One of my Facebook peeps posted this last night, and I thought it was great. It gives the first-person accounting of a playground incident that amounts to a clash between parenting cultures, the Helicopter-Mom culture and the “other.” It occurs to me, perhaps there needs to be some kind of a name to describe the other. An acronym, maybe? “Intervention For Emergencies Only,” I.F.E.O.?
Just like voting for Barack Obama — people of all shapes, colors, sizes, backgrounds and origins, once they do some good, quality left-brain thinking, will usually come around and say, Yes, I can see what is wrong with what we’ve done here and it’s silly for me to deny it. I see what’s wrong with the Helicopter-Mom brand of parenting. The problem isn’t getting them started thinking about this. The problem is getting them to finish with it. Infuriatingly, there’s always this “but” afterward, and following that you can almost hear the blood rushing into the right-brain artsy-fartsy touchy-feely part of the gray matter. Then, there follows some kind of muttering about absolute safety and feel-feel-feel, then, conclusion: We have to keep on keepin’-on. As far as the one indisputable point you’ve managed to make, Mr. Reason And Common Sense, which is “How is the kid going to learn to do a goddamn thing?”, we’ll just have to plug along and hope it somehow all works out. Cross that bridge when we come to it, or something.
And that’s when “Playground Mom” decided she had enough because she walked briskly over to him and said “You need help sweetie? Give me your hand.”
I was furious but not exactly shocked since I had seen it building to that point for the previous 10 minutes. But I still wasn’t about to let it go without addressing it.
“Excuse me, but he doesn’t need your help and he’s fine. I’m his dad and I’m right here.”
“Well clearly he does need help because he’s about to fall,” she said in full condescending mommy tone.
“Maybe, maybe not. But either way he’ll be fine. I can parent my own kid.”
Look, you can parent however you want but I have multiple problems with what happened. First of all, it’s just another in a long list of examples that show some moms think they know everything — especially compared to dads. To openly step in and insert herself with me — the kid’s actual parent — right there? Maybe she would’ve done the same to another mom, but I doubt it. It’s a shitty attitude and I’m unbelievably sick of it.
Second, we are raising a generation of kids who know nothing about taking risks. Even on the monkey bars and playgrounds of America, the minute they hit some turbulence and adversity mommy and daddy are there to rescue them — and give them a trophy in the process. It makes me ill.
As he writes and I read, this guy’s preaching to the choir. I don’t understand the Helicopter-Mom thing, even though I’ve been trying to figure it out for years. I’m forced to rely on process-of-elimination, which among other things, is a tell-tale sign that I’ve failed at all other approaches. Also, it only works when the list of possibilities to be eliminated, starts out as an exhaustive one, covering everything.
So let us exhaust:
One. Helicopter-Mom parenting, say what you want about it, is a sincere effort. These are good, caring moms who don’t want their own kids or any other kid to get hurt. When in the course of their tireless efforts to Prevent Bad Things From Happening, they end up shielding the kid from everyday exigencies and challenges, and over the long haul deliver to adulthood one incapable weak pussy whelp after another who can’t do anything for himself, that is an unfortunate side-consequence but by no means is any part of their central focus or intent.
Two. Helicopter-Mom parenting is all about raising one incapable pussy whelp after another who can’t do anything for himself. In other words, things this time are exactly as they appear. We are looking at a battle between the sexes. It is a war against manhood and masculinity, that’s why you’re seeing this saturated female aggression around it, it’s there by design, and men had better wake the fuck up because it’s very late in the battle. And thanks to the politically-correct forces of vengeful feminism, the gentlemen are still sleeping. Or silent, which ultimately is the same as sleeping. We’re acting like fatherhood is replaceable, because we’ve been given a lot of messages that it is — and it isn’t. The consequences are disastrous, on the scale of tragedies you see only when there was some fighting that had to be done that didn’t get done.
Three is a midpoint between One and Two. It is more complicated, but I think it the most likely. This is only natural since both One and Two, while they have merits, are caricatures; caricatures very seldom mesh up well with real life.
Consider where, for the last forty-five years or so, feminism has failed in our evolving society most resoundingly. It has succeeded in ending careers and proving its destructive power, to such a great extent that it has made generations of honest people afraid to test it, and then, conversely, afraid to mention it or acknowledge it in any way. Even though everyone who’s paid the slightest bit of attention knows how it works: Say the wrong thing, and you’re gone. Whoever lifts a finger or utters a word to try to save you, is also gone. That’s how “shunning” worked back in the olden days: “You are to be shunned, whoever does not shun you is likewise shuned, whoever does not shun he who did not shun you is also to be shunned.” So the older established generations fear feminism, because we all have to make a living. The younger generation grows up hairless, chestless, and idea-less, standing up for nothing. Whenever an American Castrati ends a supposedly-declarative statement with a “…??” that’s a victory for militant feminism. But — in the very young, those who haven’t gravitated toward one world or another, here is where feminism fails. When they try to take the gender out of playtime, during the toddler-age. There’s no reason in the world, feminism scolds us, that our retrograde, patriarchal, oppressive society couldn’t be teaching girls to play with guns and shovels and hammers and drawing supplies, and boys to play with dolls.
Feminism is a big flop here. It achieves a patina of legitimacy only through the exceptions to the rules: Yes, some boys do like to play with dolls. Some girls are gifted at drawing. But the effort to reshape and remold the future generations through the remaking of the toddler, has fallen on its face time after time.
Wiring at work. The boy-toddlers are given Barbie dolls. They point the dolls at each other and yell “bang!”
Here’s an irony: I’m in the middle of attacking feminism, and what you’re about to read is me essentially repeating a lot of catchphrases straight from feminism, thereby highlighting it’s inherent, internal, unworkable contradiction. The female half of the species has been created to — or evolved to — create, preserve and protect as part of its instinctive drive. The male half can’t even fully understand this. Nor is it our place to do so. We only barely comprehend it enough to meet it, charm it, seduce it, couple up with it, build a life with it, and do what we can to protect the protectors. It is how the human race has always worked: Momma protects baby, Daddy protects Momma. Okay, feminists aren’t quite jiggy with that last part. But they’re certainly wild about that male-female-protection business when it has to do with the male finding out what the female wants, and bringing it to her.
But it all means this: Girls play with dolls. The playing with the dolls has a lot to do with practicing the acting-out of their maternal instincts, later on once they are of mothering age.
Think about what a doll is. Think about what it does. It does what it’s told, although it has needs. Some dolls even shit their diapers. It isn’t self-sufficient in any way; if they built a doll like that, there’d be no point for anyone to own it. Some dolls are told to do certain things; they do them, unquestioningly.
And there may be exceptions to this, but: Generally, dolls don’t learn. Maybe that’s a big part of the problem right there.
No, the dolls stick to what is expected of them. The ones that can speak, say what they are expected to say. They are zero-surprise devices. And they have big gorgeous eyes. They need protection.
So for my exhaustive list, my third possibility is a hybrid between One and Two. The desire to protect the child is sincere, solidified since the mother’s own toddler-years playing with dolls. But the playing-with-dolls ritual has done nothing to invigorate the mother’s emotional maturity, nor has anything else that came afterward, too much. She limps along in life with the emotional intelligence of a nine-year-old. That’s why, when you point out the obvious that “Your kid won’t reach adulthood capable of actually doing anything useful” you get back this useless, platitudinous, purely ornamental “Yes, I can see what you’re saying there” followed by the ever-present “but” followed by the disgusting glurgey nonsense followed by the so-we’ll-just-keep-on-keepin’-on. That’s what people do when they are emotionally immature. They go through the motions of discussing things rationally, with reason and common sense and logic, until such time as the logic veers off in a direction that isn’t to their liking. Then they mumble a bunch of buzzwords and go on doing what they were going to do anyway.
So this third, more realistic possibility is that the helicopter-mom really does want to prevent bad things from happening to the child — but there’s a conscious-versus-subconscious thing kicking in there. The statement “yes I can see what you’re saying” about the benefits to rough-and-tumble tough-love parenting — that is also sincere. But it will never win out. EVER. Because there are two personalities sharing the same body there, and the over-protective one that smothers the bear cub, and keeps it from ever learning to pull its own fish out of the stream, will always win out.
I’ll finish this by noting something that applies to all three of the possibilities I’ve considered: Across the board, the only remedy possible, other than allowing the tragedy to continue, is for someone else to intervene.
I’m not optimistic about this. It is contrary to what our society is inclined to do, contrary to what it has been doing. The pushy female would have to be told no. That would be a change of direction on a scale nothing short of revolutionary. We’ve shown ourselves to be capable of revolutions, but not often. And not like this. But if nothing else, the writer of the article shows it is possible to think globally while acting locally.
Is it in us? Time will tell. Everything depends on it.