2.25.2007

The Final Word on Hipster Parenting. (Oh, Who am I Kidding.)

I want so very much to let this topic die. It's been analyzed to death by far more astute bloggers than I.

But then David Brooks had to go and cover it in his NYT Column today, Mosh Pit Meets Sandbox (Times Select subscribers can check it out in full online). Apparently it's a slow week for Republican talking points about our glorious successes in Iraq.

Mr. Brooks goes on to express that hipster parents are bad. Pastel clothing is good. "Inevitable" hummus snacks are bad. Ironic tees with statements like my mom's blog is better than your mom's blog make our children "ludicrous." And evidently Mr. and Mrs. Woods should do penance for naming their son Elijah, as it's one of the names the columnist deems "abusively pretentious."

"I'm not against this indie/alternative lifestyle," he writes, pseudo-apologetically before going on to rip into it. Apparently he is okay with "this indie/alternative lifestyle" provided he can dictate exactly what it entails.

Come out with your hands up and step away from the tahini.

So yes, I've tried to avoid the subject up until now. But there's something about seeing a 50-something Republican pundit in a pink tie telling me the do's and dont's of appropriate infantwear and child-naming that compels me to respond.

Is it possible, for goodness sake, that generations evolve? That they do things differently than the parents before them? They use their children to mirror their own values and ideals? Just a stab in the dark here, but is it possible that parents today, more cynical, more media-savvy, more independent than those who came before them, are simply behaving as parents they way they behave as people? And, call me crazy but, the fact that someone like Mr. Brooks is uncomfortable with it all, isn't that one of the defining characteristics of a counterculture in the first place?

David Brooks' generation of parents played their children the Beatles music they liked. And now that we play our children the music that we enjoy, we're being challenged to grow up and stop behaving like children ourselves.

Hm.

The funny thing is, I'm not a hipster parent by any stretch. I may be cool by Tallahassee standards--giving the Midwest a break here--but as Nate will assure you, I'm hopelessly establishment. Anyone who's ever seen me dance in the last fifteen years will agree. I think I'm more like most parents, making parenting choices piecemeal from various and often contradictory places. We have been both co-sleepers and heavy TV watchers. We are devoted to organic milk but not above transfat-laden french fries. We play Belle & Sebastian and we play Elmo Sings the ABC's. We own the Black Boot Booties (shown at top, courtesy of the awesome Mahar Dry Goods) because they're hilarious. Not because we're trying to stay "one step ahead of the Cool Police."

So I'd hate to think that when I hit the streets of Brooklyn (who knew we were making such a hipster move when we got there; and here I was thinking we had simply gotten priced out of Manhattan) with my new baby in her Doc Maarten booties, that it will lead David Brooks and his ilk to leap to make value judgments about me. Especially when those value judgments are that I'm self-absorbed, emotionally stunted, and unfit to breed. Or, as it was expressed in the column: "Parents who refuse to face that their days of chaotic, unscheduled moshing are over."

Oh, how I mourn my days of unscheduled moshing, truly I do. Why, an impromptu mosh would really hit the spot right now. You got me there, David.

It's actually funny when you think about all the criticism leveled at some of the Babble columnists and bloggers I love over the past couple of weeks. Your kid wears a Ramones tee? Hipster parents! Selfish parents! Consumerist parents! Kid sits in a Bugaboo? Spoiled kid! Kid with no values! Kid with no future! Because as we all know, no one who was raised with any kind of worldly possessions whatsoever ever grew up to contribute anything of value to the world. Face it, if you're not living in squalor, or at least pushing your kid in a Goodwill-rejected stroller salvaged from a Newark street corner on a Sunday morning, you might as well give back your ACLU card, you fraud.

And yet, last I heard, knowing all the lyrics to Blitzkrieg Bop hasn't been scientifically correlated to the level of commitment you have to your children's health and well-being.

The way I see it, it's all just one more non-issue in the media--one more working mom versus SAHM, one more cocktail playdate, one more breast versus bottle--to force us to question our parenting skills.

Don't do it.

You're all better than that.


48 Comments:

Blogger slouching mom said...

Yeah, I read that and was puzzled, particularly by Brooks' outrage over hummus. Since when did hummus become counterculture? Jack loves hummus, and I do too, particularly because he attends a peanut-free preschool, and a hummus sandwich is one of the only items I can pack for his lunch that has protein! Man, Mr. Brooks! I protest on behalf of hummus lovers everywhere!

2/25/07, 5:30 PM  
Blogger Tanya Espanya said...

Thank you for writing exactly the contradictory thoughts I have on this topic! I'm taking a break from organizing our Oscar party tonight and I'm glad you wrote today.

2/25/07, 5:31 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

SM: I was thinking the very same thing. With peanut butter off limits these days for all kinds until 2 or 3, it seems like a good alternative - and I don't mean "alternasnack." Oy.

2/25/07, 5:41 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

dood, i thought chaotic, unscheduled moshing was a primary part of parenthood. it's just that the ages of the other moshers decreases drastically. :-P

2/25/07, 6:02 PM  
Blogger canape said...

Those booties rock.

2/25/07, 6:10 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Davis said...

This guy has "crotchety old man" written all over him. And he seems to have major issues with women. He is being mocked all over the parenting blogworld -- glad to see you weighing in.

2/25/07, 6:30 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Just the article's tagline alone makes me snort. What a tool.

And frankly - twenty years later now - I would happily get back in a mosh pit with Christian Hosoi. But I'd find a trustworthy babysitter first. I suppose that seals the deal; I'm an unfit parent too.

2/25/07, 6:32 PM  
Blogger happygal said...

Is this guy, perhaps, jelous? What a weenie! (sigh)
PS: the knitted combat boots are way cool.

-your unhip friend in the parenting world who also likes hummus. (too bad my kids won't touch it)

2/25/07, 6:56 PM  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

I'm only aware of all this hoopla via a few of the blogs I read. This because I am woefully lacking in reading and watching what I apparently should be reading and watching.

It seems like such a non-question to me. Any choice of clothing, style, etc. you make for your child is a statement about you. It doesn't matter if it is hip or not. It is just natural that someone would enjoy picking out stuff for their kid they they like.

The only thing I think is interesting about the idea of the Ramones shirt clad, Doc Maarten boot wearing kids is how they are maybe going to rebel when they are teenagers. Polo shirts and penny loafers? Wouldn't that be funny? Very Alex P. Keaton.

2/25/07, 7:11 PM  
Anonymous CrankMama said...

Rock on, Sister!! Linked this up over to the epicenter of dead-horse beating... SD

Rachael

2/25/07, 7:18 PM  
Anonymous Kristen said...

The thing is -- thank god we've evolved. It's amazing some of us are alive thanks to the cryptic parenting methods our own parents used.

We know more and hopefully, our kids are better for it. And I haven't read ONE blog -- particularly one of the "hipster/alterna" set (whoever or whatever that is) that don't represent more than admirable parents.

Lord knows I'd hate to read my mother's blog... if she even had the thought to write about parenting issues that matter.

And chick peas are the bomb-diggity.

WORD.

2/25/07, 7:33 PM  
Anonymous the new girl said...

Seriously.

Does anyone still actually MOSH?

Here's how unhip I am. We used to call it Slam Dancing...anyone else remember that?!

And lastly, isn't hummus like a 5,000 year old treat? How 'alterna' can that be?

2/25/07, 8:17 PM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

I am also trying to ignore the hipster bashing but when the boomers start calling people shallow and materialistic I have to comment.

I have to say that the boomers I know - my parents and their friends- think they are the coolest people to ever have walked the planet. Maybe that's why, as you point out, its so hard for Mr Brooks to see us doing things differently than he would like.
How this group can think they were soooo cool to play the Beatles to us but if we play our music to our kids we need to grow up is beyond me.
Perhaps eternally seeing us as immature allows them to deny they are getting OLD.

Love the booties btw.

2/25/07, 8:21 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Personally, I thought all moshing was scheduled and pretty well-organized. I don't recall seeing anyone breaking out into moshing on random street corners.

2/25/07, 8:36 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

You know, my mom used to dress me in lederhosen and sing Austrian children's songs b/c it reminded her of when she was a little German lassie and she thought it was cute. Bad mommy! She must've thought she was some snobby Euromama.

Seriously, don't we live what we know? If I like punk music and tiny tees (ok, can't really wear those anymore), why is it so wrong to share that with my kids? The only thing I fear is that when my kids revolt against me, they'll become country-music loving rappers wearing Laura Ashley.

2/25/07, 8:44 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Dressing my toddler in a hip onesie? That's nothing.

Dressing your child in layers of cotton candy pink tulle and lace, or pea green Sears polyester tracksuits? That was plain wrong.

My point is, we all raise our kids with our own interests. Our kids will look back and roll their eyes at what we dressed them in the same as we did with our parents. The criticism of hipster parenting is totally a non-issue.

2/25/07, 9:15 PM  
Blogger Chag said...

I agree. I can't believe the amount of coverage this non-issue has received over the past few weeks by the likes of Times and NY Times.

I guess it's just lazy journalism. Pick apart a stereotype.

2/25/07, 10:40 PM  
Blogger prescottcarlson said...

Can we please get a f*cking exception for Chicago when we insert little digs at the Midwest? Come to Blogher this year (and wander away from Navy Pier, holy cow could they have picked a worse tourist trap) and we'll show you how we roll non-Nebraska style.

2/25/07, 10:53 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Prescott darling, I'm making fun of myself. I have no problem with the midwest at all let alone Chicago. Gotta love a town that smells like meat everywhere you go.

2/25/07, 10:56 PM  
Blogger Loukia said...

Nicely said.

2/26/07, 9:14 AM  
Anonymous MetroDad said...

This might possibly be my favorite response to all that hipster nonsense. Love it, Liz. You rock.

I'd write more but I'm off to the mosh pit in a vain attempt to hold onto my youth! Man, I'd love to stage dive onto David Brooks head.

2/26/07, 9:14 AM  
Anonymous prescott said...

I was attempting to be lighthearted and obviously failed. :)

2/26/07, 9:28 AM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

I really think this little debate about hipster parents has been a humerous one. The chardonay play dates, the ac/dc t-shirts ... I mean, really? Where there's no controversy there's no intrigue. So now they're just making it up as they go along.

I'm with you: We should all be keeping our eyes on our own page and live and let live.

2/26/07, 10:44 AM  
Blogger MamaMichelsBabies said...

We are all better then that. Far better then that.

The boots? Being a midwesterner, those seem sensible in the snow we get. And they are stinkin cute.

2/26/07, 10:50 AM  
Blogger mary said...

What Brooks was dead-on right about was calling _Alternadad_ an "indescribable bore." I read it, and I like Pollack's other works, but it's dull to read interminable pages about a child's temper tantrums. They're all pretty much the same.


Brooks, in addition to being a thoughtful, conservative critic (he doesn't drink the Adminstration Kool-Aid, which you'd know if you read him regularly) wrote a very true and accurate satire Bohos in Paradise.

With his latest column, I think he really struck a nerve--isn't that the point?

2/26/07, 12:07 PM  
Blogger something blue said...

I agree that the attacks on the so called hipster parents are ludicrous. As I said over at Rebecca's "Labels are for soup cans."

Respect! Over and out.

2/26/07, 12:18 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Mary - I do read him regularly as I do all the columnists in the NYT and I still find him painfully pompous and generally intolerable. Just my opinion.

Yes, he struck a nerve. However I don't believe in this particular case that this is a nerve he has any qualifications to strike. When exactly was the last time he walked down Union Street in Park Slope and was just so personally aggravated by the hummus-eating food coop volunteering parents stopping into the Tea Lounge for their soy chais after playgroup that he felt compelled to rant against them? I'm guessing never. He's just uncomfortable with a changing world

2/26/07, 12:23 PM  
Anonymous suburban kamikaze said...

Well said, but then you probably are wearing a "black on black maternity tunic" right this very minute.

see "Back to the Barcalounger, Alternadad" www.suburbankamikaze.com

(prescottcarlson, I apologize in advance. It's just that I am bitter and maladjusted at having to move here. It's very cold.)
-SK

2/26/07, 12:47 PM  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

I had that thought about brooke - what, is it THAT slow a news week? If it is, then brooks doesn't hate hipster parents, he loves them for giving him something to write about.

2/26/07, 1:33 PM  
Blogger Damselfly said...

Gasp! You're right. I hadn't thought this issue was yet another form of parent bashing. Hate.it.

2/26/07, 1:41 PM  
Blogger Woman on the Verge said...

Very good and interseting post.
Who's business is it what we dress our children in or what kind of "alterna snacks" we feed them. We aren't beating them, are we? We are feeding them and I can say it's much healthier than the shit our parents fed us.
Our children are an extension of ourselves. It only makes sense to me that we raise them with our ideas, not the antiquated ideas of past generations.

2/26/07, 3:42 PM  
Blogger gingajoy said...

uh. what's a bugaboo? and what's ramones?

this whole "hispter" parenting part of the deal is just ludicrous to me--it's like the "escalation of playdates with cocktails." big fat red herring.

what i do take issue with, however, is what the time article had to say about the "selfishness" of writing about your kids; as if this was all part of the end of civilization hipster parenting clearly signals.

2/26/07, 6:37 PM  
Blogger Girl con Queso said...

Here here! Type it, sister.

Now I must go eat some soy and paint my son's fingernails black. Etc.

2/26/07, 6:38 PM  
Blogger lildb said...

Ha. David Brooks? Was born with all the requisite Bugaboo-typified gear of his era surrounding his pretentious baby ass.

Hypocrite.

2/27/07, 12:11 AM  
Anonymous CrankMama said...

HI There,
I linked to this over at SD (again) today but now I can't figure out how to link to *this* post... so I guess it will go to the oscars round.

Dude.
Rachael

2/27/07, 10:59 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

I've been trying to think of something pithy to add (again) to the nonsense, but fuck me if my head isn't just too darn preoccupied with how to make my parenting even edgier.

I know! Winnie-the-Pooh-print onesies! Goldfish crackers! And high-waisted acid wash for me!

2/27/07, 3:44 PM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

I think I had cause to parrot your bang-on assessment of the continuing commodification of parenthood by marketers and the traditional media at HBM earlier this month.

Like this -- AMEN.

It is faux tension to escalate the commerce of family identities. No matter what the brand really.

2/27/07, 5:01 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

My parents forced me to listen to Rolling Stones and DID NOT give up marijuana after they were parents. I'm sure Mr. Brooks would have called the riot squad.

2/27/07, 7:15 PM  
Blogger soleclaw said...

There are cool police? Jesus, now I'm really in trouble.

As my husband would say, right on!

2/28/07, 12:18 PM  
Blogger MommyWithAttitude said...

Perfect response! David Brooks is such a pompous windbag -- the Bill O'Reilly of print.

Yesterday I was feeling kind of blue, and I mistakenly thought it was due to the unending rainy winter we're having here -- but now I realize it's the lack of unscheduled moshing that's causing my discontent these days. Silly me.

2/28/07, 12:28 PM  
Blogger Meghan said...

Gratuitous mommy-bashing is a phenomenon with no apparent end in sight. Ever.

Just because that guy was born before the invention of television launched pop culture doesn't mean he can criticize...

As long as your children are well-fed, dry, clothed, and reasonably well cared for WHO THE HELL CARES???? Man needs something to do. Clearly.

2/28/07, 5:56 PM  
Anonymous Liza said...

What a great response to Brooks -- and entertaining comments too.

My son outgrew his "My Mom's Blog..." t-shirt a few months ago, and in honor of Brooks' total lack of humor, I ordered a new one. And blogged about the whole insanity too: http://lizawashere.com/2007/02/28/hipster-babies/

3/2/07, 8:44 AM  
Anonymous L.A. Daddy said...

Oh, big "Cool Citation" from this practicing L.A. Hipster Parent! Dead on, g-friend!

Like MD, I'd love to give you more but I've got an appletini playdate in Silverlake at four. Then, the sassy L.A. Toddler is off for her nose-piercing and Grande Tofu Latte (de-caf! Do you think I'm a heathen?!)

Don't forget to write-in vote for Al Gore and keep your Prius batteries charged!

(Oh, and don't I all but hate paying $75 for LA Toddler's concert t-shirts when I used to be able to buy the same exact ones in the parking lot for $15?! Natch!)

3/2/07, 5:15 PM  
Anonymous rachel said...

love, love this post

1/29/09, 5:56 PM  
Anonymous rachel said...

it's an old post, but im new to blogging...so i linked you. i love to revive the dead, and beat the horse for years and years.

1/30/09, 1:39 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Thanks Rachel! No doubt new douches will come out with the same tripe every so often...and we'll just throw this at them. Again.

1/30/09, 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

My favorite part is the simplistic ending in response to questioning our parenting... "don't do it. you're better than that"

11/19/11, 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan said...

What a fun article. Unfortunately, I amy not be the cool parent, but I will be the good parent!

1/16/14, 4:26 PM  

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