Friday, July 25, 2008

Mommy Wars: Suburban Legend?

Despite the many arguments about the fact that "Mommy Wars" is a media-driven term, I see evidence every day how parents - each with their unique challenges, and moms in particular - begin choosing sides from the time of conception:
  • Will I breastfeed or not?
  • Cloth or disposable?
  • Will I use a pacifier?
  • Natural birth, selected cesarean or hiring a doula?
  • Stay at home vs. Working Mom vs. Employing a Nanny?
There's no in between with these choices. You're either on one side or another, so to speak, and choosing which one can be as important - if not more - than the selection of your baby's name. Beyond the above decisions that each parent must choose (and it may be different for each child), there are the groups that parents fall into when their life choices are so drastically different than others:
  • voluntarily single moms vs. happily married wives
  • divorced women vs. unhappily married housewives
  • military moms vs. all other moms
  • widowed parents vs. parents with partners
The one thing that isn't discussed is the transition from one group to another. I know of an army wife who had a wonderful support system in place of both family and friends, most of whom were also military wives. The moment her husband died, she realized who her true friends really were when she was suddenly treated like an outsider - as if having a deceased husband was a contagious disease that others might catch.

Much more common these days, are those women who find themselves divorced and suddenly lost, not having a steady support system in place. Every place she turns, couples surround her
as she slowly realizes that her set of friends are changing and that those who she can truly relate to are also divorced - been there, done that.

I fall into another category altogether because even though I am divorced, I am not bitter, I don't spend time bashing my ex-husband or complaining about the lack of child support I receive. I'm one of the lucky ones. My ex and I share equal custody of our son, are equally involved in his life and communicate quite frequently about the day-to-day events that take place within our family. (Yes, I still consider the three of us a family.)

Other moms don't know where to place me. I work outside the home, put my son in a private daycare, spend time with him (and his dad, occasionally) and still have time to play. I'm not worried about what group my friends fall into. Some of my friends aren't even parents and, perhaps not surprisingly, most of the people I can truly relate to are dads. They've been treated as outsiders from day one with this whole parenting thing (as I often feel).

Websites, advertisements and baby products were created with Moms in mind. It's a challenge to be an actively involved father when there's little support in our society provided.

I'm not only concerned with how this affects parents but also how children are affected. What message are we sending to our little ones?

With each situation that a parent must deal with, his child must also cope with. I believe that every child comes into the world with special needs because of these unique circumstances.

Are you, as a parent or educator, prepared to handle the emotional needs of these young people? How is anyone surprised that today's children are medicated at an early age, or diagnosed with a psychological, social, or behavioral disorder before they reach adulthood? If their parents fall into a specific category, what other option do children have but to conform to a set of ideal behavioral expectations or befriend (only) those children whose parents are on the same side as their own?

I don't have the answers but I believe that asking the questions is a good place to start.

Suggested Reading:
Deliver This!: Make the Childbirth Choice That's Right for You . . . No Matter What Everyone Else Thinks

Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families

Feminine Mistake, The: Are We Giving Up Too Much?

Striking a Balance: Work, Family, Life

The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars: Who Decides What Makes a Good Mother?

1 comment:

Bethany said...

Was just wondering why my Twitter updates are on your blog, any ideas? Very wierd.