There's a big hullabaloo going around the Internet about raising your kids for free. It started out as a blog about not spending money on kids' stuff, and now references to it keep invading my Internet space, so now I'm invading yours.
I have to say that the blog itself isn't quite as annoying as the hype surrounding it. The blog itself is nice--a chatty, cheery synopsis of not spending money on a kidlet and a baby (though I think she cheated when it came to cloth diapering--they offered her a trial period, and she took it), and the rather clever ways she goes about swapping and and trading and making do. It's what I would do if I thought people cared about raising our kidlet on a rather-tight-but-not-severely-crippling budget. But really, I don't do things all that differently from any of the other gazillion frugal-mom bloggers out there, and I just don't think that filching an abandoned bike is a postworthy event. (We waited 4 days before we took it. It needs new nozzles and a new seat, but otherwise, we have a kidlet bike!)
But what galls me to no end is the implication that you're a better parent if you don't buy your kids stuff--the idea that there is even such a thing as a "better" parent. I think it's safe to say that, if you're not neglecting or beating your kid, if you're at least trying to put food in their mouths and a roof over their head, that makes you a decent parent, depending on how well you succeed. But what about going above and beyond the call of duty? Is there such a thing as being better than someone else? If you work hard to keep your house in a good school district, does that make you better or worse than a parent who doesn't live in a good school district but is able to stay home and give her kids all the time they need? If you have to put your kid in a playpen for an hour a day so that you can have a clean house, are you better or worse than someone who's okay with a couple dishes on the coffee table?
I don't think so. I mean, sure, it's easy to look at a mom who's got her perfectly-behaved kids in spotless, coordinated outfits and say that she's a better mom than someone who's got her ill-behaved brat in mismatched and dirty clothes. But can you really say that? What is the magical point when spontaneity becomes impulsiveness, when order becomes confining?
I don't think I'm a better parent than someone who can just run out and buy everything they need. I don't think I'm a better parent than someone who carefully imparts life lessons in every activity. Our kidlet loves us. That's all that really matters.