Happy Valentine's Day! It's the annual celebration of love, which is my cue to probe once again into the weird world of obsessive parents. In past years, I've written three uncomfortable columns about 'A Mother's Love' for her son(s), but this year, I thought, "Eh, what the hell, let's shame some dads, too!" It's actually not that common for dads to post on Facebook about going on 'date nights' with their daughters, and it's definitely not socially acceptable for dads to call their daughters "sexy," both of which differentiate dads of girls from moms of boys. I'm not criticizing this distinction so much as noting that dads don't openly obsess over their daughters like some moms do over their sons. If they did, it would probably sound something like this:
Sure, last year a particularly popular Christian values 'Father's Day' video about a dad who "goes on one of the most important dates of his life" with his daughter was well-received (last line: 'You'll always be her first love'), but most of the time, if events like "father-daughter purity balls" make headlines, it's because they're creepy. Even large news organizations circle the idea that the balls are skeevy in the most wholesome of ways, which is the idea that lies at the very heart of this week's column.
Why do some parents' descriptions of their relationships with their kids make me feel so uneasy? Maybe everyone an 'uneasiness threshold' that shouldn't be crossed on social media, but we don't know what that looks or sounds like until we see it posted. It's also likely that if we do have internal barometers, everyone's is calibrated uniquely. What may read to me as creepy or obsessive may read to someone else as affectionate and sweet. Despite that disparity, though, I'm confident nearly everyone reading this column will feel icky reading at least one, if not all, of the submissions. I'm not suggesting these parents are carrying on in inappropriate ways with their kids; if anything, I'm guessing they're devoted parents who enjoy vocalizing their love for their children out of pride. I'm just not sure they realize how delusional and borderline incestuous they sound on Facebook. So in honor of Valentine's Day and 'love' in all its (occasionally creepy) forms, let's check out some new examples of parental obsession, featuring moms and dads with a penchant for awkwardness.
1. 'Date Night With My Daughter,' The Novel
For those of you who aren't lucky enough to be one of Will's, aka Dolphin's, friends, he has a fun tendency to write up little "stories" like this one, building up to some kind of moral lesson or "hilarious" big reveal. Each parenting anecdote contains a cute summary, like this one, after a lead-up of details that make at least a few of Will's friends' skin crawl, such as "...her hair falling softly across her intent, green eyes," or, "I'd like you to call me whichever one you like baby." (??!) Why include these elements if it all concludes at a somewhat adult concept—"date night"—when the story pertains to your young daughter? Isn't that kind of weird? If you're undecided...read on:
WHAT? I'm sorry—W-H-A-T??????? Will, you're creeping me out. I'm not saying that quietly, as my bangs fall into my eyes, my brow furrowed, as if in concerned disapproval. I'm not writing that as I curl up on the couch, deliberately seeking comfort under the warmth of a flannel kimono, drowning in traitorous tears because I'm publicly shaming someone who I don't even know for posting about how much he loves his daughter and how scared her future boyfriends should be. No, I'm *pretty confident* when I say that this status update "story" is wholly creepy, and I don't understand the purpose of these daddy screeds, and it's all really weird.
Will, if you're reading this, please stop posting your daddy updates. The submitter sent along multiple examples, but these were just the two I chose to include. I know you post this fanfic about your daughter kinda regularly, and it's not as charming or "protective" as you think it is. Your daughter isn't "extra-loved" when she's exploited for stories so that you can boost your Facebook cred. Dads needn't prove their awesomeness on Facebook. No one cares as much as attention-starved dads think people care. I'm watching their Facebook behaviors. And teaching. 🙂
2. Katherine Has A Confession To Make
Haha, nice one, Katherine. Way to "confess" that you shared your bed with your suuuuuuper cute son like you were sharing a bed with a grown man you're sexually attracted to. Funny! Ha. No one's ever done that before. Did he make you "breakfast in bed" by barfing all over your hair? Did he "have a wild night" by accidentally pooping the bed? Is his favorite movie now a toss-up between Minions and The Notebook? Do tell. 🙂
3. Kids With Sex Appeal
HE'S NOT SEXY! HE'S NOT SEXY! I'm telling you, Danielle, this BOY—as in, YOUR CHILD—is NOT sexy!!!
Do whatever you want, Danielle, but don't tell everyone on Facebook about it. Eat your son's face off, enter him in unsanctioned Sexiest 7-Year-Old modeling contests, tell him that he's the hunkiest child (?!) you've ever laid eyes on—fine—but keep it off your social media page. It's giving people the wrong vibe. Your friends like to think of your son as a sweet, handsome kid. Not a sexy, suave ladykiller. He's seven, not 27. No one watches "James Bond" movies hoping they'll flashback to Bond as a sweet-talking, drink-swirling 7-year-old attempting to seduce a grown woman. That wouldn't be sexy. It'd be pedophilic.
4. Emotional Terrorism
Bin seems pretty sincere here, like he's really, TRULY glad Anel has "someone else to terrorize." One can only imagine the mushy-gushy love-assaults Anel inflicted on Bin prior to their son's arrival. Still, this memo is a bit much. If you're going to write an obnoxious, intimate message to your husband about "cheating on him" with the baby you both made, wouldn't a quick private text do the trick? Must it be posted on Facebook, where everyone else can see it, forcing friends to ask themselves how to take you seriously anymore? I don't see the Facebook-wide benefits of sharing this, but perhaps I'm missing something. Personally, I like to keep my Monster Truck snuggle marathons with my cats to myself, but maybe that's just because I'm CHEATING ON MY HUSBAND when the cats and I bond like that and I don't want anyone else to know. It's embarrassing! I love them! I love watching Monster Trucks with my babies!!!
5. Keep Denying It, Erica
I've covered this aforementioned 'hiney' with a 'no' symbol, because I don't want to see a random child's bare butt any more than I want to see a random child's bare hand grasping the seat of a public toilet—but rest assured, there IS a nude hiney in this photo, and yes, Erica, is ~obsessed~ with it. She's allowed to be obsessed with it, because it's her own kid's hiney, and she made it, and she birthed it, but that still doesn't mean she should post a picture of it on the internet while her kid takes a pee. What kind of parent still thinks it's a good idea to post a picture of her kid's naked butt on Facebook in 2016? Isn't that in the parenting handbook by now? "Don't post pictures of your kid's naked butt on the internet."? Don't they publish that in the free, distributed hospital manuals after the baby is born? Apparently I need to downgrade my expectations for parents to exhibit common sense. PRO-TIP: You can be obsessed with your child's tuchus, but not online, and not with photos. Don't show anyone your kid's butt on Instagram OR in line at the grocery store. Just obsess over your baby's ass on your own time.
6. The Oedipal & The Beautiful
Okay, okay, you know how moms can be. They love their "boys," they love calling them "handsome" (usually just before licking their thumb and wiping something off their faces), and they LOVE being their sons' mom. It's the best feeling in the world, especially when you start picking up on signs that they love their mommy just as much as she loves them—if not MORE! Tell me, how are any little guys more appreciative of their mom than Ben and Noah?
My face right now is an exact replica of that straight-mouth emoji. It's supposed to be a "neutral" face, but there's really nothing neutral about it. That facial expression speaks volumes, and Volume I for me is, "NOPE," followed up directly by the sequel, "Why are you posting this on Facebook, Jenny?" I think this type of post actually falls under a category I've yet to dedicate a column to, but apparently should, called "momsturbation." When a mom brags about her awesome kids AND how much her awesome kids think she's beautiful/hot/gorgeous/pretty on social media, she's momsturbating pretty hard, not to mention rubbing some of her friends the wrong way, so to speak. Maybe this is an adorable brotherly spat that moms love overhearing, but I'm thinking Jenny might want to remind her sons that there are other fish in the sea that aren't their own mother. You know, out of love.
Have a great Valentine's Day, everyone!