I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the patriarchy likes to force problems on people where none actually exist. (By people, of course, I mean women and minorities mainly. That’s kind of patriarchy’s thing. White guys get fewer “damned if you do/don’t” manufactured problems.)
The internet is full of this kind of thing. So we thought we’d give a tutorial with some examples.
“How can I tell if my parenting problem is really a problem?”
An excellent question. Because sometimes your problem is a real problem that needs a solution, and sometimes your problem only seems like a problem because that’s what the patriarchy wants you to think, because if you’re busy worrying about something that’s not actually important, you’ll have less time to say, fight the patriarchy. Bonus points if you get other people worried too. Answering that question is really simple in theory, though perhaps not as simple in practice– try it out and say what you think.
Step 1: Notice that you think there might be a problem but (important!) realize that there may not actually be a problem… it’s possible that that’s just what they *want* you to think. (“They” being the patriarchy, of course.) This is probably the hardest step, and it might be one that you want to go through each time you’re irritated or worried, just in case it’s just the patriarchy messing with you and you can then attack the patriarchy rather than the perceived problem.
Step 2. Ask yourself, Is this really a problem? What makes it a problem? Why do I think it’s a problem? Here’s where you go… what are the consequences, is this actually hurting anything, do I just think it’s a problem because of culture or because someone told me it’s a problem even though nothing is actually being hurt? Or are there real consequences?
Step 3. Ask again, if this is actually a problem, is there a different underlying root problem. (Crucial Conversations suggests something similar.) Sometimes the problem you see is really just a symptom of an underlying deeper problem, and fixing the symptom is just a band-aid solution to a larger issue that needs addressing.
Here are some examples:
Biting at daycare is a problem because 1. If a kid does it too much they get kicked out and 2. Biting hurts people and we have an underlying belief that we shouldn’t hurt people that we would like to impart to our kids. 3. Why is DC2 biting? Is the actual problem that the kids are not being taught conflict resolution and ze’s constantly getting stuff grabbed from hir?
Sleep “issues” are a problem if A. the kid is grumpy from not getting enough sleep or B. Mom and dad would like more quiet time (or more sleep). They are not a problem because C. Everybody else’s kid seems to sleep more or go to bed earlier so I must be doing something wrong or there’s something wrong with my kid. But many people complain about C without A being an issue at all and while simultaneously complaining that dad never gets to see the kid because the kid goes to sleep too early. If C is the only reason, then it is a non-issue. But it’s a non-issue that a lot of parents have (because most kids aren’t exactly average), so they commiserate in the comments and it builds as something that seems like it should be an issue. Complaining about sleep problems that aren’t real problems becomes the normal. Being anxious is the normal. It doesn’t have to be.
So that’s our quick guide. Do you have any examples you’d like to share? What kinds of problems have you discovered were actually not problems at all? When have you found that the superficial problem is actually masking a deeper issue?