Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Meet - or not - the parents

The child-free should not tell parents what to do. Fair enough, if we allow for exceptions.

The Guardian just published this incredible whopper of a(n incredibly common) parental complaint: a mom distraught that her daughter is not as brainy as she is. Naturally, she blames the girl's father, and clings to the idea that this is not academic mediocrity but a disorder of some kind. Same old, same old, with one detail: the author? "Anonymous." As it should be. The daughter, should she grow up and learn to read, will Google herself, perhaps her mother as well if her mother's a writer. Better for this not to come up.

Meanwhile, the bad-parenting debate reaches a new level with this discussion about whether we may fault the Boston bombers' parents for their descent into terrorism. Will Saletan correctly notes that these parents are mighty unappealing. The shoplifting's a curious detail, but the father's ability, in so few words, to insult the United States on account of this country's not condoning domestic violence, well, it would have been Borat-esque if it weren't just so depressing. When criminals like this are siblings, one does wonder if they were brought up right, and in a case like this, the more we learn, the more the answer seems a definitive not-so-much.

On the other hand, isn't this asking a bit much? Both "boys" were adults. 26-year-olds are definitely grown-ups, probably even in the Lena Dunham universe, and all the more so if they're married-with-kids. Are we to be equally suspicious of dude's wife? And parents are notoriously blind to their kids' not-so-ideal behavior (except when, like Anonymous, they're not). Go to any thread about health and The Youth, and you're likely to find parents insisting that their kids would never go near alcohol/tobacco/sex/whatever. Children, including adult children, are angels. If parents have trouble imagining their kids being normal, how exactly are they supposed to wrap their heads around a crime like this? And it seems altogether irrelevant that some broigus uncle (and oh, does this scenario ever define broigosity!) thinks the kids are/were bad seeds. Not that the uncle's wrong - he's of course 100% right - but if there's pre-existing estrangement, he's not really comparable to non-estranged (but plenty strange) parents. So it doesn't work to say that some relatives caught on, while the parents themselves did not.

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