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Bad Mamas

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Ronda Kaysen: Here's a new sin to add to the list of bad parenting habits: telling everyone about them. The bad parenting confessional is all the rage these days, and the Internet is fueling parents' desire to tell the world about the time they substituted paper towels and tape for a diaper.

mom standing with her arms folded

Parenting confessionals are flooding bookstores as parents tell all, the Wall Street Journal reports. Last month, mom blogger Heather Armstrong published her memoir, "It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much Needed Margarita." And that's only the beginning. A compilation of poor parenting admissions from the tell-all website Truu Mom Confessions hit bookstores this week. Next month, two memoirs, "Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace" by Ayelet Waldman and "Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood" by Michael Lewis will divulge more secrets of poor parenting. And Babble.com, a parenting website, is publishing an anthology of essays from its most popular column: Bad Parent.

And then there's TV. ABC launched a new sitcom "In the Motherhood" about three harried moms, which was born from awWeb series.

As a writer, I have to admit that I am not above the parenting confessional fray. I've used my kid as fodder. I've written articles and blogs about nursing him and toilet training him and how he's put a monkey wrench in my sex life. Before he was even born, he was the subject of my stories. Poor guy can't even read and already he's got enough words written about him to fill a book. Sometimes, I wonder what he will one day think about this.

Parents spend a lot of time worrying about how the Internet will affect their kids - how unfettered access to information and social networking sites will impact their youngsters' lives. But what about the stories we tell about them without their permission? It's almost second nature to blog and post pictures and movies about our kids. And now, in what appears to be a backlash against pressure to be a perfect parent, parents are coming out in droves with stories of their endless failings. The genre of the Proud Bad Mother has been born.

One day, these stories will catch up with us. Blogger Carole Morrell found herself on the hot seat when her 9-year-old daughter Iris read her blog, "The Drunken Housewife." Iris discovered that her parents were seeing a marriage counselor. She was furious that her mom told readers this tantalizing detail and neglected to share the information with her children.

I wonder if our kids will call us out on the carpet for making their private lives public. Maybe a generation of children will wake up one day and log off of Facebook and Twitter altogether in the hopes of regaining a little privacy. After all, when I read about a mom telling me how she lets her kid watch six hours of TV a day, it's hard to remember that there's a real live child at the end of that story. And he may not think it's so funny that everyone knows about it.



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12 comments so far | Post a comment now
JustMe April 17, 2009, 3:50 PM

truemomconfessions is an anonymous place to vent; nothing wrong with that.

Aw April 17, 2009, 7:19 PM

This sounds like a good site, because then it will be easier for child protective services to remove the child and prosecute the parent/ guardian because all the documentation will be done. All child welfare has to do is print it off and give it to the judge ! Yep, this is a great idea ! I wish it had been around before. Maybe children could have been saved.

Tara Cash April 18, 2009, 1:35 AM

Thank you for thinking about the kids with this.
I got my mom into livejournal when I was 13. I found out a lot of things I wish she could have told me first, you know, before random strangers who happened across her blog. I never thought about what she said about me until I read some comments that were left. It was like the people commenting didn’t realize that I or my sister were human. Like we were just characters in some fanfic.

Nearly 6 years later now, and my sister who was 5 at the time and who “would never care” according to my mom has found out about the journal and is resentful about it.

Thank you so much for posting this. Maybe some moms will think more about it.

DEMommy April 18, 2009, 11:27 AM

I watched the whole True Mom Confessions or whatever it was on Oprah and I could only think to myself how sad. I love my kids so much (2 and 10 months) and while I am not the perfect mom by any stretch I can honestly say I could not relate to 99% of what any of these women were saying. I am sad for them and I am sad for their children. And I pray their children don’t find out about these things.

Ashley April 18, 2009, 6:10 PM

So, you’ve never run out of diapers or wipies? Or cried after you had your baby? Did your parents ever tell stories about you to other people when you were a tiny terror? I know I have gone on this site and commented on someone elses story or shared my experience with being a mom. Whats wrong with sharing stories? I also think that those books published were for laughs. People get tired of reading those books on how to be “A Perfect Stepford Parent”.

Portia April 19, 2009, 11:51 AM

People can say what they want. I’m glad parents are coming out and talking about these things we call kids. Sometimes children believe its okay to act out because they are children. They are selfish and everything else. A kid was acting out one day “I’m just a kid trying to find myself.” Kids are not like how my sister and I were. We were respectful, we helped out and we earned everything that we got, no questions asked. It was not an obligation for mom to get us toys and all this other crap parents are showering these bad *** kids with these days. And we wonder why the world is so messed. Kids today are definitely not angels, they are obnoxious, rude, terrible to be around, they almost make you hate them and they needed to freaking know about it. I hate the parents and their bad kids.

ariana April 19, 2009, 7:36 PM

i think this author feels like she is the “real writer” and is resentful that these other women are getting book deals and publicity

Maeby April 20, 2009, 11:12 AM

I agree with Ashley. There is nothing wrong with these parents who like to vent. If your job as a parent is super easy then you’re probably doing it wrong! And just because its easy at 2 and 10 months does NOT mean its always going to be easy. Im guessing once they start acting up you’ll blame it on someone else right? Some people need to get over themselves. We’re all doing the best we can. Whats the point of coming to a mom site if you think you’re doing it all perfect anyway?

SquiggleMum April 21, 2009, 7:57 AM

Whether you agree or disagree this is food for thought for all mummy/mommy bloggers. It made me go back and look over some of the things I’ve posted at squigglemum.com

DEMommy April 21, 2009, 10:35 PM

Maeby - I never ever ever ever said it was easy by any stretch of the imagination. I simply have never minded any single part of being a mommy. I get up at 3 AM with my 10 month old because that is what you do. I am exhausted having a toddler and a soon to be walker and running a business from home. But I signed up for this and I love it….every single blessed minute of it. And my two year old has better manners and cleans up after himself better than some adults I know. I am probably a more strict old school parent at 37 than most. I didn’t comment personally to anyone….just stated my opinion on what I viewed on Oprah. And no I have never run out of diapers …. and I have two in diapers.

ParentsConfess.com April 22, 2009, 6:10 PM

Users interested in this story may be interested in my blog, where moms and dads can anonymously ‘fess up to bad parenting moments: www.parentsconfess.com

sl2rllove@gmail.com May 21, 2009, 7:13 PM

here is a double standard where we tell kids not to post private info aobut themselves online and yet as bloggers we do it all the time. Kids cannot ever provide consent for what their parents write, and we cannot imagine how future schools, employers, and even enemies will react to what we’ve said. Don’t kids have a right to privacy?


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