Thursday, June 16, 2011

Complaining about parenting is some sort of new trend

Hey I never got one of these:
Apparently, dadchelor parties are a thing. They’re pretty much like bachelor parties, except the person getting rowdy is about to be father, not a groom. A dude who recently attended one of these soirees called it a "farewell from the inner circle." They can also be called daddymoons and man-showers, and according to The Huffington Post, they’re becoming increasingly popular.
Actually that is a trend that I will believe when I see something other than some thinly sourced trend story about it, like for instance when I hear about one actual person doing it.

But here is a bona fide trend that really is sweeping the nation and with which I have actual first-hand experience: The trend of talking about this mock children's book Go the F--k to Sleep, which I certainly agree seems quite funny. People are posting it on Facebook, this Tom Scocca piece in New York Magazine considers its deep meaning and so does this Slate Culture Gabfest and so on.

I am not sure if Go the F--k to Sleep represents anything in particular about our culture's changing attitudes about parenting itself, but I do feel like there is something going on right now where openly complaining about how hard it is to be a parent is some sort of new frontier in anti-PC taboo-breaking.

I think of the comedy of Louis C.K., like this famous -- and actually groundbreaking and completely hilarious -- bit about how his 4-year-old daughter is an asshole:

No less a mainstream comedic voice than Tina Fey recently got in on the action, too, explaining that toddlers are total d-bags.

Really it is not so different from Bill Cosby calling his kids "brain damaged" or whatever, but it seems like a) there is a sharper edge on it in all of these examples and b) we are just seeing more of this sort of thing in general.

I like that the culture is now able to express some of the frustrations of parenting, but I am less sure that something like Go the F--k to Sleep is shattering any actual taboo. Maybe there was once a time -- probably before two-working-parent households were the norm -- when the culture thought only unrealistic happy thoughts about parenting and expressing negative feelings was truly something that just wasn't done. But this is not that time. In fact I wonder if the pendulum hasn't swung a bit far in the other direction, to the point that it's now more socially acceptable to talk about the frustrations and difficulties of parenting and it's somehow lame to talk about its joys.

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