Toxic Children exerpt

Raising kids with no- or low-TV.
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Toxic Children exerpt

Post by whitedot » Fri Sep 15, 2006 7:41 pm

Betrayal of our children

"Up and down down the country, in the homes of rich and poor alike, a battle is being
fought for the very future of our children.

And, unless we do something about it soon, this is a battle that could be lost. Indeed,
the death of childhood is nearly upon us.

The so-far unstoppable enemy is a toxic alliance of junk food, electronic gadgets,
late bedtimes and lax parental discipline that is in danger of turning an entire generation
of children into depressed and angry individuals, plagued by a range of health and
behavioural problems."

"THE AUTHOR: Sue palmer is the author of "toxic childhood" (Orion, £12.99), a portrait of a
generation in crisis"

read more: ... ldren.html


Now I don't want to get off on a rant here but...

Post by Guest » Sat Sep 23, 2006 1:35 pm

I thought this post was great until I got to the last part by Jill Parkin. Could she be more judgmental, condescending, sexist and generally nasty?

Can we please stop blaming mothers for everything that's wrong in our society? Could we, just for a moment, let go of ridiculous old stereotypes and accept that men can be nurturing *primary* caregivers, sometimes far more nurturing than many women? Could little Mrs. Perfect Housewife/Stay-at-home-mom open her mind just a teeny tiny bit and imagine that some mothers who work outside the home actually find extremely good childcare for their children? Oh, and by the way, there's absolutely *no* evidence supporting her claim that kids who receive high-quality childcare while their mothers are at work are somehow suffering for it. In fact, all evidence indicates that these kids do as well as and, by some measures, even better than kids whose mothers give up their careers to stay at home. Maybe Supermom should read a few studies before she condemns all the wonderful women out there trying to keep a career going while raising a family.

For Mrs. Parkin's information, many women who hold down full-time jobs also work hard to provide nutritious meals that they eat together with their families round the table in the evening. And as shocking as this might be for our little June Cleaver-reincarnate, some DADS actually whip up a nutritious meal every now and then, too. Meanwhile, I happen to know for a fact that there are many stay-at-home moms who feed their kids take-out in front of a tv set every night.

For the record, I'm a stay-at-home mom who does freelance writing on the side, much like Mrs. Parkin. However, unlike her, I don't believe this makes me morally superior to women who have to or - GASP - choose to work outside the home. You don't have to stay at home to be a good mom and just because you stay at home doesn't mean you're a good mom.

Mrs. Parkin is right that kids need supervision, love and boundaries. They need someone to take away the PlayStation, the tv set, the iPod and all the other crap that serves to separate them from real human beings. On that, I think we can all agree.

As for her obnoxious, holier-than-thou diatribe against women who don't or can't arrange their lives to be exactly like her...well, as far as I'm concerned, she can stick it where the sun don't shine!

But that's just *my* opinion. I could be wrong.


Post by bfermanich2 » Sat Oct 07, 2006 5:50 pm

Congradulations on making an incredibly insightful and awesome post. I thought you were 100% correct on every issue you touched. Forget the first person who replied to this. In no way are you saying that women don't have a place in the workforce. They do! But when children come into the picture the primary and #1 responsibility is raising those kids, and everything else comes in second including that coveted salary and corner office.

We are all sexual beings with sexual identities. Men because they are men have certain advantages to women. Women because they are women have certain advantages over men. Its not a "one is better than the other" battle. Men and women are equally unique, with vastly different societal roles but equal in importance. You can't deny what you are. Radical femanists love to tout how stay-at-home moms are being "imprisoned" and being held down by the men who are controling the world. Thats a bullshit lie. My wife who is a stay-at-home mom for our 10 month old girl has a far more important job than I could ever have. Sure, I bring home the money to pay the bills and buy groceries and whatnot, but she is essentially raising our little girl -- spending time with her, teaching her, playing with her, reading to her... being a MOM. I consider these things to be the cornerstone of life. I'm just helping out by bringing food to the table. But my wife is the true hero in our family.

God bless you and your family. Awesome post! Take care.

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Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2005 10:52 pm
Location: Brookline, MA

time for some calm, rational thoughts

Post by lydia » Sun Oct 08, 2006 2:49 am

Hi Brad,
I feel compelled to respond to your post in what I hope is a respectful, thought-provoking way.

It's fine that you agree with Jill Parkin, who, by the way, did *not* post this. The administrator of the site simply posted an excerpt from a book, I believe. So if it's Jill Parkin you're blessing at the end, more power to you, but understand that she probably has no idea her excerpt was posted on this site.

The problem I have with your post is that you airily dismiss "Guest," who responded to the original post, without even considering what she had to say. "Forget the first person who replied to this," you write. But why? Certainly, Guest sounds angry and goes a bit over the top. But she still has some good points that deserve to be considered. Immediately after dismissing Guest, you say in the next sentence: "In no way are you saying that women don't have a place in the workforce." You're correct that Jill Parkin never said that women don't have a place in the workforce. However, by placing this sentence where you did, you imply that Guest, who responded to the original post, was saying that this was what Parkin meant. I've read Guest's post carefully, and nowhere in there does she accuse Parkin of any such thing.

As I read it, Parkin is saying that although it's fine for women to work outside the home before they have kids, once children become part of the picture, women should give up full-time work to take care of their children for some unspecified period of time. It's fine, she seems to say, if mothers dabble in a bit of writing or take on a little part-time work, as she and her friends have done. But if they actually work full time, their kids will suffer, she contends. This is really at the heart of the argument, isn't it? Just how much can moms work outside the home without being condemned by Parkin? Parkin seems to think moms should be able to put in a few hours here and there, presumably while the kids are sleeping or on play dates or something, but not a full 8 hours. Guest disagrees with Parkin. She thinks it's actually possible to have a full-time career outside the home (meaning you work 8 or 9 hours outside the home every day Monday through Friday) and still be a good mother. To me, it's an interesting question, and not one that should be summarily dismissed.

Now, in the excerpt, Parkin states: "Before I am lambasted, let me say that, of course, women should be given the finest education and enjoy glittering careers - that is their absolute right." This, to me, is a strange statement. How can women have "glittering careers" if they follow Parkin's advice and quit full-time jobs once they become moms? It might be possible to have a glittering career as a writer working part-time (though I doubt it) but most other careers require a more substantial investment of time. You simply cannot excel in most fields unless you're working full time. Later she writes: "It doesn't mean never working again; it means putting children first until the job is done." The sad fact is that if you go part-time or simply quit for a few years until your kids are a bit older, you may find there's no career to return to once you decide to go back. And by the way, when is "the job" of motherhood ever done? When the kids start going to school? When they're teenagers? When they go off to college? Just how long are women supposed to stay in career limbo? Because the longer you stay out of the working world, the less likely it is that you'll be able to advance to any meaningful level in your career. So I think it's a bit disingenuous of Parkin to pay lip-service to the idea that women are entitled to glittering careers when she must know that having a glittering career is not compatible with the lifestyle she is promoting. Maybe she thinks women who don't have kids should have glittering careers but women who *do* have kids have relinquished this right. It's not at all clear to me how else to reconcile all the things she says in her excerpt.

I think it's also important to look at the next sentence of Parkin's excerpt: "All I am saying is that children should never be simply an appendage to a career." Now, I know many mothers who work full time outside the home. Not one of them thinks of her child as an appendage to her career. Every mother I know, whether she works outside the home or not, loves her child more than anything in the world. And I think this is the sort of condescending statement that made Guest upset. Parkin is painting an extremely unflattering, and in my opinion, unfair portrait of mothers who also choose to pursue a career outside the home. She's suggesting that they're heartless creatures who think of their children as possessions rather than real human beings.

And that's not the only place where she paints a negative image of moms with full-time careers outside the home: "Instead of giving children attention and care, we dash out to work, give them electronic games, junk food and hardly any time at all." Here she's using "we" to refer to society and obviously not to herself. Again, this is a stereotype of moms who work full-time outside the home: they never cook, never spend time with their kids, never feed their kids anything decent and just throw gadgetry at them instead of caring for them. It's a very clear attack. Here's another one: "I'm no perfect mother, but motherhood is a job I do, rather than something I try to pretend hasn't happened." Here again is another jab at mothers who pursue careers outside the home. She seems to be saying that these women with full-time jobs aren't even real moms. They aren't doing the job of motherhood. In fact, they're so full of themselves they effectively deny being mothers at all. Again, extremely unflattering and unfair. Here's another example: "And my children know I'm not paid to look after them. At the risk of sounding smug, I do it out of love. We have real meals together, round a table." Well, Parkin *does* sound smug. She stays at home out of love, the implication being that moms who don't stay at home don't love their kids, or they don't love them as much as she loves her kids. She's going back to the stereotype that moms who pursue full-time careers outside the home don't really love their children - not even enough to have a "real" meal sitting around the table together. Once again, unflattering and unfair.

It is this stereotyping of mothers with careers outside the home that Guest is objecting to. These women aren't heartless, unloving, inconsiderate mothers who never cook dinner or read to their kids or sit down to eat a meal with their families, she says, and it's wrong for Jill Parkin to suggest that they are. And honestly, I agree with Guest on this. I thought this statement was particularly good:
"You don't have to stay at home to be a good mom and just because you stay at home doesn't mean you're a good mom. " I humbly submit that Guest is right about that. I mean, look at Andrea Yates. She stayed at home - and look what happened to her children! Her kids might have been much better off if she *hadn't* stayed at home. Of course, in her case, it sounds like she was psychotic, so maybe she isn't the best example. But chew on this: Is it better for a mother to have a fulfilling career outside the home and be happy or to stay home with the kids and be miserable? Because as much as Parkin tells women it's their duty to stay at home and as much as you say that they're heros for doing it and that their mommy duties are important, the simple fact of the matter is (and I speak from experience) staying home with the kids can be mind-numbingly dull. Some women just can't stand the monotony of it. And while you're chewing on that, ask yourself this question: If Mom is deeply unhappy and resentful because she was guilted into giving up her career, will she really be any fun to be around? I would contend that a happy mother is much more likely to lead to a happy child, and a miserable mother will yield nothing but misery. You can say that women who sacrifice careers for their kids shouldn't feel miserable, but that's like saying that it should never snow in October - the sad truth is sometimes it does, and sometimes staying cooped up at home makes some mothers miserable.

This brings me to another point that both you and Parkin bring up. You both suggest that women who have full-time careers outside the home are doing it for the money (note your comment: "...when children come into the picture the primary and #1 responsibility is raising those kids, and everything else comes in second including that coveted salary and corner office."). In some cases, women may indeed be working to gain material wealth, but that's certainly not true in all cases. As a stay-at-home mom, I've seriously thought about going back to full-time work outside the home, not because my family needs the money but because I feel like my brain is turning to mush while I'm just sitting here at home wiping kids' butts and reading Green Eggs and Ham all day. Yes, I'm well aware that there are plenty of rewards for staying at home. But as much as I love my kids, I dearly miss working with intelligent adults as I once did. Being a stay-at-home mom can be extremely isolating and depressing, especially for highly-educated women who have grown accustomed to contributing intellectually in a work environment. What I've learned from my own experience is that staying at home isn't for everyone. Some women will simply wither up and die (at least in their hearts) if you guilt them into staying at home. They would be much happier if they could go out and use all their hard-earned education to do something in the working world. That doesn't mean they aren't involved with their kids - a career does not preclude reading to your child or having a healthy dinner together as a family. I know because my mom managed to do it for my brother and me every single day (she worked full time as a school teacher). My mom's example proves to me that it is, in fact, possible to work full time and still be fully engaged in your kids' lives. And I honestly think she was happier and we were happier because she had a career outside the home. That's not to denigrate women who focus solely on being homemakers. I think it's extremely challenging work and I have nothing but respect for women who do it. But I don't think it's for everyone and I don't think it's at all fair to say that you *have* to stay at home all day to be a good mother.

And as for the money issue, Parkin is rather glib about what sacrificing a full-time job might mean for a family, and *you* don't seem to give it much thought in your post either. Parkin writes: "Going freelance meant working from home for less than half my previous income; we had to swop a big house for a small one and lose a car. But I gained time with my three children. " I think this demonstrates Parkin's bias as a middle-class mother. The sad fact is that many mothers are too poor and uneducated to even have a choice in the matter. For them, this isn't about a big house versus a small house or one car instead of two. For them, it's about having any home at all. It's about having something - anything - to feed their families at dinner time. They either work or go hungry. Many women are the only providers for their families. They don't have a husband to pick up the financial slack for them as you do for your wife and as my husband does for me. For some, working full time is a necessity, not some lark. Many mothers would love to do part-time work from home but they don't have the skills or the resources to allow that. The only paying jobs available to them are full-time and often require them to work outside the home at times when they need and want to be with their kids. It simply doesn't help to attack these mothers who are in such an impossible situation. Rather, Parkin needs to focus on attacking the structures that put women into these positions. She begins to address this toward the end when she writes: "It's a message enforced by a Government which seems to value women only as worker drones (along with the taxes that follow), and hands out money in the form of cash for childcare and working parents' tax credits, yet never gives money to women who look after their own children." If only she'd made this argument earlier and spent more time considering how government could help women - but alas, it's too little too late. At this point in the article, she's already deeply offended people like Guest who is no longer interested in hearing what she has to say.

Another point that should be considered is this suggestion that kids receive inferior care at day care centers than they would at home, a point that Guest strongly objects to. The truth is that there is a range of quality in child care providers. There's also a range of quality in moms out there. Honestly, I think some kids do much better in a high-qualtiy, structured child-care setting than they do when they stay at home with their moms. Again, not all moms who stay at home are good. Some are abusive or neglectful or just clueless. And some stay-at-home moms just try too hard. They hover over their kids so much that they stifle the kids' chance to learn how to be independent or how to entertain themselves. For these kids, being in day care might actually be better for them. Here again, I think it's unfair for you to simply dismiss what Guest said. She wrote: "...there's absolutely *no* evidence supporting her claim that kids who receive high-quality childcare while their mothers are at work are somehow suffering for it. In fact, all evidence indicates that these kids do as well as and, by some measures, even better than kids whose mothers give up their careers to stay at home." I think this statement bears consideration. Is Guest right about this? And if so, doesn't this undercut everything Parkin has been saying? Where are all the scientific studies actually comparing children whose mothers stayed at home versus children who went to high-quality day care centers while their mothers worked outside the home? I'd be interested to see the actual evidence. I agree with Guest that if Jill Parkin is going to attack mothers with full-time careers outside the home, she has an obligation as a journalist to actually provide real proof to support her claims, not just sweeping statements with no evidence to back them up.

One final point: Both you and Parkin seem to think women are somehow biologically better suited to care full-time for the kids. She says: "Of course, there are complete role-reversal households, and good luck to them, but I suspect that most women are emotionally and physically more suited to child-rearing." You write: "We are all sexual beings with sexual identities. Men because they are men have certain advantages to women. Women because they are women have certain advantages over men. Its not a "one is better than the other" battle. Men and women are equally unique, with vastly different societal roles but equal in importance. You can't deny what you are." What exactly are the advantages you're talking about? I'd be curious in knowing. Because certainly, women have the ability to bear children and lactate and men tend to be physically larger and stronger. Also, I know of some evidence to suggest that women have stronger verbal abilities than men, and men have greater spatial/visual skills than women. And men seem to do better than women in math, though it's not clear to me whether that's down to biology or has more to do with the lousy way girls are subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) steered away from math and science by teachers, peers, parents and society in general. Other than those things, though, I know of no documented, scientifically proven differences in abilities that can be attributed to biology, at least not in anything important. Now obviously, if a woman chooses to breast feed, she is better suited, physically, to care for an infant than her husband. At least, that's how it was back in the old days. Now, though, women can simply pump their milk and have dad give the baby a bottle. And with formula, there's absolutely no reason why a man can't fully participate in caring for his child (and I say this as a woman who breast fed each of her children for the first 12 months and strongly supports breast feeding). So I'm not sure exactly what you and Parkin are talking about.
Frankly, I think it's insulting to men to suggest that they are physically or emotionally less capable than women of caring for children. As far as I can tell, most of these differences in nurturing ability come down to societal expectations anyway: little girls are handed dolls to play with while little boys get trucks and toy guns. I'm not sure how you could ever prove that girls are biologically wired to be better nurturers than men given the layers of social influence that serve to enforce stereotyped sex-specific behavior in children from the moment they're born. And you can't even point to "nature" as proof because there are plenty of examples in nature where *dad* is the primary caregiver for the offspring (if you need some concrete examples, just read Eric Carle's book, "Mr. Seahorse").
Besides, even if mom is "better suited" somehow for the job, that doesn't mean Dad couldn't do a reasonably good job, too. So I see no reason why mom can't work full time while dad stays at home if that works better for everyone. In fact, I know a couple who does this and it works wonderfully. Or maybe mom and dad could share equally in child care responsibilities. I know several couples who are doing this successfully. Or maybe both mom and dad work while the kids go to a high-quality child care center. Again, I know many families who do this and the kids are perfectly happy, healthy and even better-adjusted than some kids I know whose mothers stay at home. The point is there are many ways to raise good kids, and it doesn't always have to follow the 1950's traditional mold.

Oh, and another thing. In your post, you write: "Radical femanists love to tout how stay-at-home moms are being "imprisoned" and being held down by the men who are controling the world." I'm not sure who you're referring to, but I would like to point out that Guest never said anything of the kind. Never once did she say a single negative word about men. Instead, she objected to the way Parkin - a woman - caricatures women who have full-time careers outside the home. You might not like the way she expressed those objections but I don't think you should just wave your hand and dismiss her main point. And what is her point? That women need to stop attacking each other and blaming each other for all of society's ills. (Of course, Guest falls right into the trap of attacking Parkin, and that sort of undercuts her main point!)

I guess it all comes down to this. Yes, parents - both moms *and* dads - need to take responsibility for their children's upbringing, but not everyone has to do it in exactly the same way, and certainly not according to Parkin's very narrow specifications. I don't think badly of your wife for staying at home with your daughter and I hope no one thinks I've wasted my time staying at home with my kids. But if tomorrow I decide to start working full time outside the home, I would hope no one would attack me for doing that either, because I certainly wouldn't just throw my kids to the wolves! I think what Guest was objecting to, and what I object to as well, is the judgemental tone emanating from Parkin's excerpt. She really seems to be saying that the reason kids are so messed up today is ultimately because their moms are working full-time jobs outside the home. Personally, I think that attitude is extremely unhelpful and unproductive. It pits women against each other at a time when the goal should be to bring women together. And with all the radical changes in society over the past century, I think it highly unlikely that working moms bear all the blame for everything that's going wrong. It takes a village to raise a child, right?

Anyway, those are my two cents for what they're worth.



Thoughtful post

Post by whitedot » Wed Oct 11, 2006 4:08 pm


Thank you so much for your insightful post and your thoughts on motherhood.

When it comes to teleivison and electronic screen-gadgets and their influence on children, I believe that both career-moms and stay-at-home moms face pitfalls:

Stay-at-home mothers (and fathers) resort to electronic baby sitting to get a break from the demands of small children. For every turn-key child at home alone watching Jerry Springer after school, there's another kid banished to the basement to watch television while mom is talking on the phone. It's a bad habit, sort of like compulsive snacking, that is addictive for adults. The rewards to adults are perverse: Turn the TV off, and a child often throws a tantrum. But leave the machine on and the kid leaves you alone.

This is also a child-rearing crutch for fathers and grandparents who are NOT "primary care-givers" -- we tell ourselves, "just a little television to help them cool down for a half hour while I make dinner/check email, etc." Suddenly, a half-hour turns into an hour, and then two, as the child eats supper in front of the screen.

For working parents TV represents two pitfalls: First of all, there are many daycare arrangements that rely heavily on television, especially, sadly, when children are cared for by a relative. So, a working mother never really knows how much television her child is watching while she's slaving away.

Secondly, many working parents want to indulge their children, and in our culture that means "giving them technology". A working parent may want to use TV or video games as a reward and a treat -- but the child has often been subjected to hours of screen time at daycare/school/afterschool care already. The expensive Guilt-Gift X-Box video game machine or the personal bedroom television will eat away the precious time that a working parent actually has with her child. The kid resurfaces into the real world after hours of clicking and squinting, and who can't make the anaology that the child behaves like he/she's in detox?

A quick note: I'm a mom of 5 small kids and we have no television in the house. How did I carve out the time to play around on the computer with a 5- and one-year-old underfoot? I recommend books-on-tape as a humane and imagination-building electronic baby sitter. Half-an hour of storytime in a chair while the baby's napping and mom gets a chance to read email.

Best wishes,

Jean Lotus, white dotter


Post by bfermanich2 » Wed Jan 03, 2007 6:30 pm

Wow... in no way am I going to go over your post point by point because I just don't have the time, but I will say a few things.
First, I believe that women and men are different physically, mentally and socially and this makes each one unique in his or her abilities. Women are inherent nuturers, i.e. they have a "natural" predilection to care for others, nuture, feed, grow, etc. This isn't learned. Its biologically and spiritually woven into every woman -- something that you cannot deny. You can't look at seahorses to get a good picture of what characterizes homo sapien females. Perhaps this is where you think I'm wrong. Modern society likes to try to level the playing fields so-to-speak by mixing and matching inherently masculine and feminine traits into everybody, thereby making the case that there really isn't a "one is better than the other" in regards to specific circumstances -- with the end claim that males and females still have unique sexual qualities, but both sexual identities are watered down into a more unisex identity, where men and women share many of the same sexual characteristics. This is what I don't agree with. I strongly believe that due to the physical, mental, and social aspect of women they are more prepared to raise children. You've touched on many of the unique special qualities women have that men don't, and quite frankly I believe you've answered your own question.

As far as "judgement" calls are concerned, I believe that there's nothing wrong with judging someone's actions as long as you don't make the mistake of judging that person's heart. They may not know what they truely are doing to themselves and others, but its the outward physical action that is observable, and all of us are called to judge one another (not necessarily in a negative degrading way) to lend a hand in the pursuit of trying to right a perceivable wrong in our own eyes. Don't make the assumption that a judgement call is always a bad thing whose soul purpose is to insult and belittle. If we don't act out on our convictions, we as a people are useless. This is getting off topic, but I'm trying to prove a point. As far as your notion that I or others might be "judging" your words on working mom's, I think they have every right to do so because they feel that it is wrong and in NOT telling you what they think they are themselves doing a wrong by letting you destroy yourself (in their opinion). I believe that we are our brother's keepers, and its my duty to try to help others from making what I would call a mistake. Sure, non-traditional families exist that work just fine, but in my opinion the senario of the daddy-day care isn't the preferred way to raise a child. Like I said, there are exceptions, but this is not the rule. Don't buy into the PC mindset of appeasement at every turn. I disagree with you and I'm not going to feel sorry for it (nor care if I hurt your feelings) if I clearly explain my position in a non-hostile manner and tell you that I think that a full-time working "career mom" is a bad idea. We're adults and should be able to handle constructive criticism when its delt to us. Men and women cannot be interchanged indefinitely when you're talking about the raising of a child with a sound sexual identity and mental maturity with regards to sexual identity. -- thats my position. I could go on but I don't have the time.

It doesn't take a village to raise a child, but it does take a loving mother and father.

Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2005 10:52 pm
Location: Brookline, MA

opinions versus reasoned arguments

Post by lydia » Sat Jan 06, 2007 9:33 pm

Dear Brad,

Nowhere in my response did I ever suggest in any way that you don't have a right to your own opinions, nor did I say that you shouldn't be allowed to express those opinions. In fact, I wrote: "It's fine that you agree with Jill Parkin..." I will now add that you certainly have the right to judge whomever you choose for whatever reason, and I support your right to express that judgement. However, just because you have a right to express something doesn't mean that you would be morally correct to do so, to say nothing of being ethically obliged to do it.

There are many circumstances in which I strongly disagree with the actions or beliefs of other people but I do not feel it necessary to express my disapproval. Of course, everyone does this every day. It's a necessary response to living in the real world. Each day, I interact with people whose religious and political beliefs differ from my own. If I felt the need to tell all of them that I think they're wrong, I would never get anything done because that's all I'd be doing all day. And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't change anyone's mind either. People generally don't respond well to judgmental statements about their beliefs and lives.

Of course, there are some situations in which I do feel the need to take action. For example, like you, I believe television is bad for a variety of reasons. I have stopped watching tv altogether and I don't let my children watch it. If someone asks me about it, I tell them what I think about tv. And I have publicly stated my position on the matter. However, I do not walk up to people who let their children watch tv and simply tell them they're wrong to do so, nor would I do that online. As you say, "they may not know what they truely (sic) are doing to themselves and others." And again, people don't respond well to being attacked.

Instead, I try to use science and reasonable arguments to persuade others to my way of thinking. The research section on the whitedot site, for example, cites numerous studies that demonstrate the negative effects of television. I can point to those studies and say, "See? Here's hard evidence to support my opinion."

Now, you seem to think women are biologically hard-wired to be nurturers and men are not (at least not to the same degree). If I understand you correctly, you also believe that the proper way to raise a family is with a dad who works outside the home to support his family and a mom who stays at home all day with the kids. You think that if this scenario isn't followed, the children will be harmed in some way (except in a few rare cases). It's not clear exactly how you think the children will be harmed, though you seem to allude to it when you talk about sexual identity. I'm guessing you think children will turn out sexually confused (i.e. gay?) if their dads stay at home, though I can't be sure because you never actually spell it out. Please correct me if I'm wrong about that.

Again, you have a right to believe all these things and express your opinions. But do you really have a moral obligation to do so? Well, first of all, I think you have to ask yourself why you are sharing these opinions. What exactly do you hope to accomplish? Do you just want to feel superior to parents who don't fit the mold of what you consider to be "the preferred way to raise a child"? If so, I would argue that this isn't morally defensible. Attacking other people just so you can feel smug is not a good enough reason. But I don't believe that's why you're doing it. Based on what you've written, I suspect you hope to change the behaviors of other people. You honestly think they are doing something that is harmful to themselves and others and you want to try to convince them to behave otherwise.

If the latter is your reason, then it is, in fact, important that you state your opinions. You may even be correct that you are morally obliged to do so. But - and here's the key - you must not forget what the goal is: to change other people's ways of thinking and behaving.

An opinion without reasonable arguments and scientific evidence to bolster it is just that - an opinion. Simply stating what you believe will *never* be enough to change anyone's mind about anything. If you really hope to do good by changing the behaviors and beliefs of other people, you must try much harder. You must, for example, actually go to the trouble of giving a point-by-point response to the questions I've raised just as I took the trouble to respond point-by-point to you and Ms. Parkin. You must actually sift through the evidence and find studies that support your beliefs. Waving your hand and saying, "I don't have time..." is simply not good enough.

In your response, you have given not one single shred of scientific evidence to bolster your claims. You haven't provided any real arguments. To be sure, you've stated your position, but to what end? You say you don't care whether you hurt my feelings. Well, you *haven't* hurt my feelings. It doesn't hurt me to hear someone express an opinion that differs from my own. But it doesn't persuade me either.

I think this is an extremely important point, and it's true regardless of whether you're talking about motherhood, television or world politics. We've somehow ended up with a society where people constantly talk past each other. Instead of engaging in real debate with reasonable arguments and evidence being discussed, people just state their opinions and leave it at that. Actually, that's the best-case scenario. In the worst-case scenario, people state their opinions and then start personally attacking each other. In a democracy, people certainly have the right to do that. But I can't see how that sort of thing is anything more than a gigantic waste of time.

If you're going to claim that you're judging people for their own good - that, in fact, you are morally obliged to do so - then you also have a moral obligation to support the opinions that inform your judgement with sound reason and solid evidence. To do otherwise is to do a disservice to your own beliefs and to those brothers (or sisters, in this case) you so desperately wish to keep.

Sincerely and respectfully yours,

P.S. I note that I have provided no real evidence or arguments to refute your opinions. However, I feel I must point out that I'm not the one passing judgement on other people - *you* are.


Post by Ophelia » Sun Mar 04, 2007 10:55 am

Chipping in on the side of incompetent femininity:

As an autistic woman I can safely say that I absolutely do not have any "natural predilection to care for others, nurture, feed, grow". Babies and preverbal children in particular fill me with feelings of fear and revulsion.

Now obviously I, and people like myself, are the exception that proves the rule (prove in this sense means to TEST, by the way) - the thing is, neurologically atypical or not I am still biologically female, with all the primary sexual characteristics that go with it, and according to your post, these Suzy Homemaker desires are "biologically and spiritually woven into every woman".

Consider Specimen A, here. I have no patience with irrationality, no sympathy with emotional outbursts, become either mute or aggressive when stressed, and furthermore I feel a sense of faint distaste towards ANYONE who can't physically look after themselves. Would you trust this woman with a child?

Now I've painted a pretty grim picture of myself, but you see, by merely existing I prove you wrong: it can't be a simple question of biology. Oh, and to forestall the bingo, no it wouldn't be different if it was my own. If I ever had the misfortune to become pregnant (shudder!) that infant would be down at the adoption service desk as soon as I could walk again, to save both of us. I am not cruel, but asking me to look after a puling child is like asking a dog to solve quadratic equations. I just don't have the mental equipment for it.

Admitting that there are females out there - like myself - who due to their own innate characteristics would be appalling mothers, how about something like

"...due to the physical, mental, and social aspect of women, a majority of women compared to men are more prepared to raise children"

I think all reasonable people would get behind you on that one.

Guest in London

Moms etc

Post by Guest in London » Sun Mar 04, 2007 5:38 pm

Just wanted to say to Orphelia, you are not alone as I have also never once in my 41 years ever felt any maternal feelings, need or desire for a baby or child, or any interest in children at all (apart from as you say, a mild revulsion). I don't think this is so unusual (although women are afraid to admit it for fear of being ostracised) but I have always been made to feel like a freak because of it. Anyway, just wanted you to know that.

As for stay at home mothers - my mother stayed at home with me & my 2 siblings until the youngest was about to enter his teens. Unfortunately she was a totally toxic mother and I used to wish she would get a job so that we could get some peace from her. I think it comes down to the quality of the mother, rather than how many hours any mother spends with her kids...... 8 hours a day with 'toxic mom' or 8 hours a day in childcare? Who can tell what would have been better for me.

Anyhow, isn't the real villain here TV, not parents, this is an anti TV website after all?

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