Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Words Matter

Almost all of the commentary I've received around this blog over the almost 6+years I've posting have been positive. But the negative comments almost all fall into the category of people telling me to lighten up: there is no reason to froth at the mouth about the term "Mr. Mom" or assume that a mothers-only internet community should be seen as somehow suspect.

I'm not sure I've always been able to answer that criticism well, but now I can simply point folks to this excellent guest blog over at the New York Times' Motherlode blog. A quick hit from author Paul Hankes Drielsma:
I don’t want to play the role of the “woe is me” father; to the contrary, I believe that everybody loses when we use trivializing language. Scour the parenting forums on the Internet and you’ll find the common lament that “DH” (darling husband) expects a medal whenever he “babysits” junior for a few hours. I have little sympathy for DH in these cases, but maybe a step in the right direction would be to stop using language that suggests hired help — to stop referring to DH’s job in the same terms as somebody who could legitimately stick his hand out at the end of his shift and demand a tip. DH isn’t babysitting, he’s parenting, and just changing that one word changes, for me at least, all sorts of connotations. A parent assumes supreme responsibility, and the only short-term thanks expected are the smiles on those chubby little cheeks. A babysitter assumes some responsibility, but never without those emergency numbers on the fridge, and he or she expects a ride home and fifteen bucks an hour.


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