Monday, May 07, 2007

Bad Parenting

We wonder if we are bad parents. When of course we're not.

Today our blog took the pause not about itself but about others. We will talk about our own badness pretty soon. Because I do agree that claiming to be bad parents is like the new “I’m fat” among thin women.

Today, the "bad parents" on our minds are Madeleine McCann's.

I think about them and recall times I looked at my sleeping infant and had to haul him out of bed to pick up my daughter from daycare 1 block from home. I always did it. Because, you know, I'm a "good" mother. I look to them and try to make sense of fates that have pierced their holidays with that stitch of badness we all possess. Admit it. You have stepped too far from the monitor once or twice haven't you? You walk a fine line of childproofing at times? Maybe like me you were a bit laissez-faire about that open window upstairs? But just that once, right? Other than that you are perfectly omniscient, I'm sure.

In our increasingly secular world parents have been made out as gods. Ever-knowing and hovering around their offspring. Parents, in fact, are not. And, while there was a part of me that hit the sneer reflex when I had heard about the McCanns leaving their children, gasp, alone that has passed. We have nothing but hopes and prayers for them today. That any mistake be passed over this time. That tomorrow they may have the chance to error in some small way about Maddy's lunch menu or her toothbrushing. That another day will have them parents again not some sort of failed bodyguards.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Ben said...

I feel that calling them bad parents is wrong.

Maybe, they could of taken advantage of the creche facilities provided by the ocean club resort where they were staying, but for some reason they didn't.

They are going through a very tough time, and frankly I feel that they can do without being judged by others.

Their daughter is special to them, and I suspect that they regret the descision to leave her every second of every day.

I hope and pray for Madelaine's safe return.

Madelaine was conceived through IVF, so this makes her more special to her parents.

This event has captivated an entire nation, and is known and covered throughout the world. I was watching MSNBC earlier, and it was shown on there.

The thoughts of the whole world are with them, and everybody is praying for Madelaine's return to where she belongs.

Gerry, and Kate; My thoughts are with you in this difficult time, I hope that Madelaine is returned to you safe and well.

God Bless.

Ben Cairns, Derby, UK

4:17 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Wow, okay, so this really does cast the discussion in a different light. The McCanns made a bad call - one that mightn't have been bad under different circumstances, but since we can never know exactly what circumstances we're under, aren't all such calls 'bad' in their potential?

Such calls are the kind of calls that we often ruminate over on our blogs, the kind that we wring virtual hands over, that we tout as evidence of our 'badness.' But if we do this, are we undermining the seriousness of such things? Or keeping ourselves aware of such things?

I disagree, a little, with Rebecca's claim that 'bad' is the new fat for the skinny - most of us take seriously our concerns about being bad. We worry about being McCanns. We seek affirmation that we're not, that we won't make such mistakes. Neurotic? Maybe. But is such neurosis - such intense examination of whether we're good enough - a bad thing, in the context of something like parenthood? When the stakes are so high?

Head hurting now, a little.

5:52 PM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

I am sure you think using the word bad is wrong Ben. I am sorry to take a bit of philosophical view here.

I am sorry.

And, I hope that a couple little edits I made clarify that I do not mean to condemn the McCanns at all. But rather express my solidarity with any self-recrimination they may have.. at a time when such is not earned AT ALL.

Here's hoping Maddie is returned so soon.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous radical mama said...

Well, if laissez-fair parenting is "bad" than I guess I am a bad bad mom. Pretty much everything you've mentioned I do regularly. I don't say "bad" because I think it is the hip and trendy thing to say, but because the definition of a "good mom" seems like an impossible, oppressive, and unhealthy standard.

For me, the way that the media presents "bad" moms, often carries traces of my definition of good mom: giving a child room to explore, to make their own decisions even if unpleasant consequences will be endured, to do things that are considered "unsafe". My kid rides her bike without a helmet! But she only eats organic food. I think I pick my battles wisely.

As I have said before on my own blog, I always do the best I can to make the right decisions for my kids, but I also do not apologize for making mistakes or for parenting in unconventional ways. When I call myself a bad mom, or when I read bloggers who are good moms calling themselves bad moms, I read that as a social critique of government and media's habit of parenting parents.

I understand the need for caution and common sense, but sometimes it feels like the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Too many parents are smothering their kids with thier paranoia, anxiety, and life-proofing im(not)ho.

I feel deeply sorry for these parents. Certainly the punishment of a child kidnapped does not fit the "crime." This is a mistake many parents have made in one capacity or another but would never 'fess up to lest they be labeled "bad."

And I have to say that debate on the use of the "bad mom" label has been interesting. :)

-Venessa

7:12 AM  
Blogger NotSoSage said...

Oh, I hadn't heard about this. This just makes me so absolutely heartbroken.

Yes, we all do things that we know could be frowned upon and we trust that the times when something has gone wrong it's been some freak collision of events. It's a nightmare when those wrong things actually happen.

Unfortunately, even if they'd done everything according to the book, they would not be able to not blame themselves.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im from Bosnia and Hercegovina,
I hope and p r a y for Madelaine's safe return.

3:36 AM  

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