“Babies are jerks” is a phrase we’ve been hearing quite often these days from a slew of hipster media types, who think they can get a laugh out of it even though virtually everyone else is mining the same “comic gold.”
Example: recently on Digg, I came across an article that was having fun with the “babies are jerks” idea. The article itself delved in to a study from Harvard University exploring why infants cry at night.
The answer: to stop Mom and Dad from having sex and making more babies. Getting in to the guts of the piece — first reported by Parent Dish — it became apparent that the researchers had spent a lot of time trying to over-describe a very common trait of little ones. Silly enough as-is, but what really disturbed me was this: on the article description, the writer (probably tongue-in-cheek) wrote that babies were “selfish little jerks.”
I get that it can be funny to make light of a frustrating situation, (and what’s more frustrating than childcare?), but it still rubbed me the wrong way because it was pretty much the capper on a prevailing school of thought that babies are the way they are because they’re somehow out to get us.
The problem with the Internet is that if you say something enough times — even in jest — it can influence popular opinion on the subject, to the point where the issue is no longer taken as funny, but used to justify a serious ideology, however messed up that ideology may be. For some more examples, here are how other media outlets framed a similar study The Inquisitr reported in March?
Jezebel: “Are Babies A**holes?”
The Week: “Proof: Babies Can Be Jerks”
It’s a pretty tired joke by now, but rather than being upset by the staleness of it all, a bigger cause for concern is the subtle shift in adult thinking with regard to what babies are and what purpose they serve.
Let’s make this very clear. Are babies are jerks? No, babies are little people who don’t ask to be brought in to this world. It’s up to you, parents, to make sure they don’t become jerks.
The fear is that in all of this snickering and hoo-ha-ing that we do over the “irrational” and “inconsiderate” behaviors of our young, we’re actually giving ourselves a free pass for not living up to parental responsibilities.
If your child is a “jerk” or an “a**hole,” that’s just who he or she is. Can’t do anything about it! (Sarcasm, of course.)
Laughter is often a great medicine for what ails us, but let’s ditch the “babies are jerks” meme. Babies are our responsibility. If we make them, we are obligated to their upbringing. If we don’t correct them when they do something wrong, then we don’t have the right to laugh it off and say “kids will be kids.” We have the duty to teach, even if it means getting tough with them and being their parent instead of their friend.
Are you as sick of the “babies are jerks” stuff as we are?
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]