Welcome to Coffee Chat!   As always, my eternal thanks to everyone who linked up last week.   If you missed last weeks' chat,  HERE, is the link to the article that has me fired up this week.
No Excuses: Parenting Isn't Hard
Issa Waters

So, some think I am "Angry."   That's not entirely accurate; even though I am somewhat perturbed by the article.  However, this is due largely to what I felt was missing from the article, rather than what it did contain.  I opted to play the part of "Devil's Advocate" in my comments.   If you are not familar with such a discussion strategy, do take a quick side step HERE

Clear?  Ok, so why?  Because I do believe there are some weaknesses within the article.  There is something in the tone that really bothers me as a mother.  I dislike the comparison she has drawn between the scene with an adult and a child, and then between 2 adults.   Although both are disturbing scenes, it's a faulty parallelism to the discussion.   Adult to adult relationships are not the same as adult/parent to child.    It's a pot-stirrer post; plain and simple.  The title alone is clearly chosen to illicit response.  I will probably be equally harsh in my own.  Since we seem to be dealing in absolutes and all.

Truth of the article: she has shed light on an important issue.   Let's get something clear right away:  there is NO excuse for abusing a child.  I don't care how bad a day you had, how in debt your finances are, your car broke down, or that your spouse cheated.   No excuse.  However - when do I apply that label ABUSER to you?   (here is also where we could get into a long, drawn out definition of what abuse is....I won't go there today.)  Based on one witnessed incident?  Would that be fair?  Do I get in your face and wag my finger, when I know nothing of your circumstances?   If I am teaching my child through calm and loving discipline.....what does it say about me when I cannot extend that same grace to another human being who has failed?   Is there not possibly some room to breathe here, where we can acknowledge that parenting is hard sometimes, and that as a result we fail.   Do things we never thought we would.   But explore further.

This is what disappointed me in the article:  Essentially she clubbed over half the population of parents on the head: called us all abusers if we ever so much as yelled at our child, and then smugly retreated.    I don't think it would have made her point weaker to show a little understanding, compassion, empathy, or kinship with other parents.   Replies to my comments said this is not her responsibility; she's an advocate for the child.   Really?  By judging, offending and alienating the parent?   Aren't we her target audience - the ones she'd like to stop "treating their children like shit."   Us "assholes" as she has cleverly snuck in a sentence.  Probably not the best strategy if you truly "would like to put a stop to this."   In my opinion, effective if you like to push buttons - not so much for real change.   Because you know how much people with abuse issues, as she refers to us,  enjoy having their buttons pushed.  Yeah, probably not so good for Little Johnny or Susie.   As a result, entirely your responsibility.  

Another fact.   Look at her bio: clearly states my new baby.    So, yeah I get it.  Your a new mom with all these overwhelming feelings of love and maternal protectiveness.  You're looking down at this sweet, innocent, beautiful bundle of joy and you wonder:   How could anyone hurt such a defenseless little babe?  How could a mother be mean, or cruel to her own child?  (see, empathy...also quite easy to do.)  Well, it's early yet:  maybe you will, maybe you won't.   Since you are a member of our little motherhood community, I will also attempt some kinship with you in saying this:  I have been a mother quite a bit longer, and with more children than you.  I have had amazing joys and blessings, and dark, deeply dark days.   I have talked, cried, hugged, and prayed with many, many good and loving moms who have also fallen far from what they aspired to be.   But never have I judged them.  I am not better than any one of them.  They are struggling parents - just like me.  And I will tell you what you missed about our mutual soul-wrenching confession:  when we bonded together in saying that parenting was hard, we were not intending it as an excuse.   This is what you didn't hear:

It's a cry for help.

We were reaching out to one another in that moment.   Admitting we were lost, and had missed the mark badly.   I would hope you would leave your judgie pants at the door if among our weary group.   But, I wonder:  would you have had ears to hear?   No, I don't think you would even SEE us.  Not based on your tone.  You have dismissed us by rejecting our honest admission.  We are that distasteful to you.   Yet, you want to change things.  Is that the same as Help?   Well honey, take some advice from a simple farm girl.  You want to clean the shit out of the pen?  Your gonna have to get knee deep in some shit.  And here is the really important part:  a farmer cares for his herd....and that's why he takes care of that cow that has shit everywhere.  as distasteful a job as it may be.  I am guessing the analogy will be lost on you.  I think you'd just be the one handing out the shovels.

Am I being harsh?  Yes.   Remember - I told you at the beginning I would be.   Good Parenting is hard.   It can just kick you in the ass when you least it expect it.   I think it's the hardest job you'll ever love.   But I disagree with our author that it is always used as an excuse.   I think we need to hear with better ears, and see with better eyes: to discern when someone is reaching out and asking for help.   No matter what, I just have to believe that an encouraging word and a show of support, will go much further than a harsh rebuke, or self-righteous judgement.   Does it make any sense that we would have such a mushy love fest within our own homes, yet not extend that love out into the world where it is so desperately needed?

Right now, there are some terrible things happening to a child because they have a parent that does not know how to cope.  Yes, it will most likely be treatment we can all agree is abusive.  Do you really think your article is going to stop that out-of-control parent in their tracks?  You are right, they have an abuse problem -- but they also have a parenting problem because of the simple fact:  they don't know how to!!  Especially under stresses or extreme pressures.  And you know what else your article lacks?  One single recommendation, tip, link, or plain ole common sense advice to that parent.   That really bothers me because it suggests that in fact, you are not interested in helping.   You are interested in finger-pointing.   And you just have to be so careful about that.  Not only does it set us at odds against one another, but you know, that's 4 fingers back at you.

Showing some compassion and love does not equal Approval or Rationalization of the behaviour.  I am not saying that we should cut some slack to any parent who is mistreating a child.  I am just saying, it is entirely possible to love the sinner,  and hate the sin.  I think people respond and activate Real and Lasting Change, when they are instructed and encouraged in this manner.

In closing (I know, it's another lengthy one) an excerpt from one of my comment replies:

I think that someone allowing you to rise with dignity and strength from your failings, is a true advocate. People don't change their behaviour because you make them feel bad about themselves......they change because their heart is truly convicted.   They become motivated -- and that's normally because the instruction has been giving out of love. The same as you would discipline a child when necessary.  That's the loving relationship - no matter the individuals involved. 

This is my challenge to our author.  Issa, I do think you have made a good start: now I ask - what next?   I think readers would like to see you acknowledge that what might be so easy for you, could be so damn difficult for another parent.   And then don't be afraid to dive in and find out why.

Because there is one thing I know for sure......you cannot motivate someone to change by looking down your nose at them.

I don't subscribe to the concept of  "hot button" just for the sake of being controversial.   I am interested in real, honest discussion.  I noticed the author did not come back to reply to many of the comments.    It's alright...you can tell if I am too harsh.  Did I miss the point?   Remember - I've already said, I agree with the gist, just perhaps not the method.   I guess I'd like to know:  Do you Find Parenting Hard, and, can we just dismiss that as a Convenient Excuse?

NEXT WEEK:  How about we lighten it up for next week? Are you a great joke teller? Got a riddle that will stump us? Did your kid put his underwear on his head and dance around to "Life is A Highway", complete with air guitar? (can't imagine where I came up with that!) Anyhoo....let's see who can bring the best laugh.

warm wishes sign