In this Opinion piece from today’s New York Times, Kim Brooks talks about the new movement in Mom-Shaming. She recounts her own experience of being stalked and recorded for leaving her four-year old child in the car for a few minutes, and how this almost led to her being slapped with criminal charges. This over-policing has a strong moralistic and punitive undercurrent that, according to Brooks, has many moms fearful over the smallest misstep.
Check it out:
Dear Amy, I have wrote a comment on this “mom-shaming” and security fetishism on my facebook site this morning.
I hope it fits as a comment here too. Here in Europe we are starting to “mom-shame” too, it´s an unproductive and a-social way to meet parenting.
If parenting becomes per se subject to criminalisation, children and families lose. Parenting in the age of fear is either fun for the children nor for the parents! ‘I don’t know if I’m afraid for my kids, or if I’m afraid other people will be afraid and will judge me for my lack of fear.’
Supervising a child 24/7 is a luxury modern version of child neglect in my opinion.
There is a small percent of children that need to be protected by the law. That is beyond any doubt.
But making use of a protecting law and turning a perfectly functioning parent in is a sort of cancer of our society? Why not try to talk to the mother? Why not offer help? Why document her “wrongdoing” and criminalize her for being a parent?
I am appaled on how far “protecting a child” can be used against human reasoning. This is something I oftentimes meet in my work: “for the sake of the child” is one of the most common arguments used when “the sake of the child” is to have parents who are supported instead of criminalized. Moral and facts are rarely so intertwined like when whe talk about the safety of our children in parenting. “People don’t only think that leaving children alone is dangerous and therefore immoral. They also think it is immoral and therefore dangerous.”
Shaping parenting by moral was an old instrument of totalitarian societies. If capitalism is a form of totalitarianism, than there is no big difference in dictating how parenthood and the future adults (the parented children) should be. Obedient, 24/7 supervised individuals with a “no-risk” mentality. Psychologically speaking this is devastating. I can see that we live in the Age of Angst, this enhances my own Angst. I am greateful to have grown up with a lot of personal freedom, I am positive that this enhanced my ability to think and take decisions for myself.
Romanians reading are surely reminded of our Creanga story on “Prostia omeneasca” and “what might happen if…” stupidity.
Some weeks ago we traveled with our children on a plane. There was plenty of time to go to the toilet until landing. One of our daughters wanted to go and I went with her. The attendant warned us to sit down, I told her that we are going to go to the toilet, she can´t hold it anymore. So the flight attendant warned me “we won´t take responsability for any harm that you might be experiencing by going to the toilet. You alone are responsable to going to the toilet now :)” I replied, cool that this is how it always is. I truly am always self-responsable for my toiletgoing.
When we returned to our seats the attendant was giving me the “if-looks-can-kill” treatment. I told her “You know miss, I was wandering. I am a psychotherapist and I think I am beginning to get a panic attack right now.” She looked at me worried and helpless. “I am about to panick because of so many regulations and so many dangers that even going to the toilet implies.” Then sat down. She was nice, brought me a glass of water and asked me if I need anything.
It´s a crazy world we are living in, don´t you agree?
I am curious what you say about this kind of development when talking about secure parenting and generally about “security”?
There is only one certainty in life: death.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Raluca. The way you combine personal, societal, cultural and political reflections in your writing reminds us of what a complex and multi-layered problem this is. Thanks!