Here Comes Slacker Mom
By Jennifer Huget
Tuesday, May 11, 2004; Page HE01
Muffy Mead-Ferro says she would never deliberately trip either of her kids. But she wouldn't go out of her way to keep them from tripping, either.
Mead-Ferro is a 43-year-old ad copywriter and mother of two. Make that slacker mother of two. Her first book, "Confessions of a Slacker Mom" (Da Capo Press), just arriving on bookshelves, is the manifesto of a mom who, bemused and fatigued by the way parenthood has been co-opted by overzealous moms and child-care experts, has decided to opt out of the super-mom race.
Mead-Ferro clearly loves her son Joe, age 4, and daughter Belle, 5 -- so much so that she wants them to learn from the start that they are not the center of the galaxy. She refuses to indulge their whims, and she sees that only by making their own mistakes will her children learn to navigate life's challenges. In many ways, Mead-Ferro is conservative parenting expert John Rosemond in drag.
Mead-Ferro might sound callous were it not for her wicked sense of humor. For instance, she writes, "Timeouts work well for our kids because as soon as they're made to leave the room, they believe the rest of us immediately start eating candy and watching cartoons."
She writes hilariously about attending a "scrapbooking" party at which a neighbor meticulously memorializes her child's first experience eating peas, about writing a nursery-school recommendation for a friend's child (" 'He's never thrown up on me,' I began.") and, most politically incorrect, about spanking her kids.
Speaking with Mead-Ferro a few weeks ago, I challenged her to come up with Slacker Mom responses to Super Mom scenarios I posed. Here's what she delivered:
1. Super Mom spends practically as much time in school as her kid does, volunteering for committees and hanging around in the classroom. Slacker Mom wants her kid to succeed, or fail, under his own power. That means she's not always going to be standing on the sidelines of his life either berating him or cheering him on.
2. Super Mom arranges lots of play dates with carefully selected playmates. Slacker Mom encourages her kid to play with the one playmate for whom minimal scheduling is required -- the sibling -- and who may end up being the best friend of all.
3. Super Mom washes the pacifier when it falls on the floor. Slacker Mom may not even wash the floor.
4. Super Mom tweaks the rules for Pretty Pretty Princess so nobody loses; everyone's a winner! Slacker Mom knows her little girl has at least as much to gain from losing as winning and, if necessary, reminds her that even Abraham Lincoln lost a few elections before being elected president.
5. Super Mom cooks different meals for everyone in the family. Slacker Mom knows that if they don't eat, they'll be good and hungry come the next meal -- and won't be so picky.
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