Newsflash: You are a “Crap” Parent. Deal With It.

Aaaah yes, the life of the modern parent. Another day, another raft of articles aiming a square-toed kick in the crotch to those of us who have dared use that area of our bodies to breed with. Hold on to your hysteria, parents: there is a new book in town and it’s calling you all “crap”.

The headlines looked like this:

Psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg lashes out against ‘crappy parenting’

“Crap” Australian parents raising a generation of spoilt brats

Australian parents doing CRAP job

(I mean, were the caps REALLY necessary? We get it.)

Australian psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg has a new book coming out: it’s called “Strictly Parenting”, and his marketing and media campaign seems to have revolved around the unusual core strategy of belittling its target market. According to Dr Carr-Gregg, the rise in poorly-behaved children can be attributed to these cardinal parenting sins: helicoptering, hot-housing, bubble-wrapping, best-friending, trophying and wanting our children to be happy.

Good god, alert the authorities. Crappy parent wants her children to be happy!

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Maybe I am biased because I have a son starting school next year so I figure that I fall squarely into this dubious category, but to be honest, I’m not seeing plague-like swarms of these so-called crappy parents at swimming and story time and in the school yard. What I am seeing is a lot of somewhat confused yet well-intentioned parents doing the best they can to guide, nurture and set boundaries for their children in the face of an overwhelming avalanche of advice, doctrine, over-analysis and judgement.

There will always be genuinely “crap” parents who would never dream of cracking the spine on a parenting resource book, the same way that “non-crap” parents will forever be showered with condescending advice from experts telling them that they are doing it all wrong. And as much as I think there is significant merit in many of the points Dr Carr-Gregg raises, I think it’s a shitty low-blow to slur an entire generation of parents with a label that undermines and shames our struggles to raise our children the best way we know how, with the limited time and resources we have at our disposal.

This is a generation of people who were often flogged with belts and other household items as children in the name of discipline, had their mouths washed out with bars of soap and were often times left unsupervised to fend for themselves in ways that are now considered negligent and illegal. To turn around and berate these very same people for their so-called “crappy” parenting choices burns to say the least.

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Putting the questionable term “crappy” aside for a moment, I can think of a whole bunch of other “c” words that aptly convey some of the contradictions and quandaries of the modern parenting experience.

I see parents who are:

Confused by conflicting advice.

Criticised for every perceived mistake.

Condescended to by armchair experts.

Constantly scrutinised for every decision.

It’s little wonder that parents these days are basket-cases of uncertainty and guilt, and into the fray charges Dr Michael Carr-Gregg with his surefire solution to this overload of modern parenting advice, which is – you guessed it – the suggestion to buy his book of modern parenting advice. I can’t help but be amused by the irony.

All criticism aside, from what I can fathom of the contents I think that Dr Carr-Gregg’s thought-provoking work has much to recommend it, and despite my whiny rant here I will be one of those people lining up to read it.

But please don’t call us crap parents.

We take that shit personally.


Linking up with the Monday Laugh Link crew.

28 thoughts on “Newsflash: You are a “Crap” Parent. Deal With It.

  1. I work with families in my job and trust me, if being a helicopter parent is the worst thing a parent can do, then good on them! There is a lot of pressure on parents to be perfect but I think in the end, there are always going to be stuff ups. As long as you can be a good-enough parent and be there for your kid and well, not physically, sexually or emotionally abuse them or neglect their basic needs, I think you are doing a pretty good job. I’m appalled at Michael Carr-Greg because we don’t need more parents shying away from mental health services due to the fear of being judged as ‘crappy’ parents. {I have seen some appalling ones but they fall in the abusive category!}

      • I agree with Sanch – but obviously I can’t be seen giving an honest and thoughtful opinion on this blog so let me say this.

        I read in The Australian last week that a lot of parents these days are crappy. Particularly the ones who want to put their kids in daycare so they can go shopping and/or protest against Tony Abbott. So everyone needs to parent less crappily. And invade Iraq again, apparently.

  2. I’m not a parent (alas) but every parent I know ‘thinks’ they’re a crap parent. As an outsider I see and hear the same thing from everyone and yet they almost always have happy and healthy kids.

  3. Dr Carr Gregg scores major points in drawing attention to his book. Its marketing 101! Anyhow he probably does have some valid arguments that could have been couched in gentler terms. In my case my girls are far more indulged than I ever was as a child. They are very happy however!

  4. Ugh. I’m glad I stopped reading parenting books years ago. In fact, I’ve become an expert in ignoring all parenting advice and opinions. Especially as it seems that the people who’ve never had kids or had them decades ago are the most opinionated! As somebody said, (it was a blogger, just can’t remember who) parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing to actually do.

    • That is so true. Everyone is an armchair expert. It’s definitely true that I get the most empathy and compassion from other parents who have kids in the same age bracket. Everyone else has long forgotten or hasn’t got to that bit yet!

  5. I agree with Mumabs that my are way more indulged than I was but I’m sure it can’t be a bad thing, I’m also quite tough on the wee blighters! As for crappy parents, we all have those moments but this dude is just hoping to get his 5 minutes of fame, well played ‘expert’ you got your book talked about in the media! Thanks for linking x

  6. I agree with you that truly crappy parents won’t be hunting down resources like this to work on their parenting. The first chapter should be called ‘Congratulations! You have an inquiring mind and are seeking new ideas to improve the great job you’re already doing with your kids’ … or some such thing. No matter what you do though there is an expert or a study to tell you why you should be doing the opposite!

    • I love that so much. “Hey, the fact that you have this book in your hands tells me that you are doing a pretty great job and are striving to do better.” Much nicer than “you are crap – you need this book”.

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