Colorado Shooting Brings Out the Worst in Parent Bloggers

Parents are a judgmental lot. Parent bloggers have turned judgment and ridicule into an Olympic sport. And never has that obnoxious trait been on display in all its wretchedness more than the past 36 hours.

I just read a post (I won’t link to it because it doesn’t deserve the pageviews), in which a fellow dad blogger said his first reaction to the Colorado theater shootings was: “Why the hell are kids at this movie?” And he’s not alone. There are thousands of anonymous Internet cowards saying the same thing — ridiculing parenting decisions of others less than 24 hours after a horrific event.

And it makes me sick.

Let me bottom line this thing for you. If your gut reaction to the Colorado movie theater shootings was anything other than “Holy shit, that’s so horrible. I feel awful for everyone who had to endure such a tragedy,” then that’s a real problem. Because while I’m all for using current events as blog fodder and even jumping on the occasional soapbox to talk about parenting issues, criticizing these parents for taking their kids to a movie after they had a gun pointed at them and bullets flying by their heads, is one of the more despicable things I’ve seen from the online parenting community in quite some time.

Would I take Will to any showing of this Batman movie? No, I wouldn’t. Because he’s only 4 and I’ve heard this is a pretty dark movie. But there are some mitigating circumstances to the Aurora incident. Some of the kids were just newborns, including a 3-month-old. And I’m absolutely fine with that. Newborns are great because you can pretty much still take them anywhere, and it’s impossible to warp them for life by enduring Bain and Christian Bale’s harsh Batman whisperings. And when kids are older — in the 9 to 10  range — I’m all for taking them to a midnight showing as a special treat. Kind of like when your parents allow you to skip school for one day and take you to a baseball game or amusement park. I think that’s where some special memories can be made, even though it’s not in the parenting handbook to have your kids skip class.

But all that is secondary.

The main problem I have is that some parents couldn’t wait for the crime tape to go up before they started in on criticizing parenting decisions that go against their own. And that sucks. It starts with pregnancy and whether moms are going to go natural childbirth or use an epidural. Home-birth or hospital? Once the baby is born the breastfeeding vs. formula snark begins, followed immediately by cloth-diapering vs. disposables. Vaccines, daycare, when to introduce solids, when to start watching TV — there is FIERCE debate each and every step of the way. Which is just downright stupid because no one forces us into our parenting decisions and we’re free to do as we please. Yet we’re inundated with the need to convince other parents that they’re wrong and you’re right at every turn.

Newsflash: I took Will to pub trivia when he was just a few months old. I was never drunk, there was no smoking and it was a neighborhood bar. We had fun, I got to socialize and if he got really fussy I’d leave. I also took Will to the movies in his infant carrier when he was just a few months old. He slept the entire time. And lo and behold, my now 4-year-old is neither a raging alcoholic nor a TV zombie.

I don’t know why so many parents feel they have to martyr themselves when their kids are born. Sure life changes big time when you have kids. No you can’t do everything you used to do. But you can still do some things. And you should when possible. Because even though you become a parent, you don’t stop being the person you were before kids came along. And if you don’t take SOME time for yourself once in awhile, you’ll go insane. I’m lucky enough to have family around who can watch Will occasionally, but not everyone does. So because of that, sometimes you end up with parents bringing their kids to movies.

And I don’t know about you, but a crazed gunman entering the theater and killing us all is not something about which I usually worry.

These parents are victims. Everyone in the theater is. They were tortured by an armed lunatic and put into one of the most terrifying situations I can imagine. And none of it — NONE OF IT! — was their fault. Anyone feeling anything other than pity and compassion for what these people had to endure should take a long look in the mirror, because if you judged these parents or called them names, I’ve got a few names I’d like to call you that will be much more deserved.

I just heard Usher’s 11-year-old step-son died. He died from injuries sustained in a jet ski accident earlier this month. And I swear, the same people who are knocking the movie theater parents are going to go on tirades about how young kids shouldn’t be on jet skis. Forget the condolences and jump right to the accusations and condescension. It kills me.

Parent however you want, but don’t be a dick about it.

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15 thoughts on “Colorado Shooting Brings Out the Worst in Parent Bloggers

  1. I totally agree. Add to the fact that parents bring infants to the theatre all the time. These unfortunate people happened to do it the day some nut job decided to be a mass murderer. It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback for these types of tragedies.

  2. The shooting happened because somebody needed help (mentally) and couldn’t get it.

    Is a gross lack of good Mental health care services caused by bad Parenting? Usually you never hear of such, I wonder why.

  3. I don’t think it’s at all appropriate to take a three month old to a cinema. What if he or she cries? I would be so irritated if I was watching a film and really into it and a baby started crying. In Australia we have “mums and bubs” movie sessions for just this reason.

    I see taking a baby to a smoke-free bar as completely different and have no issue with your example with Will. Conversation is normal for a baby, even loud conversation and a bit of shouting. But two hours of super loud noises of violence is not.

    And personally, it WAS one of the first things that came to mind for me, I can’t help what comes to mind and what doesn’t, and yes this is sad to say, but as someone who doesn’t live in the US I have become somewhat de-sensitised to your shootings. I felt bad about this so I made sure I went and read about some of the victims rather than poring over info about the shooter.

  4. If you have a baby who doesn’t sleep for long stretches or who cries a lot, of course you don’t go to the movies. There was a time when Will was about 8 months where we wouldn’t take him out to dinner, nevermind a movie, because he was crying all the time and we didn’t want to ruin anyone else’s time.

    But some people are blessed with newborns who sleep a lot and through anything. So if that’s the case, why not go to the theater? Lots of people do it and if the kid gets cranky, they leave. I’ve never experienced any parents with crying babies at the movies who stay and ignore the crying.
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..Colorado Shooting Brings Out the Worst in Parent BloggersMy Profile

  5. I saw someone write that on Facebook. What can you do… At first I wanted to leave a “What’s it to you” comment, but then I decided that getting into another argument was pointless. Some people are just so trigger-happy with their damn opinions.

    Saw a similar from Mom 101. You’re definitely not alone there.
    BloggerFather recently posted..Dan Gets a Minivan — A ReviewMy Profile

  6. While I wouldn’t take my kids to this movie, because it is very dark, I would consider taking my oldest to a midnight showing of something…Like you said, it’s a special treat…We never took them as infants, mainly because going to the movies was what we did on those special nights that we had a sitter, and got out of the house…

    But really the point is, people who went to the “Why are kids at a midnight showing of Batman?” card first, are mentally, and emotionally defective…If they have that opinion, fine, but if that’s the first thing they think, then there is little hope for their future.
    TheBeeze recently posted..Monday MoaningMy Profile

  7. Hi there! I am from Aurora, raised my now 25 yr old in this theater! I am with you here, I cringe everytime I hear that “Blame the victim” mentality! We are safe and free and live where we can take our babies anywhere we want and not fear getting killed! We are strong in Aurora! We we’ill not allow one freak to kill our family friendly community! We will grow n learn! We will Unite! We will heal! We will bounce back stronger than ever! We will and do live in a city where our children are accepted, respecteded, safe and loved! This veil person did not, WILL NOT take our freedoms away! We will keep taking our kids out, cuz if we don’t he wins, and we’ll be damned if we are gonna give this evil man a stronghold on our babies!!!

  8. In my post on the subject, Kelcey of Mamabird Diaries just made a really helpful distinction between wondering and judging. Wondering is human. But the judging is making me batty; it’s so venomous, so smug. I’m trying so hard to forgive these people, to understand their pain too, but it’s getting increasingly hard. Some of the comments I’ve seen on message boards, Facebook, Twitter could seriously make one lose faith in humanity – and then I see this and think, okay phew. I’m not alone here. So thanks for taking a stand.

    I just wish we could all rally together in support of the victims right now.
    Mom101 recently posted..How parents deal with tragedy. A.K.A. forgive the sanctimonious, for they know not what they do.My Profile

  9. I think it’s really normal to think, “Who does that?” as a way to give ourselves the illusion of safety. (Because, “Who does that?” really means, “*I* would never do that! I would have been spared. I’m safe!” I think where the sentiment becomes dangerous is when it’s not checked. When the thought isn’t immediately followed by, “Wow, I’m being a judgmental asshole, I need to check it.” Of course, we’d be a much nicer society if everyone checked their asshole behavior before it got out of hand.
    Tannis recently posted..Sometimes this little person just melts my heartMy Profile

  10. Liz: Couldn’t agree more. I published my post before I wrote yours, and I wish I hadn’t because I just would’ve linked to you. You took a much more introspective and thoughtful stance. I was just fucking angry.

    Tannis: Good points all around. And yes, if people copped to their assholery I wouldn’t be so upset. I have judgmental asshole thoughts too, but I know I’m being a judgmental asshole. It’s when people try to play it innocent and pretend they’re not doing anything out of line that I lose my shit.
    Daddy Files recently posted..Colorado Shooting Brings Out the Worst in Parent BloggersMy Profile

  11. I’m still waiting for those same judgmental asshats to start getting all worked up about people using phones in the theater. (“What, they can’t call 9-1-1 from the lobby???”)

  12. Thank you!! The amount of judgement being thrown around is terrible. I’ll be the first to admit, I took my 4 and 8 year old boys to The Dark Knight Rises Saturday morning. They loved it. We watch all of the super hero movies, I didn’t think this was any more violent than the others, Spiderman, Avengers, Thor…. etc. I don’t see why it is such a big deal. As far as having them at a midnight showing…. who cares?!?! It’s summer, maybe those kids were getting one of those once in a blue moon special outings. If I had gone at midnight I may have taken my 8 year old. That is something you remember forever as a kid. As an infant it’s great when you can still get a night out even if it includes having a baby sleeping in your lap. Anyone who doesn’t understand those people has clearly not lived hundreds or thousands of miles from anyone they know. I made a move like that 5 years ago. Date nights at our house are rare. Does that mean we should never go out? Not at all. If you have an opportunity, you take it. Unfortunately for all of these parents, they are dealing with being judged instead of being comforted through the tragedy they had to endure. Shame on all of you that are passing judgement.

  13. “Parent however you want, but don’t be a dick about it.”….Best quote ever. Thank you.

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