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.
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.
|Ronda Kaysen is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, BusinessWeek.com, Architectural Record, Huffington Post, New York Observer and AM New York. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.|