Truth in Mom-and-Dad-vertising

April 6th, 2008

Soup du Jour:
Today , we look at a “clump” of books that hint at the possibility that parents are actually people.

The Grandmother DollIngredients (books discussed):

Suggested Side Dishes (related books):

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When-I-Was-A-Little-Girl Second Helpings (transcript of podcast):

When our first daughter was born, we received an album of children’s music entitled “Free to be.. You and Me” — an ambitious project spearheaded by actor Marlo Thomas twenty-five years earlier to break various stereotypes and to open children’s eyes, hearts and minds to the possibilities of a better world. One of the many concepts the album introduced was the idea that “Parents are People”. The song by the same name explained that every mom and dad was once a child and that parents have many abilities and jobs outside the home. I understood the importance of recognizing the humanity of one’s closest humans but, looking at my angelic newborn, I couldn’t foresee misunderstandings about my status as a fellow person.

Almost nine years and thousands of parental interactions later, the idea still seems far from radical but the need to introduce and reinforce the concept is now crystal clear. In fact, I would now see reason to add to the defining refrain “parents are people, people with children” several more phrases including: people with feelings, people with personalities, people with good days and bad days, people with strengths and weaknesses, people who struggle to make good decisions, people who make mistakes, people who experience conflicts and achievements. In short: Parents Are People.

In the thirty some years since this album was created, huge efforts have been made to help children understand themselves, their rights, their world and their feelings and to help equip them to deal with the feelings and actions of their siblings and peers. But, for the most part, little effort has been made to help children understand and interact with the people who happen to be their parents. Parents continue to be portrayed in children’s media as 2dimensional dispensers of privileges, consequences and humourous reactions. I think such representation wastes opportunities to understand, improve and learn from some of the most important relationships in a child’s young life.

Luckily, exceptions exist.

Today, we look at a “clump” of books that hint at the possibility that parents are people.


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