Date: 2009-09-08 12:32 am (UTC)
Mmm, sorry I wasn't clear. This 'good parenting' I'm talking about certainly isn't what I would call good parenting. It's what hovers in the cultural milieu as 'good parenting', shaping the kinds of responses you see in newspapers, or shaping the way that people will disapprove of certain kinds of parenting in public. The ideas of parenting that the parents I know feel quite pressured by, even if they will, at least sometimes, resist them.

And I guess what interests me is what it is we think it'll take for someone to be happy (and when I say 'we', I don't even mean specifically you-and-i, but there are some implicit assumptions that inform how we treat people, especially those who are different). That is, if you look, for example, at the way that people think about PWD, well, they tend to think they're unhappy. If you look, on the other hand, at the way that some parents think about the 'risks' of being gay, it's because they tend to think that gay people will be unhappy because they're discriminated again. And in the same way, those who argue the case for their children getting access to human growth hormone in the absence of any hormone deficiency or problems with hormone uptake, well, they're arguing that their child will be disadvantaged because he's short, and this will lead to bad self esteem and unhappiness. There's a pattern here, one which we may or may not play into but exists nonetheless, and that pattern suggests that the happiest person will be the most normal person. This gets particularly intense, I think, in relation to kids, because it's all about potential happiness, and like I was trying to get at, this potential seems to be treated as if it's an incredibly fragile thing.

I'm certainly not saying that hoping or aiming for happiness for one's kids is bad; I'm just interested in how normalcy seems to get enforced through that desire, especially in the case of children, for whom we implicitly have more of a responsibility than we really have for ourselves. Hope that's a little clearer :-)

As for the depression thing, well, I think that's kind of an interesting example. I'm really not interested in trying to tell people how to parent at all. I'm more interested in how these dynamics work, and that's a great example of the kinds of ambivalence this system can create for those who are a little more aware that it exists. Most people will say that they want their child to be happy, which means healthy, and able-bodied, and smart, and socially skilled (as Lauredhel and I were talking about last night, 'social skills' is fairly heavily weighted with agenda!), and heterosexual, coz it'll be easier, and cis, because it'll be easier, and... well, the list goes on, but it tends to slip quite neatly into the 'ideal citizen' category. And many parents, though less those feminist parents online who I read sometimes, don't feel ambivalent about that; it seems obvious, or common sense, and it leads to the constitution of difference as troubling or traumatic (which is obviously problematic), as making the embodiment of the 'ideal citizen' harder and less likely. I'm always intrigued by what winds up being called 'common sense', because it tends to conceal all kinds of kyriarchical tendencies. That's really what I'm thinking about here...
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