The news channels and blogosphere are exploding with hostile reactions to a Canadian Dad blogger's comments on Babble about having a favorite child. With two sons ages 2 and 5, he admits in writing and in the public sphere that though he loves both of his sons, he likes the older boy better: "I admit it, my oldest son is my favorite because he can do more things. To me, he's more fun. I don't love either of my sons any more than the other, but I do like them differently. I'd be willing to bet you're the same."
Our society loves a chance to weigh in on parenting choices, and this discussion is pretty juicy.
That the revelation has gone viral suggests that the issue is close to the hearts of many parents. The backlash the blogger has received is not always mature or appropriate (as can happen when people hide behind a keyboard), but a chord has definitely been struck.
Many dads find the baby stage more challenging and less fun than the older years and I respect those who admit to this. I would suggest, though, that moms feel this way as well. Raising a baby is tough. It's work. It's not always fun for the moms either -- babies throw food on the floor, refuse to sleep, hit you in the face, sport leaky diapers and pick the lock on the knife drawer. But you have to embrace every stage in order to grow the bonds that are being created.
I am sure part of the ire is due to the blunt writing and challenges put forth by the author to his audience. But would the parenting world be reacting and truly considering the question if it were more passive or humorous? I'm not sure. I wrote an article about over-sharing in social media and the public space. I cautioned that the disclosures of bloggers, tweeters and facebook-junkies will exist in perpetuity and that as parents, we have a responsibility to protect the reputations and psychological states of our children. They will one day be applying for university and will probably start Googling themselves once they can spell. There is a fine line, and it is currently undefined. I was initially reacting to flippant sharing that may one day be embarrassing or misconstrued. Reading the comments and reactions to this article, though, I hope that the author has a broader plan up his sleeve. If discussion on the topic can remain constructive and healthy, perhaps society will become a better place. And as a parent who also happens to be a journalist, this blogger will have to handle his younger son's reaction to his dad's revelation when he is more mature.
Though I would not choose to reveal this type of personal information in a public forum, I appreciate that the author has encouraged conversation. He has inspired thought and people are evaluating their own positions on the matter. I may have sleep trained differently than my neighbor. I may have chosen to make organic baby food when time allowed. But that worked for my family. The type of honesty espoused by the author is a choice that he has made as a parent. Though it wouldn't work for me, who am I to judge other parents? (Well -- not the ones who abide by the law anyway). Walking a mile in someone's shoes may be cliché, but we are all different. We come from different backgrounds and have different values. That is the beauty of our society. I am sure Judy Garland was judged for introducing Liza Minnelli to show business, but maybe the world is a better place for the art that was created and the millions of people she made happy.
So let's have a good healthy discussion, but keep the barbs and venom out of the playing field. We're all in this together as parents, and we should build on each others' experiences so that we can raise amazing kids.