American in Spain

Parenting Taboos

December 22, 2010

thumbTaboos are fascinating. My life has never been the same since August 8, 2006, when I read an article about examining what we don't dare say aloud, and how the amount of trouble one can get in for saying certain things is positively correlated with the likelihood that they are true. Today I stumbled upon a TED Talk by a married couple, Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman, who run a website about parenting. Their topic was parenting taboos, that is, what you can't say about parenting. My favorite part of their talk was when they took on the subject of happiness. I'm a big fan of Dan Gilbert, and his research and conclusions on how happiness declines when you have kids seem to me, intellectually, to be correct, but something about it just doesn't feel right. I've been unable to pin down just what that problem was...until now. Griscom and Volkman absolutely nail it with a chart around minute thirteen of their talk.

I think that the internet and the optional anonymity it provides are having an excellent effect on social taboos. I applaud the hundreds of people valiantly blogging their way through emotionally difficult times of their life, whether it be divorce, miscarriage, closeted sexuality, cancer, or losing a spouse. By being publicly honest about these things, even anonymously, they are helping thousands of other people feel less alone in their problems. Parenting is less severe than those problems, but it still brings with it insecurities that, unless other people are sharing about them too, can easily make you feel alone. And if you can find a way to pay the rent by designing a website to help people share, then good for you, Griscom and Volkman.