Mommy Wars. We’ve all heard about them, but I have yet to witness an actual battle between helicopters and free-rangers, attachment parents and tiger parents. If I had to guess, the helicopters and tigers would win those matches (but only because they can cut you).
If you’re not aware of the current middle-class parenting trends, please read the below for your own safety. These people could be lurking in your neighborhood. They could be right next door. THEY COULD BE YOU.
Below is everything you need to know about who to watch out for at the playground. Since I myself have never witnessed anyone who strictly follows any of these, I can only report what the media tells me:
These people will not let their children cross the street or play on the playground with your grubby kid. Their babies are sheltered and cannot function on their own—which is fine—because helicopter moms and dads accompany their children to school and spend the entire day sitting next to them. HELICOPTER PARENTS ARE RUINING THEIR CHILDREN.
Most of these parents are in jail already. They allow their children to walk 5,000 miles (in the dark) to crack dens and strip clubs. Their children are dirty, wild, and will most likely die horrible deaths because of parental neglect. FREE-RANGE PARENTS ARE RUINING THEIR CHILDREN.
Similar to helicopter parents, but beginning at an earlier stage. Attachment parents sleep, eat, and breathe with their children. They spend weeks training in the art of infant massage and believe that every time a child cries, a baby elephant dies. ATTACHMENT PARENTS ARE RUINING THEIR CHILDREN.
These people force their children to play the piano and reportedly beat them if they do not do well in school. TIGER PARENTS ARE RUINING THEIR CHILDREN.
If little Sally is dressed perfectly, who cares if she spits at people? These parents care only about the surface. All people who buy expensive baby items fall into this category. DESIGNER PARENTS ARE RUINING THEIR CHILDREN.
If you spend more than $5 on a shirt, you’re doing it wrong. These kids don’t have anything that hasn’t been worn by an old homeless man—who got it from the garbage. GOODWILL PARENTS ARE RUINING THEIR CHILDREN.
The Breastfeeding Brigade
These parents believe that you must breastfeed until you die. THE BREASTFEEDING BRIGADE ARE RUINING THEIR CHILDREN.
Positive Discipline Parents
None of these parents allow the letters ‘n’ or ‘o’ into their houses. They will let their children drink a bottle of vodka, break all of the fine china, and pull the dog’s hair until he is bald. POSITIVE DISCIPLINE PARENTS ARE RUINING THEIR CHILDREN.
Baby Knows Best Parents
Similar to above, except these parents believe that everything a child needs to learn lies inside of them. They do not buy their children toys or let them go to school. BABY KNOWS BEST PARENTS ARE RUINING THEIR CHILDREN.
These parents know exactly what to do and when to do it. You will never be as good as they are, so just stop trying. EUROPEAN PARENTS CHILDREN ARE SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOURS. (They could teach you, but they’d have to charge . . nah nah nah nah nah. Ahem. Sorry — got carried away there.)
If you don’t fit into any of the above, join the club. Obviously, the media has to come up with cute names and boxes to put us all in, but I think we need a new name: Third-Wave Parents. Just like third-wave feminists, third-wave parents are cool with what everyone else does, and we don’t take it personally when it’s a different decision than the one we made. It’s about taking pieces from all of the trends above (and more!) and using whatever works for you. I know it doesn’t make for a good think-piece on Slate.com, but I really think it reflects the reality of today. When we all stop worrying about everyone else, we’ll have a lot more time to actually play with our kids. Unless you’re a Tiger Mom—then your kids can’t play.