Welcome to the Perfect Baby Blog…
Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Although the Internet already offers a million blogs about children and parenting, a million is not quite enough to keep Angelina Jolie fully informed. So here is the 1,000,001st such blog, a descendent of my widely admired new book, The Perfect Baby Handbook: A Guide for Excessively Motivated Parents.
The Perfect Baby Blog will focus, naturally, on perfection. Or, at least, on the pressures parents feel to overachieve wildly in the field of Little Human Rearing. At some point, the blog may involve a drinking game that requires you to down one sensible sip of wine every time you hear another parent on TV or at your playground utter the phrase, “I just want to give my child every opportunity.”
This phrase–one of the key articles of faith in the super-parenting phenomenon—is quite brilliant. It simultaneously rationalizes insane behavior (such as the procuring of Chinese-language tutors for infants who’ve barely learned to grunt), while making every other parent feel inadequate, crappy, and stressed. There’s really no response—it’s hardly nurturing to say, “As for me, I plan to give my kid 1/400th of the opportunities available to her.”
And now our new President has publicly joined the fray. In “What I Want for You and Every Other Child: A Letter to My Daughters,” published in Parade magazine this past January, President Obama begins by telling his girls, Malia and Sasha, that, although he was sadly self-centered before their birth, all that quickly changed: “I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn’t count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours.” And then comes the clincher: “In the end, girls, that’s why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation. “
The subtext here is pretty clear, I think: Not only should you strive to be a selfless, perfect parent, it would be sporting of you to run for President to ensure that all tiny Americans have equal access to not just the occasional opportunity, but every single one, which, depending on your interpretation, may or may not involve premature Mandarin lessons and a $60 Fendi pacifier (with carrying case).
I could go on and on. And probably will. Please check back here and send me any examples of excessively motivated parenting that you find funny, telling, moving, or simply baffling. I’d also love to hear from any perfect children who can prove they actually exist. Write me here.