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Privilege, Parenting, & PaPa Pete

I was casually scrolling Threads; mindlessly consuming the absolute brilliance that is the social media managers of Beyond Meat, Bookshop.org, Calm, & Barnes & Noble. As I scrolled I came across this thread.


Now at first I just sort of nodded and went to give it a like but I got stuck. On. Something? I couldn't identify what seemed wrong with that Thread. Because it isn't wrong. But also it isn't right.


So I did what any millennial would do. I hit up the group chat. In this particular group chat is the internet's favorite rat-owning Renthead, Tori Phantom.


Tori immediately said "Nope. Make sense to me."

Now I'm really confused. Because they are right. It does make sense. So why did it make my face do this?


Ultimately the thread isn't wrong. Tori isn't wrong. It does make sense. Not every parent has the support they deserve and it's important for those of us that DO have an excellent and robust support system to not take that for granted. It's a deep empathy to acknowledge that some parents have it just a little easier than parents and families who lack a support system. But is it a privilege?


/\Watch the video version of this article/\


We (here being 21st century parents with young children still living as dependents in our homes) deserve support in raising our families. That means having grandparents who can take the kids, be a part of their raising, and offer physical, financial, or emotional support as we navigate parenthood isn't supposed to be something that's a fringe benefit only enjoyed by some. It isn't supposed to be something that can be categorically and (sometimes) purposefully denied others. That's what stuck in my craw as they say in my part of the world.


The word privilege is both abused and weaponized. And honestly the finer points of what privilege is and is not is well beyond my pay grade or scope of understanding, all things considered. I'm not going to break it down. So again, like the good little cringey millennial I am. I'm just going to give you the dictionary definition.


  • a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed by a particular person or a restricted group of people beyond the advantages of most.

  • the unearned and mostly unacknowledged societal advantage that a restricted group of people has over another group.


And using just that, without delving into the intricate philosophy of privilege, the notion of having grandparents near enough, trustworthy enough, and reliable enough to give parents a break or a reprieve is a privilege. Not everyone has that. It is unearned. It is mostly unacknowleged and provides an advantage.


But I firmly believe we have an opportunity as modern parents to adjust this. Yes, from where we stand, looking backward, toward the past and everything that has come before, grandparental support is a privilege. We have an opportunity to turn it into a reasonable expectation.


We should be able to ask our parents for support. For a myriad of complicated reasons, many of our parents are not meeting those reasonable expectations that their role as a parent did not end when they couldn't claim us on their taxes any more. Those of us who enjoy that privilege of multi-generational support and those for whom it is denied have an obligation to break this cycle. It might very well be a privilege now. But it doesn't have to be for our kids.


I've long maintained that I'll be done momming when I'm dead. My parenting will look very different once the kids have grown up and moved on. But I'll still have a role to play. I will always have 23 years experience on my oldest and a whopping 34 years on my youngest kids.


In all honesty, the future is unknowable and I can't predict what my role as a mom of adults will be. But I know that it is my goal to provide whatever level of support that my kids require and that I am able to offer. Of course I can't know if my kids will move across the country or globe. I can't predict my health or lifespan. There's no way to know who my kids will choose as a partner and what their partner's family offer as far as support. The limiting principles to multi-generational support are many and varied. That's true today as much as it will be in five, ten, fifteen, twenty years. But if I'm capable of offering emotional, physical, and even financial support, that's still my job as a mom. Even when my kids are grown.


If that means babysitting grand babies, yes. I'm there. I'm for it. If that means late night calls for frustration and venting and tears, call me. Gimme a sec to find some caffeine cuz I wanna be awake for this part. They might not need me in a direct capacity. Maybe we'll have fixed our broken and scattered village by the time I'm a grandma. But I'll be there for them. Because I'm their mom and no matter how big they get, how many years pass, and where their lives lead them, I'll always be their mom.


Of course, as with all things there will need to be boundaries. It is possible to take that grandparental support for granted. And sometimes saying no is still a lesson I'll have to give to my adult kids. Sometimes the support I must offer hurts. It does now as I navigate raising a teenager. I can't imagine it starts getting easier, watching your kids walk into the darkness and knowing better than they just how scary it can be in there and what sort of monsters lurk in those shadows.


But you'd better believe I'll be standing at the mouth of the cave that their's to explore with all the flares and rations and flashlights and swords. So if and when they need it, I'm right there to deliver.


Yes, grandparental support may be a privilege enjoyed by some and sorely missed by others in 2024. But it's on us to reframe that. It's on us, the cycle breakers, the introspective, the therapized, to ensure that as grandparents our children never feel our presence and involvement is a privilege. It's a reasonable expectation our children deserve to place on us.


And we are strong enough to hold that. At least, we will be.

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The village has always been what I wanted most as a mother. Sadly, my village is relatively weak, but we make the most of it. Someday, I'll have an army ready for my children. I aim to provide the most support without being unhealthy as possible. 🥰

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love this post. I had kids expecting it because I stayed with my grandparents a lot! So many great memories! Yet when I moved out, married, and had kids - my mother started working for my brother who had started his own company, then that same brother and my dad started another company, then my dad started his own company. So between three new businesses, my grandmother (who my mom took care of as needed), going out to dinner with their friends, and they also started working out regularly with a personal trainer…there was no time for me and my family. So it’s weird that our cycle was that we did have family support (my mom stayed with her grandparents,…

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