It seems parenthood has become such a hot topic in the last decade. More outlets are giving real estate to family-focused columns, and tons of mom-centric sites have been born in the last few years (including this one). With all this discussion swirling around, a shorthand has developed. But I’ve been in the parenting game for nine years now and, well, I can tell you that there are some parenting
buzzwords every mom would love to never hear again. You know how nobody actually says “L-O-L” anymore (except my mother, who just recently got a smartphone)? Yeah, well, let’s start phasing these over-used phrases out, too.
These buzzwords have come into existence because they’re associated with hot button issues in the parenting community. When there's so many parents, and so many ways of parenting, I guess it's inevitable that there would be
so much judgment. Part of my argument against these buzzwords is that they’re used to silo the different parenting tools moms, like me, collect to help us raise thoughtful, clever, loving children. Because the truth is, most if not almost all parents take a mix-and-match approach, as it gets increasingly difficult to subscribe to a “universal truth” in terms of childrearing. To simplify parenting is to belittle the emotional, mental, and physical gymnastics we are all doing as moms.
I’m so over the media needing to categorize all parenting behaviors, and giving them ridiculous buzzwords, like the following. So, you know, can we stop?
Yes, we know we can’t, and shouldn’t, protect our precious snowflakes from all the small tumbles they need to take to learn about their world. It seems to mess them up
in college, apparently. We can’t help ourselves sometimes, though. So I think we can be done getting lectured about this practice, unless you update “ helicopter parenting” to reflect our modern times. Drone parenting, perhaps? "Attachment Parenting"
Whether you practice
attachment parenting or not, we can all agree that it has been uttered ad nauseam in the mom-o-sphere and I, for one, think it should be retired. I sort of, kind of, practiced attachment parenting, in the sense that my child slept on me for most of her infancy, since I would often pass out while nursing her before bedtime. I was reluctant to leave her for social nights out when she was a baby, too, but is that considered attachment parenting, or just exhaustion? "Stay-At-Home Mom"
I'm not a stay-at-home mom, but I feel like this phrase does actual
moms who are with their children all day a huge disservice. The phrase “stay at home,” feels so passive, and parenting kids for at least 10 hours straight is so not that at all. As a working mom I often look forward to Mondays, knowing I can go to the office where nobody is clamoring for juice or spilling juice or needing me to tend to any of their bathroom needs is a luxury. To “stay at home” is in no way accurately describing the level of care and commitment these mothers are giving their kids. If anything, they very much seek opportunities to get the hell out of the house with the kids because, seriously, home all day with them is not motherhood. It’s an episode of Survivor. "Working Mom"
OK, I know I just used this term to describe myself, but I pretty much hate it. I was trying to get “mothering careerist” going for a while, but it doesn’t really roll off the tongue. The problem with “
working mother” is that it defines me first as a mother, and then as a mother who works, but IRL I was working way before having kids. My identity was formed before my babies were born, so my children didn’t define me.
“Working parent” is only slightly better, but men with children have been employed for generations and we never seemed to need a specific term that identified them as fathers
and workers. So, why do we need this phrase for women with jobs who happen to have children? "Baby-Led Weaning"
Honestly, I thought this meant something entirely different when I first heard it. “Weaning,” to me, meant gradually decreasing the breastfeeding. But baby-led weaning means
letting the kid try solids with their own hands, instead of spooning purees into their mouths. This term is really confusing.
Might I suggest the more accurate “Baby-led Food Fighting,” since that’s what it most closely resembled when my babies tried to feed themselves?
all natural. We’re not robots. Grading us moms on the degrees of how “natural” our parenting practices are, including our birthing, feeding, and diapering choices, is just a way to pit us against each other. We each do whatever works for us, and our families.
“Natural” is not a benchmark to measure our parenting success. It’s open to interpretation and no grounds for judgment.
"Co-Sleep, Co-Parent, Or Co-Anything Else"
These made-up words put labels on things that don’t need them. Have I been
co-sleeping with my spouse for the past eleven years of our marriage? Have I been co-parenting with a mom friend when we team up for a play date with our children? Have I been co-peeing when my toddler thinks my use of the toilet is an open invitation for him to waltz in and regale me with some Lego building feat he just pulled off? "Age-Appropriate"
Showing my 4-year-old daughter
was probably not what some would consider to be "age-appropriate." However, it was specifically appropriate for her and our family. She understood the story, the theme, and, five years later, doesn’t appear to be ruined by the experience. Star Wars
“Age-appropriate” is a phrase that comes off sounding like a law, but it’s actually a suggestion. My kids still like playing with blocks meant for much older children, and my 6-year-old son is really into board games that are “age-appropriate” for children two years older than he is. I’m the mom, and I know my kids, and what’s “appropriate” is for their father and me to determine.
The practice of delaying a child’s entrance into kindergarten is called
redshirting, and there are lots of opinions about it. My opinion is that I resent having this sports term included in our parenting vocabulary, because not everything needs to be couched in football vernacular to be understood. (Can you tell I’m not really a sportsball person?)
My daughter has a very late birthday. The cut-off for kids in New York City schools is December 31st, so with a birthday in November my daughter is one of the youngest, and smallest, kids in her class. Socially and academically, her late birthday hasn’t made her an outlier with her classmates, though. “Redshirting” has a negative connotation (like redlining or red flagging) and, to my point about the phrase “age-appropriate,” parents shouldn’t feel like they’re being judged when they make a decision for their children based on
what’s best for the kids, and not on a number. "Dad Bod"
How come mothers have to “
get their body back” after having a baby, while fathers get to enjoy a “dad bod?” If we are going to toss this phrase around, I’d like us to also start using the term “mom bod,” which basically means whatever body a mom has should be celebrated; be it tight, soft, round, firm, asymmetrical or alternatively abled. "Anti-Vaxxers"
This always sounded like the potential name of a '70s punk band to me. Yes, it’s shorter to say “anti-vaxxers” than “parents who choose to put their, and other, children at dire risk for
refusing to immunize them with vaccines proven to significantly lessen the effects of or completely eliminate deadly diseases,” but it comes off as kind of cool in the process, too. “Oh, can I join your band, The Anti-Vaxxers?” No, just no. "Progressive"
This term confuses me. If someone is not progressive, are they
traditional? And what progressive parent wouldn’t define themselves, in some way, as practicing some aspects of traditional parenting? This word also plays into society’s zeal in getting moms to square off in some kind of parenting cage match to determine “who parents best?” I know that I don’t subscribe to a singular way of parenting. I borrow from all kinds of theories because, in the end, trial and error and seeing what works is usually essential to successfully raising kids.
Plus, what might have worked for my first kid doesn’t necessarily work for my second. I am constantly shaping myself as a parent, and I don’t suspect I’ll be done until my children are grown and financially independent.
“Tolerance” is when you’re seated next a bunch of noisy kids on date night. “Tolerance” is not blowing up at the cashier when she has to price check almost every single one of your items. "Tolerance” should
not refer to an acceptance of one's culture or religion or parenting technique, just for being different than you or yours. That normalizes you as the default “correct” version, and puts everyone else in the “other” category.
I am different than our white, male Vice President-elect, who wants to require
funerals for aborted fetuses, but I will never in a million years tolerate that mandate. “Tolerance” went from the gentle meaning of accepting differences among the human race, to being defined as admirable behavior for white people who accept that not everyone is white. We should not merely tolerate the differences among us, we should normalize them. (Except, of course, when differences in beliefs threaten the safety or dignity of anyone.) As parents, my husband and I are teaching our kids that we, as a human race, should never, ever, tolerate hate speech, bullies, and behavior that elevates one type of people above any of the rest.
Words to consider instead of tolerance: fairness, equality, humanity, understanding, compassion. Those are the
values I am trying to raise my kids with. “Tolerance” sets the bar too low.