Stop the Madness
SPECIAL BULLETIN – We interrupt this stream of practicality to introduce a thought-provoking book on today’s hyper-parenting that many of us wonder to what extent we should be participating in – or not: coordinating playdates as delicately as the Middle East peace process; scouring the internet for food label information; and hiring a private skating skills coach to give three year old Jack a leg up on making the hockey team a few years down the road.
Judith Warner, author of several political and biographical books and writer for Newsweek and the Washington Post, gets to the bottom of what is refered to as this mothering ‘mess’ (by one of the 150+ mothers intereviewed for the book), in Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety.
Warner reveals the confusion and angst brought on by the back and forth cultural expectations of mothering put forth over the last century by early childhood researchers. The pendulum has swung between sacrificing all to raise children as one’s life work (which is close to where we are today, she posits, as evidenced by the fixation on ‘attachment parenting’) to the opposite more detached approach intended to encourage children’s independence and ensure they don’t end up “smother-loved” and psychologically harmed.
Perfect Madness is not a prescriptive 12-step self-help book. It does not offer any magic solutions to the “parenting to perfection” problem, but Warner’s thoughtful conclusions about what is driving many of us to this Baby Einstein/Mozart Effect-induced mommy madness are surprising, (controversial) and informative. We recommend this read for a chance to reflect on the societal and economic pressures which brought us into this ‘age of anxiety’ in the first place so we can collectively help find our way out of it.