Bad, Mommy, Bad!
“In this confrontation-averse age of parenting, in which the ‘escalation’ of emotions is considered a mark of failure, a favorite way of inculcating discipline is the reading of picture books,” Daniel Zalewski writes this week in the magazine. Alas, today’s parents, searching for a children’s book in which misbehavior has unsavory consequences and authority rests solely with adults, may find themselves disappointed with the current crop of titles. “The parents in today’s stories suffer the same diminution in authority felt by the parents reading them aloud (an hour past bedtime). The typical adult in a contemporary picture book is harried and befuddled, scurrying to fulfill a child’s wishes and then hesitantly drawing the line.” To make matters worse, the typical child in a picture book not only misbehaves, he or she does so with such panache that transgression takes on “the quality of art.”
If you are the parent of a young child, what are you to do? You could boldly draw a line, and refuse to purchase any kids’ books published after 1960, but do you really think your toddler is going to let you get away with not reading her today’s hottest titles? For an inkling of what might happen if you pull a stunt like that, consult the books in Zalewski’s piece. (Read the rest of the post, and click on to the full story, if you can stomach it.)
What do you think? Do you agree that weak parenting and bad children are the glorified norm in today's picture books? What are popular counter-examples?