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Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

Mommy Guilt: It’s an Industry



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Recently, I forgot to send the registration form to the folks running a summer camp that I knew my oldest would love.  It’s now full so he’s out and I feel guilty. 

My middle child recently got a new bike, but I unknowingly bought one that is far too heavy and much too big for his slight frame. So, this summer he’ll learn to ride on a terrifyingly large bike. He probably won’t take to it and I feel guilty. 

My youngest has an aggressive streak. He’s well known on the playground for pushing down pink-clad girls with grosgrain-ribbon-tied pigtails. I suspect it’s because I spent less time with him as a baby. Yup, I feel guilty. 

Do I rely too much on television?  Would we have clean clothes and a relatively orderly house if I didn’t? Are they reading enough? Saying “may I” instead of “can I”? Are they polite, respectful, appropriately daring and courageous yet sensitive, empathetic, and kind to animals? Do they play well with others when out of my view? Probably not. More guilt. 

Guilt is a mother’s best friend. It never leaves her side. It is always there talking to her, needling her, nudging her, keeping her company. This emotion connects all mothers. We women may differ in all sorts of ways – race, income, career choices, likes and dislikes, political opinions, child-rearing techniques – but we all have this one thing in common: mommy guilt.  

In fact, according to a national online survey just released by the Independent Women’s Forum, “mommy guilt” is pervasive among women. According to the poll, two-thirds of women say they sometimes feel badly about not doing enough to eat right and live healthily. Sadly, its single mothers – arguably the mothers who deal with the most stress – that experience the most guilt.  

This news will be reassuring to many women. After all, misery loves company and there is genuine comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Yet, women should be aware that their guilt is proving to be a goldmine for many environmental and public-health organizations that capitalize on mommy guilt in order to further certain regulatory goals.This mommy-guilt industry is made up of organizations that present themselves as moderate voices working to ensure the health, safety, and happiness of families, yet they actively work to make life more difficult for overwhelmed mothers by spreading outright lies about perfectly normal and inexpensive products. 

Take for instance the recent “investigation” conducted by the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Coalition (a harmless-sounding alliance of dozens of separate radical environmental and public-health nonprofits) which found that “hazardous chemicals” can be found in children’s rain gear. 

To a busy mother, this might seem like a legitimate issue. But hopefully some mothers will realize that while most children’s raincoats are in fact made of vinyl (which does contain chemicals), kids aren’t actually eating their shiny, yellow raincoats – which is the only way these “toxic” chemicals could cause any sort of harm. Of course, this little detail isn’t mentioned by the activist group, leaving mothers with yet another reason to panic (and clean out the coat closet).  

So, what would make these groups make such preposterous charges against something as innocuous as a child’s raincoat and rain boots? 

I’ve got a hunch: money has something to do with it. After all, what parent wouldn’t want to support an organization standing between their child and the harmful and toxic products sold in stores. 

It’s time for moms to start ignoring these alarmist claims of danger around every corner, tucked into every closet, and under every kitchen sink.  

 



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