Sarah Fader’s guest blog in the Huffington Post Thursday caused quite a stir. Ms. Fader is a “parenting blogger” and her latest effort is a little essay about how 3-year-old children are assholes. “…it’s not just me,” she explains. “This is a worldwide epidemic. All 3-year-olds do this to their parents. Something happens to children when they turn 3. They become... a**holes.”
Poor Sarah’s taken a lot of flak for the piece. It seems some people out in that world aren’t quite buying her epidemic story. She appeared in a HuffPo video segment to do some back peddling. She posted a follow-up blog explaining how the criticism upset her.
In her rebuttal, she admits she “wasn’t prepared for how [she] would feel when other people disagreed with [her].” She’s a sensitive person, she assures us. “Yeah, that shit hurts,” she wrote, defiantly. Commenters called her names, one she should be especially familiar with: “…it’s difficult not to feel hurt when someone tells you that ‘you’re an asshole.’” She takes that kind of naming-calling personally, adding that “when I read something negative about myself online, it still stings.” Really? Someone calls you an asshole on-line and it hurts? Imagine that.
If this were an isolated case of one blogger going for some kind of “joke” and missing the mark, I’d shrug it off. But apparently, dumping on defenseless 3-year-olds is de rigueur.
As recently as January, mykidsanasshole, a wordpress blog, posted a piece called: “My kid is an asshole. But so is yours. If you disagree, then chances are, you’re an asshole, too.” There’s a picture of her daughter at the bottom.
Wealthysinglemommy wants you to know: “My kid is an asshole. And your kid is an asshole, too.” The kimberliah blog writes: “Welcome to my life… where my kid is officially an asshole.” Blogger RayRay (a man) simply says: “3-year-olds are assholes.” Malibumom chimes in with: “Kids Are Selfish Little Assholes.”
A jezebel.com piece: “Be Honest, Your Kid Is an Asshole” also calls toddlers “dildos” and “dicks.” In a blog titled “Babies Are Assholes” on villagevoice.com the author (another man) adds: “[My] baby is a real prick.” Blogger scarymommy makes the comparison: “three year olds are the same as asshole bosses.”
Unfortunately, toddler putdowns are nothing new to the Internet. Four years ago, blogger myverylastnerve wrote “Kids Are Assholes” and ocarelli agreed with her post “Toddlers Are A**holes.” Salon posted an article by a father who called his son a jerk and a dick (as well as calling another kid a “prick”).
when i call you an asshole
i do it for sanity
when i call you an asshole
i do it with love
Honey, when mommy told her readers you were a stupid, incompetent, detestable person (Webster’s definition of asshole) I was being ironic. You’re 3 years old honey, you understand irony, right?
Once or twice, haha, it’s an edgy “joke.” But this many times, on so many blogs, over so many years--- I’d call that an epidemic. Healthday.com calls it verbal child abuse. “Name-calling, swearing, indirect criticism, and sarcasm” are all considered forms verbal abuse.
Dr. Margaret Rutherford, a psychologist, in direct response to Fader’s original blog advises: “Children are deeply attuned to whether or not they have your acceptance… If you think of them as an asshole, you are likely to treat them like an asshole… You can argue that it’s only a thought. And it’s funny… But be careful. That kind of thinking can very easily become entrenched. Attributing aggressive or manipulative motivation to children when they are just doing what children do--- learning what children need to learn ---can be harmful.”
Growing up, my father called me a prick, among other things, on several occasions. He didn’t write a blog so he’d tell me right to my face. And believe it or not, it stuck with me. He’d laugh it off, too, telling me: “that’s the best part of a man!” I’m just now, after five years of therapy, unraveling the effects of his sense of humor.
I’ve got four kids and I was an active participant in their upbringing. Besides the 15 months I stayed home with them, over the years I took care of them about half the time: most evenings and weekends when my wife worked (she’s an actress).
My kids weren’t assholes. They weren’t angels either, believe me. But I was the grown up in the relationship. Even dog trainers insist you establish yourself as the leader, the one in charge, or your pooch will walk all over you. I left a few restaurants or movie theaters when my kids wouldn’t behave. I abandoned a cartful of groceries once at Cub Foods because they were misbehaving. They didn’t do that again.
Look, I get it. Parenting isn’t easy. Vent about it on your blog but know where the line is and don’t cross it. If you really, truly mean it… If your kids are truly assholes… I hate to say it, but you probably only have yourself to blame. Most children aren’t born assholes. But they can become that way if you let them.
I don’t know if Ms. Fader and her blogger buddies appreciate just how quickly the toddler years go by. (Those years with my kids are fuzzy, the emotions getting further away by the day.) It won’t be long until their kids are grown and gone and there’s nothing left but an iPhone full of photos… and memories of, I guess, what assholes they were?
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