Parent Wars

10/16/2009 By Shawn Burns

“If you have the means, if you don’t have to work, then why not stay home with your kids?” comes the rat-a-tat-tat from the trenches on the west.

“You can’t judge what’s best for every parent!” echoes from the pillboxes on the hillside to the east.

“I’m sorry you don’t love your kids enough to want to spend all day with them!” lands with a concussive “boom” and takes out some of the foxholes to the north.

“If you’re such a judgmental asshole what makes you think your kids are better of with you at home with them?” shatters the brief stillness as the suicide bomber sets off his vest in the middle of the makeshift earthworks.

More artillery rattles off stone walls, upsetting rolling tanks and armoured personnel carriers bringing reinforcements in for both sides. “It’s for the good of the children!” “It’s for the good of the family!”

The bodies of the dead and dismembered rot in pools of vitriol and bitter tears. The bald vultures feast on every righteous, sanctimonious corpse, breathing in the fetid air cast off by the decomposing flesh of bodies losing their integrity in the blazing lights.

The moral of the story really should be: nobody wins except the vultures. If vultures could start wars they surely would. And maybe they do.

(Editor’s Note: I’m actually not neutral in this fight. The biggest mistake isn’t, as some think, considering all parents to be the same, and so the best choice for one is the best for all; the biggest mistake is in thinking that all children are the same, and that they all need a parent with them at all times.

I’ve seen the use of babysitters and daycare referred to as “outsourcing” parenting, with the implication being that any such situation is detrimental to the child in some way. This line is so stark there that it can’t help but be wrong. Kids require a threshold of parental involvement to be reached, surely, but I think this can be reached by the quality of attention as well as through quantity. The point is to not allow them to feel abandoned, but constantly embraced by their parents’ choices for them. Daycare, school, babysitting: these are all situations in which the child can either feel comfortable or neglected by his parents, and if he does feel so neglected then something has gone wrong. But it is thoroughly mistaken to think that these situations necessarily result in feelings of neglect. Bad parents will make their kids feel neglected and abandoned no matter where they are.)