A few weeks ago, I agreed to talk to someone from a production company that I had never heard of, about a “documentary” project about parenting. In fact, my mother-in-law Judy had already suggested that if I could somehow participate in a more honest project, it might help me feel better after the disappointment of that useless Good Morning America segment. That’s what I was thinking about when I answered my phone, knowing almost nothing about the project.
God has a sense of humor. The “interviewer” was looking for an Attachment Parenting family for a reality TV show with a “documentary style.” Obviously, I knew from the get-go that I did not want to be on reality television. Nor did I believe for a minute that any reality TV show would be similar to any documentary that I would want to watch. I spoke to a perfectly nice young woman about the details of how we implement the principles of Attachment Parenting in our family.
I found myself describing a pretty boring life, from a TV standpoint. How do we Attachment Parent? We let the baby tell us what to do for him. We’ve spent a lot of time with him, so we’re really getting the hang of figuring out which cry means what. We balance that by making sure we each get time for ourselves, when we’re “off duty.”
But here’s what made sure we’d be rejected for this project–it’s a question that still gives me an icky feeling: “What are your feelings about families who don’t parent the way you do?”
I told her that I have been a child care provider for families of with just about every kind of “parenting style” (whatever that means) out there, and we are all just doing the best that we can. I have seen a young banker and step-mother in a Manhattan, Park Avenue apartment, near tears over the kids’ apparent lack of interest in showing her any affection in front of her new husband’s friends. I’ve seen a get-on-the-floor-and-play, hands-on, thrower of Pinterest-worthy birthday parties, mother of three actually break down in tears because another mom at a playgroup implied that this level of involvement indicates a Kindergarten-level of intelligence.
No one can shake your confidence in yourself to your very core like another mom. My friend with the talent for awesome birthday parties? She has a PhD. With one remark about the difference in their parenting styles, her friend managed to make her feel stupid.
What are my feelings about families who don’t parent the way I do? If you are not neglecting or abusing your children, I am giving you the benefit of the doubt. I assume that you are doing your darndest to raise your kids. I assume that you love them. I assume that how you parent is none of my darn business.
“That all sounds really great. I’m afraid you’re not ‘out-there’ enough for our show, but I wish you all the best.”
That statement followed my “we are all doing our best speech,” and that makes me feel two opposing emotions all at once: joy and anger. After GMA used me and my baby as examples of a “trend” that one of their anchors described as “kind of extreme,” I felt pretty freaking elated at being deemed too normal for television.
I’m also angry, because not only will this team find families willing to condemn each others’ parenting, but there will be an appetite for the reality television show that follows. I hope this never makes it to air. In case it does, I asked the nice lady on the phone to do something. I’m going to remind you to do this, too:
“Please, be kind to parents.”