Saturday, July 20, 2013

Apparently, the latest "trend" in parenting is something called the CTFD (Calm The Fuck Down) technique. The following clip on Huffington Post explains this so-called idea:

I know many people want to stay current with the latest parenting trends -- attachment parenting, minimalist parenting, Tiger Mother parenting, et al. Well, I've stumbled upon a new technique that will guarantee your child grows up to be an exemplary student and citizen. It's called CTFD, which stands for "Calm The F*ck Down."

This whole idea of tracking "trends" in parenting is interesting to me on multiple levels but the one I find most intriguing is the language in use here. First of all, it's being called a "trend". Not some style or technique or (more accurately) an archetype.  It's a "trend" like "the latest trends in Summer 2013 Hawaii Chappall collection" or "Hip Bathroom tiles trends in marbles and mosaics". Yes, it's been called parenting for 2000 years and now, it's a part of the fashion industry. Suddenly, it's a trend, it's a style, it's an option, it's a fad, it's the "in"-thing and it's an all Do-it-Yourself (DIY) themed enterprise involving your own kids for you to try, give it a shot, take a stab at and see if it sticks and thereby, help them grow up as responsible citizens. 

Folks, I have never been a parent. I am completely ignorant of this subject and my sum total experience in this is pretty much in the same neighborhood as Salman Khan or a 3-foot block of dead wood. But I can assure you this, that if you are a parent trying to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in  parenting and accordingly, treat your kid with  8 months of minimalist parenting, then 4 months of helicopter parenting during the summers, followed by 6 months of Tiger-mom parenting in Fall and then try a mix-n-match between Bubble Wrap and Calm-the-Fuck-Down styles in rotation every 2 months, you have no one else to blame for if your kid runs away from home, willfully admits himself into one of those boarding schools who force 16 hours of study hours a day to children, becomes completely indoctrinated to "you are always on your own in this world" school of thought, develops mainstream society notions of success like advanced business degrees / industry certifications and eventually becomes a successful divorce lawyer.

Just to clarify, I am not at all against collecting data or analyzing various styles of parenting. It’s only human to be curious about a subject like this and such kind of introspective and retrospective analysis can be quite revealing. But by branding it a "trend" and talking like a Victoria Secret salesman, some unsuspecting stranger is falling into thinking how you parent your kid is a choice to be picked off the aisle of a supermarket like a box of a cereal or some kind of seasonal fruit in the produce section. And I leave it to real parents to comment if this is how parenting works. 


Twilight Musings said...

Trends are for first-time parents and toddlers.

The ones with some experience with parenting will know it is the kid who sets the trend and whatever the parent "names" it, it is for their own satisfaction.

If a kid is mildly less intelligent than you ("regression to mean") and mildly more obedient, the parent is free to say "CTFD" trend. If the kid is clingy, let's call it "attachment" parenting. (Believe me some kids don't even want to touch others by 1.5 years..). If the kid is obedient enough to parents then call it "Tiger Mom" parenting. (There are "failed" Tiger parents due to run away kids..).

Bottom line, nobody knows what the heck they are doing and so, for whatever they do, they name it as a "latest trend" and pretend to be in control. :)

Sash! said...

This is very fascinating. You are basically saying, the parents "become" what the kids want ... ?

Just curious? I would find it plausible that, just as in any dynamic / feedback process, shouldn't there be both the cycles: the parents becoming what the kids want + the kids becoming what the parents want ?

(The hope is that the result is a equilibrium but of course, as in some dynamic systems, the equilibrium can well be eluded forever ... )

smanu said...

I'm not a parent, but being an observer and admirer of my parents' parenting, I'd speak here from the children's perspective...

Parents do not intentionally(with all efforts) change themselves for kids, BUT they change a great deal for the sake of kids even without their knowledge. After a certain stage, having attained a bit of maturity in parenting, they know where to draw that line - whether or not to change i.e. when they intentionally resist the change.

Children, on the other hand, are often in an evident position to change as per parents' expectations, but do not change much generally on their own until parents impose the change. This can be highly subjective whereas a bit of generalization can be drawn when it comes to parents' behaviour.

The equilibrium happens periodically, it shows in the results - like when a kid who is apparently stubborn at home is appreciated at school or when a kid reciprocates to parents' proposals with same understanding and warmth or when a kid can convince his parents in the direction of his endeavour....and the list goes on...

But equilibrium is such an infinitesimal point in the timespan of ever-happening struggle that we might not even know that we did happen to attain equilibrium! But then, I surely know when I'm in equilibrium, especially with my parents...things are so much in harmony then :) Its not about me agreeing with them, its about Mom and Dad agreeing with each other ;-) Its when I can convince Dad(which happens easily btw) and when he in turn can convince Mom(the difficult part, but happens). Its usually the reverse for my brothers(they don't have to work on convincing my Mom, coz she is voluntarily on their side) and Mom and Dad agreeing abt my brothers are like those professional meetings that never conclude, they seem to be happening forever!!! Most often my Mom does not succeed,(not that she has to succeed everytime because many times a go-ahead from Mom is just fine) but occasionally my Dad himself is impressed with brothers and then things work out! I believe things are more or less the same in the Indian family setup...

Twilight Musings said...

You forget that both parties are stemming from a shared genetic source. Kids already have some tendencies to be like their parents. (If parents don't like each other, then..well..).

They do reach equilibrium when kids know when to push parents and parents know what to expect from their kids (if they are honest with themselves). By tweens, there is mostly peace at home due to this equilibrium, only to be upset by the "teens" again...

But then, that parenting is more about "power struggle" than imparting any personality change at that stage.

Sash! said...

Thanks, folks for your insights.

@twilight: I am inclined to agree with the "power struggle" part.

@smanu: I agree that equilibrium is short-lived. Life throws something sooner or later and everything's rearranged ... :)

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