Your world (today) isn’t even remotely close to the world I lived in when I was parenting back in the 80s and 90s. I’m not saying there weren’t school shootings and bullies to deal with, but it wasn’t, like, IN YOUR FACE EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF THE DAY, NO MATTER WHERE YOU LOOKED! AAAAAHHHHHH!

I watch my daughter-in-law struggle every day—not with parenting; she’s pretty much a rock star at that—but with the immense pressure she feels bearing down on her to compete with the (alleged) super moms in the media and on social media who appear to be, do, and have it all.

Whether it’s being bombarded by push notifications for over-the-top cupcake designs for the perfect pre-school Valentine’s party or by the Facebook Live posts from the mommy blogger who’s driving a minivan so sparkling it looks like it was cleaned by a serial killer trying to cover a crime scene, parents are constantly reminded how badly they’re failing (because they’re bringing (gasp!) store-bought cupcakes and their cars look like the crime scene before the serial killer broke out the vacuum).

And the nastiness online! Ye Gods, people! What happened to common courtesy? Every photo, video, opinion, or frustration shared by a parent online is taken out of context, dissected, distorted, and then harshly judged by a jury of their (mostly mommy) peers. Doesn’t matter which side you’re on, half the people are going to not only disagree with it, they’re going to insist that you’re Hitler and should be summarily shot.

And then there are the older generations of parents, many of whom are now grandparents, who feel like it’s their job to hand out well-intentioned but un-asked-for advice to every young mom and dad they encounter. When your toddler’s pitching a fit in the grocery store, you just never know when a sweet old man will sidle up and say, “Back in my day, I used to slap the silly out of my kids when they did that” or some other such nonsense. That kind of behavior may have been perfectly fine back in the day, but it could land you in the headlights of Child Protective Services or the police if you tried that today. Almost as bad, it could make you the newest “bad mom” meme on Instagram, guaranteeing you’ll be harassed by trolls into infinity.

Never have so many judged so many others so often, based on so little evidence and aforethought. No wonder my daughter-in-law and every other young mom I’ve talked with feels like they can’t possibly win this rigged parenting game.

Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s all an elaborate hoax. There are no perfect moms (or dads) and no one, not one single parent out there, knows with certainty what the hell they’re doing. We’re all just winging it and praying we don’t raise a serial killer (although on the plus side, his car would be very, very clean. Just sayin’.)

Know that I see you. I see you doing the very best you can under tremendous pressure, and I think you’re doing one hell of a job. So, stop comparing your hot messy insides to other people’s overly flattering, overly filtered Instagram-posted outsides.

Be the parent your child deserves!


the Badass Grandma

Author of Badass Parenting: An Irreverent Guide to Raising Safe, Savvy,
Confident Kids (to be released in June 2020)

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About CJ Scarlet

CJ Scarlet, aka the “Badass Grandma,” is a danger expert, victim advocate, and crime survivor herself. Most importantly, Scarlet is the doting grandma of three precocious toddlers. CJ has given speeches and workshops at national and international events; and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including MSNBC and NPR.

The former U.S. Marine photojournalist and forest firefighter holds an interdisciplinary master’s degree in Humanities with an emphasis on human violence from Old Dominion University. Named one of the “Happy 100” people on the planet, CJ’s story of triumph over adversity is featured in two bestselling books, including Happy for No Reason and Be Invincible.

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