New York magazine ran an article by Lisa Miller last week called “Ethical Parenting.” At first I thought it was going to be a serious piece about the tough choices we parents have to make to raise mensches. Instead, it was a self-justifying piece of entitled crap wrapped up in fake hand-wringing. The central question: Can you be a decent human being and a parent at the same time? Miller’s answer—spoiler alert—is no. Let me quote some of Miller’s assertions so you can see why I’m drooling in fury on my keyboard right now.
“Parenthood, like war, is a state in which it’s impossible to be moral.”
“Always be kind and considerate of others, except in those cases where consideration impedes your own self-interest or convenience. Then, take care of yourself.”
“Parenthood means you cannot possibly behave as though society’s rules and norms apply equally to all.”
Now, New York magazine frequently makes me want to move into a Unabomber cabin in the woods. (Ditto the New York Times’s T Magazine, which I’m pretty sure did a feature on artisanal bespoke Unabomber cabins made by Bushwickians with luxuriant civet-conditioned beards.) But there’s always been just enough of a nudge-nudge, wink-wink element to the publication’s portrayals of wilding teens, entitled hedge-funders, and the next hot neighborhood you already couldn’t afford. We were supposed to be horrified by these caricatures of human beings; we normal people were actually all in it together, gaping at those who were destroying society. This piece seems to start in a homologous us-vs.-them vein, pretending to offer up “the corrupt child-rearing customs … of the aggressively rising class: the mother who, according to Urban Baby legend, slept with the admissions officer (with her husband’s consent!) to get her child into the Ivy League, or the one who sued an Upper East Side preschool for insufficiently preparing her 4-year-old for a private-school test,” but then it goes on to argue that the rest of us are pretty similar. “Schadenfreude elides a more difficult existential truth, which is that ever since Noah installed his own three sons upon the ark and left the rest of the world to drown, protecting and privileging one’s own kids at the expense of other people has been the name of the game. It’s what parents do.”
No, it’s not. And you did not just compare giving a fake address to get into a better public school district, or sending a kid to school with lice so that she won’t miss a state standardized test, to the Noah story. Let’s review: God ordered Noah to build an ark because the earth was full of wicked people. The people who deliberately lie and cheat so their kids can get ahead are the wicked people. Noah’s ark-building impulse did not come from a realization that there’d be less competition for Harvard if all the other teenagers drowned.
Please go to the original article on Tablet to read the rest of the article! It is worth it.
(Fair usage issues prevent me from reproducing the entire article!)
Marjorie Ingall, a Life & Religion columnist for Tablet Magazine, is the author of The Field Guide to North American Males and the co-author of Hungry.