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Are French mothers better?

Categories: Bad Parenting, Parents in the Media

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Trust the French to take something we Americans think we do great at and make it better. Like food. You like french fries, right? In France they’re called frites: delectably long super-skinny bites of salty potato-y crispness. Terribly addictive. Impossible to turn down. Totes yum.

Now the French have turned their attention to mothering. OMG! French mothers rock. They have this mothering thing down, it would seem. And you know what hurts worse? Turns out they’ve been rocking the mother thing for years and we just didn’t notice.
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Fat kids: whose fault?

Categories: Bad Parenting, Guilt Inducers

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Most of us seem to be pretty clear on child abuse. Hitting a kid, breaking arms, blacking eyes…that’s abuse, right? (except when the hitting is spanking and it’s discipline “for their own good,” but that is another post entirely) Right? Abuse? We wouldn’t dream of it being okay to endanger our child’s life by shoving him out into a busy street, would we? But when it comes to obesity and kids — morbid obesity — the rules seem less clear, if not downright fuzzy. How do super-fat kids get that way — nature? Nurture? Whose fault are fat kids?

[Non-PC Disclaimer Statement: With now 17% of this country's youth now squarely in the fat camp -- considered medically obese -- I don't see why I should tiptoe around the term. Fat. These kids are fat and I think there is no excuse and I am so going to use the word.]
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Should tweens be on Facebook?

Categories: Bad Parenting, Push my Button

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Last summer, my eleven year old daughter got her first laptop. Becoming wired meant a lot of great changes in her life. She can communicate more easily with me now, via IM, email, or Skype. She can research school stuff better, without waiting in line for the family desktop computer. She can write her Great American Novel. She can stay in touch with pop culture more easily (for her, this mostly means watching music videos on YouTube). And, becoming wired means Facebook.

Imagine my shock, surprise and chagrin to see my eleven year old daughter’s new Facebook profile. The one that said she was 18. EIGHTEEN! Immediately I put on my protective mama hat. The one that looks like WHAT WERE YOU THINKING???!!
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Working from home made me a bad mom

Categories: Bad Parenting

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A defining Bad Mom Moment came when my kids and I were playing a game where they had to pretend to be different things. “Be a lion!” “Be a cloud!” “Be a flower!” “Be a spoon!” (that one was hard, and hilarious) I quickly ┬áran out of ideas of things they could pretend to be so I started having them be people they knew. “Be Nathaniel!” “Be Serena!” It had to be my turn soon, we had already run through everyone they knew. What would they do? “Be Mama!”

They both stopped, stock still. Hmm. How to Be Mama?

Finally, Nathaniel smiled. He had it! He sat down, and started to Pretend Type on an imaginary laptop. After a couple of seconds he looked up, glared at everyone in the room, and said, “Shh! Go away! I’m writing!”

Oh. My.

Not pretty.
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Reunited and it feels so good

Categories: Bad Parenting

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Two of my four kids are coming to see me today. One week out of fifty-two. This will be the first time they see me in my new home in Seattle (they have visited twice when I lived north of Seattle in a smaller city). This will be the first time they meet my new love. This will be the last time fifteen-year old Nathaniel sees me before he goes off to France to live for a year, likely returning forever changed by a year abroad. This will be the last time eleven-year old Serena sees me before she enters middle school, forever changed by growing up, puberty, and sixth grade dances.

Today is a flurry of laundry, cleaning, and making up two extra beds down in our client room. I have a list prepared of activities for the week ahead, including the zoo, seeing the Space Needle, a visit to Pike Place Market downtown (where they throw fish!), hanging at the beach, eating sushi, and some secret surprises involving boats, water, and picnics. Oh, and eating. And talking. And laughing. Lots of laughing.

And hugs.

I know you might not be able to imagine what it might be like being away from your children for 51 weeks and then seeing them again. You might not be able to imagine seeing them descend an escalator at the airport, inches taller and infinitely wiser than the last time you hugged them. You might not be able to imagine a moment of awkwardness with two people whom you knew from their first breaths before you drop into the deep knowing that you have always shared. But I believe you can imagine the connections between you and these two people that never disappears, that persists despite growing up, growing older, and growing more into yourselves.

Next week when I write again I will have a year’s worth of memories packed into a week’s time to share with you, indelible images forever burned into my mind’s eye and my heart that will sustain me for another year.

Until then…

Why are we so darned responsible?

Categories: Bad Parenting, Wanna Fight About It?

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As parents, we walk a thin red line of responsibility. Suddenly becoming a small weak adorable being’s whole world is a wake-up call of sorts. Sleep in on a Sunday morning? Not so fast, bucko — there’s diapers to change, 4am feedings, or just plain crying-for-no-earthly-reason. And when that goes away, there is the sweetness of small feet padding in to the parental bedroom, a small warm body looking for comfort, the Sunday morning pancake ritual. Or early morning ferrying to cross country meets, basketball games, soccer practice. As parents we willingly make the shift from beer bong to Baby Bjorn. We do this from love. We do this because it is the right thing to do. And that’s as it should be, right?

Yes and no.

I think we go too far.
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Are you raising a weird kid?

Categories: Bad Parenting, Mommy Angst

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Until I read Babble’s piece that explores whether it’s bad parenting to raise unconventional kids, I never thought of it as a lifestyle choice. You raise the kids that your kids are, right? They pretty much insist on raising themselves. Oh, I don’t mean that toddlers are driving the family minivan to T-ball, but kids pretty much insist that we parents toe the line and accept their little, well, … eccentricities.

Take my son, for example. At three he decided that his older sister’s black knit skirt was perfect daytime attire to complement his collection of LL Bean polos. For his fourth birthday present he picked out a gorgeous panne velvet dress with rose appliques and a tulle skirt, along with pink plastic pumps. And eventually I let him wear whatever he wanted. In public. It took an internal struggle to let him do it but I did and then got used to the compliments about my “daughter.” When he started school he told me that he thought he’d better wear “boy clothes” and that was the end of that. I kind of missed my gender-ambiguous child when it was all over.
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Bad Mommy: Mad Men parenting, Betty Draper style

Categories: Bad Parenting, Parents in the Media

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Mad Men is back, and I was prepared to love it. Primed with new-season promises of the glamor of 1960’s New York, with miniskirts and rising feminism, I tuned in Sunday night with high hopes.

Instead I felt icky, and I blame Betty Draper.

Have you been following the first three seasons? I confess it’s one of the few TV shows I watch. The characters are complex and finely-drawn. They seem like real people. Maybe too real: I hate Betty Draper.

I hate her in her petulant blonde perfection. I hate how she treats everyone around her, including herself, with disdain. I especially hate her apparent indifference to her children. Watching her telling them to “Go upstairs” or “Go watch TV” makes me squirm. I want to climb into my 32-inch flat screen and hug her children.

Betty Draper hits a little too close to home for me.
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New Year resolutions for bad moms

Categories: Bad Parenting

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That’s right, it’s time to play Resolution Roulette! Sure, you know the rules — make 113 impossibly restrictive resolutions on January 1 and by January 16 decide that this is not your year and give up. Yay, you! But you’re not alone. We’ve all been there, done that, and have the tire tracks from the Runaway Resolution Train across our faces to prove it.

But not this year. This year you’re going to stick to a few small changes that you can make work for you. Sure, you could follow Mashable’s small business resolutions. Or go with CBC News and think small. But I say why think small at all? If you’re going to fail, fail big! But I can help you with this. (Um, not the failing part — I have enough on my plate with that as it is. You’re on your own with that.) My resolutions are as follows:
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Disciplining other people’s kids

Categories: Bad Parenting, Push my Button

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I let Mean Lady out this week. We were at the park, enjoying an unusually balmy northeast November weekend afternoon. The park is a huge wooden castle-like structure that was built by the community several years ago, and it holds hundreds of kids. Maybe thousands. And they were all there that day. Thousands of them. Screaming. Running. Jumping. Pushing. Screaming. Mostly screaming. And Mean Lady just had to come out.

Mean Lady didn’t like it when she saw a girl of about 6 run right onto a bouncy bridge where there was a 2-year old playing, toddling back and forth on his wee wobbly legs. And stand right where he was. And then jump. Hard. 2-year old predictably fell down and cried. Little girl ran off, but not before the Mean Lady cornered her and said that Jumping Hard like that on a bouncy bridge where there is a kid smaller than you is Not Cool. Little girl’s eyes got big and round and she edged away from Mean Lady, keeping a close eye on her for the next hour.
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