Folks! I was just reading the latest from the amazing Centre for Parenting Culture Studies in Kent, England, and found this piece by Zoe Williams, author of the new book The Madness of Modern Parenting. (Then I ended up reading some other stuff by her, like this. So fun!) This piece ran in The Guardian. Go Zoe! (Boldface mine.)
The Madness of Modern Parenting, by Zoe Williams
Plainly, something is up with the business of parenting, the way we parent, the things that are now perceived as minimum parenting standards…. [I]t has become something that one does well or badly, the judgment of which is determined by yardsticks that claim, via medicine or neuroscience, to be definitive, yet are one titchy study from the University of Utah away from refutation. The atmosphere is febrile with disapproval: all normal understanding of acceptable risk, never mind the understanding that behaviour might reasonably differ from one individual to another, is suspended.
Before I became embroiled in reproduction myself, I just assumed this was something driven by expectant mothers: they seemed to enjoy all the rules, the cheese they weren’t allowed to eat, the alcohol they gleefully eschewed. “I’ve lost the taste for it anyway,” they would say of coffee, in a conversation about whether or not caffeine genuinely harmed the foetus or whether that was a myth, repeatedly disproven, but tenaciously maintained by yoga teachers and strangers….
When I got pregnant myself, I realised that this drive towards obedience, the need to prove that you will create, instinctively, the healthiest possible womb-environment for your foetus, doesn’t come from you: it comes from outside.
Risks during pregnancy are so overstated now that the British Pregnancy Advisory Service reports women requesting abortions because they’re so anxious about their alcohol intake in the weeks before they realised they were pregnant. Self‑appointed, two-man-and-a-dog operations periodically issue new rules about how fat you can be…
Read the rest here. And if you found yourself judged or terrified as a pregnant woman, take heart: Maybe we are beginning to realize how rigid (and often wrong) the “musts” have been. – L.