Last Thursday I was reading through the Home section of the New York Times and I came across an article about actress Brandy Burre from "The Wire" who chucked her acting career and moved to a small town in upstate New York to fix up an old house, become a full-time mother and homemaker and live her dream of artisanal parenthood.
Artisanal Parenthood? Have you ever heard of it? I hadn't. I'd heard of helicopter parents, attachment parents, free range parents, tiger moms, snow plow parents (kind of a recently-coined label for parents who feel the need to plow all obstacles out of their children's way), permissive parents, authoritarian parents, and a few others, including a classification I made up just for myself: Saran Wrap parents. A Saran Wrap parent is one who sticks to their kids like Saran Wrap. That was me. My kids were always trying to peel me off.
And though I'd never heard of an artisanal parent, from the context of the article I figured it was one who bakes and cooks everything from scratch and serves only fresh organic vegetables from the family garden which the children are taught to tend, and who sews and quilts and knits and home schools their kids and teaches them how to can and make fresh yogurt and cheese and pottery and write stories. A natural yet arty approach.
Artisanal parenting, as I perceived it from that one article, seemed kind of a neat concept, if a bit on the labor intensive side.
As artisanal parenthood had been cited in the New York Times I figured it must be a trend.
And maybe it is; but when I yahoo'd the term all I found were two articles, one from Psychology Today and one by an obstetrician's website, and both of them blasted artisanal parenting without completely explaining what it involved, only that it involved things like breastfeeding and going to farmers' markets and purposely doing everything the hard way with the express purpose of making parenting more difficult for oneself so that one could present oneself as a better parent because one was suffering more to raise one's children.
Which I thought was kind of a harsh assessment of people who might just prefer to breast feed and shop at the farmers' market.
And that was about all I could find on the subject except for a summary of the Psychology
Today article offered on a website called Blue Space Counseling that said:
"Artisan parents create a handcrafted, 'authentic', high parental-effort childhood for their kids to demonstrate that they are better parents."
Likewise harsh but not particularly informative.
And so I was coming to the conclusion that artisanal parenting must be like secular humanism: nobody can really say what it is but they're all against it.
Finally after roaming a little wider around the 'network I came across an article called "Nine Ways To Be An Artisanal Parent In Sarasota" by Amy Nance that suggested, among other things, sending your son to school in a boy bun, moccasins, and a neckerchief, serving lunches of pasturized eggs, almond milk and nut butter, and signing your children up for knitting and glass fusing.
It's a pretty funny article.
But it's a parody rather than a portrait, and a negative parody at that of parents who put on child-raising airs of social consciousness and political correctness just to make an impression.
And I suppose it must be based on some particular kind parent, though not one I've ever actually come across. Not that I haven't known parents who've caved to peer group pressure now and then by pushing their children in one direction or into one activity or another. And not that I don't know people who like the natural approach, who insist that their children eat healthy and respect the diversity and well-being of the planet. But I have a hard time believing that any parent would base their child-raising techniques, whatever they might be, on what they think would impress other people rather than what they believe is best for their child.
Which begs two questions:
1. Do these supposed artisanal parents really exist? And
2. Does Brandy Burre have any idea what's being said about her?
1. "Strutting and Fretting Offstage," Lauren Sandler, The New York Times, October 30, 2014, page D1.
2. "The Rise of Artisanal Parenting", Camille S. Johnson, PhD, It's all Relative, Psychchology Today, May 7, 2014.
3. "The Rise Of Artisan Parenting", Blue Space Counseling, May 08, 2014
4. "Artisanal Mothering", Amy Tuteur, M.D., The Skeptical OB, May 20, 2014.
5. "Nine ways to be an Artisanal Parent in Sarasota", Amy Nance, This Week In Sarasota, October 1, 2014
by Patti Liszkay
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I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.