Perhaps inevitably, Babble has published several counterpoints to the shitstorm that was last week's "I Love My Son More Than My Daughter" and the ensuing fallout. (Which launched a thousand blog posts.) They're interesting and though-provoking and, hopefully, mark the end of a teachable moment for bloggers and non-bloggers everywhere.
John Cave Osborne's article is a pretty moderate response, what with his respectful nod to his colleague's "guts" and honesty. But his point his clear: he, as a father of five, would never publicly write something like this, for all the reasons enumerated by outraged commenters. As many people pointed out, children this age are still developing people; this sort of favoritism causes strife between siblings; everyone has moments where they don't like their kids. But his main point is the same one readers articulated again and again: her daughter could read these words one day.
Fellow Babble writer Katie Allison Granju addressed this when she wrote,
Many commenters on the writer's essay have already suggested that the author's currently pre-literate children will one day read what she's written about her feelings toward each of them, and be hurt or confused by it. While I certainly can't predict how this writer's future teenagers will feel about the essay she's written – although I think I can guess – I am confident in predicting that they will indeed read it. I know this because I've lived it, and am living it.
As the blogger Rosa Jurjevics, herself the subject of many a maternal musing, put it, "She doesn't seem to understand how what she's said will affect her daughter, or what it means to put not just your own life out in the public eye, but the lives of children who will someday be adults."
Well, maybe by now she does.
While it's but another chapter in the ongoing quest to determine exactly how much information is too much, hopefully it means an end to this one. While some might argue that a father by definition isn't subject to the same societal pressures as is a mom, maybe this is a way of universalizing the argument. No one should expect perfection in parenting, and if they do they won't get it: as Majorie Ingall observed in Tablet,
Parents do acknowledge that they're closer to some kids than others. (But is that really favoritism? You tell me.) In the 2009 study, 70 percent of the moms surveyed named one kid they felt closest to, and 73 percent named a kid with whom she had the most arguments and disagreements. Another study, this one from Current Directions in Psychological Science, found that a third to two thirds of American families evidence parental favoritism.
And as Ayelet Waldman famously wrote, "Parenting is a passionate enterprise."
Never more so than in the blogosphere. Where you're only as much or as little as your readers know, and everyone has an opinion.
Advice To a Young Blogger: When "Shock and Awe" Confessionals Cross the Line [Babble]
5 Reasons I Would Never Publicly Compare and Contrast My Children [Babble]
Playing Favorites [Tablet]
Children in the Public Eye: The Mommyblog Debate [Type Faster]