feel.
- Don’t participate in online insulting humor about kids. Most of the other people DO NOT respect kids, and your participation gives them the likes, clicks, and legitimacy to continue normalizing the mistreatment of children.
The things we say matter. They change us, and they change the people around us.
Can you rise to the challenge to stop insulting kids through so-called humor?