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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Goodman's pitch for bad parenting

I'm a day late with this, but the pot of outrage that's been simmering on the back burner of my cranial stove has now reached the boiling point. The source of the heat is Ellen Goodman's piece in yesterday's National Post ("The Juno myth"). I can't find it on the Post's site, but here's a link to it elsewhere.
Essentially, Goodman is vexed about the fact that so many recent Hollywood movies have plots that revolve around women who suddenly become pregnant and then decide not to abort the child. She's especially bothered by the fact that these films and other, real-life events are creating a situation in which parents are expected to step in and talk to their children about making correct moral decisions.
Amazingly, in her closing paragraphs, Goodman suggests that parents should not actually be expected to exercise parental responsibility in the face of messages being sent by popular culture. Parents should not be forced to teach against the "cultural tide," she says, because having to stand up for values that are in opposition to the popular culture might make them appear to be "fuddy-duddies."
Extending this logic, Goodman is suggesting that parents' only legitimate responsibilities should be as DNA donors and financial supporters. Beyond that, they shouldn't be expected to do anything that might buck the popular culture.
I'd like to exercise some parental control over Goodman for this advocacy of a gross derelection of parental duty. A good spanking -- metaphorically speaking, of course -- might do the trick.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on January 5, 2008 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Goodman's article is weak for the reasons you mention. But it's also not very original. Here is a much better article on the same subject, published in December:


Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-01-05 12:41:45 PM

I don't agree with Kent's assessment that Goodman is advocating that parents do nothing about "cultural propaganda." I think she is complaining that the cultural propaganda exists at all. Apparently all those happy endings are just too much for her world-weary soul to handle.

Perhaps she is just unhappy that Hollywood has created an unwanted burden for morally vague parents. (Big shocker there.) On the other hand, I wonder if her opinion of this "cultural propaganda" would have been different, had the message being delivered been different.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-01-05 1:01:22 PM


Be sure to spank her upside the head because if you spank her ass, it may just be a turn-on for her.

That is part of pop culture isn't it?

Posted by: John West | 2008-01-05 1:06:49 PM

Secular liberals around the blogosphere are twisting themselves in knots these days, trying to come to terms with the fact that some of the hippest, funniest movies of the past year contain messages that, at the very least, portray abortion as something not to be revered, and, at most, portray abortion as something creepy and disgusting (which it is). There's Goodman, and dozens more reviewers, columnists, and bloggers, who are either outraged at Juno's anti-abortion message, or are in denial that such a message even exists.

Posted by: Neil Flagg | 2008-01-05 1:27:37 PM

Talking about bad parenting:


I guess this is the new way to deal with kids that misbehave.

Posted by: obc | 2008-01-05 3:40:09 PM

Right, wrong, good, bad, I don't know. I do know that Asian parents are still influencing their kids, and it's working.

I attended a convocation ceremony at U of C recently, and out of around 500 kids, only about 100 were a visible minority (White Canadians). Many of majority will return home, wherever that is, to cash in on our subsidized education. Lots of them will stay and actually contribute to our economy. Almost all of them were accompanied by very proud and excited parents.

Whether it's education, religion, or customs, the eastern families see to it that their kids are on the same page as they are. In Canada that can lead to some drastic measures, as obc's link demonstrates. But how many horror stories do we hear about Canadian kids who stray from their parent's values, and end up dead or in prison?

In my opinion, I'm a piss poor parent. I've made so many mistakes I can't count them. But I've always, always tried to instill a sense of moral responsibility in my kids. Just common sense stuff. It seems to be working.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-05 8:50:12 PM

Parents need to pass on the tradtions of the family to their children. They need it as a reference point. As they reach the age of discernment, which used to be somewhere in adolescence, they compare their own experiences with the passed on tradition, and accept and reject accordingly. If they have been well educated (more and more rare) they will have developed reasoning skills which help them discern. A kid who has not been allowed to develop reasoning skills (a frequent occurence in Canadian public schools where only accepted propaganda is allowed), will either cling fanatically to what he knows, or become a cynic, rejecting everything. Sound familiar?
Parents who opt to leave their responsibilities to others, like the public schools, are playing 'russian roulette' with their children's mental and moral health. One could conclude that they are too lazy or indifferent to make the necessary effort. Or too indoctrinated themselves, into believing that the state has more interest in the welfare of their child than they do. Scary. Scary to think that in such a relatively short time, Canada has given up so much freedom and independance. All we need now is a charismatic leader with ambitions of glory and world domination. We're ready!

Posted by: lwestin | 2008-01-06 1:00:08 PM


If you need a movie as a kick in the pants to talk to your kids about your preferred choice in sexual health education, you have already got a few demerit points on your parenting licence.

Did she think the movies would teach the her kids for her? "OH, I don't really want to talk about sex and its natural consequences - like unwanted pregnancies - so I'll just take Jane here to a movie and hope it 'speaks to her' so I don't have to."

Posted by: Heather Cook, The Writing Mother | 2008-01-06 6:50:08 PM

"Suddenly become pregnant" - this ridiculous phrase holds the key, as I see it. One does not become pregnant spontaneously, after all, but as a result of potentially-pregnancy-inducing behaviour. If one is sufficiently sentient to decide to engage in such behaviour, one is sufficiently sentient to take practical steps to prevent that potential result.

Whether one chooses to carry or abort a pregnancy is an after-the-fact consideration. What seems to be glossed over or left aside here is the more fundamental consideration that *contraception is not rocket science*. Morality is not the issue. We have the technology to prevent unintended pregnancy close to 100% of the time. It's inexcusable not to deploy it.

I can't understand how it could be considered amusing or hip or brush-past-able for a woman of any age to make a mistake (or allow her teenage daughter to be so ill-informed and gormless and irresponsible as to make a mistake) that's potentially the size of the rest of her life. It's not an "oops". It's not cute. It's not hip. It's not funny. It's the lamest lapse in Boy-Scout preparedness known to man.

And, in a time when there are far more dire pathogens than target-seeking sperm to be avoided, a lack of foresight and intelligent preparedness for sexual interaction is truly inexplicable. Tender years are not an excuse. Bald stupidity is not okay, and it's a mistake to lower the bar and pretend that it is for any reason.

Posted by: Exetaz | 2008-01-06 8:56:17 PM

What bothered me about 'Juno' is the blatently bizarre & negative representation of the women's clinic & the choice it embodied. If this wasn't intentionally anti-abortion, then it was intentionally misogynist. Ellen G. hit it exactly right with me. Our disturbingly & increasingly pro-christian local newspaper doesn't even carry Ellen any more...what does that tell you??

Posted by: liveoaklinda | 2008-01-07 9:51:44 PM

It tells me that you need to subscribe to newspaper of your choice. If that doesn't do the trick, then you can always move somewhere more in tune with your beliefs.

I'm not a practising Christian, but I choose to live among them because I agree with most of their values. The other options aren't that appealing to me.

I don't like the idea of abortion, but I don't really care if you snuff a dozen fetuses. I'd be very upset if someone made that choice with a product of my genes, but I probably wouldn't be attracted to a woman who would make that choice.

Posted by: dp | 2008-01-07 10:07:50 PM

Liveoaklina, has it occurred to you that those who support abortion might be seen as "misbabyistic"? There are over 110,000 abortions a year in Canada. That's a lot of dead babies, my friend. And in support of this practice you can come up with no more convincing argument than "hey, I go, girl." Because high-falutin' talk about reproductive freedom and sovereignty over one's own body notwithstanding, that is what it boils down to.

What galls me even more is that women who support abortion are more likely to oppose capital punishment. It's a pretty sad and narcissistic lifestyle to whom an unborn baby is a greater threat than a serial killer. Of course, women who get abortions and the doctors who provide them are arguably the greatest serial killers of all. Sure, they try to tell themselves the fetus isn't really alive, but science tells us otherwise.

In any case, this is a democracy, so while there is room for your opinion, there is also room for that of the scriptwriter who penned Juno. You don't get to snuff opinions you don't agree with by dint of your supposed moral superiority. And remember that the male contempt for women doesn't come CLOSE to the female contempt for men. Never has, never will.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-01-08 7:16:03 AM

>"In Knocked Up, pregnancy from a one-night drunken stand transforms a slacker babydaddy into a grown-up."
paragraph 7, 1st sentence FROM>

Looks like the 'slacker babydaddy' didn't have a choice and was forced to grow up.

When you worry about the equality of the 'slacker babydaddy', liveoaklinda, and whether or not he has a choice to be free of his reproductive responsibilities and remain a 'slacker baby' like woman do, you won't come off as such a misandrist./
(when the Lord was handing out heads, Linda thought the line was for beds, and said "Make mine solid oak.")

2 sexes, 1 human race

Posted by: Speller | 2008-01-08 9:57:12 AM

They should take a poll. They should ask single mothers who considered abortion but instead opted to have the child:

"If you had to do it over again, would you have had the abortion?"

Posted by: Don | 2008-01-28 12:51:28 PM

They should take a poll. They should ask single mothers who considered abortion but instead opted to have the child:

"If you had to do it over again, would you have had the abortion?"

Posted by: Don | 2008-01-28 12:51:31 PM

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