Posted by: emjb | October 7, 2005

Drive-By Parenters Will Be Prosecuted

One of the bloggers I read, I think it was A Little Pregnant, defined something called “drive-by parenting.” Basically, it’s a phenomenon where a parent posts about something that happened…a decision they made about parenting, an interaction with their kid, whatever…and then got nasty comments (or commenters flaming each other) about it. Especially if it had anything to do with different ways of giving birth, breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding, how to deal with sleep issues, or feeding issues, or discipline. Comments along the line of “you’re ruining your child if you do that!” or “your decision to do that means you think my decision not to do that is wrong and you’re looking down on me!”

Over at this post at The Leery Polyp, you can see this in action. There is some sort of weird compulsion that grips certain commenters whenever another parent shares their opinions on these topics. Jo, the blogger there, posts her amazing birth story, and talks about what it means to her. Most of her commenters agree that yes, it was amazing. But the drive-by types start sniffing immediately that her happiness with her experience must mean that she disapproves of people like them, who had very different experiences. If she thinks her natural childbirth was great, in other words, then she is by definition looking down on their less-natural childbirths or adoptions. Despite the fact that she never said anything of the sort.

And that is just pure bullshit. And I’m going to say right here that if it shows up on my blog, I won’t stand for it. My experience is my experience; I am going to feel about it however I want. I am going to make the parenting decisions that I think are the best. And if that offends someone, they are free to say so or go write their own blog about it or what have you, but I am not going to try to placate them. If they hassle me too much, I will ban them.

It’s not that some things aren’t up for discussion, or that I won’t ask other people’s opinions on occasion, but the fact of the matter is, this is my kid and my blog and unsolicited hostile opinions about how I’m handling things are neither needed nor wanted. Every kid and every parent is different. I will do what I think is best, and the rest of the world can go hang as far as I’m concerned; I don’t owe anybody an apology for the decisions I make.

So let me just lay it out up front. Oh, and when I say “I” and “me” I am not leaving Matt out of the equation; it’s just that this is my blog, so I mostly speak in the first person. All these issues and decisions are ones that we have made together. Just to be clear.

I am, unless medical reasons prevent me, going to have a natural, active childbirth. I may or may not choose some sort of painkilling drug depending on how things go. Overall, I do in fact think that’s the best way to birth, though certainly not the only way. If you didn’t birth your kids that way, that’s your business, not mine. I’m not going to apologize to you for what I’ve decided to do, though.

I also intend to breastfeed for the first year. Again, I think this is the overall best way to go. If you bottlefeed, yay for you. I don’t really care. I’m not judging you, nor do I think your baby will be mentally defective because he wasn’t breastfed. I wasn’t either, come to that, and I turned out ok. If for some reason I can’t breastfeed or breastfeed as long as I like, I’m not going to feel guilty about that either.

In general, I find the attachment parenting style appealing, though I reserve absolute freedom to adjust what I do as a parent based on what works for my kid. I don’t think picking up a baby and feeding him when he’s hungry spoils him. I think some babies need to be held and cuddled to sleep, some don’t, and I will have to see which one mine is. I will toilet train when the time seems right, not when other people tell me I should. I will do my best to teach my child politeness, but I think it’s unrealistic to expect small children to be quiet and polite at all times. I will do my best to keep him from annoying other people, but I won’t always succeed, and I won’t beat myself up too much for that.

I will not spank. I don’t think it works as well as time outs and other punishments, and it teaches a child fear and violence. I know this because that’s what it taught me, and it permanently damaged my relationship with my dad. I really don’t care what anyone on the pro-spanking side has to say, I think they’re completely misguided. There is no debate on this for me. It will make my job harder, no doubt, and make some people think I’m spoiling him. I couldn’t care less.

I am not raising my child in an organized religion, though he will be free to talk about and explore any beliefs he finds interesting. Or be an atheist if that seems right to him. This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to, and while I’m happy to talk about what I think about religion, I won’t tolerate anyone hassling me or my kid on this decision.

I will teach him about reproduction and the opposite sex and responsible behavior when he’s ready. When he’s a teenager, I’ll tell him that I’d rather he wasn’t sexually active, but that if he decides to be, what kind of precautions he has to take. Also, that I will kick his ass if he gets someone pregnant, and make him get a job and pay child support to boot, because it will be his responsibility to take care of any child he brings into the world.

That’s pretty much it. I wanted to have this post up for future reference, so I could link it to any commenters who decide to bust out with the drive-bys. Maybe I’ll be lucky and not have much of that to put up with, but it’s always good to be prepared.



  1. You ROCK… I don’t understand this whole parent vs. parent thing either.

  2. Thanks, Sara. As one of my coworkers used to say “People crazy.”

  3. Oh yes, wise words. I didn’t completely get that part about “I will have to see which one mine is” until after my baby arrived. I expected a somewhat different sort of baby, and suddenly realized that some of my plans just didn’t fit the baby I got. I think maybe some people think that their baby is the only kind there is … hence the righteous drive-bys. (Which was from Chez Miscarriage originally, I think.)

  4. It’s interesting that you say you’ll “make him get a job and pay child support.” Even before the baby is born, you see him through misandrist eyes as primarily a wallet for some poor female who can’t act responsibly. He won’t have any say in whether the kid gets aborted but, goddammit, he’s going to pay child support! Real cute, “mom” to be!

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