The Armstrong Family Circus

published and designed by Wiseacre Design Studio

Maineville • Ohio • USA

Hosted in the United States by Eleven2, Inc.

Highlight Reel Parenting

Thursday January 16th 2014

by Paul Armstrong


No one likes to feel like a failure. To admit their struggles and weaknesses. Perhaps we're afraid of judgment or alienation. So to compensate we cover-up the blemishes and polish the harsh details for the highlight reel of our best moments. But in so doing deprive ourselves and others the chance to learn and grow from what we all experience — imperfection.



Yesterday I posted about the perils and tribulations of raising teenagers, with my usual "flair" for vulgarity and abject generalizations (and maybe some sarcasm).


"Hey parents of young childrens: let me be bluntly honest with you, teenagers are huge assholes and it's terrible parenting them. Have a blessed day! #yolo"


I'm assuming that most people who know me, know that while what I said is true, it's also not always true, that it was said partly for comedy and partly for truth.


Clearly not every moment of having a teenager is the worst thing ever, nor are they always huge assholes. My point in posting what I wrote (is that redundant? I think that's redundant) is that too often I feel parents aren't being truthful about what it's really and truly like to raise children.


Let me explain.


I knew raising kids could be wonderful, beautiful, revealing, amazing, and adjectives! Those stories are abundant. They are everywhere. They paint a blissful picture of eternal parental bliss! The angel child who loves God and their parents and skips and hops through life to a successful life full of cherry blossoms and ridiculous amounts of money and McMansions.


I was unprepared for how tiring, harrowing, exhausting and defeating raising a child could be. No one ever told me that there are times you physically want to hurt your child. That there are times when you are weak and you will say things you cannot take back. That the lovely and sweet infant you cradled, nurtured, and kept alive will look at you with burning hatred and vitriol and say such frothing, mean-spirited, and hurtful words that you'll wonder if you need to call an exorcist. That you will question every decisions and choice you've ever made in your life. That you will feel helpless and worthless and worn down.


Would knowing this change my decision to have children? No (I don't think. Maybe. No, no. Definitely, no. Probably no. I don't know). But it would have tempered the rosy fairy tales of the idyllic parental idealism, that while true, create a pedestal too high for anyone to climb.


Is it fear that saying such things aren't "edifying" or "good" or "faithful" or "Godly"? Is it fear that others will judge you and your parenting? Or is it that I'm the only parent that feels this way? Or perhaps I'm not raising my children well and God is punishing me?


Life is already difficult and isolating without us hiding our struggles from one another. Fear protects us from nothing but the chance to make this life, in the moments we have, with the people around us, right now, more meaningful.




Comments for "Highlight Reel Parenting"

I appreciate this. I get weird looks from friends without kids when they ask about our daughter and I respond with something like "she's great but she can be a real bitch." Maybe it's because she's 3?

Whatever. Parenting is harder, more humbling (how cool can you be covered in some other human's feces?) and more rewarding than almost anything I will ever do.

Comments are turned off for "Highlight Reel Parenting"