Shit Other Parents Say: A Field Guide to Parentis Botherus

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About Ian Stansel

Ian Stansel is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is currently completing a PhD in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston, where he is the editor of the literary journal Gulf Coast. His work has been published in PloughsharesEcotoneAntioch ReviewSycamore Review, and elsewhere. He is married to writer Sarah Strickley.


  1. Tom Matlack says:

    This is some good shit Ian. Thank you. I have kids 18, 16, and 7 and I have always believed the key is UNLEARNING all the crap other people tell you about how to do it and follow your own intuition about your parenting style and your individual kid. No parent and no kid is the same. But we are hard wired to love our kids without limit. Thank god

  2. Totally. The number of people who said to me “your life will never be the same again” before ours waas born just had me running scared. It helped in a way because the reality was much easier than the Parentis Schadenfreudis led me to believe it would be.

    I vowed not to be like that so now whenever I meet someone with a kid on the way, I go out of my way to tell them how overall amazing it will be. Why focus on the few bad bits?

    Also – love that line “every day our daughter wakes up new” – such a great attitude. True for everyone, I guess.

  3. GMP contributor Andrew Pollom added this subspecies to the Guide:
    Parentis Sheildis. Parentis Sheildis are not easily identifiable by their markings, but are most easily identified by the awkward dance they perform to assure their offspring, Childus Narcissisti, do not ever have to accept responsibility or act on their own accord. This parent’s natural habitat is in schools (see Parentis Helicopterus), athletic fields, and employment sites. They can be identified by their distinctive calls, “It’s not their fault,” “Why aren’t they on the field”, “I need to speak to the University President,” and “Why didn’t they get a raise”?

  4. wellokaythen says:

    These same people can be very obnoxious when they find out you don’t want kids. Then the comments get even more patronizing.

    (Sorry to be the grammar troll here, but with scientific names the first word is always capitalized and the second [and any other] word always begins with a lower case letter. I think the old Coyote/Road Runner cartoons had it right, but I’d have to look that up.)

  5. John Smith says:

    Parentis Schadenfreudis do annoy me. I wonder about them, if everything is so hard for them why do they even have children? Many things in life are difficult, but worthwhile, notmaly its only the things we don’t want to do but have to that we complain about how difficult they are.

    Being a parant is hard work, in the same way that mastering a craft is hard. You never tell someone thinking about starting your hobby “Well you could do, but its sooooo hard”, you tell them its totaly worth the reward, so why do it with children?

    For me Children are an utter joy. At times they may be loud, difficult, confusing, smelly, and make you want to screem, but (at least until they are old enough to be responsable for there own actions) never worthy of the anger and resent this type seems to encourage.

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