Much of my presence on social media, especially on Twitter, is predicated on the foilbes of parenthood. “Dad Tweets” are a venerable staple of the medium, as fundamental as “mommy blogs” are to blogging.
But beyond the reductive and dismissive names for these ways of expressing ourselves, there’s another story that often gets overlooked: How oppressive this way of constantly talking about our kids and families can be for so many others. I wanted to reflect on this a bit, and so began a conversation on Twitter a few nights ago.
I do lots of dad tweets, so I should say more often: If you can't have kids, are trying, or lost or ended a pregnancy, I think of you a lot.— anildash (@anildash) October 7, 2014
I was shocked by how strong the response was. Though there was a somewhat muted set of public replies to my tweet, there was an incredibly strong and passionate response through direct messages and email. People really wanted to see this story acknowledged by parents, by those of us who spend so much of our time talking about our kids, seemingly blithely ignoring others’ realities.
I know why people don't talk much in public about challenges with fertility/pregnancy but I wish the world were kinder to those living it.— anildash (@anildash) October 7, 2014
The truth is, I do think about these issues all the time, but struggle to give them voice. Apparently I’m not the only one. I raise this mostly as a reminder to myself; A fairly straightforward set of simple messages turned out to be all it took to begin a deeper conversation that’s taught me a lot.
And of course I thank those who choose to be child-free for your considered position. I'm sorry for any sanctimonious parents you encounter.— anildash (@anildash) October 7, 2014
We miss so many changes to connect with others and let them know we recognize what they’re living. And in my particular case, I want to show that not all parents have to be as self-absorbed and self-righteous as the worst caricatures of parenthood tend to appear in many media conversations.
I may be a dad tweeter, but I have huge respect for those who aren’t, or won’t be, or don’t want to be, parents and who cringe or roll their eyes or grieve when they see these seemingly ubiquitous messages on social media.