How the New York Times envisions the “end of over-parenting”
Saturday, May 30th, 2009
Tensions are running high at Perfect Baby Handbook Worldwide Headquarters on Montague Street. It seems our services are no longer needed! At least according to this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, in which Lisa Belkin proclaims that the days of “helicoptering, smothering mothering…overly enmeshed parenting” or “get-them-into-Harvard-or-bust parenting” are numbered.
It seems as though the newest wave of mothers is saying no to prenatal Beethoven appreciation classes, homework tutors in kindergarten, or moving to a town near their child’s college campus so the darling can more easily have home-cooked meals.
This is how the Times chose to illustrate Belkin’s piece, which is entitled “Let the Kid Be.”
I somehow doubt that this illustration (a pigment ink print by art photographer Julie Blackmon) will reassure anxious parents. As you can see, this baby is devastated about missing out on prenatal Beethoven appreciation classes. And I’m not sure the parents in this scenario are truly “letting the kid be.”
It looks to me that they’ve deviously transformed themselves into large talking green butterflies so that they can continue to hover, rationalize their decision to deprive Baby of prenatal sonatas, and introduce new vocabulary words. I suspect their dialogue with their child is going something like this:
Butterfly Mommy: Don’t worry, mommy and daddy are right here, fluttering devotedly. We have not abandoned you!
Butterfly Daddy: That’s right. We just didn’t want the New York Times to know we were still oppressing you, because that’s “out.” So I’m posing as a butterfly, specifically an Ornithoptera Goliath Supermus…can you say “Ornithoptera Goliath Supermus”?
Butterfly Mommy: And I’m posing as—
Butterfly Daddy: Your mother is a gnat.
Butterfly Mommy: How dare you?!
Butterfly Daddy: God! Can’t you take a joke?