Michelle, the blogger at Crooked Fences recently spent some time pondering the idea of a “slacker” parent — in her definition, this is akin to free-range parenting. She observed that many parents espousing free-range ideas also tend to be white and middle-to-upper class… and that this is a problem:
For ‘other’ mothers, being perceived as ‘slack’ let alone shouting it from the rooftops, is a risk they might not be willing to take. In fact, they are more likely to have to work very hard to prove to the world (including their children’s teachers, doctors, welfare authorities, courts) that they are a fit parent, let alone a ‘good enough’ one.
The risks come from many directions, including the real risk of coming under the surveillance of the state or even losing custody of your child, whether that be to the foster care system, the other parent (or grandparent/s) whose standing by virtue of gender/colour/wealth/age may be a real advantage in the family court. (I have personally watched a friend who suffered multiple disadvantages — race, class, disability, single parent — but whose daughter benefited from her extraordinary level of devotion and care lose her child in just this fashion.)
I can afford to be a slacker parent. When I walk into an emergency room with an injured child (as I have many times) I am given the benefit of the doubt by virtue of my class and skin colour. When my child fails to learn to read he is more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability than be considered simply a lazy or disruptive student. When we run late for school on a regular basis we are viewed as disorganised, even slack, but nobody calls in the truant officer.
You can read the rest at Crooked Fences!