I don’t remember how the topic came up, but I ended up playing the “Pregnant Women Are Smug” video for Ben recently. That means that I spent the next few days with that song in my head, but I’ve had worse songs in my head. It got me thinking about all of the “good” parent memes on the internet, though. While there are numerous quotes with whimsical backgrounds that are annoying, today, I just want to focus on the ones that talk about being a good parent, all the sacrifices you make when you’re a good parent, and how you’re better than everyone else because of it.
It’s not that I don’t think parents shouldn’t make sacrifices for the benefit of their children. It’s not that I don’t know any parents who make sacrifices. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t be proud of yourself for being a good parent.
I just don’t understand why people have to advertise it in such a condescending way.
This is the social media trend, though. People post memes, or even just status updates, stating that they are better than you for some reason or other. Why? If you are really great or really bad at something, then people will know, especially when it comes to parenting. Everyone has an opinion on your parenting, regardless of how little you care.
Another thing that bothers me about those posts is that they’re usually obvious. They’re always phrased as if they are grand statements of great truths that have been previously unknown to humankind. Usually, they’re just condescending statements of the obvious. When you combine parenting, condescension, and the obvious on the internet, you get a meme. Sometimes it’s funny. Usually not.
I remember Amanda and me having a conversation awhile back about a meme that a member of her family posted on her Facebook page. It said something along the lines of, “Children are not supposed to sacrifice to make their parents happy. Parents are supposed to sacrifice to make their children happy.” Below it was roughly a billion likes and twice as many comments in the vein of “I hear that!” and “Let me list all of the ways I begrudgingly sacrifice for my children”. It’s annoying because when people say, “I believe parents should put their children’s wants and needs before their own,” what they mean is, “I think I’m better than you because I do things for my children that make me resent them.”
Which leads me to another reason I dislike these memes – don’t cover up your bragging with your bitching, and vice versa. Yes, as someone who chose to bring a person into the world, you should be making sacrifices here and there (some big and some small) for the well-being of your child. Fine. Don’t act like you’re put upon by the world for it, though. I wonder how popular memes for other responsibilities would be. What if I started bragging every day about how I get up Monday – Friday, go to work, and actually work while I’m there? What if I added on the enviable fact that if I’m too sick to come to work, I actually go the extra mile and let my boss know that I need to use vacation time for that day. After reading that, aren’t you wondering why I’m not the CEO of the company for going above and beyond? I doubt anyone in the world works as hard as I do, except for those who like that comment, in which case, we are now best friends in suffering.
I don’t mean to poo poo on all the people who are glad that they’re good parents or who support good parenting habits or whatever the heck it is they’re trying to accomplish by SPAMming us with good parenting memes. It’s just one of the many aspects of American culture that I don’t understand, like casual dating and mayonnaise. If you find that you just can’t let go of the parenting memes, then maybe try a little less of this:
…and a little more of this…
The final reason that I do not like those memes is that if you constantly tell your children about all the ways you sacrifice and make yourself miserable for them, then you are teaching them some very bad lessons:
- They are more important than anyone else in the world, and should always expect to be treated as such by everyone for the rest of their lives.
- Making yourself a priority is bad.
Neither of the above are true and either one will make for a miserable life for your children and the people around them. Do yourself a favor and teach them that being kind to others is just as important as being kind to yourself. If you don’t want to do this for your own sake, please consider doing it for the good of the children.