>I’m not a parent and I do not claim to have the slightest idea about what it’s like to raise children in 2010. However, as a woman (and as a person who has common sense), I take great exception to the claims by Dr. Dennis Friedman that men become womanizers because their mothers “outsourced” their responsibilities to nannies.
From the article:
According to Friedman, having two women care for a baby boy may cause his little brain to internalize the idea that there are multiple females to meet his needs. “It introduces him to the concept of the other woman,” he said in London’s Daily Telegraph. He explicates the relationship in his book The Unsolicited Gift: Why We Do The Things We Do, which explores how a mother’s love for her offspring can determine how those children behave as adults.
Not to be labeled a sexist (too late), Dr. Friedman also said girls are affected by the outsourcing:
Girls are affected by nannies too. Not having her mother around creates in the infant female a “vacuum of need,” says Friedman, which she might try to fill in later life with substance abuse or promiscuity — presumably with those married men in her social circle who were also raised by nannies.
“It creates a division in his mind between the woman he knows to be his natural mother and the woman with whom he has real hands-on relationship: the woman who bathes him and takes him to the park, and with whom he feels completely at one.
“As a result, he grows up with the idea that although he will one day go through all the social and sexual formalities of marriage, he will have at the back of his mind the notion of this other woman, who not only knows, but caters for, all his needs.”
Dr. Friedman (who the Telegraph noted as 85 years old) said that his message will not be popular among women who feel they have a right to a career and a social life:.
But that the baby has a right too, he said – the right to have a relationship with a mother who is “100 per cent connected”. He said the solution was not to employ a nanny or au pair until after the baby’s first birthday.
I would like to point to this doctor’s age as being the reason for his viewpoints, but I don’t think I should take a page from his book and make blanket statements about people his age. I do find it interesting he fails to mention the impact a father’s behavior or a young boy’s exposure to degradation/devaluation of women as the building blocks of how he will treat the women in his life.
I find it troubling this doctor is putting the blame squarely on the mother in this situation. I find it disturbing this doctor is playing into the mantra of blaming the mother when their children grow up to be complete screw-ups. This article written in The New York Times is a prime example of how people love to place the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of women.
What about the role of the father, Dr. Friedman? Aren’t they just as responsible for their children? Or are they just sperm donors and aren’t relevant to the complete development of a child? It’s been well-documented that having a father or a positive male role model is crucial for boys to become respectable men who make contributions to society. Any man will tell you, Dr. Friedman, how he views and treats women is largely related to how he sees other men in his life treat and talk about/to women.
Also, there have been a slew of studies as to why men (and women!) cheat. Some of the reasons range from boredom, feeling ignored or unloved, lack of communication about their needs or (as some men would argue) they are “hardwired” to cheat (and compulsive female cheaters aren’t?). I don’t hear or see any men or any relationship expert conjuring up the notion that the use of a nanny would make men want to constantly have The Other Woman in his life.
Like other (male) experts, Dr. Friedman is just one of the many who like to point the finger at women and our motherhood capabilities as the culprit for the problems of children and adults in this country. Dr. Friedman is among the many (male) “experts” who like to coerce women into believing that if we do not conform to a set of standards of motherhood (set by the “parenting” industry itself), we will raise children who will become mentally inept at living a productive life, criminals and will remain at the bottom of the barrel in our society. And the public at large, oblivious to these pervasive, often unrealistic standards, continue to berate us women for failing to meet these unattainable standards. Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels’, authors of The Mommy Myth, pointed out and debunked these standards in their must-read.
While there are those who would laugh and brush off Dr. Friedman’s assessment as pure comedy or a baseless, out-of-touch theory, it’s part of a pervasive burden many women will eventually feel as they become mothers. We will constantly be told we aren’t good enough, that our children aren’t smart enough, aren’t wearing the most stylish clothes, aren’t playing with the right toys (or the safest toys), that our homes aren’t clean enough, that the food they eat isn’t organic enough, they aren’t involved in enough activities and, obviously, that we aren’t spending enough time with them.
It’s time we women say no more. No more to Dr. Friedman and the other cronies. No more to breaking our necks (and banks) in order to reach a standard that continues to grow farther away from us as we get closer to it. No more to the condescending advice of telling us how to raise our children. No more rhetoric filled with latent resentment and subconscious superiority. No more pointing your fingers at us whenever one of our offspring screws up.