I’ve learned a new word! My daughter informs me that according to some mothers I am guilty of “mom-shaming” and should be ashamed of myself.
I am an unashamed mom-shamer because I happen to believe that just as there is one proper way to go about training a dog (of any species), there is one proper way to go about raising a human being to responsible adulthood. That one proper way consists of three fundamental rules:
Rule One: Love unconditionally.
Rule Two: Discipline with unequivocal, unwavering, calmly intolerant authority.
Rule Three: Keep love and authority in a state of reasonable balance.
The third rule is violated by parents who follow the advice of parenting expert John Lennon, who proposed that in the raising of a child, “love is all you need.”
The real-world fact is that when love is not balanced by proper discipline, it mutates into enabling, a state of relationship that is damaging to both parties. On the other side of the parenting coin, when discipline is not properly balanced by love, it becomes abusive in one way or another.
Parenting expert Chrissy Teigen, who acts and models on the side, is sick and tired of mom-shaming. She maintains, “There’s no right way, and everybody turns out fine … we just need empathetic and loving people in this world … people who are going to be understanding of other people … As long as you teach them that, then who cares?”
Who cares? Me, for one. In the first place, there is a right way and the children of parents who deviate from the right way do not all turn out fine. Second, the world needs parents who get it that the proper discipline of a child is an act of love for one’s neighbor.
Full disclosure: My Hollywood agent is currently talking with Teigen’s agent about a proposed television show we’re calling “Battle of the Parenting Experts.” Negotiations have stalled because of her insistence that I never mom-shame her. Excuse me? That’s like asking Batman to give up his cape.
Teigen admits to being so much in love with her two children (with political pundit John Legend) that she is “insufferable.” Looking back, I’m so glad my mother was not insufferably in love with me. I was not an idol in her life.
I looked up to her (she was a single parent for most of my first seven years). She did not look up to me. Her example taught me respect for women. Courtesy of Mom, I learned that women who are worthy of respect do not enable their children; rather, they insist upon right behavior. I also learned, as a child, that there are not endless, equally valid variations on the concept of right behavior.
Instead, there is usually one and only one right way and endless variations on the wrong way. For example, “You’re welcome” is the right response to “Thank you”; “No problem” is wrong. So is “Uhhh” or a grunt of any other sort.
Children don’t deal well with idol-hood. Invariably, children whose parents make idols out of them become insufferable. They demand tribute and if they don’t get what they demand within five seconds of demanding it, they make everyone within earshot pay a terrible price.
Anyway, I accept that in the eyes of some mothers and parenting experts like Chrissy Teigen, I’m a mom-shamer. Personally, however, I think the comparison to Batman is much more apt.
[Family psychologist John Rosemond: johnrosemond.com, parentguru.com. Copyright 2020, John K. Rosemond]