John Kinnear's 5 Things Parents Need To Stop Saying To Non Parents
There is a Facebook page to go with the blog.
My FB newsfeed showed that the Huff Po link was posted by a couple of people within a short time. If I had been looking more carefully at the url instead of the title, I would have ignored it since I do not read Huffington…
Oh well, too late now, and as this appeared to be a viral originated on Huff Po, I couldn't exactly resist checking it out once the page had opened.
So here goes another one.
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Article: First, I should say that I am 100% guilty of all of these. I know this reads as an advice list, but really it's advice I'm giving myself. The "you" I am addressing in this piece is me... unless it applies to you; then it is you.
Ocean Elf: Fair enough. And much of what you said, I actually agree with to some extent, but the first item caused me a good deal of facepalming until I read the item's explanation the whole way through. Then I realized we were coming at it from different perspectives, yet I still needed to explain my POV as well.
Article: I ran head first into this parenting thing, and have gladly and gratefully let it redefine me as a person. One unforeseen side-effect has been that I view everything through the lens of parenting. Sometimes that is a good thing. For instance, I don't leave steak knives lying around as much as I used to. Sometimes, and this is what I've recently learned, it can alienate my non-kid having friends.
Ocean Elf: True. I stopped getting together with friends who had kids and were so determined to keep them on a tight schedule that just didn't allow time for get-togethers. It didn't make sense to phone them up for a chat either - same reason. By the time their kids were a little older, we just lost touch. If any of them were to contact me now I'd be very happy to reconnect.
Article: Here are some things that are better left unsaid.
1. Dogs are not kids.
Ocean Elf: Ack! *Scowl* What the freakin'? *Fighting urge to go ballistic*
Anyone who knows me, knows I love my pets. But even in the presence of parents gushing over their kids, I have absolutely no desire to call a pet a kid! Considering the insidious agenda behind this whole trend, I find it disgustingly self-indulgent and short-sighted to keep doing so.
Yes, parents, real parents, of real human children also do the dog kid thing. It isn't just us childless people with pets who engage in this stuff. The monkey owners on the exotic pet lists I used to be on, were mainly older, parents and grandparents, and they were especially bad for calling their monkeys their kids/sons/daughters/grandkids. It was difficult trying to keep straight which were the real kids and which were the pets without context. "My kid Johnny had a rough day today." Kid or pet? No-brainer, normally. "He had an argument with his friend at school." Real kid, naturally. "My kid Johnny had a rough day today." Kid or pet? "He kept flinging food around, whizzed all over the TV and tried to bite me three times." Erm… That had to be the pet.
Article: It usually goes like this. "Ugh. You know what really bugs me? When so and so compares her dog to my kid. Or when so and so referrers to their dog as their kid. Dogs are not kids! She has NO IDEA!"
Ocean Elf: No, she's right, animals are animals, and people are people. Do you really want to take a good long look down the dark trail of where this whole pet kid thing is actually intended to go? Perhaps you should. A lot of people have no idea.
Article: He finally started sleeping through the night!
Ocean Elf: So? Sheesh, man, what's so bad about that? Oh, right, you're now going to tell me.
Article: You know what? Unless "so and so" needs professional help, I guarantee "so and so" knows that her dog is not a human child.
Ocean Elf: I'm not so sure about that.
I've seen more than I ever wished to see of this kid/pet interchanging stuff on email lists and web forums:
"monkids" (referring to pet monkeys) "Furkids" "Furry children" "fur child" "fur babies" "Four-legged/feathered/winged children/kids" (referring to pets.) "pet/pouch-parents" "glider-slaves" "owned by (insert pet's name)" "gardian/care-taker/steward/mom/dad of (insert pet)" (referring to pet owners.)
Talking of "adopting/fostering" animals (adoption and foster parenting is for children… Animals are not children…)
"skin kids" referring to their actual children. *Gags*
This isn't cute, it's insidious. This is playing right into Peta's animal rights and ultimately no pets mission.
And yes, animal fanatics, and not just the PEta people, go postal when you aren't doing right by them when it comes to animals.
Suggest that someone give up a mean cat because they are already considering it because that cat just isn't getting along in that household, and the animal welfare fur kid people get all outraged. "You heartless cruel shartface! how dare you think of giving up that cat or suggesting/okaying that idea to so-and-so? That cat is a living breathing feeling thing! What if it were your *exaggerated squealing emphasis* CHILD!? I suppose you'd just dump it at the nearest fourth-rate institution without a thought!"
Well EXCUSE ME! - It isn't a child, it's a cat. It's a dang blasted cat! And if it hates living where it is, why make the owner keep it, causing nothing but stress for both owner and animal?
I have seen so much of that during my time in pet related communities, the rantings of too many people who are convinced animals are little humans in fur coats with delicate child psyches,…
That's just what the anti-animal ownership people want...
"What we must do is start viewing every cow, pig, chicken, monkey, rabbit, mouse, and pigeon as our family members." Gary Yourofsky, Humane Education Director, PETA, The Toledo Blade, June 24, 2001
"The life of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal consideration." Michael W. Fox, Scientific Director and former Vice President, The Humane Society of the United States, The Inhumane Society, New York, 1990
"I don't use the word "pet." I think its speciest language. I prefer "companion animal." For one thing, we would no longer allow breeding. People could not create different breeds. There would be no pet shops. If people had companion animals in their homes, those animals would have to be refugees from the animal shelters and the streets. You would have a protective relationship with them just as you would with an orphaned child. But as the surplus of cats and dogs (artificially engineered by centuries of forced breeding) declined, eventually companion animals would be phased out, and we would return to a more symbiotic relationship enjoyment at a distance." -Ingrid Newkirk, PETA vice-president, quoted in The Harper's Forum Book, Jack Hitt, ed., 1989, p.223.
"Liberating our language by eliminating the word 'pet' is the first step ... In an ideal society where all exploitation and oppression has been eliminated, it will be NJARA's policy to oppose the keeping of animals as 'pets.'" -New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance, "Should Dogs Be Kept As Pets? NO!" Good Dog! February 1991, p.20
"Pet ownership is an abysmal situation brought about by human manipulation." -Ingrid Newkirk, President, PETA, Washingtonian, August 1986
"It is time we demand an end to the misguided and abusive concept of animal ownership. The first step on this long, but just, road would be ending the concept of pet ownership." -Elliot Katz, President, In Defense of Animals, "In Defense of Animals," Spring 1997
"The cat, like the dog, must disappear..... We should cut the domestic cat free from our dominance by neutering, neutering, and more neutering, until our pathetic version of the cat ceases to exist." -John Bryant, Fettered Kingdoms: An Examination of a Changing Ethic, PETA 1982, p.15.
"Animal Fancies provide an escape from the real world, a sense of purpose in a lot of purposeless lives, a chance to play God by breeding animals, and a chance to play celebrity by showing them." Phil Maggitti, The Animals' Agenda, December 1991.
"The bottom line is that people don't have the right to manipulate or to breed dogs and cats ... If people want toys they should buy inanimate objects. If they want companionship they should seek it with their own kind." -Ingrid Newkirk, President, PETA, "Animals," May/June 1993
I have the same reaction when reading the other side of that same animal welfarism coin that says we shouldn't have exotic pets and that by keeping them we aren't allowing them to "be a (insert animal species here). A dog is a dog, a monkey is a monkey, a glider is a glider. they are not 'being' their species, they ARE that species no matter what their environment.
"You don't have to own squirrels and starlings to get enjoyment from them ... One day, we would like an end to pet shops and the breeding of animals. Dogs would pursue their natural lives in the wild ... they would have full lives, not wasting at home for someone to come home in the evening and pet them and then sit there and watch TV." -Ingrid Newkirk, President, PETA, Chicago Daily Herald, March 1, 1990.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. There is more, much more, and it is very ugly.
don't even get me started on the forums that have "pet chatters" where animal owners make posts supposedly from their pets' point of view. These areas are crammed with mangled english, a sort of nightmarish Tweety Bird and elmer Fud combination style to make it sound as if the pets are thinking in extreme baby-talk. *Grimace* At least if I was into that sort of pre tense, (which I'm not,) I'd try to make my pet's character voice come out sounding somewhat intelligent and use proper english and none of this "Mommy did dis" and "Mommy did dat" stuff. I would have my pet refer to me by name or as "My human" or "my owner".
Article: She also knows that having a dog is nothing like having a kid.
Ocean Elf: For how long?
Article: What she's really saying is "Oh! Yes. I also have something in my life that poops AND brings me joy."
Ocean Elf: Well bully for her. so do I, but my pets don't bring me joy by pooping. :p and I certainly am not going to go around calling my pets my kids to prove to other people that my pets bring me joy… So your excuse for the pet kid thing just doesn't fly with me.
Article: She is trying to relate to you and be a part of your life –
Ocean Elf: And probably doing a bang up job of it, offending the living heck out of someone by implying, perhaps unwittingly, "Hey, your kid and my dog are alike!"
Article: the life where all you do is talk about your kids.
Ocean Elf: If she feels so left out, maybe she should just find some new friends instead with more in common.
Don't get me wrong. I understandd the desire to try and relate. I really do. We all do that. Someone tells us about their fabulous experiences, we in turn, tell them about ours. Because what else, really, can we do? Nobody ever said Tammy should be less pumped about her new dog, cat, car, etc. just because Debby has a new baby and can't stop brimming over about her.
But I can see where things can hit a rather flat note when Debbie brags or complains about some aspect of life with little Carissa, and Tammy comes back with something about her dog, cat, or car.
Article: I know that it's hard to relate when you have kids and your friends don't.
Ocean Elf: Yeah, so do I, me being the one who is happily single and kid-free, and still free to love other people's kids. I have very little to offer in the way of relatable experiences when people go on and on about life with their kids, but I don't pretend my pets are my kids, trying to relate notwithstanding.
Article: What were once close relationships can become sporadic meet-ups where you do your best to try to catch up with someone with whom you have very little in common anymore.
Ocean Elf: Yes, but unfortunately that's life.
Article: Sure, you two were best buds in college, but now you have very different lives.
Ocean Elf: I know, I know - been there, done that… But besides the parent/non-parent issue, I've also drifted apart from people for different reasons. Sometimes it's due to people moving away. Sometimes it's because they have literally become prople I no longer recognize and just don't want to deal with unless they and I can eventually have enough important things in common to resume the friendship again.
Article: So when "so and so" offhandedly, and perhaps awkwardly, tries to relate to your story about picking poo out of your bangs by comparing it to scraping dog *crap* out of the carpet, cut her some slack. She's just trying to be nice. And she misses you.
Ocean Elf: Okay, I do completely understand this. I don't have a problem with Person A. complaining about baby poop, and person B. answering back with a complaint about doggy poop. Poop is still poop and it is still gross no matter where it comes from. That isn't confusing pets with kids…
Can we move on now?
Article: 2. You think you're (insert anything here)! Try having kids!
Ocean Elf: Argh. Yes, that one bugs me too. But I do realize that raising kids is a life-changing circumstance unlike any other.
Article: Tired, stressed, in pain, covered in urine, it doesn't matter. They all apply. Too often, we parents downplay non-parent's concerns by pulling ours out and tossing them on the table. "Oh man! You worked 50 hours this week? Try doing that with kids!" "Oh man, you think your feet hurt from working outside all day! I've been chasing my toddler blah blah blah punch me in the face please."
Ocean Elf: Lol Sorry, but I just can't disagree this one. for that matter, people who dismiss someone that way, even when kids aren't part of the equation are insufferable.
Article: It's not a competition. If, on a scale of 1 to Passing Out Awkwardly in the Shower and Waking Up When the Hot Water Runs Out, your friend is at a 7, and three weeks into your first newborn you were at a 9, that DOESN'T MAKE YOUR FRIEND ANY LESS TIRED.
Ocean Elf: Agreed.
Article: It isn't that your experiences can't be a valid contribution to the conversation, but instead of a my pain is more painful than your pain approach, instead try sympathizing. Why not try using your experience as a new parent to help instead of compete? Say something like "Whoa! I bet you're tired. When I was tired after my daughter was born, I found that pouring coffee directly into my eyeballs was incredibly useful."
Ocean Elf: Ugh, I wouldn't recommend that treatment for fatigue. But really, I definitely dig what's being said in this item.
Article: 3. Don't worry, when you have kids you'll…
Ocean Elf: Ugh! *Grimace* Yeah. That one is especially closed-minded and inconsiderate. Suppose some of us don't plan on having kids? Worse, suppose somebody is trying and unable to have kids biologically? Suppose even trying to adopt is presenting challenges.
Article: Not be grossed out by boogers,
Ocean Elf: Eww, gross!
Article: know who Dora the Explorer is,
Ocean Elf: Meh, never got into her.
Article: be happy… UGH.
Ocean Elf: ugh indeed.
Article: We've got to quit assuming that everyone is going to have kids.
Ocean Elf: Yes. Thank you!
Article: Some people don't want kids and choose not to have them. Some people really want kids and are trying incredibly hard to have them. Indicating to these people that having kids is the only way they will reach some higher level of understanding is both inconsiderate and rude. I don't know what the alternatives to these statements are. Maybe just cut anything that starts with "When you have kids..." out of your repertoire all together. It makes you sound like their mom anyway.
Ocean Elf: Here, here.
Article? 4. Is the party kid friendly?
Ocean Elf: Huh? What's the matter with that? Context, please.
Article: Unless you and your friend have some previous communication on this topic about how your little on is always welcome, assume the party is not kid friendly. Don't ask. If it were "kid friendly" they would have invited you AND your kids, and mentioned the awesome play room that they will have set up in the basement. By asking your non-kid having friends if their party is kid friendly you are putting them in the really awkward position of either MAKING their party kid friendly on the fly, or telling you that the party is NOT kid friendly which, then, no matter how low-key the party was intended to be in the first place, pretty much requires that they now provide a steady supply of hookers and blow.
Ocean Elf: *grimace&Scowl* No such implication of the latter! But yes, I can see the other point, sort of, you don't want some friend inviting themselves and kids to some party where vodka is on the drink menu.
Well, no worries, I don't go to kid-unfriendly parties anyway, especially not any with hookers and…Eww! *Grimace*
Article: Don't make your friends set up a kids room, and definitely don't make them buy hookers and blow.
Ocean Elf: Especially don't make them do the latter! I don't hang out with people who are into that in the first place.
Article: Is the party puppy friendly?
Ocean Elf: *Facepalm* That one is suckish, for all the reasons I gave in the first item. In addition, it makes no difference to animals what you do a parties, you're not going to traumatize them or corrupt their little non-human brains because they have no concept of morality etc… So Don't try that one with me! Besides, prople generally don't bring their pets to parties. Unless they have pets that are not even going to be noticed let alone do anything to inconvenience the host. My sugar gliders and dormice were the only pets fitting this bill. You don't take your non-working dog, or your cats/hamsters/etc. grocery shopping but it's obviously fine to take your kids there. Just saying. And yes, I leave my glider possem at home if I'm just going grocery shopping or out to eat. Otherwise, she usually goes everywhere with me and that's because she's so well behaved. Snuggled up in her carrying pouch, people don't even see her, so don't know she's even there unless she's somehow pointed out.
Article: 5. My life didn't have meaning before I had kids!
Ocean Elf: Annoying as that saying is, I realize this an utterance of an emotional rush. It is over-done and inaccurate.
Article: Another way to say this: My life was meaningless before I had kids. Another way: Life without kids is meaningless.
Ocean Elf: Huh? if you're going to be so understanding about the woman who inserts her pet experiences into conversations about kids, why stop there? I'm sure these people weren't actually slighting those of us who don't have kids. They aren't even thinking of childless people - or anyone else when they are engulfed by the sudden overwhelming urge to proclaim their parenthood pride and contentment. For them, this is better than getting the best toy under the Christmas tree at age 6, and getting their first car at legal driving age, and landing their first job all rolled up in one.
Article: Look, I know this feeling. Sometimes it feels like all the worries I had before my kids were trivial. I understand the urge to convey that feeling into words. Don't do it. Your life may have a different purpose now, but your pre-kid life was an important part of your story, and your non-kid having friends are a part of that. Don't dismiss that part of your life the way most people skip the forward to a novel they really want to read. By dismissing the "before" as just a build up to your kids, you are not only dismissing your friends, but you're also implying that their story has not started yet.
Ocean Elf: Wow. Just wow.
no, I think it's much more subjective for them than that. They're talking about themselves only, not telling me my life is meaningless. I know their kids are all they can see as long as they're in the parenting honeymoon faze. This is when it's maybe a good time for friends to step back but leave the door open for when the parent(s) in question finally feel the need to reach out to friends again.
Lastly, if you have done or said any of these things, you don't need to apologize. Just stop saying them. Apologizing will just make it worse. I apologized for one of these things and it came out poorly. It basically sounded like "Oh, you poor, delicate, non-kid having flower. I am sorry that I was so consumed in my awesome parenting that I was neglectful and dismissive of our friendship. Please forgive me."
Ocean Elf: no kidding!
Someone who knows I really dislike virals, sent me one by mistake. I screamed in my head and wrote out a rant that I never sent. This person wrote back again though, having realized their mistake "I'm sorry, I know you don't like these things" or something along that line "I meant to leave you off my list."
argh! This just made me even more hurt and angry. Like, gee, thanks for letting me know you'd rather abandon me in favour of sending recirculated and recirculated junk to those who are probably too "polite" actually timid of saying anything about it!
So apologizing for parent blunders to non-parents could definitely come off as patronizing.
Article: There was no forgiveness needed. I hadn't harmed anyone, I'd just annoyed them. Forgiving me would have been like forgiving a fly for landing on you.
Ocean Elf: Lol
Article: So I promise to try and be more aware of how I say things, a better friend, and less of a fly. And by less of a fly, I mean that I will not land on you, vomit on you, and then try to eat you. College is over. I don't do that stuff anymore.
Love, Dad (John)*
Ocean Elf: Now if only people would stop being flies with the virals.
That's where Huff Po left off. There was a little more in the original blog entry.
Article: OK, one more picture of our adorable dog that I pretend not to like.
*No dogs were hurt in the making of this post. He was a noticeably annoyed, however.
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Ocean Elf: Ugh! Way too many people are begging, urging, even demanding likes/subscribes/re-shares.
Over and out.