I’ve seen it around social media more and more and it makes me cringe every single time. Mums publicly calling their kid an asshole, dick, bastard, twat, bitch and even a little c*nt. I think it’s supposed to be funny, but I’m not laughing.
Actually, it makes me more than cringe. It makes me angry.
Kids don’t deserve to have people call them names because of their behaviour, especially not their own mothers. Since when does a child’s behaviour warrant such adult name calling anyway? A kid is just being a kid doing randomly kid things. They are not deliberately trying to make their mother’s day awful. They are not being a kid at you.
Many of the people calling their kids names are actually people that I like a lot. They are good, kind, smart people, so it’s a bit of mystery to me why they think it’s okay to put their kids down so much. Usually I try to stay well away from the judgey-parenting movement – you parent your way, I’ll parent mine. But in this case… no.
I get that parenting sucks sometimes (a lot of the time, actually). I get that a three-year-old can say and do the most awful things that temporarily make you wonder if you have spawned the devil. That a four-year-old can be deliberately mean, ungracious and uncontrollable. That your two-year-old has made you lock yourself in the pantry just to get two minutes of peace but now you’re scared to come out because she’s had two minutes to wreck even more havoc and guess who gets to clean that shit up?
Your 11-year-old is as mean as a cut snake.
Your eight-year-old made you cry.
Your six-year-old won’t eat.
Your nine-year-old has started a dirt collection.
Your five-year-old won’t stop whining.
Your 13-year-old screams at you.
Your 10-year-old sulks from dusk until dawn.
Your 15-year-old stole from you.
I get it. Kids are awful and parenting is awfully hard. We are driven to the brink every single day and we haven’t slept properly in three/five/seven/nine/thirteen years so, you know, our defences are way low. Social media can often be the best way to release the steam that’s threatening to explode. We can get on there and vent away and sharing it all just makes parenting that little bit more do-able.
But a parent has got to have boundaries. You have to work out where the line is crossed and vow never to cross it. Not when you’re tired, not when you’re fed up, not when you’re trying to be funny. Every parent’s line is going to be different, of course, but surely we can agree that some things should be fairly universal. I think derogatory name calling of kids should be in that category because, yeah, I think it’s universally awful to shame your kid that way.
Would you call them names to their face? Would you whisper them under your breath as you walk away? How would you feel if your kids heard you say it or saw you had written it on social media? Would you feel proud of yourself? Proud of your parenting?
The thing is, I parent my kids fairly openly. I tell them when their behaviour is unlikeable and I don’t pretend that they are darlings when they are not. But I’ve always tried to parent the behaviour, not the person. It would feel disrespectful for me to then turn around and call them names behind their backs. I don’t think I would do that to anyone, let alone the people I love the most in the world.
Call me judgemental, but I don’t even care. I reserve the words asshole, dickhead, twat and, occasionally, c*nt for people who really deserve it (actually so far I don’t think I’ve ever met a c*nt). People who I think are unlikeable and not deserving of my respect. I’d be mortified if anyone ever thought my own behaviour warranted calling me a name like that. Wouldn’t you?