You can’t get on the internet, turn on the TV, or read a newspaper (does anyone still actually read newspapers any more?) without seeing some headline about a parent “under fire” for doing something. Granted, the term “under fire” is catchy, it GRABS your attention, but don’t parents deserve a break? And just who, exactly, are they under fire from?
Without even looking specifically, I have encountered several “parents under fire” articles in the last few days. The most widely discussed, with photo above, dealt with the delightful phenomenon that is child pageants, as chronicled by the harder-to-stop-watching-than-a-train-wreck phenomenon that is TLC’s “Toddlers in Tiaras.” In this episode, Shannon, the stage-mom-you-never-knew-you-always-wanted, is in the cross-hairs for giving her dazzling first-grade daughter the competitive edge that only a mammoth dose of caffeine can provide. Her concoction, wizardly named “go go juice,” consists of two parts Mountain Dew, one part Red Bull, 100% pure maternal love!
I know exactly what you’re thinking: why didn’t my mom give me go-go juice when I was six? Answer: your mom obviously didn’t love you.
But is this really all that bad? She says she only does it on pageant weekends, and she swears she’s not the only mom doing it (also in her arsenal, the gateway pageant upper Pixi-Stix (street name “pageant crack,” banned by pageants in 48 states, still awaiting FDA approval)).
I just Googled “dad under fire” and got 76,800,000 results. “Mom under fire” = 96,600,000. Obviously, I haven’t yet had a chance to read through all of these (though I would like to). And I’m not saying all parents are perfect, nor that some couldn’t stand to step up their game. But for me, pageant moms make too easy a punching bag. I mean look at the picture; that’s Shannon in the background. Doesn’t everyone deserve something to get excited about? What’s wrong with a little (mostly) healthy competition?
I really do think there is too much of this “parent under fire” stuff. With the advent of cell phone and web cams, YouTube, and social networking, we are all having to embark into the stressful, challenging, exhausting, confusing, and sometimes even terrifying world of first-time parenting under the jaded and judgmental microscope of the collective public eye. You can’t judge an excerpt of arguably bad parenting out of context. And no parent is perfect. I know ours made mistakes. But theirs weren’t chronicled for the know-better billions that can watch evidence of our blunders at the click of a button from anywhere in the world. We all make mistakes, but there is little value in non-constructive criticism aimed at an out-of-context portion of a mistake or judgment lapse blown out of proportion.
I am not a perfect parent, and cringe at the thought of certain of my errors and omissions being broadcast for the world to see. Who are any of us to judge?