Parents, heed my warning: We are being set up to fail.
For a long time, I thought maybe I was constantly a failure as a parent because I am clumsy, forgetful and a little too honest.
Then one day, I went down a rabbit hole on Facebook, chasing someone’s conspiracy theory about Ebola. (I promise, that is the only time I will ever write about or mention Ebola.) (I hope.)
While reading about far-fetched ideas regarding the government’s ploy to get all of us exchanging infected body fluids (gross), I started thinking that maybe this conspiracy stuff isn’t so off-the-mark.
No, I don’t really think that the government is trying to kill us with Ebola.
But I have concluded the following hypothesis: There is a massive web of misinformation spinning around parents, who continue to feed the spider and unknowingly benefit several industries that have partnered together to make us feel bad about ourselves.
Exhibit A: Social media serves as a constant reminder that we are terrible, awful parents.
I mean, have you ever been on Pinterest? It basically drops a load of guilt on me every time I log in, which is why I have only ever been on that site like, twice. But I know people who are totally addicted, pinning pictures of crockpot meals, homemade children’s clothing and kids’ bedroom makeovers that will probably never happen. Yet you keep going back for more, thinking that you MUST get more creative in your kid’s school lunch, because if you don’t, you are “less than.”
Result: Social media networks benefit.
Exhibit B: There is an extraordinary amount of “parenting” books, blogs and websites.
Yes, this sounds hypocritical coming from someone who maintains a parenting blog, but I don’t give advice, because, as “The Man” wants me to believe, I’m not a good parent anyway, so my advice would be useless.
All of these parenting advice-oriented publications don’t really help us; they serve as a reminder of what we aren’t doing well or what we “should” be doing. The more they tell us we should be doing something, the more we go back for their advice.
Result: The parenting publishing industry benefits.
Exhibit C: Anytime anyone ever asks for parenting advice, you can bet that at least one person will say, “Wine.”
True, that person is often me, but it’s not like people don’t agree with me. Folks, there are only a few tried-and-true methods to survive parenthood, and I am convinced that alcohol therapy (in moderation) is probably the best. The harder a day is, the more I feel like a failure, the more I want to strap a keg of wine (you read that correctly) on my back and take an inebriated hike.
Result: The alcohol industry benefits.
Exhibit D: Doctors, dentists, caregivers, grandparents and even strangers are seemingly always ready to point out flaws – either yours, your children’s or both.
Yes, I know my child should sleep more. Thanks, Capt. Obvious.
Yep, you’re right, the spot behind his ears is filthy. I’ll get right on it.
Like, back off, dudes and dudettes. I think we, as parents, are under enough pressure without the medical industry, randos on the street and our own families criticizing us under the veil of “Oh, we’re just trying to help.”
Result: The medical industry benefits by making money, grandparents benefit because they feel satisfied that they have served revenge on the children who once tormented them, and strangers benefit by feeling smug about making a young mother cry.
In summation: Zuckerberg and his ilk, the publishing industry, alcohol manufacturers, medical professionals, your parents and completely random strangers are all gunning for you to fail, so don’t beat yourself up too much. That’s a really lopsided battle, and you’re probably going to lose.
So you may as well sideline the social media, burn the books and ditch the docs. But hang on to the alcohol. (I mean, that’s just good sense.)