Category Archives: Letters To A Natalist World
A while back, I found a fantastic website for dog-lovers. I’m still exploring the contents of the website, but what I really like is the recipes section. I’m not an avid chef at all, but when I do cook, my favorite meals are those that I can share with the whole family, including my dear Molly. I was therefore thrilled to find a number of dog-healthy recipes, some of which would be delicious for human consumption with little or no alteration (I loved the real fruit Popsicles.). So go check out the website, dog lovers.
Gushing over a doggie site isn’t why I’m writing here today. No, the reason that I’m writing is because of a short article that I found on etiquette for dog-owners that really caught my attention. The following is the text of that article in its entirety.
When you think of your dog, you probably view him or her as another member of the family, just a bit furrier. Many dog lovers become so attached to their canine friend that they mistakenly start to believe that everyone is fan of dogs. Sadly, not everyone is as head over heels about your dog as you are, so it is important that you understand the importance of exhibiting proper dog owner etiquette.
Any time that your dog is away from home, or interacting with other people, you need to understand how to practice good social behaviors with the dog. Using good dog owner etiquette simply means that you are giving others’ respect by taking their feelings into considerations in regards to how they feel about your dog.
The following are a few simple tips to keep in mind if you want to maintain a positive relationship between your community and your dog:
- Always keep your dog on a leash when you leave your house or yard. Some dog owners think that they do not need a leash because their dog is always extremely well behaved and would never stray away. Well, the leash is not just for you and your dog; it’s for other people. Some people, especially if they are walking their own dogs, become very uncomfortable around an unfamiliar dog that is not leashed.
- Pick up after your dog. One of the most important ways to show respect to your neighbors is by picking up your dog’s droppings. Always keep plastic bags with you on your walks so that you can keep your neighborhood clean. You can quickly find yourself with an enemy if your neighbor finds your dog’s waste on the bottom of their shoe.
- Try to keep your dog quiet. Of course, dogs will bark, but try to be conscious of those around you. If your dog is outside barking excessively, you might be able to ignore it, but others probably cannot. Try your best to calm the dog and prevent too much barking.
- Don’t take your dog with you everywhere that you go. Your friends or relatives may have invited your over, but that does not necessarily mean they want your dog staying over too. Some people are allergic, or simply do not enjoy your dog as much as you do.
- Try to make sure your dog is being polite during introductions with other dogs, or with people. You might think the dog is cute when it excitedly jumps up to greet someone, or plays with another dog, but that behavior can make other people very uneasy. If your dog is playing too rough with another dog, there could be an injury and a lot of animosity between you and the other dog owner.
If you are unsure about any dog behavior situation, always stop and consider the other person’s feelings. Most importantly, if you feel that you have broken a dog owner etiquette rule, apologize. Apologize sincerely, and take steps to prevent the indiscretion from happening again.”
Can everyone agree that this all seems very reasonable? As someone with a dog, I sure can. It’s all common-sense, responsible behavior, right? This was written by a dog-lover on a site for dog-lovers, and it doesn’t seem the slightest bit surprising, out of place, or controversial.
However, can you imagine reading a similar article written about human children on a typical mommy/parenting blog?
“Your child is your family. It’s natural to be very attached to him or her. However, some parents becomes so attached to their children that they mistakenly believe that everyone else will adore them as well. While your world may revolve around your child, the real world does not. It is therefore important to understand the importance of having proper social etiquette when it comes to your children, at home and in public.
The following are a few tips to help you achieve this:
- Always keep your children under control. This is as much for your child’s sake as it is for the sake of other people. Some people think that they don’t have to maintain control their kids because their kids are “well-behaved” when they really aren’t/can’t be all the time, or the parents have a skewed idea of what proper behavior is and think that other people should see the child’s misbehavior as “cute.” The truth is, members of the public will be bothered by an out-of-control child.
Sometimes parents even fail to pay close attention to their kids and will claim to have “only looked away for a second” if the child is hurt or snatched up. So keeping control of your child is also about that child’s own safety.
- Always pick up after your child. Ensure that your child does not leave toys in neighboring yards or on public property (in parks, on roads, in apartment hallways, etc) and that he/she does not leave excessive messes when dining out in public or when visiting other people’s homes. If your child can not or will not pick up after itself, that responsibility falls on you.
- Keep your child quiet. Of course children make some noise, and most people will understand this, but please try to be considerate of those around you. Screaming, crying, noisy toys, and excessively loud talking can be very irritating and disruptive to other people. Controlling your child’s noise level, or removing them from a given situation if you can not do so, will help keep the peace. This applies to public places as well as your own property if you have close neighbors.
- Don’t take your child with you everywhere you go. You may have been invited for a visit or gathering, but that does not always mean that your child is welcome as well, so please ask first. If you must, politely decline the invitation.
Additionally, there are some places in public such as movie theatres, bars, and certain restaurants, and some dog parks where bringing very young kids along is simply not appropriate. Use good judgment and respect the rules.
- Try to make sure that your child is being polite in interactions with other people as well as with animals. You may think it’s cute when your child screams and runs around in play, or stares at or reaches at strangers, but this might bother other people and, in the wrong environment, may result in an injury (your child may trip someone or be tripped by someone if left to run around in stores, for example.)
If you are unsure about your child’s behavior in a situation, stop and consider the feelings and needs of others around you. If you feel that you have broken a parenting etiquette rule, apologize sincerely and endeavor to prevent repeat incidents. “
If such an article on What Every Parent Needs to Know in Terms of Social Child Behaviors ever was published (on a site the received a sufficient amount of traffic from parents,) I would expect a few cheers from some moms as well as childfree people (whenever we got wind of it,) for sure.
However, there would no doubt also be a strong, vocal backlash. The article would be flooded with comments from defensive mothers decrying ageism and insisting that children are people too (which no one denies but is irrelevant anyway.) Additionally, there will always be some moms who will respond by insisting that people without kids (because no matter who wrote the article, people without kids will be the ones blamed) just “don’t understand,” and should stay home if we don’t want to deal with unruly children (perfect angels, as they will no doubt tell it.)
Within a week there would be at least one angry article written in response, wailing about an imaginary anti-family society out to get moms. Fathers, I would imagine, would be a minority in any discussion on the matter at all as tends to be the case with such things.
Ok, Natalist World? Sit down. We need to talk. Seriously. I’m worried about you. I know that we haven’t always been on the best of terms, but hear me out. You’re kind of gross and really need to get your shit together.
It seems that whenever I run across an article or online conversation about parenting (it’s harder to avoid than you might think) I always notice that there will, without fail, be mommies (but curiously, rarely daddies) complaining about how much they miss going to the bathroom in private.
I will leave that sentence in a paragraph all by itself so we can all just chew on that for a second. Basically, parents find that, ever since they had kids, they cannot go to the bathroom without an audience. Ok, well it’s disgusting enough to even allow that, for one thing. (Seriously, I’ve heard of moms going pee while holding children in their laps, even when those children are old enough to comment on how gross that is.)
But from the way most of these admissions are framed as a complaint, that implies that the parents are somewhat bothered by their lack of bathroom privacy. Now, hold up, Natalist World. Are you telling me that grown adults, who are responsible for the lives of dependant human beings and for the future of the next generation, don’t understand how to use doors? (Come on, even the raptors in Jurassic Park could figure those out.)
Yeah, moms? Most bathrooms have doors, which are on hinges and can be (sit down, because this will blow your minds) closed. Yes, it sounds amazing, but it’s true! Most doors having this handy feature that allows you to actually shut them. Heck, most bathroom doors can even be locked! Welcome to 2012 and our incredible, space-age technology.
“But then who will watch the kid?” Um, is there a second parent around? Or another family member, maybe? If not and the child is so young as to need constant supervision, how do you sleep? Surely sleeping takes a bit longer than a bathroom break. Presumably, you have a crib or a playpen (or a kennel?) Why not use it?
“But the kid will throw a fit!” Surely that’s the problem of the other person watching the kid (or the kennel?) And why would you want to teach your kid that it can get its way by throwing fits anyway? What is it with this generation of parents and their complete inability and unwillingness to stand up to their kids? Is the world, “no,” really that difficult to pronounce firmly?
“The kid will just open the door!” If the kid is old enough to open a door and especially if it’s old enough to pick a lock (because we lock bathroom doors, remember?), it’s plenty old enough to be taught rules and boundaries. Here’s a thought: how about you teach your kid to behave, you know, like a parent might do? (I hear spanking helps.)
No, really, you’re not doing your kids any favors letting them share the bathroom with you. They won’t learn rules or boundaries about bathrooms that way, and that will not only be a problem for you, but can possibly make your kid a nuisance to everyone else too . They’ll be that person that bothers other people in bathroom by doing obnoxious things like pounding on doors, trying to talk to people who are trying to go, or peeking under stalls (in which case I think a swift kick is perfectly justified.)
Additionally, the kid can create an unpleasant sight other people unwittingly walk in on. The kid will mimic your behavior, leaving the door wide open. And when your kid does get old enough to understand the value of bathroom privacy, he/she will be humiliated looking back at how often he/she left the door open, exposed to the view of the world. No, seriously, you may as well teach the kid to walk around naked all the time.
But there’s more to it than that, you might actually be putting your kid in danger. When I was little, my parents always left the bathroom door open. I don’t think it was because the kids really wanted in as much as it was my parents not really caring enough to close the door. So as a kid, I thought that was normal behavior and never closed the door either, no matter where I was.
One day, I was doing my business in the upstairs bathroom of my babysitter when a man who I had never met suddenly walked in. He didn’t mean to walk in on me but had simply rounded the corner in the hallway and walked in the open door without looking. When he saw me, he told me in a disgusted tone that I should close the door, and then he left. I was of course humiliated that this is the way that I had to learn that doors were supposed to be shut, and upset that my parents had never taught me this lesson (I’ve been wrong this whole time!) I felt sort of like Adam and Eve did (or would have were they not fictional characters) when they suddenly realized that they’d been naked all that time (only strangers didn’t yell at them for it.)
But that situation could have been dangerous. An unknown man alone in a room with a little girl with her pants down, the only adult in the house a babysitter who had obviously not been paying attention. I’m just saying that could have gone very badly. Yeah, is that a situation you want your kids to be in? Think on that.
TL;DR – Close the damned door, you slob.
Seriously, Natalist World, you make my head hurt. If being a parent is so great, then you shouldn’t have to lie about what it is to brag about it. These cutesy-wootsey, natalism-worshipping FaceBook share-fodder pictures with ridiculous captions have got to stop.
Ok, I can think of, like, a dozen examples off the top of my head, but I try to keep these rants short, so I’ll pick just this one example that I happened to find recently.
“Motherhood is the highest-paid job in the world, since the he payment is pure love.”
1. Motherhood is not a job. (Which is why it has no actual payment, but I’ll get to that later.)
Parenthood is simply a lifestyle. If it were really so great and valuable, parents wouldn’t have to pretend that it was any more than just that. I don’t pretend that my lifestyle is a job (I have a real job – that’s my job.)
2. Just because someone has kids doesn’t mean that she loves her children or that her children love her. Seriously, watch the news people. It’s always full of parents and offspring doing horrible things to each other.
3. Arguably, children don’t really love their parents. They depend on their parents, and have no real choice in being around them. That’s not the same thing.
A toddler might manage to say “I love you,” in between babbling, but they’re just saying that because their parents teach them to do it. They have no idea what they’re even saying at that age. By the time an offspring is old enough to form a solid view of what they think love is, and are able to freely make judgments about their parents, they’re a bit old to really be called children anymore.
4. “Love” is not currency. You cannot pay a single one of your bills in love. I have never received a single bill that asked me for 100 loves. You cannot even keep your children alive on love. I may not have children myself, but I’m pretty sure that children generally tend to have basic requirements, such as eating and living indoors.
But don’t just take my word for it, try this experiment: Ask your landlord if he will accept “love” in place of actual money as payment for rent. Try it with your utilities company. Now your local grocery store. And when you get called to court for failure to pay your debts, try to bribe the judge with love.
If you still think that love is a valid form of payment, then put your money love where your mouth is. Talk to your boss at your job (your real job,) or, if you don’t work but your partner does, your partner’s boss, or, if your on the dole, your local welfare office, and demand that, instead of paying you/your partner in the currency of your nation, they should pay you/your partner exclusively in love.
5. Here’s the irony, despite motherhood not being the highest-paying job (being neither a job nor anything that one receives payment for at all,) it’s actually incredibly costly. It turns out, the average cost of raising a child in America to the age of 18 (and not including college tuition) is something on the order of $200,000 (it various by region and a few other factors.) A mother’s “payment” is -$200,000. That’s not a credit, that’s a debt.
But just for giggles, let’s just ignore those points entirely. Yep. I’ll pretend that love is a valid form of equity. Well, I imagine that would make me pretty wealthy as my dog loves me (more than an infant can be said to love a parent, anyway.) And as long as we’re calling lifestyle’s “jobs” …
- Having a dog is the highest paid job in the world. The payment is love.
- Being a girlfriend/boyfriend is the highest-paid job in the world. The payment is love.
- Being a dog is the highest-paid job in the world. The payment is love.
U mad, moms?
Come on, parents. Your love isn’t any lovier than anyone else’s love. (It turns out, you don’t have a monopoly on love.) None of us non-parents pretend that it’s payment for a job. That’s just silly.
Yes, it’s OK to be happy as a mom (you know, if you’re into that kind of thing,) but when you post ridiculous, self-aggrandizing stuff like this, your non-childed friends as well as parents who have identities outside their reproductive status (especially those with real job) are rolling their eyes at you.
Dear Natalist World,
We need to talk.
All this moaning about a “work-life balance,” especially one specifically for parents, has got to stop. Seriously. I’ts ridiculous. It turns out, you’re not special just because you chose to be a parent. Believe it or not, those of us without kids have lives outside of our jobs too. We make it work, as any adult should be able to.
While a reasonable degree of flexibility from employers is nice, ultimately, balancing out your life is your own responsibility as an adult. Employers pay you to work for them, not to have a personal life. If your work and your personal life conflict, then you have to accept that you must either get a new job that suits the lifestyle that you desire, or alter your lifestyle to suit the requirements of the job you voluntarily agreed to work. There is no reason to expect employers to make special accommodations for you ever single time you happen to want one.
I always wonder about the people who complain about employers not catering to them, personally, altering the job to suit whatever “work-life balance” the employee wants, in a manner that is not extended to all employees equally. They seem like grown versions of the children who were always paid whatever allowance they asked their parents for, while doing little or no work to earn it, and having their parents work their lives around them. I say this because that seems to be the expectation some people place on their employers, as if employers are just nannies to adults.
Take responsibility for sorting out your own life, like a grown up. Finding a “work-life balance” is YOUR problem to work out.