Blogger to parents: just shut the #%@ up
The culprit was an old acquaintance I haven't spoken to in real life for years. I always thought of her as brilliant, practical and rather private .
Were all of my brilliant, practical and private friends -- female and male -- about to morph, one by one, into tedious child-obsessed ninnies?
Would photos of trips to Peru and homebrew be replaced with Instagram snapshots of drool and breast pumps?
In her new book, "STFU Parents: The Jaw-Dropping, Self-Indulgent, and Occasionally Rage-Inducing World of Parent Overshare," Blair Koenig documents this very phenomenon.
Based on her popular blog by the same name, the quick-read book shows dozens of alarming Facebook posts submitted to Koenig by her readers.
The offending parents detail everything from labor to potty training to tween girls starting their periods. They give strict instructions as to what Christmas presents are acceptable and guilt-trip friends about baby showers.
They brag about their breast-feeding superiority, share their placenta art, and say that doctors don't know as much as a mommy with Google.
When I first started reading STFU Parents a couple of years ago, I thought: If this is what parenthood today entails, I might want to stick with my cats.
Certainly lots of commenters on the blog agree, posting remarks like, "This is why I am never, ever having kids!"
Parents have come back complaining that since Koenig isn't a mother herself, she's the one who "should STFU."
But I've come to think of the STFU blog and book as a public service to both people with kids and without, teaching both camps important lessons about how to be less offensive and clueless.
Reading it can be a great reality check for sleep-deprived, anxious and emotional parents: Before you hit submit on a Facebook post about an explosive diaper at 3 in the morning, ask yourself, "Would any of my friends submit this to STFU Parents? Would they be right if they did?"
If so, then change the status to a message or email to a close friend who has been there or has a strong stomach.
Save the bulk of the bragging for the kid's grandparents, and try to refrain from posting "Wait until you're a parent!" on every Facebook status in which someone complains about being tired.
It can also serve as a corrective for parents who have gone over the obnoxious edge.
The blog and book can help childless folks like me understand just how hard parenting can be.
Those unpolished slices of life can let someone considering a child in on the kinds of things people normally don't tell you.
Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project from Slate, the New America Foundation and Arizona State.
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