Okay, it's a new year, so I might as well go straight out on the farthest limb I can to get things going right away, so... here I go.

To drive a car, you have to take a knowledge test and a skills test in order to get the required license, and then over time, you have to get your eyes checked to make sure you're still fit. To become a white collar professional, you usually have to have some years of higher education, at great cost, and then you still have to demonstrate your capabilities in said field to advance up the ladder, let alone become respected or revered. To become a blue-collar working person, you have to learn a demonstrable skill and you have to put in some kind of time as an apprentice. And almost everyone starts at the bottom and has to earn their way up by proving their talent and efficiency, etc., regardless of the field.

Except for parenting.

All you have to do to become a parent is get laid. That's it. Get laid, get pregnant (or get somebody pregnant) and you're instantly in the exalted role of Mommy or Daddy. You instantly get tax benefits, cheaper insurance rates, and other special financial rights, you are honored as the Head of a Family, and you are instantly idealized by unsuspecting offspring. You might be abusive, alcoholic or narcissistic, you might be barely out of your own childhood, you might not have a clue about child development, you might not have a stitch of self-awareness, you could be borderline psychotic, but you are instantly awarded a Ph.D. in parenting with all the rights and privileges awarded any other highly accomplished professional.

Except... you're not a professional. Often times, you're barely even competent, and don't even know what competent parenting is anyway. And your reasons for becoming a parent can be as inane as "I wanted to have kids," or "I got pregnant by accident and I didn't want to have an abortion."

So, we raise kids - lots and lots of kids - with less skill and training than a plumber or a truck driver. Think about it. Really.

I would like to make one of my dedications this year, and in this lifetime, the elimination of the idealization of parents. I have been a parent three times over, and I have been a social worker and therapist for thirty years, so as both my peers and as my patients, I have known many parents, and I have know many kids of parents. And I want to tell you this - the state of our economy and our infrastructure and our political system might suck, but the state of parenting really sucks! And I'm talking about the "good" parents, too, the ones who think that coddling their kids at every turn, or going through rings of fire to get their toddlers into a $30,000 pre-school, or giving up their own adult sex lives so the kids can have full-time access to their bedrooms. Those really dedicated parents who've never considered how their ego-driven, vicarious living out their lives through their kids is actually gutting their kids of independence and a sense of self.

Hey, folks, I know that for the human race to continue, we need to procreate, but what kind of world do we want to populate when we copulate? If we insist that in order to become a lawyer, you have to get two or three degrees and then earn your way up to partner by working 60-hour weeks for years, why should something as crucial to the well-being of our planet as parenting be left to rank amateurs and incompetents? Shouldn't prospective parents have to have a minimum number of years of some kind of therapy or self-work? Shouldn't parents need to know the basics about child development? Shouldn't they have to have the same drug-tests imposed on them as professional athletes do? Shouldn't they need a licensing process?

Come on, parents! Challenge me. Come back with something. Because I'm coming after you!

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