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Carol Smaldino

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It's Hard Being Green When You Demean: Parents Bullying Parents

Posted: 01/28/10 07:15 PM ET

In the ecologically green new parenting world, the mother (and occasionally even the father), gets a chance to use her time to wash and dry diapers made of the most long lasting material. It's an effort to instill values and save our resources, while participating in another kind of fashion: saving the planet in the commercially successful "green pride" movement.

There is not one thing wrong with ecological awareness, but beyond diapers and organic baby food there has arisen newer use of "green" terminology when it comes to parenting, and it has a toxic residue.

A new competition has developed pitting the so-called "green" parent against the "helicopter" parent who tends to micro-manage and control every part of her children's lives. Directly or not, the bullying tendency within our culture encourages the "liberated" and ecologically correct parents to openly snicker at those caught in a web of anxiety that is all too frequently culturally induced.

Not that long ago, early psychoanalysis demonized parents--okay, then, mothers. Layered on this is the unwritten decree that a child's Ivy League diploma was the ultimate proof of "good" parenting. As a society we actively watch for parenting adequacy or deficiency. How convenient is this for the political and economic powers that be that we still blame individuals for not succeeding in a culture where judgment abounds and unconditional supports are all too lacking.

We can give to Haiti, as well we should, but we are compassionate on the surface only if our giving cannot extend to our local neighbors. For those of us who live in suburbs or who have our children tested to enter fancy nursery schools, we only perpetuate the loneliness of parenting if we join in the scorn for all those who don't follow the momentary fashion. And being "green" can be just that -- fashion -- and a hypocritical one as well when it claims an ecological basis, devoid of any human ecology.

True human ecology can have no basis unless we respect the connection of everything to everything and every person to every person, as well as the past to the present and the future. If we regard each other with condescension and use each other's fodder as gossip, then we perpetuate a bullying of parents that ultimately makes us all too scared to be real about our own foibles, about the tender and mixed up attachment we have to our own children.

Children, who are allegedly always our most "precious" resource, need connection. They need our connection to them and their ability to have an impact on us. Once we allow human connection we will be vulnerable to feelings of chaos and love and hate and fear; feelings that need support rather than judgment.

And for those who agree that we model more effectively than we might preach, we need to pay attention and respect all who came before us and had no options.

And for those of us who want a better global ecology, we need to look at history and social, political and economic context. This isn't new, but sometimes parenting is just too pressured and too lonely with way too little in way of supports.

If we aim to support parents to help them slow down, we best not bully them into submission to yet another fad. We owe them connection, not superiority based on the color green alone.

 

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