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Go the F–k to Sleep is NOT Real Life

Over the years, I have tended to stay away from controversy. I have been both championed and lampooned, supported and criticized on blogs and in traditional media for defending my trademark, questioning Tweets, respecting The Pioneer Woman, and being a mom blogger. None of those things were relevant to my mission here, to help people enjoy their lives, so my site stayed quiet about them all.

I have been sitting on this post for a few days, not sure if I should publish it.

I cannot stay quiet. This is too important.

A few days ago, some girlfriends of mine were discussing a hilarious book that was available for free on audible.com. From the title (Go the F–k to Sleep) and their conversation, I assumed the book was for grown ups, a satire of the unfortunate ritual that is putting a toddler to bed.

When I was alone, I downloaded the audible iPhone app and the book’s file and turned it on.

The cool, hip, it won’t kill you to hear the f-word once or twice part of my conscious quickly receded as Samuel L. Jackson’s smooth voice came on, explaining how he said this to his daughter all the time.

Excuse me?

Do people really talk to their children like this?

Please tell me that they don’t.

Joe and I most certainly do not. We do not swear at, to, or within earshot of our children or each other, and we bristle in anger if someone else does.

Out of respect for my friends, I wasn’t going to write about this book on my blog no matter how strongly I felt at the time.

Then, I saw the book on the news this evening. They were talking about the New York Times best seller and its critical acclaim, and I thought, “Really? Are we talking about the same book?”

It saddens me deeply to think that this is the world in which we live, the world in which my children are growing up.

On the news, the author said something along the lines of “This is real life, you know? It’s just how it works.”

Rage boiled up in my stomach, through my chest, and into my cheeks.

This is not real life.

That is not how it works.

I will readily admit that I get frustrated with my children. I was on bed rest for more than 8 weeks with a very active and precocious 3-year-old in my care. I have an infant who cried through most of her waking hours for months (and, unfortunately, her waking hours often included our sleeping hours). Neither of them has ever gone to sleep alone; I’m pretty sure that they are physically incapable.

I understand frustration.

But no matter what emotion I’m feeling, I believe in treating people kindly and with respect.

All people.

My children deserve no less respect than my parents, no less than my pastor, no less than anyone else.  All human beings deserve respect.

That anyone would treat their own children with so little respect saddens me deeply.

If you are thinking, “What’s the big deal? This is a book for adults. No one would read it to her kids,” I challenge you to look at the book. This is one page –

go-the-f--k-to-sleep

Kids will see this book. They will read it. Adults will read it to them.

Will they be tricked into believing that this is real life? That it’s funny to disobey your parents? That it’s normal and acceptable to curse at one another?

It’s not acceptable. It’s not real life. For me and my children, it never will be.

© 2011 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

44 thoughts on “Go the F–k to Sleep is NOT Real Life”

  1. Wow wow wow. I’m with you, I’m personally not a fan of swearing, I don’t find a need for it because the English language has so many words to choose from. I hate when others swear in front of children, but when it comes to my kids that’s a different story. I have friends who swear and they all know where I stand on this topic and while I hate their cursing that doesn’t mean I hate them, however just like anything I think we should try to protect our children from certain things as long as we can. For the same reasons we use training wheels on bicycles, we make sure their child seat is safe and they are buckled up, in my book it’s one in the same. It’s not sheltering, it’s protecting and children should be allowed to be as innocent as possible for as long as possible, kids are already growing up way to fast these days. 

    Thanks for posting your thoughts, I would never have this book in my home or recommend it obviously. I get that it may be funny, but the absurdity for me, out weighs any “humor” and yes I am a prude and proud of it.

    • Very well said, Jenn. I almost wrote that in the post, about protecting their innocence as long as it’s possible. It didn’t fit when I was all done, so I deleted it, but it’s so true.

      I also considered rewriting the text with the same message but without the profanity. For me, it would be no less satirical and probably funnier. I guess the problem with that is that many people wouldn’t get it if the author had used other words.

  2. I read it presented as a book for grownups and not kids, and I get that, but like you said this isn’t a book I would own because my kids would read it and it’s not appropriate for them.

    We don’t swear around our kids except for rare slips. It’s just not something they need to hear at a young age, especially given how often they parrot us! 

    That said, I have 4 kids none of whom slept through the night until they were 2 years old or older. No, I’m not kidding. It sucked, but I never yelled at them or swore at them. I get the book’s humor in that regard for sure. I may not have said those things outloud, but I sure said them in my head on occasion after hours of trying to get the kids to sleep!

  3. When I came across this book on facebook my interpretation was that it was an internal dialogue of a parent’s frustration of putting their child to sleep.  I didn’t read the whole thing as I found the language just too overwhelming.  I would never read it to my child nor, in my sheltered world, would I EVER think that ANYONE would read it to their child or let their child get their hands on it.  I honestly thought it was a joke – we all get frustrated about bedtimes and we get VERY little sleep in this house as my kids NEVER slept through the night until they were 3+ (so, I’m still in the midst of that…) so this book was a parents 2am INTERNAL dialogue – the stuff you NEVER repeat to anyone else…does that make sense?  It’s crazy to even contemplate this being read aloud to anyone, adults or children.  Definitely not what God wants, IMO.

    • I understand that it’s an internal dialogue for most buyers. It’s not MY internal dialogue, even in my weakest moment, but I understand that it could be for some.

      But I do think that lots of kids will read it or have it read to them. If you listen to the audible.com version, Samuel L. Jackson jokes about saying that phrase to his daughter nightly and about her saying it back to him. I’m not kidding.

  4. I have never heard of this book, and I feel the same way that you do. I do not swear at all – and I hate it when others swear around my kids. I can’t imagine reading a book like that to kids! This is not real life for us, and I feel sad that it’s “real life” for other kids.

  5. You are so right!  The word is NOT healthy or acceptable in my home either.  I have three grown children.  Two I raised alone, and I never allowed that word or any curse word, and would apologize if I said a curse word after hitting my thumb!  I taught my kids, that only people who have no vocabulary use these words and I would explain in detail what the words ment.  This was shocking to my kids but they do not curse to this day.  I am 60 yrs old now, and it is disgusting to hear our kids and adults spew such things out of the mouth like it is nothing.  There is no reason why we can not use better words to describe things.  It is not funny in my opinion. Thanks for post!

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  7. Kudos to you for speaking out. I hadn’t hear of the book. But you know what- if no one speak out about the obvious sinful and plain wrong that is being sold to us – the filth that threatens to lull us a world-view of thinking that “its okay- everyone is doing it” then that is what will form society’s morals. Thats my opinion.

  8. I listened to the book being read by Samuel L. Jackson.  I think the book is funny.  I think any parent can relate to feeling that way with a cranky infant.  I may have thought the same things but I never said them outloud.  I think most parents are smart enough to know that this is not a book to be read to children.

    • Actually, I disagree on all 3 points. First, I don’t think it’s funny. Second, I can’t relate to it. I have been plenty frustrated, but I have never (even in throes of PPD) cursed out my baby – aloud or mentally. And lastly, while many parents are smart enough to know it’s not for children, scores of crude individuals will see nothing wrong with letting kids read it.

  9. “Over the years, I have tended to stay away from controversy. I have
    been both championed and lampooned, supported and criticized on blogs
    and in traditional media for defending my trademark, questioning
    Tweets, respecting The Pioneer Woman, and being a mom blogger.”

    I think the fact that controversy found you in spite of your (always inoffensive) self indicates that maybe you just wade in to the controversies anyway. They’re there. Why hide from them? No, this is NOT real life. It doesn’t have to be, anyway. I have thoughts, but they’re long. I’m writing a post. Link back to ya when it’s done!

  10. I have replied to you several times; have you seen them? I’m not sure why, but Disqus is eating them or something.

    What I wanted to say was that there is 1 thing in there that I thought was funny, the part about not being thirsty. I *have* been there, responding to a child who is not thirsty and thinking, “Come on now. You do not need a drink.”

    I do think the book could have been really funny and clever without the language, but it probably wouldn’t have been as popular.

  11. To me it was a funny outlook on the frustrations we as parents sometimes feel HOWEVER I would NEVER ever present this book to my child. This book should be for adults only. 

  12. Amen to you girl!!!  Thank you for posting this review!  We need to know about these books.  As you I would never talk that way to my kids let alone any adult.  And I would throw out anyone that would in my presence.  I would not even read a book that had this title and never let my kids see it.  Thank you again!

  13. Oh so getting annoyed at your child because it won’t go to sleep and saying a word to it is a bad thing?
    One more reason I’m not joining the cult of motherhood then…
    Seriously people, lighten up.

  14. This makes me sick to my stomach…

    Yes, I have had sick, cranky babies.  And I would have gone completely berserk on anyone speaking to them like this.  Even on my worst parenting days…no…

  15. I cringed at Samuel L. Jackson admitting (bragging?) that he said it to his daughter–but I blew it off as pumping up his image.  I guess I can’t imagine a loving parent tossing F bombs AT their child.  Even Eminem plays special “cleaned up” lyrics of his songs just for his daughters.  Celebrities are notorious hypocrites and I took his intro with a giant grain of salt.

    Some children will get a hold of that book and read it, but I think more than that, stupid parents are going to hear the audio version and think it’s totally acceptable to tell their kids to go the f–ck to sleep.  I see the book as yet another stepping stone along the trend of it’s cool to be a Bad Parent.

    The Super Mom thing is worn out, and so is this idea of Motherhood Sucks and we need wine, meds, and (now) stupid parodies to “survive” it.  I’m waiting for the Motherhood Is Hard But Rewarding trend to take over.

    Great post, Tara.

  16. I cringed at Samuel L. Jackson admitting (bragging?) that he said it to his daughter–but I blew it off as pumping up his image.  I guess I can’t imagine a loving parent tossing F bombs AT their child.  Even Eminem plays special “cleaned up” lyrics of his songs just for his daughters.  Celebrities are notorious hypocrites and I took his intro with a giant grain of salt.

    Some children will get a hold of that book and read it, but I think more than that, stupid parents are going to hear the audio version and think it’s totally acceptable to tell their kids to go the f–ck to sleep.  I see the book as yet another stepping stone along the trend of it’s cool to be a Bad Parent.

    The Super Mom thing is worn out, and so is this idea of Motherhood Sucks and we need wine, meds, and (now) stupid parodies to “survive” it.  I’m waiting for the Motherhood Is Hard But Rewarding trend to take over.

    Great post, Tara.

    • Thanks.

      Your comment really hit a nerve with me. I think that – the cool Bad Parent and I need something to help me deal with it movement – is exactly why I wrote this post. I am SO over hearing about all that. It’s been around as long as I have (4 years in the bloggosphere), and it has run its course. I am over the blogs and sites devoted to be a lousy parent. I am over mediocrity being the best we can hope for.

      I understand that mothering (and fathering) isn’t easy. Of course it isn’t. Why can’t we admit that it’s hard without mentally cursing out our kids?

    • I didn’t listen to the audio, but I love your comment and completely agree that we have swung from Super Mom to Where-is-my-wine-to-deal-with-their-effing-whine Mom and I, too, look forward to the “Motherhood Is Hard But Rewarding trend.”

      PS. I actually expected the book to be funnier than it was.

      • I think we’re in that trend. The reason books like “Go the F* to Sleep” are so popular is because it’s also become acceptable to admit your frustration in adult terms. I think adults, many mothers in particular, are tired of quashing their feelings because they aren’t socially acceptable. But I also think the majority of mothers feel like Motherhood is Hard But Rewarding. Why would they have kids otherwise? I think the book is hysterical because yes, I have felt like this. Many people have wished their kids would just Go the F* to Sleep so they could rest a little after a long day. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think motherhood is hard, but ever so rewarding. While Go the F* to Sleep hyperbolizes one feeling, one part of parenthood. You are hyperbolizing another part of parenthood by implying that mothers who want their kids to go the eff to sleep and think this book is funny, don’t think motherhood is rewarding.

  17. I didn’t Google the book. I always link to Amazon when I talk about books, and I explained the link at the bottom of the post, in italics. Perhaps you missed it the first time?

    In my 10 years in public education, I saw many, many parents who would not have thought it odd to share a book like this with their kids. They probably would have been proud that they were reading to their kids.

    I agree that there are lots of “children’s books” that are inappropriate. That doesn’t make this one any more appropriate for adults or for kids.

    • No I saw your note. I just thought if you felt this strongly about not wanting the book to make it into little hands you would opt to break from the norm and select a different link than Amazon, making it a little harder for readers to purchase with a simple click. But I understand the business side of what you do here, so in that way it makes sense.

      So scary that parents like that are out there, I agree. And I’m sure as a teacher you’ve met your fair share, which has to be so sad and disheartening. But I think saying something isn’t appropriate for children is different than saying it’s not appropriate for adults. I think the free speech journalist in me gets twitchy when someone says something isn’t appropriate for adults. 🙂

  18. I was the “friend” that posted the link originally. I did say that I hoped no one would take offense to it, I just thought that as a bunch of exhausted mothers we could appreciate it. I have never ever sworn at my kids. But I would be lying if I said I had never thought those thoughts. I have no knowledge of Samuel L. Jackson’s parenting, he could very well say that all the time, or he could just be putting that out there because he thinks it’s “cool”. Whatever his intentions were, mine were just to make people laugh and know that there are other people out there that can’t always keep their thoughts from betraying them.

    • As I wrote in the post, I wasn’t going to write about it when it was just a link shared with friends. But when I saw it being laughed at in the mainstream media (ABC’s 6:30pm news), I couldn’t stay quiet.
      I’m sorry if you were offended by my post.

  19. Great post! I think the premise of the book is hilarious and appreciate the fact that INTERNALLY sometimes when my son was older I may have said something like that. However, I would NEVER actually say those things to my child – or any other. It is sad to think, and to know, that there are some adults who lack common sense who will actually read it to a child or leave it lying around where a child might pick it up and start reading on their own.

  20. I haven’t read it. But I’ve seen it pop up on FB, twitter, and the like enough to get it. Why, after seeing it again and again have I opted out of reading? Because the title, alone, makes me realize it’s something I don’t agree with. 

    I have an early reader. He was reading chapter books at age four. He has no general interest in reading my books, but peeks over my shoulder and reads my tweets, skype convos, emails, etc. If you have something in your house, it will be seen. It will be read. We need to teach our children boundaries, but we also need to realize that, at some point, they’re going to wake up and find things we don’t need them to see.

    Why don’t I need him to see it? Not because I’m concerned he’ll read the F-word. Nope. Because I don’t want him thinking that adults talk like this. Even if I don’t talk like this. And my husband doesn’t. Someone, somewhere picked up a pen and penned the words. 

    I want to raise a child who is respectful of others. I don’t need him seeing adults so blatantly disrespectful.

  21. I agree that free speech is free speech. Something that’s getting lost in all the hoopla about the book is that it’s really a symptom of a much larger problem, the lack of respect that people have for one another. It’s the attitude, the lack of decency, the motherhood is so hard that I just can’t deal without legitimizing bad behavior mentality that I have the biggest problem with.

    I include an Amazon link any time I talk about a book. I earn a referral fee for any purchase that is made after clicking the link. If someone clicks the link to check out the book, then puts two other books in their cart and purchases them, I earn a fee. That’s why the link is in there.

  22. Hopefully you have enough self-control not to say things that you may be thinking a moment of frustration. Most experts suggest walking away at that point and giving yourself a timeout. I understand why some might be offended by the contents of this book because of the cursing and because, like Tara, they just don’t think that way towards their child. But I couldn’t help myself from replying to your comment; this is a terrible argument against the book.

  23. Thanks for this post.  With all the positive comments surrounding the book, I googled to find someone (you) to confirm I wasn’t crazy for thinking this book is a bad idea.  I haven’t read the book because it bothers me too much.  I know it’s supposed to be funny.  I guess because I don’t talk that way even when at a bar with friends, and I never even think those words when with my children, the humor is lost on me.  Like you, I had long periods of bed rest through 4 pregnancies and two children who refused to sleep and rarely napped.  I never once wanted to drop the F bomb.  I was frustrated, but in my real world I don’t drop the F bomb in frustration.  Thanks for writing this.

  24. It seriously saddens me how many people seem to get so personally offended at the inconviences parenting brings. I don’t even know where to begin on my thoughts about this. Thank you for sharing, I had no idea a book like this was even out there.

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