The S-H-I-T (sorry, I’m a mom now; I have to spell it out) recently hit the fan when Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell coined the phrase “ghetto parenting” to describe:
- Cursing around, and at, a child.
- Brawling with your man or your woman in front of your child.
- Letting your child roam the streets until somebody else’s mother has to tell the child to go home. (But I thought “free-range parenting” was all the rage…?)
- Putting your child off on friends and relatives because you want to hang out in the street.
- Getting so hooked on substances that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has to remove your children and place them with strangers.
I would argue that cursing and brawling in front of children are hardly unique to the “ghetto,” but her column — inspired by the tragic fate of victims of such parenting — is a provocative one, as evidenced by the, oh, three gazillion responses to it.
In my West Hollywood neighborhood, I am more privy to another kind of lousy, albeit significantly less abusive, kind of parenting. An approach I like to call “You’re So Smart!” Parenting. That is, parents who allow their toddler to sit on the Starbucks counter — dirty sneakers next to my latte — and fling a pile of straws and cup sleeves on the floor WITHOUT EVEN TRYING TO PICK THEM UP, and then reward their child for this behavior by gushing, “You’re so smart!”* Smart? Say wha –?!
*At least that’s my fuzzy recollection of it. I will admit that, after I saw the rubber soles resting perilously close to my drink, my world went black.