Friday, March 7, 2014

It's all about the money

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.

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