Category Archives: Social criticism

Be the helicopter parent with the mostest

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Now that winter weather has finally set in, I’ve continued my daily walks with my dog, Bandit. Although he was neutered, he never got the memo, so it does look a little silly for such a macho dog to wear a green striped sweater that makes him look like his name should be Mr. Whiskers.

I’ve always treated family pets like fuzzy people, something my children picked up. Sometimes, that’s not good. On the master bathroom tub, I keep a large seashell for rinsing my hair. When the children were babies, I washed them with it as a daily reminder of baptism.

Yesterday I saw my daughter run through the house, seashell in hand. My sons sprinted behind her, and my maternal alarm rang. I vaulted up the stairs to see my daughter baptizing our kitten. I delivered the talk that, yes, Piki has a soul, but no, we don’t wash cats.

Situation changes everything.

My mother was perhaps the first helicopter parent; she carted me from ballet to piano to voice to Girl Scouts. At age eight, I remember telling my priest how stressed out I was. Today, many moms still want to give their kids ballet classes that cost $200 every two months. Taking kids to The Right Place enhances Yuppie mom cred.

But different cultures demand different skills. A recent article in the Yemen Times argues women shouldn’t drive cars because only a few have “serious errands, so…they waste money for nothing.” Maged Thabet Al-Kholidy, the article’s author, claims a woman “with a weak heart” fainted after a fender bender he witnessed.

Consider what would happen to your family if Mom couldn’t drive. Your family would probably die.

In our precarious economy, I predict survival will favor people capable of building networks and the community. Helicopter parenting in these conditions would consist of helping others, which costs nothing and teaches children stronger character than $200 ballet lessons.

Many helicopter parents wrongly associate intelligence with book learning, neglecting the work of Howard Gardner, who identified eight types of intelligence. Two are interpersonal–dealing with others–and intrapersonal–understanding yourself.

So start a resolution of teaching children ways to be smart you might have neglected before. During daily walks, take kids to pick up trash around the neighborhood, or bake cookies for the offices of community groups. My girlfriend Gracia Dudlicek takes her sons to the Humane Society to play with the animals.

If you’d like to hear more about what’s going on in the life of this Crazy Mom, feel free to friend me on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.e.bailey.

(Cr)appy Mother’s Day?

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Happy Mother's Day

This Mother’s Day, let’s encourage women not to become mothers until they are completely ready.

During my seventies childhood, my mom stayed home, and my dad worked two jobs to provide for us and our future. He worked longer hours than my mother, and he was justifiably proud of his achievements.

Today, I sometimes wonder if men use working wives as an excuse to do less work—most statistics show men do only marginally more housework than their fathers.

Which means Millennial Mom is worse off than 1950s Mom. Because she’s still the default parent, Millennial Mom’s to-do list is incredibly longer. Kids do more homework today and attend more sports practices than in the 1950s. Today, Millennial Mom has 529 plans and 3-D scrapbooks to maintain—yet she does it around ten hours a day in the office, while dads play videogames.

If I sound like a feminist, I appreciate the compliment. If you believe in marrying for love, you’re a feminist too—the romantic ideal for Ancient Greeks was homosexual. After all, men and women had nothing in common. Women had few rights, little education. Men lived outside the home; women lived inside.

Today, the solution is simple, but it starts young. Women: If a man won’t practice safe sex with you, he doesn’t value you. Be furious; walk out–there’s nothing sexy about sex with someone who won’t protect you. If you don’t think pregnancy will happen in just one encounter, you’re wrong. My first two sons were conceived on the first try; the next “first try” resulted in twins.

Don’t squander your precious life on a man who won’t work harder than you and take pride in treating you like a queen. If your man isn’t working harder than you (that is, valuing you), go on strike. If there’s a pattern of his abusing your hard work, dump him. The hardest worker is in control.

Let’s show youths how grueling parenting is. Throw infant simulators in the trash; they dehumanize human babies. As an inexperienced mom, my first son’s cries deeply distressed me; knowing a flesh-and-blood human was suffering made me work harder to comfort him. 

Instead, let’s make all middle- and high-school students, under professional supervision, provide hands-on help to single parents–eight hours a day, every day, for twelve weeks, at least.

And let’s be conscientious about the messages we send: If we raised young women’s societal status to equal young men’s, teenage pregnancy rates would plummet.

Let’s create a new normal. Last year, my son’s second-grade teacher gave birth, and my kids were trying to determine how old she was.

“I think she’s twenty-six,” Jake volunteered.

Josh laughed. “Silly, women in their twenties can’t have babies.”

And that was when we had our first chat.