Posts Tagged ‘ bullying ’

Responding to Stephanie Metz’s Viral Rant About Helicopter Parents

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

I like to think I’m not a helicopter parent. I certainly worry but I try not to hover. And as much as I want Fia and Emmett to stay with me forever and never leave (kidding, but I do have my moments of wanting to bottle this time in my life with them) I consider it my duty to teach them independence from me.

I see friends who coddle their kids incessantly. I had a playdate once where Fia took a toy from a kid. She was 2. The mom kind of freaked. “Fia, give the toy back. You can’t take it from her,” she yelled. But the little girl wasn’t even playing with the toy. Nor did she care. Still, I instantly made sure Fia promptly returned the toy.  I want to teach my kids to share, and no, I don’t believe in the RIE movement of letting your kids work everything out on their own.  But sometimes we hover too much. Or not enough. Hard to say.

Sidenote: here is my favorite RIE moment: a mom brings her kid over and he finds a 4 foot long tree branch and starts waving it around, nearly pummeling Fia. Instead of taking the stick away she says, “I try not to get too involved because I want him to learn the space around him.” Um, okay, what about my child’s brain that almost got fractured? RIE parenting at its finest. Needless to say she never came over again.

So now I ask: who is aware of Stephanie Metz and the blog post she wrote, about helicopter parenting and bullying, that went viral? Who agrees and disagrees with what she is saying? On many points, I agree with her. But on others, I think she needs to realize that with bullying, we do live in a different world than the one she and I grew up in. There were not the Columbines and the Newtowns of the world. I’m guessing since she lives in North Dakota, she is pro-gun. Most people in that part of the country are. So her “world” is probably different from someone who is raising a kid in LA, Chicago or NYC.

Nevertheless, here are some of her points (and click here to read the entire blog):

Many years ago, there was a time where young boys could run around with their toy guns, killing the bad guys.  You could take the toy guns away from the little boys, and they’d find something else around them – a stick, their fingers, etc –  and pretend it was a gun.  Today, those little boys – if caught doing that – are labeled as threats, and immediate action is taken to remove that threat from the group.

I don’t totally buy that. I know plenty of little boys who run around playing pretend gun who don’t get removed from their group or school. But with gun violence at record numbers, shouldn’t gun-playing other than the Lone Ranger and Tonto, be, if not discouraged, at least not encouraged? And I do know that boys typically do display that behavior even if they grow up in an anti-gun house. They just pick it up somewhere, like preschool. I will say that I am not going to encourage Emmet to run around “playing gunfight” and I’m not going to buy him a toy gun. At least not now. Maybe when he’s 7 my perspective will change.

Your child, who you cater to every need, who you shelter from all things “evil.”  How will this child react when he or she grows into adulthood?  ”Debbie” graduates from high school and goes to college.  She writes her first paper and meets with her professor about that paper and the professor tells her that it’s junk and it will get a failing grade.  How will Debbie cope with that if she’s always been made to feel that no one should ever make her feel sad, or criticize anything she does?

I totally agree with her. That’s why I’m against giving rewards for every little accomplishment. Or when they play team sports and “everybody wins.” Kids need to learn how to lose. Just like they need to learn how to be bored (in regards to my technology post this week that frankly scared the crap out of me with the new research related to kids and boredom). And I do think technology has a lot to do with this as well.

Stephanie writes about how kids grow up and find rejection in the workplace and the real world. She writes about how they can’t handle it. I agree. Kids can’t learn coping skills on any level when they  grow up buried in their gadgets. They can’t learn proper socialization either. So for me, this is a combo of helicopter parenting and parenting with your iPad.  She seems on the mark with that too.

My children are all but ignored when they ask for something without using manners.  They understand that when someone addresses or speaks to them, they are to speak back.  When we go out to eat, we don’t take 5 electronic devices to keep them “entertained” for the 15 minutes we have to wait for our food.  If Hendrix is “bored” (and I use that term loosely), then he can put on his jacket and go play outside.

But where I don’t agree with her is in her stance on bullying.

There was a time – not too long ago – when bullying was defined as slamming someone up against a locker and stealing their lunch money.  There was a time when kids got called names and got picked on, and they brushed it off and worked through it (ask me how I know this).  Now, if Sally calls Susie a bitch (please excuse my language if that offends you), Susie’s whole world crumbles around her, she contemplates suicide, and this society encourages her to feel like her world truly has ended, and she should feel entitled to a world-wide pity party.  And Sally – phew!  She should be jailed!  She should be thrown in juvenile detention for acting like – gasp – a teenage girl acts.

Again, factor in the technology. Factor in that peers can totally f–k with you on Facebook, Twitter, etc. This is the first generation where this is happening. And it’s not good. Add that to the peer pressure of a teenage boy and girl and we’ve seen tragic results. I don’t think kids who are bullied become suicidal solely because they had helicopter parents. But once again, when kids aren’t taught to lose, cope or be bored, it’s a lethal combination on many levels.

So go read her post, weigh in and let me know your thoughts. Her post went from 8 readers to over a million, so it’s worth taking a look at.

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My Mommy Blogger Bully

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

I once joked that I wanted a stalker. It would symbolize that I really made it “big.” I made the joke during a hiatus from shooting my Food Network show, The Best Of. In the interim, a company hired me to host hundreds of syndicated TV segments about housekeeping and cooking tips. It was a boring studio job and we cranked them out like sausages. It wasn’t creative, but the crew and I really became tight over the years. My audio guy, Bob, became my pretend stalker. He’d lurk behind me on the set; sometimes even follow me to lunch, as only a good stalker should do.

But like most things I’ve done in television, the gig ended and I went back in the world of a has-been-that’s-really-never been. Until now.

I am no longer heavily immersed in the TV world. I am 80% mom, 17% wife, 3% blogger. I’m not even close to the top mommy bloggers in this world, and yet, yet, yet… I have a stalker. Either that or a desperately bored mommy blogger, whose literary gifts are questionable at best. Whatever her story and motive, she has chosen to take time–lots of it– to rip me (both as a human being and as a writer) to pieces. But this seems to be her MO:  bashing individuals. In other words, I don’t just have a stalker. I have a bully too.

What I’ve loved most about the mommy blogging world is the encouragement from other bloggers, whether or not you agree with the specifics of what they write.  At conferences like BlogHer and Mom2Summit, the big guns, like Liz Gumbinner (Mom-101) go out of their way to make us little people feel welcome, loved and supported. It’s not the competitive frenzy you would expect from a bunch of women. In fact, Mom2Summit’s message this year was about women supporting and empowering other women. The main focus from the sponsor, Dove, was on tween and teenage girls and how to make them feel less self-conscious about their looks. One of the saddest statistics presented was that 1 in 5 girls quit doing what they love because of self-esteem specifically related to beauty.

Clearly this woman wasn’t at the conference or if she was, she took the message and ran the other way with it. How do I know this? One of her main points was about my hair. She actually posted a picture of me and made fun of it. Can you imagine doing that? Seriously. Think about it: taking someone’s picture and publicly attacking it? Here is what she says:

7. Okay, but the hair. I can’t let it go. Homegirl has hella money and lives in Los Angeles. There is no reason for her to be using a Flowbee to cut her hair.

Perhaps more perplexing than her hair-bashing is that she is talking like a white suburban teenager who is trying to “be black.” An odd stylistic choice, especially because further down in her blog she accuses me of being a racist. (Don’t worry, you can read it in its entirety. I’ve cut and pasted the whole thing below.)

What’s ironic about the hair is that she is right. I do need a new picture up there. That one was taken on my first outing after having Emmett. It was a month after his birth and the first time I put on makeup. But is it that egregious? No. Her comments though are petty and mean-spirited.

She says she gets “sick schadenfreude” from my writing. In other words, she takes pleasure in my misery. Huh? What? I must have cut off her limbs in another life.

I have an adopted brother and sister. They are black. My mother was a crack addict at the end of her life. I describe them in a recent blog and refer to my family as a “motley crew.” Which we were, if there ever was one. For which she says the following:

Guys. Cornrows? Huge black afro? Are her step-siblings…black?! She was, like, clinically incapable of leaving that detail out or you know, refer to her siblings as siblings and not give the far more exotic title of ”adopted siblings.” See guys, she’s not all milquetoast. Also, let’s all take a sharp inhale for her describing her interracial family as a “motley crew.”

“…After all, I haven’t had such a wince-y read since I saw a student paper that referred to trans women as “shemales” and realized that everything this student knew about transexuals came from porn.”

I put myself out there and can expect people to poke away. But this seems almost like trolling. There’s a big difference between legitimate criticism/disagreement and personal attacks. I can take the former. The latter isn’t so fun.

She lists seven deadly sins of mine–all related to my bio. In it, she mocks my “Fearless” title. As those who read me know, I write about my life with absolute honesty. I’m not afraid to write about my anxiety, my struggle with depression, my upbringing and yes, people who attack me for no apparent reason. So how is ”Fearless” not accurate? I think homegirl needs a dictionary.

I would further argue that it is “Fearless” of me to admit how shitty her post made me feel. I felt demeaned, belittled, ugly and stupid. And I have a very thick skin. I am NOT asking for anyone’s sympathy here. At all. But for those few seconds that I felt shitty, it made me wonder how a 13-year old girl who gets made fun of for her bad haircut or for being fat feels like?  I don’t want to be melodramatic about this, but this woman illustrates perfectly the point we should teach our kids about bullies: they don’t matter. However, it is easier said than done.

Even though I want to, I’m not going to go through and defend every line and the flagrant assumptions she makes about me. I particularly refuse to defend the love of my children and when and why we had them.

I will say she is going to be an extremely disappointed stalker when she finds out I’m just a mommy blogger making less than the cost of 3 Starbucks latte’s for my posts. She assumes I have publicity people working with me and Parents to write my bio, take pictures, edit me, and publicize me. She calls me a rich, white woman. Does she know when I began my reporting career in Rapid City, SD that I qualified for food stamps? That I have become successful by working really hard? Does she have any clue how much I give back? No. She was on a mission to be hateful and hand-picked some of my specific posts to mold them–and me–into her cowardly genre.

Ironically, she actually asks for “donations” on her “ad-free” blog. Why not write about the Newtown parents and donate to the organization Sandy Hook Promise? Or to those who lost their homes in Hurricane Sandy? These are posts I have written about, donated to, and encouraged others to do the same. But asking for donations to her blog? Panhandling for her “wit”? Beyond tacky.

It would be easy to pick on and compare her to having 80s era porn star hair, or mock her bio for portraying herself as a cutting edge, too-cool-for-school writer but then bragging about an award from the Readers’ Digest, that radical, forward-thinking publication, in the next sentence–but that would be too easy. And too mean. So I won’t. Even though I just did. See how that happened? Clever, no? Anyway…

The thing is, in reading some of her posts that aren’t hate mongering, it seems we have the same take on some major parenting issues.  I think she just really wants to hate me. Bizarre, right?

As a sidenote: she lives in Hollywood. She knows enough about me and with all her “Los Angeles” references.  Why didn’t she reach out to go grab a coffee? I’m serious. If she’s that obsessed with me then at least attempt to get to know me before bashing me behind a computer screen. I think she would have been pleasantly surprised and perhaps dropped her diatribe mission.

She did learn something once from her computer screen. After bashing sorority girls in a post, a commenter wrote: “Indiscriminately bagging on sorority girls is lazy writing.”

I would add, “Indiscriminately bagging on individual bloggers is lazy writing.” It’s also mean-spirited, obnoxious and pointless.

One person did comment on her post about me and the general purpose of her blog. She wrote:

“I really liked your article about attachment parenting and came here via the bloggess, but now I’m wondering are a lot of your pieces about taking down other people? I’m not really into anti sites.”

That right there should tell her a lot. Sadly, it probably won’t. But on the off-chance any of this resonates with her, here’s a link to the National Bullying Prevention Center. If nothing else, her children might need it.

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Here is her blog folks, in all its glory:

I am a little bit in love with Jill Cordes, she of the “Fearless Feisty Mama” blog on Parents.com who made a“project” out of teaching her nanny about the world according to rich, white lady. It seems like I might not be the only one since I get a surprising amount of search traffic with her name, most notably with the search “jill cordes nipple.” I’d love to hear anyone’s theories of what that might be about.

There is so much that’s amazing about Jill Cordes. I mean, her bio:

Jill

Wow. Okay, so like, some things about that bio:

  1. How the hell does she think teenaged Fia and Emmet are going to feel when it first occurs to them to Google their mom and they learn that their mother never wanted them and she only became a mom because she got hammered on a little vacay with the mister?
  2. Is that bio supposed to make her sound wild and loosey-goosey? Because I’m all for wild and loosey-goosey and maybe I’m just grouchy about such things after being told my whole life that I was a “camping trip accident,” but I think it crosses the taste line.
  3. Why does she describe her children primarily in terms of their conception? Is this bio not an introduction? Would you ever in a million years introduce yourself to someone by saying where and under what degree of insobriety you conceived your children?
  4. Oh, hey. Kate Gosselin called and she wants her… No. I can’t go finish that joke. It’s too hacky. ZING! Ugh. Sorry.
  5. Can you imagine in a thousand million years if someone other than a rich white woman had that bio? Jill Cordes would have to make a “project” out of her.
  6. I would never just click around the internet and poke at moms’ bios on their blogs, but this is Jill Cordes’s bio on her parents.com blog. It’s written in third person, possibly by someone other than herself. The lady is surely getting paid by Parents and thus has an editor. Furthermore, she’s a “television personality” and must have PR people. This is not just some random “mommy blog” bio. People signed off on that. Admittedly, the whole bio is less…weird than this snippet, but someone okayed that as the bit to appear on her blog’s main page.
  7. Okay, but the hair. I can’t let it go. Homegirl has hella money and lives in Los Angeles. There is no reason for her to be using a Flowbee to cut her hair.

In her defense, there’s another fellow who blogs under her “Fearless Fesity Mama” banner and his bio includes the following sentence: “He has written the fiction book ‘The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt’ and is working on releasing a parenting humor book.” There’s a lot going on in that sentence, but let’s just stick with the phrase “fiction book.” Is that not a novel? Isn’t that what we call those things? Perhaps a novella?

There are a lot of mysterious things about “Fearless Feisty Mama.” Like, does Parents.com not have someone to install a spam filter? And does it ever bother Jill that she so often writes about her anxieties and fears but the word “fearless” is right there in the title? Or that about a quarter of the posts are written by a dude even though there’s “mama” in the title?

The reason I keep reading is the sick schadenfreude I enjoy when she reports that her hypnotist/healer tells her:

Would you rather be right…or be a mom? Because your kids are going to f-ck up a lot, and if you are wound this tight, you’re going to have some f-cked up kids.

She’s vulnerable enough to let us in on that moment and I credit her for that, but I think this one passage about going to church when she was a kid conveys what I find so frustrating about her:

My parents would pull up in a big cargo van that my mom used for her plant business. They’d open the side door and we four kids would come tumbling out. My adopted brother Carter would bounce in with his huge black Afro and my sister Tanya would follow with her neatly woven cornrows. Kelly, my biological brother, and I would lead the way.

“Come on you guys, we are going to be late!” I’d say, glad to be the older sibling/ring leader. We were a motley crew, no doubt.

Guys. Cornrows? Huge black afro? Are her step-siblings…black?! She was, like, clinically incapable of leaving that detail out or you know, refer to her siblings as siblings and not give the far more exotic title of ”adopted siblings.” See guys, she’s not all milquetoast. Also, let’s all take a sharp inhale for her describing her interracial family as a “motley crew.”

It’s this kind of tone deafness that keeps bringing me back to her blog. I kind of want to sneak into her house, kidnap her and then take her to a freshman social studies class. After all, I haven’t had such a wince-y read since I saw a student paper that referred to trans women as “shemales” and realized that everything this student knew about transexuals came from porn. Jill Cordes has an interesting background and could probably write a heckova memoir about her bipolar, crack-addicted now-deceased mother, but she just sorta fumbles right when I want her to…I don’t know how to complete a football metaphor…uh, run with the ball?

Also, there’s this troubling bit about changing her last name:

So why I am changing it? Because I feel like a partial outsider when we travel as a family. My kids and Phil all have the name Johnston. I am the odd-woman out. [...] However, I have to confess another hesitation in doing this. It’s the vain side of me. I don’t like the way “Jill Johnston” sounds. My initials would be JJ. It feels campy.

Fuck her. JJ sounds awesome.

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Photo of Nelson Muntz courtesy of simpsons.wikia.com 

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