10 Reasons Why Parenting Culture Is Toxic
I'm sorry, I have to say it. Parenting culture has become too toxic to deal with—and that's why many of my friends no longer want kids.
"You'll change your mind someday."
It's a quote that I've heard just about every smug mom say to me at least once in my life after they heard I don't want to have kids. I never wanted kids; I don't even like them. But, if I did like them, I still wouldn't have them—not in this day and age.
I really wish people would stop assuming that I'll change my mind and jump on the mommy bus one day. I know I'm not going to change my mind. I procreated once and gave the baby up for adoption because I plain and simply did not want to raise a child. Parenthood is not for me.
Having seen how new parents and single parents were treated back when I gave birth, I can honestly say that the "beauty" of motherhood has zero appeal to me. Even if I wanted to have a child, modern parenting culture would make me reconsider my wish.
I know I'm not alone when I say that modern culture is a serious factor in dissuading me from having kids. Why? Because the culture that we have built around parenting has turned into an ugly, brainwashed, and downright toxic mess.
Before you pop out a kid, rethink your role as a parent. Here are 10 good reasons why you might want to skip out on the current culture of parenthood taking over America.
Parent shaming is a thing.
Here's the biggest issue I have with parenting culture: parent shaming. Everyone and their grandmother seems to think that they are Dr. Phil and that they know what's best for children. Oh, and if you thought you could shut them down by saying it's a private matter, think again.
Modern parenting culture doesn't give you the luxury of being able to avoid uncomfortable questions. When I was pregnant, I was grilled on everything from my decision to not to know the sex before the birth to my decision to give the baby up for adoption. Everything is a conflict—whether it's breastfeeding or deciding what is best for a child.
It wasn't easy for me to decide that I was placing my daughter for adoption. It hurt, but I knew that I had to do it. Did people want to hear that? No.
No matter what I said, or what explanation I gave, it wasn't the right answer. Imagine that kind of treatment for 18 years, and you'll see why it's so damaging.
No one cares that stay at home mom depression is common and valid. Despite how much American society has changed, most people still somehow expect you to spend tons of time at home with your child, even when you need to juggle a full-time job to pay the bills.
Oh, you'll also be shamed for being broke.
On average, a child in a middle-class family will cost about $1,500 a month to raise. That's a lot of money and it is actually way more than a typical minimum wage salary. Most of us do not earn enough solo to raise a kid on a full-time job.
Too broke to feed your baby? Tough shit! In modern parenting culture, people will call you a leech for asking for assistance. They'll also ask you why you had children that you clearly can't afford. If that's not parent shaming, I don't know what is.
The road to hell is often paved with good intentions, and I firmly believe that's how we got to the point we're at now when it comes to disciplining kids. Corporal punishment is outlawed, and in many cases, kids are told to report parents for it.
This means that kids hold the power in the parent-child relationship, not parents. If you have a child who is a real brat, they may choose to call CPS on you the moment you put your foot down. Some might even blackmail you using that threat, knowing it could lead you to serious trouble.
Even things as innocent as leaving kids out to play—once a normal practice, mind you—is now taboo. You are basically forced to hover around your kids until they're 18, and I'm sorry, but that's not healthy for kids or parents alike.
Forget ever putting yourself first as a parent.
For reasons beyond my understanding, modern parenting seems to be akin to martyrdom—and it's even glorified as such, especially for single parents. If you aren't willing to sacrifice your happiness and wellbeing for your kids, you're somehow seen as not doing something right.
Guess what! This doesn't do anything good for your kids. It turns them into self-centered, spoiled, entitled brats. They need to see you put yourself first, simply because it reinforces the idea that there are other people in the world and that they can't be catered to 24/7.
And guess what, if you're not laying out the red carpet for your kids, then it's time for more parent shaming. Your friends, your family, and American society as a whole will all line up to judge your decisions.
Did I mention how lonely being a parent is?
When you don't have kids, people definitely treat you differently. They see you as fun. They see you as youthful. Moreover, they don't have reason to judge you as much, simply because you don't have kids that they can critique you for.
People like to hang out with childfree people. Speaking as someone who has had it happen, most expecting moms will see the majority of their childless friends vanish the moment the baby shower ends.
Need someone to help you change diapers? If you don't have family nearby, you'll probably be out of luck. Need a ride to your work? Well, that would work if you didn't have kids.
In other words, you will be alone. You will lose friends. You will be forced to try to make friends with fellow parents who probably don't have anything in common with you outside of kids. Doesn't that sound awful?
This is why so many women want to have "mom friends." It's just the way things are—much of which is thanks to how toxic parenting culture tends to be.
Speaking of "mom friends," it's worth pointing out that parenting tends to exacerbate Mean Girls situations.
You remember when you watched Mean Girls and noticed how cliquey and bullying those teen girls were? You remember how you felt when you were in middle school and dealt with similar people?
When you're an adult, you can walk away from those Mean Girls and find your own tribe. When you have kids, it's not that easy. Your "mom friends" have ramifications for your child's social life.
It's sad to say, but parenting tends to turn women back into high school-level cliquey personalities. The women who are catty are often your kid's classmates' parents—and may even be parents of the popular clique in school.
What this means is that you will very likely feel the exclusion, bullying, teasing, and judging that you had in high school. And, unlike when you were childfree, you also can't just walk away from them.
Child worship in society means that you will never be able to complain.
In American society, we have a serious child worship problem. Children are seen as pure, flawless, and downright mandatory for your happiness in life. Moreover, parents are expected to do every little bit of caregiving with a smile on their face.
The problem is that a lot of parenting moments are not fun. They are gross, depressing, or painful. Sure, there are rewarding moments here and there, but it's not the majority of what you'll experience.
Sure, yeah, it's "all worth it."
People are always talking about how wonderful parenting is, but have you ever seen what happens to people who admit they regret having kids? It's ugly. Real ugly. One journalist who admitted that they regretted kids found herself getting death threats, being publicly shamed, and called names.
You can't complain without people doing this kind of stuff to you—and that's not healthy.
Child worship also tends to make people think kids are blameless.
I'm sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but this aspect of parenting culture is destroying American society. Everyone thinks kids can't lie, that they don't do bad things, or that they couldn't possibly be sociopaths.
Kids are not seen as people who have faults in our modern society. So, if anything goes wrong with your child's behavior, guess who's to blame? Parents. Especially single parents; they're under the microscope even more closely than those who are married, regardless of how happy either person actually is.
One of my mom friends who was a legal guardian for her teenage sister went to jail because her sister was late for school too many times. Her sister, who was 17, lived down the street from the high school and kept waking up late. It was her fault. Yet it was my friend who got jailed, not her.
How is this fair again? How is that what American society has come to?
Parenting culture also tends to make parents act really entitled.
Parents are treated with a weird mix of respect and critique. They're seen as martyrs, but they're also seen as people who can't get their shit together for some reason. Unfortunately, this tends to mean they get preferential treatment they may not actually deserve.
Look, I'm not saying that we shouldn't financially help out parents with government programs—but I am saying there's a line that needs to be drawn. Our society doesn't seem to get where that line is.
Being a parent doesn't automatically entitle you to cut me in line, nor does that mean I have to date you, nor does that mean that you should get discounts to luxury gyms.
I'm sorry, but I've seen parenting change people for the worse. If that's what being a parent does to you, I want no part in it.
Finally, there's the dating stigma.
If something as natural and essential as breastfeeding is shamed, you better bet dating is. Going from being a single mom to a new relationship isn't easy—I watched several of my mom friends struggle with this.
Another reason why I can't stand parenting culture is the way it treats single parents. People in this culture see single parents as damaged goods—and that's even true among other single parents!
I'm sorry, but I'm not going to sacrifice my fun in the dating scene to be a parent to a child who may end up never speaking to me again by the time it is 18. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.
Iggy Paulsen is a fan of anything and everything wholesome. He loves his two dogs, hiking in the woods, traveling to Aruba, building DIY projects that better humanity, and listening to motivational speakers. He hopes to eventually become a motivational speaker himself.