Dr. Phil: Part 2

21 Oct

I still have no idea what “I just think you should feather your nest” means.  Is this some sort of colloquialism I am, as yet, unfamiliar with?  It’s possible it is some sort of negative comment, given it was written by the aforementioned “the Jessica” (who does, by the way, have a blog) to whom I was less than charitable.  Maybe she’s saying I need to decorate my house?

Anyway, that’s not really the comment that sparked this post.  Instead, I want to talk about a very good point that my long time friend Hillary made.  First of all, she pointed out that the studies mentioned on the show that showed a benefit in test taking for kids in daycare no longer show the same benefits once the children are over six.  So yes, daycare kids in good programs get a headstart, but the advantage fades once children are in regular school programs.

Whew.  No more concerns about how to make Evi the Smartest Kid Ever.  Turns out she’ll do it herself.  🙂

More importantly, Hillary pointed out to essential flaws with the show and with the entire argument of mom vs. mom.  #1: Why are we only talking about moms?  What about dads?  #2: There are bigger issues at stake which we should be focusing on, like (and I quote from Hillary’s comment):

  • Better work/life balance for men and women
  • Making quality child care affordable for everyone
  • Better federal and state enforcement of child care standards (which is currently abysmal)
  • Increasing and making more reasonable parental leave (via federal legislation)

I must also commend her for using the word abysmal.  Points for smart.

Okay…  I’m not sure I can fit my thoughts on both of these things into one post, so for now I will start with one.

Issue The First: Daddy Dearest

Why are we always focusing on what moms do?  Why wasn’t the Dr. Phil show called “Guilty Parents” instead of “Guilty Moms.”  Why, when discussing the search for daycare, was the mom the only one on the stage discussing her feelings of guilt and fear?

Hmm…  First of all, I think women in general are more likely to be concerned about this sort of thing.  We are (again, in general) rather more emotional.  We tend to be the ones who worry about things like our children having abandonment issues or being hugged on a regular basis by the dreaded Someone Else.  Dads, in my experience, are far more concerned with more long-term, overall issues like making sure there is money to feed/clothe/diaper said child and being positive they will grow up to become something other than an axe wielding maniac and/or slack-jawed idiot.  In my house, I am certainly the one concerned with the daily emotional business, thinking about how Evi is feeling, while Aaron is more wrapped up in making sure she is provided for.

I also think that we, as a societal whole here in the US (and likely elsewhere), have set up this sort of model.  Even now, when women are working just as much as men (though still making less money doing so) and are just as likely to be educated professionals with high profile careers, they are still the ones people talk to/about when it comes to having and raising children.  Okay, women do the “having,” I suppose, but the raising should be an equal thing, yes?  It certainly is for us.  I spend more time with Evi, but we do an equal amount of feeding and playing, and I am actually willing to wager that Aaron has changed as many diapers, if not more.  The sheer quantity of baby poop in the diaper he changed yesterday should count for several diapers on the tally.

But I digress.  Why isn’t Dr. Phil (or anyone, for that matter) talking to stay-at-home or working dads?  I do happen to know a couple of stay-at-home dads, so they are out there.  They are not, however, fighting with their working friends and neighbors.  They are, in my experience, spending their days getting things done and enjoying their children.  They are just as productive, loving, and fabulous as their female counterparts, but they lack the tenacious drive to tear one another apart.

Are we, at heart, still big monkeys?  Is that the issue?  Are women driven to constantly tear each other down out of some bizarre biological throwback in which we see one another as competition for competent mates?  Or are we just mean?  I, for one, and Hillary, for another, happen to LIKE my fellow women.  We’re pretty neat when it comes right down to it.  And you know who else is awesome?


No really.  Aaron rocks.  He’s a fantastic husband and father.  He does more than his fair share around the house, and is always there to give me a break when I need one with Evi.  He plays with her, he always makes her laugh.  She loves to see him and gets SUPER excited when he comes home.  In fact, I know a lot of husbands who are pulling their weight, who are equally responsible for raising their children, and that is how it should be.

In the end, if a child suffers because of the quality of their parenting, the blame belongs to Mom AND Dad, just as does the praise for a child who grows up in a loving, happy, safe home.  Both parents should be responsible for making sure a child gets everything they need.  It is NOT solely (or even mostly) the mother’s job to take care of these things.  Parents who have the option to work as a team should do so, it makes it easier for everyone.

Now, let’s say you’re a single parent.  Dear God, someone should give you an award, a vacation, and a Ferrari.  I don’t know how you do it, and yet you do.  I know so many happy, smart people who were (or are currently being) raised by a single parent.  I don’t know if I could do it, short of moving in with my mother.

I guess what it boils down to for me is that everyone (society, women, ourselves) needs to get off women’s backs about the various disagreements we all have.  We need to step back, realize that we’re all people with our very own set of issues and concerns, and we’re all just doing the best we can out there.

So hug someone, and stop with the judging.

As expected, no time for issue #2.  Hopefully I’ll get to that tomorrow.  Thanks Hillary for the blog fodder!!!


3 Responses to “Dr. Phil: Part 2”

  1. a October 21, 2009 at 4:46 pm #

    I wandered over to that other blog and felt my shoulders hunch with tension as I read many of the comments. I think you’re hitting a major issue here – if it’s necessary for moms to be at home raising the child(ren), why isn’t it necessary for dads to be there too?

    What’s really amusing to me is that this is a post-industrial middle class interpretation of how things should be. I’m pretty sure that the serfs didn’t get to stay at home and raise their children. I’m almost entirely certain that the nobility barely interacted with their children in medieval times through the reign of Queen Victoria. Pioneer women worked full time, as Maytag, Whirlpool, Frigidaire, and Dyson weren’t around back then (not to mention things like, say grocery stores). So where do we get this idea that constant interaction with your mother is the most important thing ever?

  2. Hillary October 22, 2009 at 8:27 am #

    Thanks Heather. I’m so glad to hear other people feel this way too. Sometimes it feels like the media (and others) want to turn what is actually a major and significant policy debate into a cat fight. It’s so frustrating.

    It is really calming for me to remember there are sane, kind voices out there too, so thanks for that. And for saying “long time friend!” Maybe because of this post, I had a dream last night about our waitressing days. So weird.

  3. niobe October 22, 2009 at 8:28 am #

    You know, reading this post made me kind of think that maybe I’m more like a dad than a “real” mom. Not that I care, it’s just, well, interesting… I’m going to think about this some more.

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