There is no better way to get the mommy world up in arms more than questioning a parenting method or choice. In the 1990s the “mommy wars” raged, pitting mothers who had paid employment outside of the home vs. stay-at-home mothers, and it was delightfully fueled by daytime media. Study after study has revealed that children are no better served at home than at a quality child care center. Mother after mother defends her decision. The latest skirmish comes from Erica Jong against the Attachment Parenting set. In a recent WSJ article Jong asserts that Attachment Parenting and the rise uber-parenting has created a prison for women by not allowing them to do more than fawn over their children’s’ every move. As you can imagine the Attachment Parenting set is not pleased, many are writing articles condemning Jong’s choice to continue her career as a writer while having her daughter raised by a village of others.
I really don’t think we need to worry about either the AP folks or the mothers’ whose successful careers allow them to pay for full time child care. In both cases, mothers are enlightened and empowered enough to give their children the best they can, and do it in a way that aligns with their own values, experiences and beliefs.
Why can’t we get upset about the mothers who are not empowered enough to do the best for their kids. What about young mothers? 3 out of 4 women who have children at a young age live below the poverty line. What about the mothers living with mental illness? Children whose mothers have mental illness are much more likely to develop severe mental and behavioral issues. What about mothers who are raising their children on the street with no permanent home? Families who are homeless are increasing and according to the National Center on Family Homelessness, there are specific childhood illnesses associated with being homeless. What about mothers who are abused and find leaving the abuser to be even more difficult and even impossible because they have children? Children raised in abusive environments have lasting effects of the abuse into adulthood and future relationships. What about mothers in prison who are permanently separated from their children because they have no resources for child care while incarcerated, even for nonviolent crimes? What about the drug addicted mothers whose sole motivation for recovery is for the sake of their children, often with minimal support? Why aren’t we worried about those mothers? Why aren’t we figuring out how to help those children and figure out a way that those mothers can be empowered and enlightened? We take so much time and effort defending our own choices, standing up for our own rights to raise our children in the way we see best, that we end up sticking our head in the sand to help those that really need help.
I think most mothers who are reading blogs, writing books, aligning themselves with parenting philosophies, or balancing children and work, are doing all right. Of course we could have a society that supports the work of mothering and caregiving, but that change is coming because there are those of us who have the ability and fortitude to demand it. We need to remember that there are many mothers who can’t ask for the help themselves because when you are drowning, it is impossible to scream for help if you’re mouth is full of water. Those of us that are able need to look for ways that we can lend a hand, offer a lifeline, create an inclusive community for those who really need help in raising children.