Thursday, January 29, 2009

Like I have any right to discuss this topic... or do I?

I'm an internet aficionado. Which is really just a nice way of saying "addicted to the internet." I've stumbled across some pretty interesting things in my search for entertainment, some awesome and some I'd like to forget. Sometime last summer while I was going through Hell on Earth, I stumbled across a wesbite called Dooce is actually a woman named Heather Armstrong who got fired from her job in 2001 because of her blog. It chronicles her life from then to now and it's hilarious. She's apparently won a bunch of awards for her blog and is pretty famous in certain circles. She's also a mom, and a lot of what she writes has to do with parenting. Because of that, her site has links to other mommy blogs and websites, which, as a non-mommy, I thought would be totally uninteresting.

Dude, was I ever wrong.

Even though I'm not a mom (and don't think I ever want to be) some of the websites I've come across in the past year are amazing. Women from all walks of life, from all parts of the world, from every culture imaginable, talking about their experiences as mothers, as well as just plain old life experiences. Some of these sites have really opened my eyes to the ins and outs of parenting and I have to say... it's not boring at all! In fact, some of the sites I now visit daily are blogs written my moms. Sometimes they talk about mommy stuff, but more often then not, they talk about every day life and things I can relate to. For instance, there's this one blog I read that's written by a chick named Rebecca Woolf. She's a writer, moved to L.A. at a young age, had the good life: she had tattoos, piercings, gay male roommate and best friend, partied all the time, etc. And then, at 26, she got pregnant and married and her whole life changed. The name of the website is Girls Gone Child and it chronicles her life as young, hip L.A. mom who's trying to balance mommyhood and her writing career.

As a result of reading these websites written by mothers, I've learned a lot about parenting and children... enough to know that I'm pretty sure I want nothing to do with parenthood. I'm not knocking it, there are plenty of people out there who are or would make great parents. I just don't think it's for me. Of course that could change in a few years, but for now, it's the way I feel.

So I have a question: even though I'm not a mom, and don't think I want to be, do I have a right to discuss parenting issues? Do I have a right to voice my opinion on homeschooling or circumcision or disciplining children? Because I do have opinions on all of those topics, opinions that I've gathered from watching other people parent their kids, from my own experiences as a kid, from reading articles and websites about other people's parenting experiences. I'm just not sure that I have a right to voice them, even in this forum, my own blog. I feel like I'd be stepping on toes, like I'd be offending people.

Any moms or dads out there? Any non-moms or dads who want to weigh in? What do you think: do I, a non-parent, have the right to voice my opinions on parenting?


Nicole said...

ok as a mom i think you have every right to discuss your views on parenting! they are your opionions! S**t i dont think that half the parents out there have a right to give their views because they are sperm or egg doners who don't take care of their kids (not gonna names here, but you know who i'm talking about). On the other hand i don't think you should be reading all these "mommy blogs" if all they talk about are the down sides to being a mom! Like anything in life there are good and bad things to being a parent but at the end of the day the good out weighs the bad 10 times. (usually little things like hearing your child tell you they love you for the first time, hearing your child defend you to someone who is saying something bad about you, etc.)

Todd said...

I suppose my broad answer is - Yes, of course you're allowed to have an opinion.

I think the important thing to remember is that someone doesn't just become a template parent. You're a parent to a particular child. That dictates a lot of the dynamic. There are always areas to improve, but in a lot of ways you are given this little stranger who you spend a tremendous amount of time just getting to know. I don't know if I've even started "parenting" yet, so much as I've made sure my kid doesn't fall on his head and that he's smothered in affection.

Your parenting style depends a lot on who it is you're parenting with, as well. Or if you're parenting with anyone at all.

I think what you'll find in is that some will find your take interesting and really want to talk about it. Others may simply disagree. And a third group may actually think that your decision not to be a mom doesn't mean that you're not equipped to have an opinion, but perhaps not interested enough to have one that someone who has kids should take to heart.

Who popped into my head while I read your post was Bill Maher. Not as a comparison; but where you seem genuinely inquisitive, he's vindictive and condescending about adults who are parents. That might be a good marker to keep an eye on -- are you asking questions and genuinely showing concern for someone else's kid? Or do you feel condescension slipping from your lips? Too many tend to think of parents and families as unthinking sheep and you can tell when they speak about children.

I think the best anyone can do is have a philosophy of parenting and then try to apply it every day. Its some combination of example and teaching...But every day is an adventure with a baby and your little stranger (the little anarchist that they are) is going to try to find how committed you are to each of those boundaries.

As for your addiction to mommy blogs...I imagine what makes it so entertaining is that (I find) parents - those I know tend to be educated, intelligent people - revert to the most basic thought processes, perceptions, and ideas. I don't think we're "playing down" to our kids, but you do think about things in a way that you haven't in a very long time. There's this new outside force that takes you out of the mindset that, honestly, you've been in since you were a kid...and now you're really responsible for more than just yourself.

Also, you should continue to reconsider your stance on motherhood. If anything I think you're just leaving a lot of God given talent on the table. Not that you have to - and certainly, if you don't have the heart for it, it would be wrong to become a parent out of complacency or submission.