Another sanctimommy suffering from “sadness”


The internet is filled with sanctimommies. You know the type:

The best part about sanctimommy is that she is always ready to share her wisdom with the rest of us. She doesn’t hesitate to point out the deficiencies of your parenting practices (in other words, how your parenting choices differ from hers). She doesn’t hesitate to make dire predictions about what the future holds for your children (“You give him a pacifier? You know he’s never going to be able to …”). She never hesitates to bemoan your lack of understanding of the key issues of childrearing, letting you know that you are not as “educated” as she is.

Apparently the chief occupational hazard of being a santimommy is feeling very, very, very sad:

My personal observation on the behavior of sanctimommies in their natural habitat is that they tend to suffer from overwhelmingly from ostentatious “sadness”. They are so “sad” for you that you don’t do everything their way. They are so “sad” for your children that you are not parenting the way they prescribe. They are just so “sad” that everyone in the world does not recognize their incredible superiority and their expert status on every aspect of parenting at every age.

I was reminded of this when I read the post I’m Sorry We Failed by Tracy G. Cassels on Evolutionary Parenting. What is evolutionary parenting? It’s a the paleo-fantasy version of parenting:

… The goal is to help parents be better parents for their babies by focusing on parenting as it has evolved for millions of years (not the drastic changes we have made to parenting in the last couple hundred years), for which human infants are adapted.

Because for millions of years human beings learned parenting by turning to the blitherings of sanctimommies on the internet.

And those sanctimommies are sooooooo sad.

To the mother who felt like a bystander during the birth of her child, I’m sorry. We failed to make sure you knew that this was your birth, not theirs …


To the mother whose baby was taken away after birth and kept in a hospital nursery, I’m sorry. We failed to make sure all hospitals have in-room boarding which is best for mother, baby, and family.


To the parents who left their baby to cry to sleep because they wanted to teach their child to self-soothe, I’m sorry. We failed to make it better known doing this actually disrupts the process by which your baby learns to regulate emotions and that your little one is still highly stressed even when he or she is no longer crying.

But my personal favorite is this:

To the parents who brought out the baby training books and treated them as gospel, I’m sorry. We failed to make sure you felt confident enough in your own abilities as a parent that you had to turn to someone who has never met your child and never will, all while ignoring your own thoughts and beliefs.

Instead of reading parenting books, you should be following the advice of sanctimommy Tracy who has never met your child and never will, but feels perfectly justified in providing you with her parenting “insights” that you should treat as gospel.

Apparently Tracy doesn’t do irony.

I don’t know whether Tracy is sorry or not, but I do know this: she is definitely obnoxious, and like most santimommies, her advice has very little to do with children. It is mostly about her, and her need for validation by convincing others to mirror her parenting choices.

140 Responses to “Another sanctimommy suffering from “sadness””

  1. Zen Parenting
    June 1, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    I ask this question of myself quite often, so I’ll pose it to you in regards to this post: “What are you hoping to accomplish here?”

    • Guest
      June 3, 2013 at 5:17 am #

      to provide a source of good information for moms, unlike the made up facts which are everywhere.

  2. C
    June 1, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    Dear Dr.Amy. I’m sorry that you are so insecure in your parenting and doctoring choices that you have to go pick on others. I find it ironic that you are complaining about a person who supposedly complains about other people’s choices to make themselves fell better…but uh… that’s exactly what you’re doing. I’m sorry you’re so sad.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      June 1, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

      The old “I’m rubber; you’re glue. Everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

      Very impressive insult. It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are kindergarten graduate.

      • dramyworstnightmare
        October 8, 2013 at 9:13 am #

        Dr Amy……I’m sorry you’re so fat

  3. KarenJJ
    May 7, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    I feel similarly to these beliefs about the all importance of mothering in a certain way as I do about religion. I am not religious. Very occasionally I come across someone feeling sad for me because I don’t believe in god (or whichever deity). They worry that I am missing out on a special connection in life. They think I haven’t heard enough about the great things that come from believing. They find it hard to understand that I went to the same church they went to (I have tried a bit of Christianity – it didn’t stick), heard the same prayers and sermons, but didn’t come away moved or enlightened.

    Trying to be religious made me confused and miserable and I felt I was losing my personal integrity. I also didn’t believe some of the things I was being told and felt uncomfortable with some of the ideals being revered (one religious friend took me to a church where the sermon was about the evils of homosexuality). Some of these people would think that I’ve turned my back on god and in with the evil side.

    I can see why someone with an almost religious-like belief in the AP form of mothering would be writing this. The thing is my kids and I are happy and my kids are well loved. I don’t need or want “education” from them. I feel uncomfortable with a lot of the AP messages. And most importantly I don’t feel that my kids or I are missing out on anything by not believing in what this type of sanctimommy believes in.

  4. yentavegan
    May 7, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    Colour me guilty! I am embarrassed at my younger self. I was influenced by the whole mindset that Mothering is an elevated calling and that by sacrificing my needs and desires for my children’s I was somehow transformed into a Maternal Goddess. Hah.
    I ended up friendless, alienated from my own parents, constantly disappointed in my domestic life.
    Heed my experience, lurking APer’s, co-sleeping toddler nursing “mammas”. Your kids will make friends and create lives for themselves and you will be left wondering how life passed you by.
    Other mothers who wear polyesther, bottle feed, take vacations without their toddlers are not your enemy, don;t measure yourself by that yardstick.

    • Amazed
      May 7, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      Yentavegan, I hope the women you’re addressing will hear you. I also hope you finally found a way to repair the damages that this loving and supposedly best way of parenting did to your life.

  5. Bystander
    May 7, 2013 at 6:05 am #

    The other trouble with turning the mundane task of child-rearing into a social pissing contest is that *somebody’s* going to end up the pissoir.

    Here’s a heartbreaking ‘confession’ by a woman who is systematically messing up her perfectly normal daughter because she isn’t able to show her off to her friends using the singularly meaningless benchmarks she classes as ‘intelligent’.

    She should take up dog showing: mentally screwed up people showing off hapless creatures on meaningless criteria for the benefit of pride without the down-side of a person’s life being blighted.

    • May 7, 2013 at 6:50 am #

      “By the time she was six, she was far behind her classmates – evident by seeing all their work up on the wall in class – and had developed a block about anything remotely academic, because it was associated with stress and failure.”

      There are so many things wrong with this that I don’t even know where to start. Parental attitude, sure, but in many ways the mum is just reflecting the ingrained attitude of the institution to which the young girl is subjected.

      • AmyM
        May 7, 2013 at 7:56 am #

        It sounded like she is in the UK? And I don’t know how they deal with potential learning disabilities there…it wasn’t clear to me if this child is just “average” and her mother is upset because she isn’t brilliant, or if the kid really may have an issue that needs addressing. If I was concerned about delays in my child/ren, I’d be speaking to their doctor and if he didn’t take me seriously and set up some kind of evaluation, I’d find a doctor that would. That said, if they were normal and I was paranoid, I’d have to accept that I will not have the next Einsteins. But if a kid needs help, she should get the help and not get put off until she is 9yr old.

        I agree with the idea that the inability to accept your children for who they are, and get over the fact that they are not you, and will not be the exact person you believe they should be is a problem. I feel badly for children whose parents try to strong-arm them into roles they can’t fill–that goes for gay children whose parents try to force them to be straight, academic kids whose parents wish they were athletes and so on. I know people whose parents treated them that way and they were messes. I know parents who have voiced their intentions to drive their children down a specific path, regardless of how the child feels about it. Not cool.

        Do I hope my sons are smart? Sure I do. But mostly, I hope they are smart ENOUGH…to excel in a profession or trade that they enjoy and allows them to support themselves and a family if they so desire. They don’t have to get PhDs, they just have to be self-sufficient. Overall, I am confident this will come to pass, however it happens, and I don’t spend time worrying about it.

    • May 7, 2013 at 8:07 am #

      My advice to her is that she should have had her child evaluated when she first became concerned – and that she should have pushed the teachers and school HARD to address her child’s issues.

      • auntbea
        May 7, 2013 at 9:21 am #

        I think it’s terrible that they won’t test her until she is older. If she does have something diagnosable, they could be treating it instead of leaving that girl to flounder and feel bad.

        • LibrarianSarah
          May 7, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

          Exactly, the “wait and see” attitude shouldn’t happen nowadays. Well, at least the teachers didn’t call her lazy and stupid, as far as we know.

    • LukesCook
      May 7, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      It’s difficult to tell from her account whether the child is normal (by everyone else’s standards) or not. I was under the impression that intelligence as such is very difficult to assess accurately before age 8-12, in the absence of obvious delays or impediments and that even these can be deceptive as exceptionally intelligent children quite frequently don’t manifest as such until quite late, and might even have the appearance of a delay in one or more fields (I’m reminded of one of the Eddies mentioning that he began talking very late).

      Her description of the child actually sounds a lot like my sister, who barely managed to finish high school and was never suspected of harbouring “cleverness”. The details of her life story are her own to share, but she’s currently a doctoral student on a full scholarship at a university ranked in the top 20 in the world.

    • May 7, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      Oh dear. Given the “long and traumatic” birth, it does look like this child is left with a problem. It does irritate me slightly that the problem is considered to have been exacerbated by crying, rather than the crying being the cause of it. So probably the mother is well-versed in the NCB and AP versions of motherhood.

      Nothing wrong with hoping your child will be bright. Rather a lot wrong with the idea that the intelligent get to sneer at others, and that how your child does is about you and your own status. Not nice to be on the receiving end of Mommy one upmanship, but you do get the impression that this mother feels entitled to be the one dishing it out.

      What happens to children like this in the UK is rather more interesting. It can be really, really hard to get the help needed. Personally, I hate the vagueness of the term “learning difficulties” – and relying on the school to provide answers or resources may be a

      I was singled out at school for being noticeable bright, and so was my second daughter. We both hated it, and tend to value other qualities than intelligence. I once overhead a conversation between my very bright daughter, and her equally bright friend, when they were about ten or so. They were speculating, in a very abstract way, about what they would do if they had a child who was NOT bright. I joined in, and told them that they would love that child, as I love my first daughter. Don’t think I would find it that easy to love this mother – though I can sympathise with her feelings of disappointment, letting her child suffer because of them is appalling to me.

      Maybe, as she fights for her child, she will in time get her head on straight.

      If I were making a blueprint of an ideal daughter, I would include one who shared my love of books etc. My bright daughter from the start liked reading cornflake packets – she was very good at cornflake packets – and as an adult has gone the maths and computers route. So what? (My less able daughter, however, DOES love books and we are closer in temperament.) Didn’t need clones, and don’t mind not having them.

      • Eddie
        May 7, 2013 at 11:11 am #

        In America I’m certain this varies strongly from school district to school district, depending on financial resources which vary surprisingly widely. However, in general, schools are far more ready to be pro-active with learning disabilities than they were in, say, the 70s. Where I live, the schools are really quite good with kids with any learning disability.

      • Bystander
        May 7, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

        No, there is nothing wrong with hoping your child will be bright, and there’s plenty wrong with the UK educational system that fails far too many children, but that’s not what she’s talking about.

        I’m appalled at her idea of what passes for intelligence. To her, cryptic crosswords (essentially a game of anagrams you get good at by practice) and putting people down with cutting quotes, most of which you didn’t come up with. Zero points for insight. Zero points for analytical ability. Zero points for creativity. Zero points for skill, for deep thinking, for synthesis… for anything that passes for usable intelligence. Her ‘clever’ is just one step up from a talking parrot in actual braininess.

        It’s probably not a surprise that her focus isn’t on what is best for her daughter, but rather on her grief at being at the receiving end of the nonsensical one-upmanship she’s gleefully doled out to others. When you ransack the bags of your friend’s children to find out how they’re doing, when you measure up your daughter relentlessly against them, when the poor thing gets upset at the prospect of your ‘helping’, it’s time to prioritize love over narcissism.

        The writer hasn’t come to that insight yet. And that is what appalls me.

        • Amazed
          May 7, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

          I’m appalled at her idea of what passes for intelligence.

          Bystander, you’ve said it more politely than I could. Being intelligent is more important than being kind and compassionate? This poor, poor lady. She’s nothing, then, because she isn’t kind, isn’t compassionate and isn’t as clever as she imagines herself to be.

          While we’re at this, my grandparents were hard-working villagers. My father was the first one in the family to go to university and he is quite clever. Why does he love reading so much, everyone asked when he was little. Who does he takes after? The answer came about thirty years later when my grandmother retired from her very manual, exhausting job. I asked her what she was going to do now and she said, “I’m going to read!” She started reading and didn’t stop until her death 10 years later. Poor woman simply never had the time before,

    • Amazed
      May 7, 2013 at 11:16 am #

      I disliked this mother and deemed her not so clever as she thinks herself from the moment she proudly described how she yawned at people not as bright at her. She obviously lacks the brains to interact meaningfully with different kinds of people. And yes, brains are needed for that. My mother can interact with almost everyone. I’ll admit that I am not this good at that. But I am not an intellectual snob either. I am trying. And I never yawn at someone being not as bright as me.

      She has tolerance and admiration only for intellectual snobs. Like her. And she’s now scared that the world will show just that to her daughter.

      She isn’t clever. She is a fool. An intellectual fool, not a stranger to every self-delusion of the lowly unclever moms. Really, your child’s constant crying means that she’s alert? Puh-leeeze.

      Still, children can be cruel to those who are slower or quicker than them and I am not surprised that this mother is scared. But why would they wait so long before having Bella checked up? Isn’t an earlier diagnosis associated with better outcomes?

    • LibrarianSarah
      May 7, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

      Honestly when I was reading about her kids experience in school the words “learning disability” flash through my mind many times. I think the school should have tested her right away seeing that early interventions are key for these sort of things especially if it’s a reading disorder. The lady who wrote the article seemed like a total snob but that kids is going through a world of hurt and probably needs something radically different than everyone around her dismissing her as “dim.” Sorry but that article stirred up a lot of bad memories. 🙁

  6. Sue
    May 7, 2013 at 12:48 am #

    Tracy G appears to be a psychologist at ubc. One wonders, then why she writes on medical topics like vaccination.

    • KarenJJ
      May 7, 2013 at 9:45 am #

      Are there any medical people that write on vaccination that are on the ‘anti’ side?

  7. Bombshellrisa
    May 6, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    Here is something that I heard today from a birth photographer:
    “I was so happy to have taken the pictures of (CPM attended woman’s) birth experience and grateful that these pictures had the beautiful birthing center as background, rather than a cold, clinical hospital room. Hospital rooms are SO ugly and I feel SO SORRY for women who have to deliver there”.

    • May 7, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      I could not recall much about my hospital rooms, except that my DH brought me a lovely flower arrangement after DS2’s birth.

      • Bombshellrisa
        May 7, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

        You ought to read the “customer satisfaction survey” each patient gets sent in the mail. I got one and I couldn’t believe what was on it. They wanted to know if the building was attractive, if the aesthetics were pleasing, if the room was pretty enough. When these get read back to us during unit meetings, there are actually patients that complain about how ugly the paintings in the hallway are, how ugly the rooms are, how ugly the staff uniforms are and occasionally how ugly (looking) the staff is. I always wonder who these people are who refuse to understand the point of a hospital and it’s staff and prefer that everything and everyone be pretty.

        • fiftyfifty1
          May 7, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

          Patients fairly frequently complain to me if they are cared for by a nurse or doctor who is obese. Also they complain about race. It is amazing to hear.

          • Bombshellrisa
            May 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

            I have heard a lot of complaints about race. Sometimes it’s due to the care giver having a heavy accent that is hard to understand, but not often. I always get the “what country are you from” questions from people and if English is my first language (I don’t have an accent, I was born in the US, and even if they were to start guessing my race, they would never nail it. Nobody ever has). The other thing I have heard frequently is “I don’t want AN OLD NURSE taking care of me”. As in, nobody over 30.

        • DiomedesV
          May 7, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

          I don’t think patients should complain about the appearance of the staff, but we did complain about our hospital experience for a number of reasons: 1) the constant, untimely, seemingly random interruptions while recovering from surgery over the course of 2 days–literally every 2 hours. What, they can’t coordinate 6 different blood draws? Give me a break. We finally put a sign on the door telling everyone to go away, and somehow that worked and didn’t seem to compromise our care much. 2) The nurses all failed to inform my husband that the “couch” (ie, extremely flat surface) he was trying to sleep on was a bed, until the discharge nurse came in and asked him why he hadn’t taken the cushions off and pulled it out. Since he was doing most of the caregiving, this contributed to making his stay miserable. 3) The room had no ventilation and no light. It really did feel like a dungeon.

          • Bombshellrisa
            May 7, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

            I think that letting the staff know you need the team to come visit you TOGETHER instead of every 45 minutes is important, since they need to coordinate their timing and have lots of people to get to. One manager of mine was firm about having the RN and nursing assistant go in AS A TEAM for rounds if at all possible (this was when that was 9 max patients for an RN and assistant team on night shift). The more input we get about that, I think the better. It forces the managers to be realistic, as no team of RN with an LPN and a nursing assistant can all go into the rooms of 15 patients and get their assessments/vitals/meds/bathroom trips coordinated. Hospitals are having licenced staff take on more patients, and a bigger patient load with more acute needs and only 1 nursing assistant to help with bathroom trips, getting vitals and everything that isn’t meds doesn’t cover it. Less staff may look better for a balanced budget, but patients notice it and not in the ways that managers and administration thinks.

          • DiomedesV
            May 7, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

            That makes sense. Another part of having individuals come in alone and just tell me they needed to do something… for the nth time… was that no one ever communicated why. I don’t mind having my blood drawn, it’s a regular feature of my life, but I like to know why.

            Aside from the no couch info, the nurses we had post-op were wonderful. Very helpful, kind, and clearly overworked.

          • Bombshellrisa
            May 7, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

            I hate it when someone goes into a patient’s room and fails to explain what they are there for! there is no excuse for that, overworked or not!!

          • Squillo
            May 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

            Yeah, that’s a fairly basic level of communication, but it’s surprising how often folks fail.

    • auntbea
      May 7, 2013 at 9:38 am #

      Solution: zoom in on mom and baby. TA-DA!

    • KarenJJ
      May 7, 2013 at 9:46 am #

      Image over substance

    • moto_librarian
      May 7, 2013 at 10:19 am #

      My two favorite pictures from when my sons were born: Son no. 1 – having our first real meeting in the NICU the day after he was born. I was pale as a ghost from blood loss, and E was hooked up to all kinds of monitors and had an I.V., but he was looking at me so intently and I was grinning from ear to ear. Son no. 2 – holding my swaddled, hatted, eye-gooped baby, feet still in the stirrups, having my 2nd degree tear stitched, totally focused on this amazing little man (you could see that my legs were up, but nothing else, in the picture). Seeing the medical technology and professionals who kept us safe don’t bother me one bit. Because of them, I get to hold my living, breathing children every day, not just looks at photographs of tiny coffins (or be in one myself).

      • Bombshellrisa
        May 7, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

        Exactly. Anyway, how in the world could a picture of a new mom and baby be anything but precious?

      • Eddie
        May 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

        I agree with Bombshellrisa, and I love this. Reminds me of a picture I took of my wife holding our youngest, who was so alert, and so intently looking at us, just quietly taking everything in, as if committing the moment to memory.

    • Spiderpigmom
      May 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

      Among the birth images I saw that moved me most, several were actually pictures taken shortly post C-section. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s precisely the contrast between the cold, technical background and the loving tender expression on the mother’s face.

  8. fiftyfifty1
    May 6, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    OT: I just got the May 8 JAMA in the mail and there is a Clinical Crossroads feature on Maternal Request C-section. It’s better than most but far from perfect. The woman whose case is reviewed is a 38 yo first time mom. She works in malpractice law. She states she wants a c-section in order to reduce risk to her infant. The author, Jeffrey Ecker MD, believes the woman is unduly influenced by her job and should plan a vaginal birth instead because bad neonate outcomes are “unusual outliers”. So in terms of the conclusions the author reaches, I don’t agree. But at least the author does a decent job in reviewing some studies out there so we can make our own conclusions. For instance he cites a study that suggests that for every 1288 MRCSs at 39 weeks, one stillbirth is prevented. It’s nice to have a NNT (number needed to treat) estimate on that, isn’t it? Also a NNT to prevent one case of pelvic organ prolapse is 9. He also does a nice job of looking at complications of repeat c-sections such as placenta accreta and hysterectomy.

    • Sue
      May 7, 2013 at 1:02 am #

      NNT of 1288 to save a life looks pretty good to me – much better than many other every-day therapies….and we don’t even know how many to save ischaemic injury.

  9. Todd.Tanya Johnson
    May 6, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    I love this! Bravo!! 🙂

  10. Mom of 2
    May 6, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Oh please. I’ll just continue to enjoy my pain free epiduralized births and my kids who sleep great because I made them cry it out. I’ll enjoy being well rested and having well rested, happy kids. I’m pretty sure they love me even though I made them CIO (and would do it again).

    Seriously, the joke is on you, sanctimommies. Enjoy your pain and exhaustion because you are gullible enough to believe it benefits your child in some way.

    • sleuther
      May 7, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      I’m with you Mom of 2 (fellow mom of 2 here!)

      I think a lot of these people create their own drama. So many parents in my local circle who refused to sleep-train their kids or set reasonable behavior boundaries are still dealing with the fallout of that decision to this day (kids in elementary school)…. behavior problems at school…. perhaps some of the kids have attention/hyperactivity disorder but what are the odds that all of them do? Someone has to be in charge and it might as well be the parents!

  11. Sarah, PharmD, RPh
    May 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    If we’re sharing sanctimommy pages, this one takes the cake. Major santimommyness while claiming to be humble and “still learning”:

    • Sarah, PharmD, RPh
      May 6, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      She posted that if your child is screaming in a restaurant, you should only remove them from the restaurant if you think that is the best thing for the child, not because it might disturb other people. Other people don’t matter!

  12. Guestll
    May 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Part of the appeal of her prose stems from the fact that these ideals (rooming in, not letting a baby “cry it out”) appeal to many parents. I will freely admit that both appealed to me. Moreover, they worked for me.
    It’s the whole notion of codifying these things, making them something to which to aspire, that leaves me cold. Rooming in does not work for every mother-baby dyad. Crying it out will work for some families. The sneering beneath the maudlin faux-sympathy makes me sick.

  13. DiomedesV
    May 6, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Another thing that this movement continually asserts is that parenting [mothering] is very, very hard work and terribly difficult to do “well.” Thus the need to issue a laundry list of chores that parents [mothers] must accomplish before claiming to parent [mother] well.

    There are a number of circumstances that I believe make parenting difficult, including 1) the child has physical or emotional health problems, 2) the family is low-income and/or struggling financially, 3) a parent is absent, 4) another family member has physical or emotional health problems. These circumstances and any combination thereof surely make parenting difficult (and I’m sure there are others) and I admire anyone who does well nonetheless.

    But that’s not who this movement is really for. This movement is for upper-income, two parent families with comparatively vast financial resources, whose children are largely healthy (and if not, have access to some of the best health care available). Such families with healthy children? Not buying the meme that parenting is “so hard.” What makes it hard is the continual insistence on make-work, the neurotic worrying over every last detail, and the need to reassure oneself that whatever choices one or one’s spouse has made along the way are justified because parenting well is “so hard.” It’s not difficult to imagine how one gets from the “so hard” position to “everyone else is doing it wrong.”

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      May 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

      Another thing that this movement continually asserts is that parenting [mothering] is very, very hard work and terribly difficult to do “well.”

      But wait a minute. On one hand, it is “terribly difficult to do ‘well,’ but OTOH, just use your instincts and you will do great?

      • AmyM
        May 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

        Well yeah, ’cause if you have the right instincts, you will come to the conclusion that you must do it the way the blogger espouses….your instincts will let you know that you need to make your child your universe and sacrifice yourself, otherwise you’d be doing it wrong, and that would be ignoring your instincts and listening to a bunch of sheeple. Even though those sheeple, who are lazy and take short cuts, seem content and seem to have happy, healthy children, really the children are full of anxiety and really the mothers are completely unfulfilled in their shallow lives where they “raise” their children without love. Duh. 🙂

      • Petanque
        May 6, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

        Oh yes, it’s terribly difficult for normal people to do. they need an enormous amount of help, support and lashings of advice.

        But for those of us who are completely natural women, in tune with their bodies and accepting of the Universe’s bounty of natural goodness, it’s a doddle.

      • Sue
        May 7, 2013 at 12:51 am #

        But don’t forget that cesarean surgery or formula feeding will totally wipe out your instincts – guaranteed. So then you need to read and follow somebody else’s instincts.

    • AmyM
      May 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      I know a woman who did this—she seemed to deliberately do everything in the hardest way possible, to justify staying home from work. I don’t care if she stays home or not….she doesn’t have to justify it at all, if she wants to be a SAHM (and she and her husband were able to do that), then go for it. But, evidently, since her world became child-centric when her daughter was born, admitting that you are doing something because YOU want to, implies that you are selfish, since real moms do everything, even (especially!) things that make them miserable, with only the child’s best interests in mind. As a mother, her needs come last, and she was determined to have everyone know that she wanted it that way and it was “best” for her child.

      She isn’t totally weird—she vaccinates and sends the child to private school (implying that she is not living off the grid or fearing science) She eats healthy, but she was a foodie before the child, so she has a pretty wide ranging diet. The thing is, the child is fine. She is clearly a bright girl (like her parents) and I suspect she would have thrived in any loving environment. I guess her mom did what she (the mom) wanted and it’s worked out ok, but I have a hard time understanding why anyone would go out of her way to do things in an inefficient way for no good reason.

      • Eddie
        May 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

        Hell, I’ve known people who did their day-job in a horribly inefficient manner, guaranteeing that they would be constantly running from crisis to crisis. Never taking pro-active steps to get ahead of the chaos, and never taking steps to automate manual or painful tasks.

        So it doesn’t surprise me that some do this same thing with mothering. Both are probably driven by the same psychological mechanisms.

        When you’re in constant chaos, you’re a hero for staying on top of it all and you know you’re needed, and when things fall through the cracks, well, you’re doing the best you can. Either way, you “win.” Some people also thrive on the drama or on the role of a martyr. There’s probably no single cause of this, but I’ve seen a lot of people living that way.

        • An Actual Attorney
          May 7, 2013 at 8:04 pm #


          You are spot on! This:

          “When you’re in constant chaos, you’re a hero for staying on top of it all and you know you’re needed, and when things fall through the cracks, well, you’re doing the best you can.”

          It describes about half of my co-workers

  14. Charlotte
    May 6, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    I wish my second baby could have been taken to a nursery after she was born, but the baby friendly people convinced them to get rid of it. The nurses wouldn’t let me out of bed for 12 hours after my c-section, so when she cried I had no choice but to leave her shrieking in the bassinet on the other side of the room alone. I would sometimes press the call button to try and get a nurse to come give her too me, but they’re busy and usually didn’t come until 20+ minutes later. It was awful. Ironically, they sought the baby friendly hospital designation as a way to convince more moms to give birth there rather than the competing hospital across town.

    • ratiomom
      May 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

      I had the exact same experience. I was under the impression that the baby friendly designation was a convenient excuse to reduce costs by closing the well baby nursery. Being able to make do with less nurses on the floor by having the mothers do the work and getting a fancy title for it. …it’s a hospital manager’s dream!

    • Isramommy
      May 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

      Oh, I am so sorry. I hate these baby friendly hospital stories. Taking away the nursery is just cruel. Especially for a mother recovering from a c-section. I loved having the nursery available with both my kids, even more so with the second baby. I NEEDED those two nights of good, uninterrupted sleep while my baby was being watched over (and formula supplemented!! the horror!!) in the nursery. Once the baby gets home, there’s plenty of time for “bonding” and getting up every two hours for months on end. These hospitals need to let the poor mothers get a night or two of sleep while they can.

    • Aunti Po Dean
      May 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      Dr Amy recently put a link to a journal article on her fed-up face book page about how the BFHI doesn’t make any difference to breastfeeding success. They should have done a maternal satisfaction score as I’m sure that it would be much lower in these hospitals who seem to take some kind of sadistic delight in forcing mothers and babies together even if it isn’t what the mother actually wants .

    • mom4474
      May 6, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

      I agree! With my first, I was fine rooming in with the baby because my husband was there the entire time. It was a different story with the second and third. I was alone at night, stuck in the bed for 24 hours because of the c-section, so I kept the baby in bed with me. Needless to say, I slept horribly in the hospital. Changing, feeding, and swaddling are all so hard to do when you can barely sit up, and the nurses can’t always get to you right away. By night 2, I could at least get up and move around, but I was already so exhausted at this point! Between having the baby in the room, having to take care of him on my own, and the constant interruptions (I swear the nurses came in every time I was about to fall asleep!) I was usually a sleep-deprived mess by night 3.

  15. moto_librarian
    May 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    I have a slight addendum for Ms. Cassels. Perhaps she’ll consider publishing the following:

    To the mother who was shamed and berated because she either couldn’t or didn’t want to nurse her child, I’m sorry. I am incapable of admitting that the health benefits of breastfeeding a term infant in a developed country are neglible, and that formula is a perfectly adequate choice for feeding a baby.

    To the mother who was accused of doping up her baby by having an epidural, I’m sorry. I am an idiot who actually believes that epidurals can get you and your baby high and that childbirth pain is only a modern construct that can be overcome by screaming – er, vocalizing – water, massage, and accupuncture.

    To the mother who was unable to get any rest while recovering from a difficult vaginal birth or c-section because of mandatory rooming in at their baby friendly hospital, I’m sorry. I am incapable of understanding that a mother’s physical and emotional health are better served by rest and help from supportive nurses during the postpartum period than simply being left alone with a brand new child.

    To the parents who felt guilty about sleep training their child so that they could actually function at work and home, I’m sorry. I believe that every parent must sacrifice even their most basic needs to provide a secure attachment with their children, despite no evidence to support my claim.

      May 6, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

      To the mother whose baby died at home birth. I’m sorry I can’t mention your baby in my “homebirth is safer than hospital birth” rant because…well…actually doing that would mean that I had to admit that I was wrong and maybe, just maybe if I’m wrong about that then the walls come tumbling down and I have to admit to being wrong about most things.

  16. GentryHL
    May 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    Dr. Amy– Check out the Alpha Parent, it will put this lady to shame in the sanctimommy department. When I saw her site, I thought it was satire, sadly it’s not!

    • Esther
      May 6, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      And then go check out the Sanctimommy Facebook page (which is satire):

    • HM
      May 6, 2013 at 3:57 pm #


      “Whether a mother breastfeeds or formula-feeds is an intimately private decision. It’s her body – her choice, and no one should apply pressure upon her choice, right? I disagree.

      Choice is overrated”

      That is awful!

      • Dr Kitty
        May 6, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

        And yet, somehow, these sanctimommies will claim to be feminist.

        If you are arguing AGAINST a woman’s right to use her body as she chooses…you aren’t feminist. “Choice is overrated” and “women should be subservient to the needs of a baby” are genuinely disempowering sentiments.

        I Breastfed for more than a year, because I chose to, but I bloody well would have resented being forced into it.

        • auntbea
          May 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

          Well, she does nix that solution because it is antifeminist, along with two other possible solutions (taxing formula and paying moms to BF). She eventually comes down on the side of nationalizing formula production…!

          The part where we all just feed our kids formula because its NBD is not one of the options.

          • HM
            May 6, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

            You’re good! I had to stop reading after the first few paragraphs.

            I think she must have been bottle fed. The chemicals are obviously getting to her.

          • Eddie
            May 6, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

            Bottle-fed with a bottle manufactured with BPA? (Yet another thing where the risks are recognized, but at least according to what I read, not as dire as people took them.) Yeah, I read much of the article, then started skimming it. All of the proposed options are control-freak solutions, but coming from a web page named “Alpha Parent” that is not at all surprising.

          • Bombshellrisa
            May 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

            You beat me to it Eddie

          • theNormalDistribution
            May 6, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

            It gets even worse in the facebook comments…

            “While I was in the hospital I actually had to sign a contract saying I would use formula because of her weight loss. She was off of it by the time we got home Lol.”

            Soooo… the hospital is so concerned about the baby’s health that they make her sign a contract promising to give appropriate care before they will discharge the baby, and she thinks it’s a joke.

  17. AmyM
    May 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Sigh. People like this don’t have to be sad for me or my children. My family fits into several of the situations she apologizes for, and I am not sad for any of them. I do not feel guilty, I do not feel like I have failed my children and we DID follow our instincts (and sometimes talked to others who’d been there/done that). I read a couple of the baby books, but never took any as gospel. The way I see it, you do X…if it works, great. If not, try Y.

    She’s wasting her time being “sad” as my children are growing, happy and healthy—how long does she think I should feel [sad, guilty, cheated, etc] anyway? My children are 4 now…should I be beating myself up for my choices until they are school age? 18? Forever? I need to know since, I wasn’t even aware I wasn’t being properly flagellant in the first place.

    That whole sanctimommy thing used to make me angry, but now I just roll my eyes. The one thing that still makes me angry is that they tend to be successful in getting to vulnerable new mothers who aren’t confident enough to tell them to go f*** themselves. I’m sad that the children of these women are learning to be passive-aggressive busybody jerks…we don’t need any more of those.

  18. May 6, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    Mostly they are so sorry that you didn’t find their extra special wisdom before you were misled by doctors, pediatricians, friends, family and books.

    If only you had come to them first! It’s all right. That’s all in the past. Now that you’ve repented of your sins, sanctimommy will show you the way.

    “Mama’s gonna put all her fears into you.

    Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing.

    She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing.

    Mama’s gonna keep baby cozy and warm.

    Ooooh baby, ooooh baby, oooooh baby,

    Of course mama’s gonna help build the wall.”

    “Hush now baby, baby don’t you cry.

    Mama’s gonna check out all your girlfriends for you.

    Mama won’t let anyone dirty get through.

    Mama’s gonna wait up until you get in.

    Mama will always find out where you’ve been.

    Mama’s gonna keep baby healthy and clean.

    Ooooh baby, oooh baby, oooh baby,

    You’ll always be baby to me.”

    I can’t help it. The extreme APers and sanctimommies always remind me of Mother from The Wall.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      May 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

      And if you don’t eat your meat, you won’t get any pudding. How can you have any pudding when you don’t eat your meat?

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      May 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

      My daughter has a description of parenting extremes as “helicopter parents” who hover over their kids constantly and never let them do anything and “bumper car” parents who just toss the kids from one to the next without engaging with the kids. I’m not quite sure where she picked these descriptions up. Probably from school. Neither seems to be approved by the grade school set, though they seem to like helicopter parents even less than bumper car parents.

    • Eddie
      May 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

      Good analogy.

  19. DiomedesV
    May 6, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    People like this are obviously unfamiliar with the concept of Diminishing Returns.

    What especially irritates me is advocating for this highly intensive form of mothering without acknowledging that it will have major, negative consequences for the women that embrace it, specifically in terms of reduced intellectual output, limited career options, and increased financial insecurity.

    It’s impossible to advocate for women devoting every last minute for
    five years to each of their children without accepting that these women,
    no matter how accomplished or skilled, will find it very difficult or even impossible to break into the workplace again. Many advocates try to step around this well-documented fact or just ignore it all together. Or they imply that, having embarked on this road, mothers will figure out that these goals are mutually exclusive, and will prefer mothering. Or they ignore the costs outright by stating that the benefits are “priceless”, which should be a sign to anyone of sense that something is off. Everything has a price: people who assert that something is “priceless” are generally trying to keep people from evaluating their product critically.

    This woman seems to want to have her cake and eat it, too, and states that restrictive policies in the workplace unfairly penalize women and thus make it difficult for them to both work and mother. This is true, especially in the US. But however much I would like to see more family-friendly workplace policies, it would be impossible to achieve a workplace environment that permitted this level of mothering without any penalty, nor do I see the achievement of such a workplace as a laudable goal.

    I wouldn’t feel guilty if someone told me that the only way to live morally would be to go completely off the grid and make every product my family consumed or do without. Because it would be absurd. This really is not much different.

    • Elle
      May 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      Sometimes women don’t want to “break into the workplace again.” Some women want to homeschool their kids and/or be homemakers instead. And that’s okay. Sure, it’s annoying if they say or imply that everyone else has to do it that way too. But it goes both ways. You don’t want to live off the grid? Fine, don’t. Some women do. That doesn’t make it “absurd.”

      • GuestB
        May 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

        I don’t think the point was that living off the grid is absurd. Telling someone that the only way to live morally is to live off the grid is, of course, truly absurd.

        • fiftyfifty1
          May 7, 2013 at 10:27 am #

          Trying (i.e. pretending) to live off the grid IS absurd.

      • DiomedesV
        May 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

        I agree that some women don’t want to go back to work. I’m happy for them if they’re able to swing it. But the key word is “want.” What they’re doing is reframing what they *want* to do as a moral imperative for their children. We would be much better off if women didn’t feel the need to frame all of their needs and desires in terms of what is best for their children.

        I don’t need to work but I want to. I don’t go around telling everyone that I’m doing it for my kid’s sake, even though I think there are some small benefits to her (and perhaps costs). I tell people I work because I want to and I love what I do. The difference between me and many of the SAHMs who embrace this woman’s philosophy is that I’m being honest and they’re not. As an example, I didn’t say it was absurd to live off the grid. I said it was absurd to suggest that his was morally superior to not doing so.

        This whole “child’s right” movement is largely fueled by women who have absolutely no interest in improving the lot of children who really are needy and who just want to prop up their own set of personal preferences as a moral compass for everyone else.

        • Guestll
          May 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

          I wish I could like your post a meeeeeelion times.

        • fiftyfifty1
          May 6, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

          I’m looking forward to the day when we don’t have to justify working any more than men have to. Whether we say it’s for the kids’ sake, or whether we say it’s because we love it, or whether we say we must due to finances, it doesn’t matter. The fact that we have to justify it at all is demeaning.

          • DiomedesV
            May 6, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

            Unfortunately, I don’t have confidence that day will ever arrive.

          • Eddie
            May 6, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

            I am confident that that day will arrive. Millennials care even less about this stuff even than any prior generation. However, there will probably never be a day where there is no-one saying, “Women belong in the home and their work outside the home is not legitimate.” I am confident, however, that the day will come when those people are a small minority view. We get closer every decade.

      • DiomedesV
        May 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

        And let me be clear, I do know SAHMs who are honest about fulfilling their own needs and wants.

        Similarly, I get irked by women who have the choice to work and claim that the overriding reason they’re doing it is for the sake of their children. While it does increase their family’s financial security, a major reason they’re working because they enjoy it. Again, they’ve been sucked into this meme where the child’s interests, whatever they are imagined to be, override everything and thus, they must express everything in terms of how it effects their children. Mothers are people, too. And the sooner we all acknowledge that, the better for everyone.

        • CarolynTheRed
          May 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

          I returned to both a hobby and a volunteer position when my daughter was not yet two months old. I feel absolutely no guilt, and I did not do either for my daughter’s benefit, though my husband would argue a sane mother is a benefit.

          I’ll be going back to work because I have no desire to be a stay at home parent. It’s also for my husband’s benefit – a little more income means he can leave a job that makes him unhappy, take a year off and get his masters’, or take on fewer hours and spend time with the family or his own hobbies.

          My daughter is lovely, but she’s not the only person in the household with needs and wants.

        • fiftyfifty1
          May 6, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

          “While it does increase their family’s financial security, a major reason they’re working is typically because they enjoy it.”

          Women being able to work because they enjoy it is a step in the right direction. But it’s still sad that we (and those around us) regard our careers as some sort of hobby/pin money combo rather than according them the same respect that is given to the careers of men. Men’s work is noble. Women’s work is at best “for the extras” and at worst “selfish”.

          • theadequatemother
            May 6, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

            This is exactly why I love and cherish my female doctor friends. We all get that our careers are not about pin money or hobbies but that there is a noble purpose in what we do. My husband finally gets it after seven years. My parents and siblings don’t understand. They feel on some level that I am sacrificing my family.

          • FormerPhysicist
            May 6, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

            It’s also illogical. I struggle with this for myself, as I’m currently a SAHM. What implicit message am I giving my daughters? I don’t want to see my daughters strive to be all they can be, and then throw away their own potential when they have daughters and sons. Eventually, I am sure I will love grandchildren, but I think I will love my daughters no less and still want what is best for them. (Hopefully I will be able to accept their definition of best, but that’s still a ways away.)

          • LukesCook
            May 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

            I have no idea why anybody down voted this, let alone two people. A similar line of reasoning is one of the many threads that made my decision to maintain my career. I believe in education, equal opportunity and equal respect in the workplace for women. I do not believe that a woman’s place is at home or that the care and upbringing of children requires women to sacrifice their vocation, their financial autonomy or their security. If I can’t walk the talk then I’m not really sure that those beliefs are worth anything.

          • Eddie
            May 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

            I completely agree. It’s odd and surprising that anyone would feel the need to downvote FormerPhysicist’s post. I am all for people being able to make the choice, SAHP or working parent, each family and each family member gets to decide based on their specific circumstances. A choice made by one person does not invalidate a different choice made by someone else.

          • AmyM
            May 6, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

            Well, it is getting there. I am the breadwinner in my family, and in many of the couples we know, the wife is the breadwinner. None of the people in my social circles seems to think women’s work is for extras or is selfish…clearly in many cases it is absolutely necessary, regardless of how the woman feels about it. But I agree with you in general…I know there are places where my experience is not the norm, and women working still is not taken seriously and that’s ridiculous.

          • DiomedesV
            May 6, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

            Very true, fiftyfifty1. I grew up with a lot of financial insecurity and very much regard my own earning capacity as important to me personally and my family. But in the short term, I don’t *need* to work, and my short-term motivation is that I like it very much.

        • DiomedesV
          May 6, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

          It’s also worth pointing out that there is nothing noble or altruistic in providing for your children. It’s in your own self interest and it’s your responsibility. How one interprets that is personal. But it’s not selfless by any means.

    • JC
      May 6, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

      I have a bachelor’s and a master’s and I still haven’t figured out what I want to do with my life. It’s frustrating, but I wish I had loved my job when I had kids. But I didn’t; I hated every second of it. And even though it was a financial hit when I quit, I did it anyway … because I would have been miserable if I had stayed. I have only done part-time jobs for 5 years now. I know it will be tough to get back into the workforce when I go back to work. I know that if my husband and I want to retire comfortably, I have to go back to work. I have a standing offer at one of my old jobs. But it is one of the jobs I hated. It is so much more complicated when you don’t like your job/career.

      And on the other side I have friends who are unhappy in their jobs saying “we can’t afford for one of us to stay home with the kids.” We all make about the same amount, and the truth is they probably could stay home but maybe they don’t want to. Or maybe they aren’t willing to give up the little extras like tons of cable channels, Starbucks every day and expensive hobbies. It doesn’t matter to me because these are their choices, not mine. I made my decision and I stand by it.

      I love this blog, but I honestly get tired of the “good luck trying to get back into the workforce; your earning potential is going to be so much lower; just imagine where you’d be in your career if you’d just gone back to work after kids.” It’s such a more complicated issue for many women. If my earning potential is diminished over the course of my career (whatever it may be), then so be it. I was happy staying home while I did it. My husband and kids were happy because of it. And, in the end, I will accept whatever consequences are a result of our decisions.

      And I know this is a tired cliche, but I could get hit by a car tomorrow. But, more likely, I could get breast cancer. My aunt died of it at a young age, my sister got it at a young age, and I now see a high-risk doctor because my chances are so much higher because of the family history. I would much rather live my life day to day and be happy and not look so far into the future. I know it’s a balancing act and I am aware that financially you have to prepare for the future. But I am not going to worry that I have destroyed my future by staying home with my kids for 5 years.

      • May 7, 2013 at 2:24 am #

        “I love this blog, but I honestly get tired of the “good luck trying to get back into the workforce; your earning potential is going to be so much lower; just imagine where you’d be in your career if you’d just gone back to work after kids.” It’s such a more complicated issue for many women. If my earning potential is diminished over the course of my career (whatever it may be), then so be it.”

        I think you have hit the nail on the head with how this is such a complicated issue. SAHM-by-choice, SAHM-by-guilt, working-mum-by-choice, working-mum-through-financial-necessity. Then there are working mums who think that they have to work for financial reasons but in reality could get by on much less, single mums who wish they could SAHM, the list goes on and on.

        One of the most difficult situations is when the SAHM-by-choice ends up having relationship difficulties. Stay with your partner so that you can continue to be financially supported in the SAHM role? Leave the relationship and keep SAHM, but accept the dire poverty that will come with it? Leave the relationship and go back to work, accepting the set-back to the career, limited earning options, the guilt for not still being SAHM? How bad does it have to get before a choice HAS to be made?

        Even if we get society’s acceptance that SAHM is a valid choice (or SAHF for that matter) – and I agree with original-Eddie here that we are making progress towards this all the time – SAH-ing does not pay the bills or provide financial security during retirement. It can be valid, empowering, equal-opportunity, even a feminist choice. But it relies on the financial support of another person. Which may not always be relied upon.

        • LukesCook
          May 7, 2013 at 4:25 am #

          “But it relies on the financial support of another person.”

          Another person who almost certainly doesn’t have the luxury of avoiding jobs he “hates” while he decides what he wants to do with his life.

          I do fear for women who give up their financial independence. Taking a break from work for a few months or years is not in itself a big issue – yes, you’ll be somewhat poorer for it, but unless you were very poor to start with, you can probably weather it. What worries me is that women sabotage their own financial independence, often before they even have children, by making a series of choices that they perceive to be better for their families. When the end result of this series of choices is that a woman is unable to keep her nose above the breadline without financial support from someone else, then that woman is in a position where she can no longer make choices about her own life, but must do whatever she can to survive, whether that means working a job she hates or staying in an unhappy or even abusive marriage. Nobody should be sacrificing her future in this way for the sake of attachment parenting or breastfeeding.

          Women need to know how their choices will affect their financial futures. Families ought to be encouraged to structure their affairs to ensure that stay at home parents (and their children) are protected, for example with adequate life insurance, pre-nups providing for minimum maintenance benefits, settlements of pension and retirement benefits, and so on. Young women should be encouraged to work at the kind of education that will always assure them some degree of employability. Dr Amy is a great example. She left the practice of medicine to raise her children. I have no doubt that she and her husband have structured their affairs such that she will always be financially secure. Her professional qualifications and experience are such that if she decided to return to work, even after a long absence, she would be able to reinstate her professional status and return to well paid work relatively quickly and easily, especially because she’s clearly kept up to date with developments in her field. Not everyone can be a Dr Amy, but there are many routes to securing financial independence and I would love to see more women (and not just SAHMs) putting some of the time they spend on cloth diapering discussion boards into managing their finances.

          • fiftyfifty1
            May 7, 2013 at 10:20 am #

            “Another person who almost certainly doesn’t have the luxury of avoiding jobs he “hates” while he decides what he wants to do with his life.”

            But of course not, silly! Husbands are MEN. Men are heroes for supporting their families and their work is noble, so of course they work! Women, by way of contrast, only work for “little extras like tons of cable channels, Starbucks every day and expensive hobbies”.

          • Eddie
            May 7, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

            I don’t disagree with your sarcasm, but please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this is a world that men created. Men were born into this system just as women were.

            It’s fair to point out that a greater number of women had to work to change the system, and that a greater number of men resist these changes. Just as so many in the NCB community are fooled by those who should know better, many men are brought up with no choice but to live a certain way, with abuse for not being manly enough, or strong enough, or unemotional enough. When they become adults, not all men are interested in or able to override the programming of their childhood.

            Which is not an excuse for bad behavior. It’s worth understanding the why of bad behavior, but understanding the why does not provide justification. It does help understand how you can meaningfully and effectively cause change.

            I look forward to the day where a family with a SAHM or SAHD or with both working parents are all seen as variations of normal. And where doing the SAH doesn’t have an undue impact on one’s career of choice. There will obviously be some impact just from not working for that period of time, depending on how much skills must be kept up-to-date for the career choice, but there shouldn’t be any additional impact beyond that.

          • fiftyfifty1
            May 7, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

            Read it again. The sarcasm is not directed toward men, but rather toward women.

          • Eddie
            May 7, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

            Apologies. I couldn’t identify a clear target of the sarcasm, so I understood it to be more general.

          • May 7, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

            “I look forward to the day where a family with a SAHM or SAHD or with both working parents are all seen as variations of normal. And where doing the SAH doesn’t have an undue impact on one’s career of choice.”

            These are two separate points, as you have written. Attitudes of society are one thing, SAH impacting your financial security is another. I see great progress being made on the first, but no one really addressing the issues of the second.

            “I do fear for women who give up their financial independence…. by making a series of choices that they perceive to be better for their families.”

            The trouble is that the perception is often true. Different solutions and situations are right for each family, but for SOME families it is measurably true that having a SAHM (or SAHF) is better at SOME points in time. And those points are not necessarily just when children are young.

            If this is true for you, at a certain time, you probably aren’t going to be thinking about the future earning prospects, or whether your husband (or wife) is going to get a brain tumour or get hit by a bus. The priority is, in many cases, going to be doing what’s best for the family, and dealing with the consequences later.

          • auntbea
            May 7, 2013 at 11:24 am #

            My husband stays home, largely because we now live somewhere without great demand for his skills. It makes me nervous about what will happen to him and my daughter if something happens to me and I cannot work. We have a massive life-insurance policy on me, but I am not sure what would happen if we divorce — he would have to move across the country, or I would have to pay palimony, I guess. (Not planning that, but who knows what could happen in ten years.)

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 7, 2013 at 11:49 am #

            Can you make your daughter a primary beneficiary?

          • auntbea
            May 7, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

            Oh, I’m not concerned my husband wouldn’t use the life insurance (or palimony) to support my daughter. I just know that he would eventually need an income and it would be very hard for him to have a reasonable one without picking up and moving 2000 miles. And, his job is a technical one, so being out the of field is harmful to his future employment prospects.

      • DiomedesV
        May 7, 2013 at 10:16 am #

        I understand your viewpoint, JC, and I especially agree that working with young children at home when you hate your job is burdensome and exhausting.

        “I honestly get tired of the “good luck trying to get back into the workforce; your earning potential is going to be so much lower; just imagine where you’d be in your career if you’d just gone back to work after kids.”

        Just as having a homebirth increases the risk of death for the baby, leaving the workplace makes it difficult to go back to work at your prior earning potential. It’s not insulting to say so, and it is a fact. If it is said in spite, then that is wrong, because like you say, choosing to stay home to be with one’s children is a perfectly valid choice. But it is still true.

        My working, whatever benefits it has, also has costs. I don’t spend as much time with my kid as I would if I were at home. I have to accept that she has a close relationship with another caregiver. I have lost the opportunity to pursue hobbies that were very important to me before she was born, because I just don’t have the time anymore. The first two don’t bother me very much. But I would never claim those costs don’t exist, or insist that everyone has to accept them as reasonable tradeoffs.

        “But I am not going to worry that I have destroyed my future by staying home with my kids for 5 years.”

        So don’t. I’m not concerned with whether you or any individual woman worries about it. I specifically addressed the intellectual dishonesty of selling intensive mothering and staying home without acknowledging the costs, which is a different issue.

        • Eddie
          May 7, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

          IOW: We each get to do our own cost-benefit analysis and decide what, for our family and our situation, is appropriate. And that we don’t get to justify our choices by pushing them onto other families.

          • DiomedesV
            May 7, 2013 at 8:35 pm #


      • fiftyfifty1
        May 7, 2013 at 10:21 am #

        Luckily for you, it is impossible that your husband could get hit by a car tomorrow.

        • CarolynTheRed
          May 7, 2013 at 11:54 am #

          Or like a friend of mine, develop a fast-moving brain tumor that first manifests itself in erratic behaviour and gets him fired for cause, and also lose his long term disability insurance and life insurance.

      • An Actual Attorney
        May 7, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

        Here here! I work and my wife stays home. Well she did until today when she interviewed for a pt legal job and was offered it by the end of the day. We’d be more screwed financially if she got seriously injured than if I did. I have short and long term disability insurance. SAHs can’t get it. So all the value she contributes to our family would have to come out of pocket.

        Seriously though — it’s not a matter of anyone’s life and death if JC or my wife have lessened earning potential. Save the handwringing for something that might actually need it.

  20. suchende
    May 6, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    That’s the funniest part about parenting/birthing by intuition. It somehow only ever leads moms to crunchy-approved conclusions.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      May 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

      As I’ve said before, the problem arises when, “Use your intuition, it is usually right” turns into “and everyone else is wrong.”

  21. Susan
    May 6, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    I didn’t notice it the first time around but the heading is Sactimommy. I feel SO sorry for you that you will have to fix the typo. My heart is aching.

  22. Esther
    May 6, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Oh, her (rolling eyes). The *really* sad part is that she’s working on a PhD in a related discipline, and thus might have a future opportunity to spread her pseudoscientific poison to even greater numbers of gullible mothers than might otherwise visit her blog.

    You know you’ve got a real winner (not) when she refers to Harlow’s monkey experiments in an anti-CIO polemic.

  23. The Computer Ate My Nym
    May 6, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    Parenting in any era prior to maybe 50 years ago for me would have involved dying in childbirth. I’m not at all sad that I missed that. I also didn’t feel like a bystander in my very medicalized birth: my caregivers made sure I was involved every step of the way and the epidural was my choice. No, I’m not brainwashed. Avoidance of pain is about as natural an instinct as one can get. Seriously. Insects do it. Depending on what you mean by “pain”, you could argue that bacteria do it. Refusing pain relief is pretty unnatural really. Not sure any other animals do that sort of thing. Humans, bah!

    I kind of agree with her about not taking parenting books as gospel. There’s a lot of pretty bad parenting books out there. They’re advice and nothing more. Some advice won’t fit your situation. Ignore it. The same goes for her implicit demand that every woman have the baby room in, never allow the baby to cry itself to sleep, etc. Different things work for different people. I had the baby with me in the room. That worked for me. Other women might want an uninterrupted night’s sleep between birth and newborn care. That works for them. Who am I to tell them that it was wrong or that they should be “sad” or worst of all, be “sad” for them?

    • auntbea
      May 6, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      Parenting more than 50 years ago would also have meant a lot of benign neglect. (YOU try watching eight kids while doing all the laundry by hand and cooking meals over an open fire!) And very possibly sending your toddler out to harvest, fetch water, or work in the factory. Or, if you were rich, letting them be raised by a nanny while you tended to the social circuit.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        May 6, 2013 at 10:42 am #

        I think you may be going back 100 or 150 years (50 years ago was 1963, after all), but agree otherwise.

        Then again, in 1963, sending the kids out to play without supervision wasn’t considered neglectful. Certainly as a young child a decade later I remember running off down the street to my friend’s house without any adult making much of it.

        • auntbea
          May 6, 2013 at 10:49 am #

          Oh, I definitely ran free in the mid-80’s. Walked a mile to the library, through the woods, by myself, all the time.

          And I did mean farther back. Although my mother worked in American communities in the late 60’s/early 70’s that didn’t have indoor plumbing.

          • BeatlesFan
            May 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

            My great-grandmother washed all her family’s laundry by hand until 1970- she was so excited to get an electric washing machine, she wrote about it in her journal. She was also missing a thumb, which was lost in an accident when she was holding logs for her father to split when she was a child. Oh, the good old days!

          • Bombshellrisa
            May 6, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

            Wow, wonder how those women who insist on looking through the rosy lenses of the retrospectoscope would be able to spin THAT one.

          • May 7, 2013 at 5:59 am #

            Wtf? My parents liked to play it was the good old days and the only source we ever had for heat and cooking was a large wood cook stove. My father never needed anyone to hold logs for him while he chopped them. Not in my entire 17 years of living at home did my father or any of us need someone to hold logs for us while we chopped wood. That’s nuts! I’m 33 btw but my parents had us all living like it was the 1800’s.

          • May 7, 2013 at 6:04 am #

            We didn’t have indoor plumping until I was 6 years old in the 80’s. My parents were hippies and liked to live the simple life I guess. We certainly didn’t need to live that way, but they enjoyed it for some reason. My dad plowed our crops with horses and everything. We were like Amish, but not religious lol!

        • AmyP
          May 6, 2013 at 11:34 am #

          I realize Call the Midwife is not a documentary, but they show the English slum mothers parking their toddlers in prams out on their doorsteps while mum is presumably inside taking care of house stuff (and incubating the next baby).

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            May 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

            People still do that in Europe. There was one famous case where a woman from Denmark parked her baby in its stroller outside a coffee shop in Manhattan while she went in to get a drink. She could see the baby from where she was and didn’t think much about it…until the police arrived in response to a report of an abandoned baby.

          • Laural
            May 7, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

            Yes, they did that in France, too. The shops have narrow doors and we remember that being one of the ‘culture shock’ things about living there, walking past the strollers with the babies in them outside the shops. I wonder if they do that anymore. It has changed a lot from when we lived there in the 80’s and 90’s.

      • Susan
        May 6, 2013 at 11:58 am #

        Aunt Bea you are showing your youth 🙂 ( I’m over 50 ) I was out there fetching water for my seven siblings…while mom cooked over the fire!

        • auntbea
          May 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

          That’s good! It builds character!

      • mamaellie
        May 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

        50 years ago my grandmother was giving herself a coat hanger abortion after being denied birth control through the nhs (no medical reason). During her previous pregnancy my uncle, at age 9, was cooking for his 5 siblings while she hung over the kitchen sink with severe nausea. She watched her second baby die of Spina bifida. She used to rail against the parents who don’t vaccinate their children. She thouht they’d feel differently if they had actually lived through the epidemics. My mother is deaf in one ear after having measles. I don’t often feel sad that my experience of mothering is so much different. She was a tough lady.

      • Bombshellrisa
        May 6, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

        I remember my mom’s dad telling stories about tending to his 13 younger siblings-everyone who could was working in the fields. And there was no baby wearing. If they had to keep toddlers in one place where they couldn’t escape, grandpa and the older siblings would dig a hole large enough, an inground playpen, if you will.

    • Happy Sheep
      May 6, 2013 at 11:26 am #

      Also, 50 years ago, babies were left to cry, it was believed it was good for their lungs, or so every single person over 50 always tells me about my kids.
      I also doubt many 50’s housewives were wearing their babies in Ergos or “ethnic” wraps.

      • mollyb
        May 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

        My mother would blissfully say that to me whenever I complained about my colicky baby crying for ten hours straight. She has got to have the best lungs of any human on the planet.

      • Sue
        May 7, 2013 at 12:54 am #

        Fifty years ago, early childhood nurses were called Baby Health Nurses, and they told you to give your baby formula if they cried a lot. (waves – here I am – still alive and healthy!)

    • DiomedesV
      May 6, 2013 at 11:46 am #

      I think she is asserting that anything post-feudalism circa 1300 CE is not “natural.”

    • Elle
      May 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

      I also agree about the parenting books part. It reminded me of this hilarious Huffington Post article that’s been making the rounds:

      • Elle
        May 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

        (and really, how are inaccurate parenting books any worse than what she wrote anyway??)

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          May 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

          Have you ever seen some of the stuff the fundamentalists put out? With advice about starving your child if they won’t say please and exactly how large a pipe to beat them with? Makes this advice seem positively benign.

    • Aunti Po Dean
      May 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

      Refusing pain relief is pretty unnatural really. Not sure any other animals do that sort of thing. Humans, bah!
      In fact if you refused an animal who was Clearly in pain, pain relief you’d be accused of animal cruelty

      • Sue
        May 7, 2013 at 12:55 am #

        Other mammals seem to be much better than us at refusing things in general – like refusing to speak, refusing to blog…

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