As if we didn’t all know this already, moms are constantly ruining their kids’ lives. Of course, moms also give life and sustain it, and dads really don’t, but let’s ignore all that and zero in on mothers’ faults, and blame them for literally everything bad that happens to their kids. And ask disingenuous questions about “overparenting” and pretend to try to figure it out when in reality, the answer here is both very simple and highly unpalatable: because moms literally cannot win, and kids end up damaged no matter what, because patriarchy.
In the case of “helicopter moms” who allegedly smother their children, (but not literally) there is apparently an easily discernible line in between the exact-right amount of caretaking behaviors, and too much. Falling on either side of that line can have devastating consequences, as women and mothers know all too well, but in the case of the dreaded (s)mother, CNN and parenting.com offer some advice.
But first, some serious handmaidensplaning, and disingenuous issue-framing:
Think back to your own childhood: Your folks probably didn’t hover nearly as much as you do. Chances are, you got to play in the yard unattended, or even made your own snacks. Turns out some pretty powerful technological, economic, and social factors have turned us into a generation of over-zealous moms and dads, experts say.
For starters, there’s the explosion of cyberspace, and media in general: “Parenting information is available twenty-four-seven,” observes Christie Barnes, author of “The Paranoid Parents Guide: Worry Less, Parent Better, and Raise a Resilient Child.”
“You can go online and find out every scary thing that could happen to your child. You can also investigate every illness. So there’s endless opportunity for fear.”
At the same time, the rules for setting your little one on the path to lifelong success have become murkier than ever, adds Margaret Nelson, a professor of sociology at Middlebury College, in Vermont, and author of “Parenting Out of Control: Anxious Parents in Uncertain Times.”
So, modern mothers suddenly have “endless opportunities for fear” of what can and does befall children all the time, usually at the hands of men and men’s technology and men’s institutions? And this is all brand new, and because of the internet? Please. If we are really going to address the internet in this context, why not address how much harm the internet itself is actually causing children, harm that moms have good reason to be upset about? It’s not because moms are googling “the harms of internet porn on children” that’s causing modern mothers to be afraid. But the possibility that things really might be getting worse, because of the internet or because of anything else, is never considered; a theory of women interpreting the situation wrong carries the day here, as always.
And, overparenting moms and dads, you say? Give me a fucking break lady. If dads can even to be bothered to do anything for their kids, and they often can’t (they frequently don’t even know whether they have kids, or if they do, they can’t say for certain how many — har!) when they do step up to the plate they are often completely negligent and do a terrible job. An overbearing father is something that most people cannot even fathom, and that cliché about fathers being overprotective of their girl-children is both a damnable lie and an obvious reversal, considering all the damage fathers actively do to their daughters through sexual and physical abuse, and how much they don’t protect their girl-children from other men, even though, being men themselves, they know what men do and what men are, and how dangerous they are to girls specifically.
But I digress. Now where were we? Ah yes, CNN was busy blaming mothers, and handmaidensplaning why women (s)mother:
“Even if you’ve managed to be financially comfortable and happy, you’re aware your child may not be able to duplicate what you’ve accomplished, even if he does exactly what you did,” she explains. “So you ask yourself ‘What should I provide him with?’ Without an answer, you start trying to provide absolutely everything you possibly can, including too much help.”Kids with overbearing moms may have more anxiety and depression.
Oh I see: it has nothing to do with being legitimately afraid for your children’s wellbeing, knowing what kind of shit world we live in, where men brutalize and sexually abuse children all the time; and where we want, no, need our children to “succeed” in life, because un-success, especially for girl-children, often means being subjected to horrible abuse, homelessness and attendant repeated rapes, by men. And prostitution.
And where our children’s un-success often means that those children will not be able to care for their own mothers in their mothers’ old age, leaving mothers vulnerable to medical abuse and sexual assault at the hands of caretakers, who see elderly female patients as rape-objects and potential troublemakers needing to be constantly sedated, making them even more vulnerable.
Could that have something to do with women’s allegedly hypervigilant parenting, assuming such a thing even exists? Probably, but unsurprisingly, CNN never goes there. And how much vigilance is reasonable and necessary is surely in the eye of the beholder.
And if none of this bad reporting is enough to make a woman stop (s)mothering, consider this: (s)mothering is bad for women too, and it will piss off your husband, because it takes away from the sexxxay PIV-time:
And what’s all this doing to you? Probably nothing good either. One study showed that parents who judge their own self-worth by their children’s accomplishments report sadness and diminished contentment with life in general.
They appear to have less happy marriages, too, says Nelson, who interviewed approximately 100 parents and found that as the amount of time they spend on childcare rises, “personal relationships seem to be the first thing to go.” So don’t go there! Keep reading for great ways to let go of your helicopter parenting ways.
And assuming that women readers have been successfully convinced to change their (s)mothering ways, here is some foolproof advice on how to accomplish that:
Says Silvana Clark, author of “Fun-Filled Parenting: A Guide to Laughing More and Yelling Less: “Instead of hovering around your child, stay close by — in case of real danger — but mostly out of sight, so he gets out of the habit of running to you for every problem.”
Okay. Keep your children within eyesight at all times, because there really are nameless and invisible yet admittedly dangerous “things” out there that kids need protection from, but while doing that, somehow manage to stay out of your kids’ line of sight. Even though it’s physically impossible to keep a person in your line of sight while not being in their line of sight at the same time without using mirrors, or another tricky device to monitor them but without being seen yourself.
Thanks for nothing CNN. Because this article has not helped anything, and has actually made my anxiety worse, and I don’t even have kids and I never will. No, it makes me afraid for other women. It really does.