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Tuesday
Apr052011

I caved...

Do you remember in high school when the cool kids were trying to pressure you to smoke? To do drugs? To nail the teacher with spitballs? Yeah...those were the days. Except, not really. The cool kids didn't want to have anything to do with me. But in addition to that, I didn't really want to do those things. Sure, I wanted more freedom than I had, but not really to do "bad" things, just to be myself and have fun.

So when the whole "bad mom" thing became trendy on the Internet, I wasn't about to jump on that bandwagon. I want to be the best parent that I can be and I didn't like the trend that I was seeing towards increasingly outrageous bragging confessions from moms about how "bad" they had been. Talking about our rough days -- sure, that makes sense. But bragging about them? Not my cup of tea.

So when everyone was debating and discussing the whole bad mom thing, I came up with a Typology of the Bad Mother, looking at all the types of bad mothers that exist. Ultimately, I concluded that:

I’m going to reserve the term “bad mother” for those that are truly abusive or neglectful. That isn’t to say that I’m lining up to give “mother of the year” awards to every other type I’ve described, but I don’t think that it is helpful for me or anyone else to label someone as a bad mother if they are doing their best. Instead I think we should stop glamourizing “bad”, we should offer a helping hand to those that are struggling, we should be confident in our own parenting, and we should continue to think about how we could improve.


As for me, I have no interest in being a bad mother. I don’t plan to do wrong by my kids in order to make friends. I don’t feel like I need to beat myself up for the things I can’t do. I don’t feel like I need to accept that I am good enough, because I like being a work in progress. I do go against the mainstream sometimes (okay maybe more than sometimes), but I have good reasons for it and I won’t let other people call me a bad mother for doing it (so there Ontario coroner).


So just like I didn't really want to be bad in high school, I also don't really want to be a bad parent. But I do want more freedom. I want the freedom to parent the way that I want to parent without society telling me what is right and wrong. I want the freedom to make choices that work for our family, whether that is because it is the easiest thing to do, the funnest thing to do, or the best thing to do. But, I still want to talk about parenting. I'm not the type of bad mom who just says that anything goes and leaves it at that. I'm the type of bad mom who will debate and discuss and get all political and philosophical and ranty about it.

So, when I got invited by the cool kids (take that high school!) to join the Bad Moms Club and write for them a couple of times per month, I decided that maybe I could embrace my inner bad, but not really bad, to rage against the mainstream idea of good.

Want to learn more? Here is a quick excerpt from the Bad Moms Club Philosophy:

We’re not nihilists. And we’re not revolutionaries, really. We’re just looking for a new standard for what it means to be a good parent – one that doesn’t have anything to do with owning the right stroller or losing the baby weight or getting our kids into the right Montessori preschool or knowing how to blend the perfect organic baby food or knowing whether ’tis nobler to be an attachment parenting parent or a free range parent or a helicopter parent or whatever kind of parent – yes, even a cooler-than-thou ‘bad parent’ – parent magazines are currently hyping. A standard that looks only to whether one’s kids are healthy and happy, within the bounds of what a parent can control. A standard that embraces laughter and good times, with or without liquor.


So, yeah. The celebration of bad is not a celebration of neglect. It’s a celebration of independence from the tyranny of ‘Good’-with-a-capital-G. It’s a rejection of the idea that there are – beyond the basic precepts of loving your kids and keeping them well in mind, body and spirit – right ways and wrong ways to parent. And if we have to be a bit mischievous and mayhemmy to get that point across, well, so be it. At least we’re not making soap out of your ass fat.


I hope you'll join me and the other AMAZING writers over at the Bad Moms Club. Be sure to check out my first post, looking at the latest in "how to have a perfectly happy child" research: Bad Moms Don't Fake a Smile.
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Reader Comments (12)

this is great! I got freaked out when I saw some posts at a "bad mom"style website about how mom's were getting wasted or never washing their children... I like the idea of being "bad" by being different not harmful. You always do wonderful posts. I will check out the bad moms that you endorse :)

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKiki Wilson-Harshman

You know how to make soap out of my ass fat??? And you have never told me this before? I could make a WHACK of soap...

I love how you are very careful with your choices. I agree though: Bad isn't being un-good. It is not aspiring to what we're TOLD is "Good". We're all just doing the best we can and we should listen to our gutts more. I look forward to your contributions!

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermumby

I'm sort of meh on the term "bad mom" as a reclaimed label (other than defending the right of people to self-identify), but I admit my head cocked when I read this:

It’s a rejection of the idea that there are – beyond the basic precepts of loving your kids and keeping them well in mind, body and spirit – right ways and wrong ways to parent."


How do you reconcile this with your strong opinions about parenting? Or does it not feel at all a contradiction to you?

I mostly I concur enthusiastically with that belief statement, but sometimes I find it's used to defend practices I believe to be contradictory to keeping kids "well in mind, body and spirit". Not that I am a perfect parent (sooooooo far from it), nor have any wish to judge others and their lives and what compromises they make and what they choose to put effort into (or not), nor do I think parents need to castigate themselves for every less-than-ideal choice. And yet... There's a squick factor, and I'm not sure whether it's my inner judgmental douchebag or something deeper, truer, reflecting legitimate concerns over how parenting decisions affect a highly marginalized group of people.

So I struggle with this, as you know, and am interested in hearing how you address that for yourself.

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArwyn

Arwyn:

That is a good question and an important one. I think for me, most of the things that I think are of paramount importance, I would put into the category of "the basic precepts of loving your kids and keeping them well in mind, body and spirit". Beyond that, most of the things I talk about here fall into the category of things I "debate and discuss and get all political and philosophical and ranty about."

I'm still not, and probably won't ever be, a fan of the "bad mom" label. But I decided not to let a label stand in the way of working with this great group of women.

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Just sounds like maturity. Knowing what's best for ourselves and family. Ignoring trends and Nurturing our children in the way that they need to be pruned and watered...for their sake. Mature Motherly Wisdom. May our daughters be it and our sons seek it.

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSheryl

This sounds great to me. I prefer the term "bad mother" be reserved for the truly neglectful and abusive. As long as how we parent comes from love and truly wishing for our children to be happy there isn't really "bad" there is only "different".

"I want the freedom to make choices that work for our family, whether that is because it is the easiest thing to do, the funnest thing to do, or the best thing to do. "

This is so apt. I particularly find the belief of some parents that doing the easy thing is bad . As if there is a reward for mothers who suffer the most under their own rules. I see this a lot when there is heated discussion about co-sleeping and I always wonder why making breastfeeding and sleep easy is so demonized.

April 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOlivia

I've always had a mother cat's view of mothering. I lick them clean then push them out into the big world to fend for themselves. It has always amazed me that there are women who have the time and energy to smother their children. That said, I'm decidedly undecided about reclaiming "Bad Mom". It just doesn't work on the same level as reclaiming "bitch" or "gay" does. Maybe I could call myself a bitch mom? But that doesn't go with the cat thing, does it? I guess I'm a queen mom (I love that female cats are called queens), and be done with it.

April 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen O'Danu

Interesting post! You made me remember the early years, when they were hiding in the toilets and smoking colleagues. Interestingly, I'm not tempted cigarette ever. I only started smoking at age 28!

April 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

While I don't necessarily subscribe to the "bad mom" label either, I do think that anything that provides parents with an opportunity to explore that there are maybe lots of right ways to parent to promote health and well-being for our children is a good one. I do appreciate the political and philosophical more than most though, which is what keeps bringing me back here! :)

I've had the Bad Mom's Club on my feed for quite a while now, and I'd say you're a perfect fit. Will be looking forward to reading your posts (clicking through now!).

April 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJuliette

I'm not a mom or parents, but I have been watching a baby and kids for a whole month by myself when I was just 18years old so I know how it feels. well I do know a good book for teacher and parents called "Marva's way" by Marva Collins. Maybe it will help!! thanks for your post!

April 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJagah Bond

How about just Winnicott's "good enough"?

April 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Morelli

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