The following was syndicated from Joanna Steven’s website for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at TheForum@Fatherly.com.
Am I over-reacting, or has the Internet recently been filled with articles describing children as being, and I quote, “assholes”? I wanted to find out, so I did a search for “children (and its synonyms) are assholes” on one single website targeted to moms. It’s widely read, with over 1,000,000 followers on Facebook, and a devoted readership. The common theme throughout most of the articles? Motherhood sucks because kids are little assholes who suck the joy out of life.
So, back to my search. Several articles were displayed. I opened a few, and here are actual quotes from them:
“There are people who don’t like me because I think that sometimes kids are assholes (by ‘sometimes’ I mean ‘almost always’).”
“So, all you little mommies reading this right now, I get that your kids are assholes. I really do.”
“I know it isn’t nice to make fun of kids, but if you want nice you probably shouldn’t be reading one of my articles because I’m a Bitchy McBitchface. Plus, I enjoy making fun of stupid kids.”
“Mom Provides Proof That 4-Year-Olds Are Assholes”
Turns out, I’m not crazy. While I did not run a peer-reviewed published study of the incidence of asshole calling in children under the age of 18, I’m pretty sure the data is pretty strong here.
Saying that kids are assholes doesn’t make raising them any easier.
I get it. Raising children is hard. You spend every evening on your knees cleaning the floor under the high chair. Your toddler thinks that throwing a truck at your face is just as fun as throwing a ball. Your preschooler bottled up frustration all day at school and is ready to unleash it on you as soon as he’s home. You had an hour to chill during the baby’s nap, but you spent it racing against the clock cooking dinner, and shoveling 2 eggs in your mouth and called it lunch.
Raising kids is hard. But here’s how to make it harder: wake up every morning, think of how thankless your job is going to be, how you work your ass off 24/7 for no pay, you look like shit, and you haven’t slept through the night in 5 years.
I guarantee you, every day is going to suck more than the previous one, and there won’t be an end to this torture in sight.
Or, you can realize that you deserve better. Your children, too, deserve better. You can see parenthood for what it really is: boot camp where you’ll be getting therapy for everything that happened to you when you were growing up. You’ll heal wounds you never knew you had, and you’ll end up more enlightened in 10 years than a monk does in 30.
Except your therapist looks a little like you, and a little like all of your favorite people in the world, and he loves you unconditionally and forever. He thinks that listening to your heartbeat while you rock him is the best thing in the world, and he would gladly give up on a full night of sleep just so he can see you one more time.
I get it. Raising children is hard.
Children are not assholes. If saying they are made parenting easier, I’d understand. But it doesn’t. Let me say that again: saying that kids are assholes doesn’t make raising them any easier. It makes you feel like a victim, and you end up constantly in fight or flight mode.
So please, let’s stop calling kids names. There are so many ways to make motherhood more pleasant. Let’s stop guilt tripping moms when they want to go to the spa. Let’s stop reinforcing the idea that men should rest when they come home from work, when it really marks the moment where parenting duties are shared. Let’s promote the idea of community, let’s organize more play dates, and let’s declare war on loneliness and isolation. Let’s help moms, instead blaming kids.
Our children are not the enemy. They are small, fragile, ready to be formed, eager to learn, and full of forgiveness and love. Raising them is hard, because it raises us. It pushes our buttons, it breaks open our soul, it exposes our flaws, and makes us grow faster and more efficiently than anything we’ve ever experienced. Children are tiny spiritual teachers who have no idea what they’re doing to us.
All they want is to be loved, and for us to love ourselves. Hardening our hearts to them is not an option.
Joanna Steven is an Amazon best-selling author, and a food/attachment parenting blogger whose work has been published in Food Matters, Mothering, Thrive Global, and more. She regularly shares kid-friendly vegetarian recipes on her blog, and loves to interact with other moms on Facebook page and Twitter.