Thanks to all who have followed the discussion this week.
Valenti makes an interesting defense mechanism argument, that part of the reason we moms buy into over-parenting and obsessing about minutiae is to shield ourselves from 1)the frightening reality that we don’t have control over whether our kids will be okay, and 2)we aren’t getting the support from society and sometimes from men that we should.
“We focus on the absurd, rather than the everyday, because the mundane is too real-too out of control – to face.”
“And the terrifying reality is that from the moment our children are born thers’a wlays a chance they could be taken away from us. I don’t know about you, but worrying about BPA-free pacifies seems a hell of a lot more sanity saving.”
Final Discussion Question: Do you buy the defense mechanism argument as a way for women to deny either the frightening reality of lack of control or to deny the lack of support and not face the unfair cultural expectations on us.
I actually have a difficult time answering this one. I’m not big on denial, it’s not my nature. I spend plenty of time worrying about actual big things that could happen to my kids and I feel like that actually makes it hard for me to obsess over things like which sippy cup is best and whether a certain pre-school will get my kids into Harvard. Also, as my readers know all too well, I’m not particularly in denial about the martyr mommy culture I rant about on frequent occasion. I guess it’s hard for me to say if other moms are helicopter parenting as a defense mechanism, but it certainly makes sense as an argument.
I do think it’s also important to look not just as the woman’s perspective, but who is perpetuating this type of obsessing. There are massive industry’s profiting of women (and some men) obsessing about children’s well-being, what they should eat, what toys and products will best stimulate them, what educational tools they need, classes to enrich them, consultants and self-help gurus to help with everything and anything, the right clothes, car seats, formula, etc. I think it’s important rather too look at how the bombardment of cultural messages that we SHOULD be obsessing interplays with our own psychology.
Additionally, if we are obsessing over our kids in order to not face how isolated we are and unsupported, that is also being perpetuated by culture. Everyone in society who is not supporting us, not paying into state-sponsored childcare and paternal leave, not stepping us, not doing their share of parenting their own kids, not making workplaces more parent friendly, etc. is benefiting from moms being too focused on being perfect to stand up and demand better. This problem isn’t located in our psyches, but in society.