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Weekly Reads: The Truth About Normal Parents, When to Give Up Breastfeeding, and The Fall of Cosby

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Happy last week of April Readers! We’re heading into the home stretch of the school year, does everyone have their homework done? Just a few links today, but some important ones.

Sue Klebold, whose son Dylan partnered with Eric Harris to commit what was at the time the worst school shooting in US history at Columbine, has written a book, A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy.    at The Cut has a thoughtful and thorough review, examining how Sue Klebold’s story tasks us to reconsider the role of “normal” parents in the creation of the young men who commit these barbarous acts. 

 In spite of my better, more progressive judgment, I found myself scouring for some clue of where Klebold went astray as a mother before I was even past the first chapter. As a parent, I couldn’t stop looking for proof that I wouldn’t make the same choices that she made. But we all want to be sure that she made huge mistakes. Because if her failures are regular human failures, that means that this could happen to anyone. For the rest of us to be good parents, Sue Klebold must be an aberration.

Most parents sometimes find themselves choosing the easiest solution to complex challenges. Only an unlucky few among us will discover that our choices were catastrophic. The high stakes here make a close examination of Klebold’s story uncomfortable but necessary. Because this is not just a story about how pernicious and unseen suicidal depression can be in teens. This is a story about how easy it can be to disengage from your children without even knowing it. Spending time with your kids and choosing to assume that they’re fine, and trusting that they’re “good,” is not enough. Doing what’s easy — having fun together, trying to be cheerful, never pushing any subject that feels uncomfortable, legitimizing your kids’ anger at authority but insisting that they play along — falls horribly short of the mark with a teenager, particularly a troubled teenager. Kids need a way of understanding their own complicated emotions and accepting that other people have complicated emotions, too. They need to learn ways to tolerate the imperfect give-and-take of living within a community with other complex, emotional human beings.

A lot of new mothers feel pressure to breastfeed even when it’s not going well. Nicole Cliff at Slate answers one reader’s worries perfectly. 

[Screeches in on dirt bike!!]

I am so thrilled to give you official permission to stop breastfeeding and pumping! Your baby is 2 months old, he’s already gotten lots of wonderful immunities from your colostrum and early milk, and formula is the most tightly regulated food product in the United States. If you have access to clean water (sadly not a given, even here), then you can safely give your baby formula and know he’s getting exactly what he needs to thrive. You’re a great mom, and you’re feeding your baby, and you do not have to justify what you’ve tried and not tried to anyone, unless it makes you feel better to do so.

The Blog Boss Rebecca Watson has a great video up at the main Skepchick page about how long it takes to turn a standard racist into a Nazi (it’s six months.)

Libby Anne explores the strange way American Christians think they are persecuted. 

Performatively not caring about the British Royal family is just as much in fashion as caring way too much. I’m normally fairly meh on the subject of anyone who still technically has “subjects.” But the new wee bairn of the House of Windsor has been christened Prince Louis so now I care very deeply! Welcome to the Louie club, my prince! Oh, and your mother trotting around looking like a fairytale princess only hours after squeezing you out? THAT’S NOT NORMAL! Also, the new Prince might be a Weasley? 

It can be really hard for really young kids to see outside themselves and appreciate others. Here are eight ways to teach kids to see the best in others.

The Boy Scouts of America have begun allowing girls to become Cub Scouts for the first time, with an intention to open up Boy Scouts to older girls in the near future. Pitched as something that many parents have asked for to help them with hectic schedules and keep brothers and sisters together, the move has been applauded by some, but not everyone’s happy. The Girl Scouts of American see it as a cynical ploy by a BSA to raise funds while facing budget shortfalls. And conservative Christians think it’s a sign of the “end times.”

Bill Cosby was finally convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand, at the time a Temple University employee he had mentored. It was the second trial after the first case ended in a hung jury. The 80-year-old comedian faces up to 30 years in prison. More than 50 women have come forward with credible claims that Cosby routinely used drugs to incapacitate then assault them. It’s an astonishing fall from grace for a man once considered America’s Dad. In fact, it may very well be the insufferable conservative black moral scold character that led to Cosby’s undoing, as Adam Serwer writes at the Atlantic. 

If it hadn’t been for his decision to scold poor black Americans for their moral failures while decades of sexual-assault allegations had remained hidden, it’s possible that none of Cosby’s victims would have gotten their day in court.

Five years ago, he seemed to have gotten away with it. Although more than 10 women came forward with allegations against Cosby in the mid-2000s, they would not become fixed in the public consciousness for another decade. In the meantime, Cosby had built an image as a prophet of black conservatism, scolding poor blacks for not lifting themselves out of poverty, and for focusing on discrimination.

“People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged, ‘The cops shouldn’t have shot him.’ What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?” Cosby said in his 2004 speech to the NAACP, which became known as the “Pound Cake” speech, because of the aforementioned anecdote. “Ladies and gentlemen, in our cities and public schools we have 50 percent drop out. In our own neighborhood, we have men in prison. No longer is a person embarrassed because they’re pregnant without a husband. No longer is a boy considered an embarrassment if he tries to run away from being the father of the unmarried child.”

The allegations against Cosby never went away, but they did seem to fade in the public consciousness, until about a decade later. In February 2014, Gawker’s Tom Scocca wrote about the strange phenomenon of the public having repressed the memory of the allegations against Cosby: “Basically nobody wanted to live in a world where Bill Cosby was a sexual predator.” The cultural crescendo against Cosby grew deafening after comedian Hannibal Buress called him out in a comedy routine later that year.

“Bill Cosby has the fuckin’ smuggest old black man persona that I hate,” Buress said in October 2014 at the Trocadero, a theater in Cosby’s own native Philadelphia. “He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the ’80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.”

Here’s the Young Turks talking about the Hannibal Burress comedy set that may have finally sparked America to turn on the Cos.

 

Featured Image Credit: Matt Slocum/Associated Press

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