Overheard on CNN.com: Parents to author: What the "f?"
June 28th, 2011
05:01 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Parents to author: What the "f?"

Comment of the day:

“What has happened to satire? Why are people in the U.S. so ridiculously sensitive? Why is it no longer OK to make a joke about anything? Why are people so thin-skinned? I'll tell you why: people like to complain. People like to whine.” –Barack5tar

Zacharias misses the mark

Author, journalist and public speaker Karen Spears Zacharias says the popular book "Go the F*** to Sleep" - which addresses parents’ frustration with bedtime rituals - sadly also reflects some kids' reality. She says obscenities - and worse, obscenities toward kids - is common in some households and shouldn’t be the butt of jokes.

But many people who commented on Zacharias' opinion piece on CNN.com heartily disagreed with her, saying she is taking the book too seriously.

ads98 said, “I think that laughing about a tough situation helps a lot of people deal with their problems. A parent that is overly stressed about a child's sleeping schedule might find some comfort in laughing about and realizing they are not the only one in the situation.”

Rockinruby said, “My kids, aged seven and nine, have never heard swear words in our home. They don't watch movies rated PG-13 or R. They have had bedtime stories every night since they were newborns. But you know what? I laughed until I cried when I read Adam Mansbach's book.”

FFCBairn said, “Really? So this book is the most pressing, important thing to children? Not the high divorce rates, poor education, dubious medical care, etc. It's this book because it uses the F word?”

longhorn734 said, “I couldn't agree with the author more. My child got a hold of  ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ sailed away to an unknown monster forest and I haven't seen him since. Max, if you're reading this, please come home, your supper is getting cold.”

kablarkin said, “Grow a sense of humor. This book is funny because its stuff that you're thinking, but would NEVER say to a child. Like Bad Santa. It's funny because it's so wrong.” RolandL said, “This book was meant to make you laugh and release some of that tension and frustration that naturally goes along with being a parent. Don't like it – don't buy it.”

Some readers did agree with Zacharias.

Thousand said, “The tone of the book is pretty well hideous. You all think your ‘dark sense of humor' isn't damaging to children, but you can't even see how messed up you are yourselves.”

Cartzzzz said, “The problem is that the book perpetuates the myth that kids are to blame for things like not sleeping. After raising three kids and observing how a lot of people raise their kids, I find the problem lies with the parents. If you are having battles over sleep and your kid is more than a few months old - that's your fault.”

Cruddy11 said, “Some things in life are very funny. This subject isn’t funny or humorous. I just believe that type of language in regards to your children is unnatural. It makes me very uneasy that so many people actually think its ok.”

EnochRoot said, “I don't' want to ban the book. I want the so-called parents who find it funny to not have any more children.”

SonyPony said, “Don't like it? Don't read it. Problem solved." Corvus1 responded, “Doesn't solve the problem of promoting verbal abuse towards kids as 'humor.'"

natepete said, “If you swear and think swearing is funny, you might as well teach your kids to swear as well...this is ridiculous hypocrisy.” aldrix said, “Not saying I agree with the author, but I think it's legitimate to question whether something's really worth putting out there and I believe that's what she's doing here.”

Raising a nerdy son

Columnist LZ Granderson says he’s raising his son to be a nerd. Although his son is talented at sports, he’d rather see him excel at academic subjects. He says people tend to applaud athletics more than academics, although it’s the latter that usually matters most.

People who commented on Granderson's column generally appreciated his point of view.

whodey said, “Nerds have had a hand in everything that keeps you alive and makes life worth living. From medicine, electricity, computers, Internet, vehicles, TV, bridges, houses, you name it. The world runs on nerds.”

RyanDumb said, “I thought this article was refreshing and a wake-up call to my own parenting. I was a Division 1 college athlete and played five sports in high school. My oldest son is 3 and my other son is nearly 1. I spend time with my oldest trying to teach him to catch a ball, run as fast as he can playing tag, etc. when I really need to spend more time working with him on learning to read, spelling, learning basic math. Things he will use daily in the ‘real world’ because the odds are against all athletes becoming professional.”

capnhindsite said, “Totally agree Mr. Granderson. You are taking responsibility for your child’s education and I wish more people would realize that. People complain about our schools failing our kids but rarely do you hear anyone stand up and point out that the parents are ultimately responsible for their children’s learning.”

philbangayan said, “We need more people thinking this way. Last November, the regional competition for the Siemens Science Competition was held at Caltech. Students from as far away as Washington were presenting graduate level work that can make real changes for us. How sad was it that the auditorium only had ~30 people (all family members) in it? This is auditorium that easily held 200 people and where Nobel Prize winners such as Feynman once lectured in. Yet down the road, thousands of people attended a football game.”

bcole04 said, “This is exactly what we need to encourage in our nation's children! Being smart is cool. Being successful is cool. Being a nerd is cool. If you want proof that you can be a nerd and still be cool, look no further than Steve Jobs.”

AsoRock said, “I’m praying to God that my daughter becomes a nerd as well....I was a nerd in HS and guess what? Condo near the lake, beautiful wife, fast car...I smile when I see my ATM receipts and life is good....yep,

agrib said, “Whether jock or geek, it doesn't matter, just having an involved and supportive parent will help any child, no matter what their talents or abilities. We need more parents to be involved with their children. Invest time in your child.”

dogmathree said, “As a teacher who works with students at risk, I just want to say thank you. I would like to send this to every parent at my school.”

SSBlurpe said, “Love a proud, hands-on daddy. It's terrific.”

slyer said, “I wouldn't call a kid a ‘nerd,’ I prefer the term ‘intellectual badass.’" MrAsheSin responded, “Warrior Philosopher!”

soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. Valerie

    It isn't a book FOR children. It's a book for parents. Anyone who has read it (or listened to Samuel L. Jackson read it) would know that. And every parent I've talked to that's read/heard it, has laughed about it. Of course, most people I know have a sense of humor.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. EM

    Everything is screwed up.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. dfeuer

    Waaaaaaa..... oh the poor children.... give me a break....

    June 30, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. Louis

    This is a book for insecure parents who fear they are no longer hip, written by a parent who feels the same way.

    June 30, 2011 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Da Meglet

      Why are dorks so serious? GTFO your soapbox!

      July 5, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. American Citizen

    Americans are not satisfied with innocuous humor any longer, so it's been escalated to filth, which is what this is. And for some that do not know better, they will repeat these statements to their offspring in humor, in domestic abuse, in absolute ignorance.

    Is it necessary? No.

    We can laugh heartily without the filth.
    ©2011 American Citizen ™. All Rights Reserved.

    June 30, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
    • American Citizen Also

      I also am an American Citizen... You have no right to tell me what I should think or what is filth as you put it. I also do not need your group to tell people when I am offended because I just ignore what may offend me & walk on by. Words are just words, you remember the old saying don't you? Sticks & stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me... You can give the words power by listening to them or you can ignore the words. By the way, I've never told my children a dirty joke nor had any domestic abuse issues & i have no problems with these or any words. We do live in America where you have a right to free speech but no right not to be offended. Stop butting into the homes of citizens & pushing your values on everyone that will listen...

      July 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ReaderInMI

    Oh wow... some of you need to get over your self righteous mentality. Is not a book for children. Is it a book for what we all felt, thought, and/or maybe said. At 3:30 in the morning have I told my child "take your butt to sleep" Yes, did I say it that nicely – no. I rather parents/adults find humor in the joys and lows of raising a child. Now we can look at each other, and say "you too huh?" We aren't all Mary Poppins. Not everyone Mom and Dad is popping out of bed ready to take care of a squirmy baby/toddler who is more interested at looking at the lights then mind on sleep. Let parents express their frustrations with mundane bedtime ritual... will you find it less righteous when these parents have shaken their kids to get them to go to sleep. Just think of it as a: we all in the same boat, somebody just publish it book

    June 30, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bee

    I agree that education is (and should be) higher up on the priority list as far as our children are concerned, but to me it's not wise to focus on ONE or ANOTHER-it is most important that they are well-rounded. Succeed in academia as well as sports or the arts, and/or even all three! My fiance maintains that being busy and tired all the time from playing football, running cross-country, swim team practice, writing school papers, running lines for the school plays, playing drums in a band, playing Magic the Gathering at the local comic book shop, and honing is drawing skills were all good for him. You can raise your child to be a nerd–goodness knows mine will probably be born with freckles, crooked teeth and glasses–but don't focus on one or another, broaden their horizons and let them be well-rounded nerds!

    June 30, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. RainnMakerr

    Stop comparing bad things to worse? What has this world come to. It is not ok to use this language. People who think it is ok have LOW STANTARDS. Maybe that's all they heard at home growinp up. Just because many adult think it is ok to use the 'F' word doesn't make it ok. It it is not 'Macho' to use foul language. Grow up America!. this isn't the cowboys' days anymore. This also goes for all the educated 'mature' people who still use the 'F' word around their friends.

    June 30, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. Superfluous Dude

    If you look at the comment section for Zacharias opion piece on the CNN site, one thing is clear: the overwhelming majority of people that chose to coment on the site disagreed with her. By saying 'But many people who commented on Zacharias' opinion piece on CNN.com heartily disagreed with her..." and "Some readers did agree with Zacharias.", the writer of this commentary on commentary does not give an accurate depiction of the lopsidedness that exists. Even on other sites where the piece is featured and comments are allowed, the comments run 80% or more against Zacharias' opinion. (See http://www.patheos.com/community/karenspearszacharias/2011/06/27/go-the-f-to-sleep-not-fing-funny/, for example)
    And, if you read http://wordshavemeanings.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/a-breakdown-of-an-illogical-go-the-f-to-sleep-critique/, you get a very good treatment of the lack of critical thinking in the opionon piece.
    Is it possible that Zacharias simply took an unpoplar stance to get some free publicity that would benefit her upcoming book release?

    June 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Stace

    Ok, here is the deal, I have learned by witnessing and dealing with shielding children. We are in a society and time now where we expect the governement and people to shield children from things that happen in real life. No offense this is probably the one thing that is wrong with the children today who are self absorbed, missing common sense, and oblivious to the world around them. I was brought up not being shielded by much and it has made me a stronger person. I almost laugh when I hear I do not swear or allow swearing in front of my child, I don't let my kids see that or do that it will hurt them. While there are limits believe me there should be there is also a real world expectation here that needs to be managed and witnessed by children and explained to them and give them a chance to learn. Now I am not saying swearing like a sailor in front of them is a good thing either, but droping the f bomb for whatever reason gives you and your child a reason to talk and learn about it. Just the other day a guy almost drove right into us and expletive did slip from my mouth. I then calmly pulled over because i was freaked out and explained to my child nicely after the guy flipped me off and yellled out his window a l ot more than came out of my mouth. Granted he was in the wrong by cutting me off to weave around the person in front of me, but guess what my kid didn't get scared and freaked out by this other than say wow that guy is mad huh. When I pulled into a store parking lot to get my composure and explain to her that guess what I shouldn't have said it and don't ever repeat that she said ok someone needs to tell him that. I said he was just a bit crazy and there are people out there that are a bit crazy. The thing I was most proud of she didn't freak out and make the situation harder to explain. It also gives a lesson to show there are some wacky people out there. I also explain to my daughter the word crazy is something we do not use in public or directly to a person because it can hurt someone. She understands certain words can hurt someones feelings like stupid, mean etc, but it is ok to talk to mom and dad about these things too. She will come home and say mom Jack called Ema stupid today and she cried and I felt bad and said that is not nice and a bad word. I want my child to know things aren't all peaches and cream out there because they are not. When these shielded from swears, bad tv, bad movies, bad situations it loses valuable lessons that need to be taught. I am also not saying hey 5 yearold lets go catch the hangover 2 when it comes out, no but if your kid walks in or you wont' watch it because your kids are in the house and might walk in it not only takes away from the parent, but those valuable life learning experiences. Would I read a swear filled book to my kid, no, would I change the words to fit yes, however this is a book for adults and we live in a country where our freedom of speech is there so if you dont' like it move to china where they censor things!
    For all you who think the F word is soooo bad its a word people a word its not derogative to a direct line of people like other bad words. Get THE F&*K over yourselves and realize its a word an oblivious word that doesn't hurt someone like some words like stupid, crazy, moron, the N word, etc. I have gone to lectures at Yale where it has been used, I have had bosses that have dropped it, I have had students who used it, I have had cops, and doctors even use it...guess what WHO CARES!!!! ITS A WORD and a hurtless word kinda like very....u can use very as its very good...use it as you are very stupid then it hurts but use just stupid still can hurt...so guess what grow a set of balls and realize its there it isn't going away and mind your own business on language that you cannot control or move to China where it is!

    June 30, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AthensGuy

    Let go already. Just don't read the book to your children. Better yet, don't buy it and, after not buying it get a life whiners

    June 30, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Momof2Girls

    Ok this book was never meant to read TO your children, so those that are just so disgusted with the language, you obviously have never had children and if you did, they must have been angels. There were many nights when my husband and I were lying in bed and after just after we fell asleep, my daughter would start jumping and down in her crib upstairs. At least 2 times a week would I think "Go the F to sleep!", I even said it a few times downstairs. Not within ear shot of my child obviously but it was how I was feeling. I think this book helps parents laugh and realize they aren't alone in the battle of getting their children to sleep. If you don't like the book, don't read it and don't click on any links containing it. Easy as that. As for America, we have bigger things to worry about, the economy, job loss, gas prices, war...Are we going to blame than on a curse word now???

    July 1, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. jgr1

    Ms. Zacharias' article is distressing to me for two reasons: first, because she clearly misses the fact that the book is about the frustration that takes place in the hours AFTER a loving and devoted bedtime ritual has been completed (not during, or in place of, such a ritual), and second because she incorrectly and irresponsibly links the expression of this sort of frustration with child abuse and neglect. Denying or invalidating the very common sense of isolation and frustration that parenting can bring about (in her CNN interview she claims never to have experienced such frustration, even while raising four children under the age of 5!) is actually a much more dangerous contributor to child abuse; when parents feel alone and powerless, like we all do from time to time, especially in the middle of the night, we are much more likely to lose control of our actions. I am grateful to Mansbach for his book, both because it is hilarious, and because it will undoubtedly help many, many parents feel connected and thereby reduce potentially dangerous stress.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. madboots

    My kids are awesome (probably better than yours and if not, then you're better too.) The wife and I have enjoyed the SJ version a number of times after our angels have gone the FK to sleep.

    July 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. LeafLin

    It's an opposite case in Asia.Parents in Asia tend to raise their children for academic degrees.Some children even lost their interests in arts or sports.It's a very serious problem.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
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