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Serfs Up
The serfs are the parents of far too many kids these days. I just posted an Advice Goddess column I'm particularly proud of -- with a few of my ideas about what's wrong with parenting as of late, plus a suggestion or two about what can be done. But, first, the woman's question:

I'm a stay-at-home mother of two young kids. Come Saturday, I want nothing more than to fade into the back bedroom with a 2-liter of Pepsi and the remote...leaving my saint of a husband to handle requests for food, more food, different food, a checkers partner, a Lego partner, and someone to read "Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb" for the 40th time since breakfast. My husband's 14 hours of kid-wrangling pale in comparison to my 70, and although he gives me no grief (saintly, remember?), I feel guilty for wanting alone-time so badly, and taking it on his only off days.

--Tapped Out

An excerpt from my answer:

The parental "no" has officially joined the ranks of chronically missing items like The Holy Grail, Atlantis, and Britney Spears' underpants.

You're supposed to be your kids' mom, not their full-time birthday clown. This means meeting their needs, as opposed to falling prey to their ransom demands; i.e., "Send in the chopper and the cupcakes or I'll scream my lungs out until spring!" If you're keeling over from reading "Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb" 40 times, it's because you didn't say no 39 times. "No" is also the correct response when besieged with requests for a chunky peanut butter sandwich with all the chunkies removed. But, children can be such finicky eaters! Correction: American children can be such finicky eaters, because their parents tend to confuse parenting with working room service at a five-star hotel. In France, on the other hand, the kids' meal is whatever the parents are eating; brains, livers, kidneys and all. And while the kids can pick out bits they don't like, their choice is clear: eat or starve.

Saying no to your kids will not turn them into meth-smoking, liquor store-robbing carjackers. Actually, throwing up a few boundaries might even serve to prevent this -- and less dire but extremely annoying outcomes (just what society needs, another 35-year-old snot who was denied nothing during childhood). Kids need to feel loved and secure -- and that doesn't take hours of mommy-and-me Lego. In fact, psychologist Judith Rich Harris writes that "anthropological data suggest...there may be something a little unnatural about adults playing with children." Anthropologist David F. Lancy notes that, beyond Western society, one "rarely" sees it. Regarding this apparent lack of a parental instinct for parent-child play, Harris writes, "This implies that children do not require play with an adult in order to develop normally."

I know, I know, that's not what The Cult Of The Child tells you -- when its proponents aren't too busy checking Amazon to see whether anybody's published "The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Children." The reality is, your family is better served by a stay-at-home mother than a stay-at-home martyr. Take the advice of the late British pediatrician Donald Winnicott, and avoid trying to be the perfect mother -- micromanaging your little darlings' every move ("Harvard or bust!") -- and just be a "good enough mother." Your kids can entertain themselves -- and will, if you suggest they do. Likewise, forget going for the Good Housekeeping Seal and just resolve to keep the health department from sealing up your house. Your kitchen counters don't need to be operating-room sterile. Just see to it that nothing walks across your lasagna. >>cont'd>>

The rest, and comments, are here.