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Restoring Parenting Sanity

While Colbert and Stewart face off in D.C., parents, too, hover between sanity and fear

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(Collage: Tablet Magazine; left photo: Flickr/Bucky Schwarz; right photo: Flickr/Stacy Brunner)

This weekend, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will hold dual rallies in Washington. Stewart’s is billed as the Rally to Restore Sanity; Colbert’s as the March to Keep Fear Alive.

Parents, I think, face these two dueling forces every day. Sometimes these voices come from inside us; sometimes they come from the media and the parents around us.

Any parent who’s visited a playground recently has met a Keep Fear Alive parent. She’s the one who’ll sidle up to us, narrow her eyes, and say, “Are you sure you want to eat that? No, I’m just asking. I definitely don’t want you to second-guess yourself or be anxious in any way! Because stress can cause headaches, lack of focus, short temper, back pain, menstrual problems, acne, obesity, and forgetfulness. And if you’re stressed you might be unable to calculate the digits of pi past the first 23 places, which would really screw up your next homeschool math session! Wait, you don’t homeschool? Wow. Um, wow. Well, I’m sure your children go to the top-of-the-line private school in your—oh. OK. Well, that’s great that you’re toughening them up for the real world! I bet they could fight a bear!

“Anyway, it’s great that you’re allowing yourself to Keep Fear Alive this way, luxuriating in the Fear and rolling around in it like it’s poop and you’re a golden retriever. Because that shows you really care about your kids. Fear is love! Our rabbis have told us you can’t have ahava, love, without yira, fear! Yes, I know they were supposedly talking about God, but I think they misspoke. What they meant was that it’s impossible to be a good parent without quaking in terror at all times. And there’s so much to fear! For instance, if you vaccinate your children they will get autistic and also cry, which means that you have betrayed their trust by letting someone stick them with a needle. And sure, chelation therapy is an option—ignore the stuff from ‘experts’ like the ‘board certified’ ‘pediatricians’ at the ‘Mayo Clinic’ who say it can cause fatal liver damage, because they’re all in the pockets of the pharmaco/rationality lobby—but it’s expensive. Fortunately it won’t be a problem if you skip vaccines completely. Sure, your kid will have to rely on herd immunity from other kids to avoid measles and whooping cough—the death rates of which are highly exaggerated by the mainstream media and ‘American history’—but kids today need to toughen up. If they can’t survive measles, they can’t survive competition with China. And this is one more reason to hate illegal immigrants, because they probably aren’t vaccinated, thus diluting the pool of vaccinated kids who give our unvaccinated kids herd immunity.”

The “Keep Fear Alive” parent has plenty to say about shards of glass in frozen peas, hormones in nonorganic milk that will give your 7-year-old son breasts, kids getting high on nutmeg. Which your teen is probably doing right now.

But for every Colbert there’s a Stewart, urging us to restore sanity.

“Dude,” the sanity-prone parent will say, “losing sleep over an unknowable future isn’t doing us or our spawn any favors. Blaming others—immigrants, gay people, poor people—for our troubles and our children’s troubles is foolish. Take a deep breath. Enjoy the actual process of parenting your actual child. Be present. Don’t let guilt paralyze you. And let’s try to encourage everybody else to simmer down, use inside voices, stop being hyperbolic and reactionary—and let’s do that without name-calling.”

Stewart put it best. In his invitation to the rally, he said that we need more of the sort of people “who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles.”

Can we stand in solidarity about this, please?

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A.L. Bell says:

My serious parenting question is this: just how wrong is it to shlep my daughter to the Rally to Restore Sanity?

Eileen P. says:

Everyone we know, including my husband and myself, who are going to the rally has already done the parenting thing and survived the fear! I’m rooting for a return to sanity. (Our kids are jealous because they can’t take off from work and go.)

You kill me, Marjorie. Hilarious and brilliant. {{LIKE!}}

Marianna says:

On the Restoring Sanity front, I have to share my love for Lenore Skenazy and her Free Range Kids project: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com. She’s really good on helping people get a handle on managing reasonable risks and empowering kids to get around in the world on their own.

The fourth paragraph in this makes me happy happy happy. Very sanely happy! THANK YOU

Chana Batya says:

Uh, the Keep Fear Alive Rally is not happening. Check the website. So let’s Restore some Sanity!

“I bet they could fight a bear!” Ahaahahahahaha! Brilliant. So funny and SANE. Thank you.

politicaljules says:

It is a shame that all the “other side” rallies are always about attacking individuals. I am sure not one of you watched the restoring honor rally, but none of it was about attacking you or your beliefs.

And yet here is an article that is a perfect example of every one of the liberal democrat positions I have ever run across. Attack, belittle, name call, and show out right hate for those who think differently than you.

I used to be a lifelong democrat who adored Clinton and saw the promise in Barack Obama when he spoke at the 2004 dem convention. I cried because I thought he was going to change things. However, the constant belittling and petty hatred seen here of most liberals was more than I could stand. Plus to see obama change profoundly from what he presented in 2004 made me run screaming from the democrat party. I will never ever subject myself or my family to that again.

Dont get me wrong, I do not think that the GOP holds the gold key to the crapper either, and if the back down on their promises this November, I will go full libertarian.

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Restoring Parenting Sanity

While Colbert and Stewart face off in D.C., parents, too, hover between sanity and fear

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