Ruth Graham has noticed an alarming trend popping up all over her Facebook news feed: "an endless stream of blog posts and status updates depicting the messy, tedious, nightmarishly life-destroying aspects of parenting." Think lists with titles like, "All the Birth Control You’ve Ever Needed in Six Pictures of Ponytails" and similar. On Slate, Graham acknowledges that it's nice parents are allowed to be honest—no one wants to go back to the days when mothers were forced to "pretend that parenting is nothing but bliss, that they are completely fulfilled by it, and that they are able to work, parent, and maintain a tidy home and a thrilling marriage without batting a perfectly mascaraed eyelash." But as a person who does not yet have kids, Graham finds the onslaught of honesty "utterly terrifying."
And there is a seriously disturbing aspect to it, she argues: None of the people writing these blog posts or "liking" these lists on Facebook are, by any stretch of the imagination, actually the bad parents they often portray themselves to be. "Yet, culturally, we applaud their 'bad' parenting while becoming less and less tolerant of actual bad parents. This is a country that is increasingly willing to prosecute pregnant women and young mothers for their mistakes with drugs, or for leaving their children home alone in moments of desperation," Graham writes. There must be a middle ground, she suggests, some way to focus on the joys of parenting, too, "without seeming obnoxiously smug or totally dishonest." Click for her full column.