Recently, I posted a piece by a woman who explained why she breastfed until her child was 3 years old. She made a point to say she didn’t think breastfeeding made her better than the next mom, it was just what she had to do. “Let’s all try high five-ing each other for the fact that we’ve made it this far,” she wrote. “Because parenting is hard enough without wasting time and energy trying to hurt each others’ feelings.”
Despite many high-fives, there were also many comments on her piece telling her why she did it wrong, and how this or that anonymous poster is doing it better. And of course there were comments within the comments, where breast-feeders trashed non-breast-feeders and vice versa. Helpful.
Over at the New York Times Motherlode blog, KJ Dell’Antonia wrote a piece about a meteorologist with two kids, and how she and her husband manage. There was a mention of a nanny (both parents work!) and yep, you guessed it.
This happens with most of our pieces here because, well, judgement.
So when a colleague told me about this commercial recently, I thought that it was simply a formula company banking on old tropes. Then I watched it. Right, I thought. These aren’t old tropes.
In it, stereotypical groups of moms and dads play up their roles, judging each other for working, staying home with kids, breast-feeding, bottle feeding. There are the yoga/baby wearers. The corporate suit iPhone using stroller pushers. Dads with slings. Each group slams the other.
And sadly, I wondered if this commercial happened in real life, would the parents, after helping to save the baby, then judge the mom who let the stroller go? Maybe I’m getting cynical in my old age.
Recently, my 7-year-old told me about something “mean” another child said to him at school. He was hurt and confused. So I tried to explain that sometimes people say mean things to make themselves better. But that it doesn’t really make them feel better in the end, and they probably don’t even mean it. It’s a strange concept to try to teach, but one that I know he’ll encounter forever. After all, I’m supposedly a grown-up and I still see it right here.
You might also be interested in: