Is Being a Mom Today a Step Back for Women?

Bottle-feeding working moms who gave birth with an epidural are less adept at producing healthy, well-adjusted children than their natural birth-endorsing, breastfeeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping counterparts.

Or that's how the current standards of motherhood pit women against one another, says philosopher Elisabeth Badinter, author of "The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women." She recently penned an essay for The Huffington Post that suggests that moms today are tethered to home by parenting ideals that have more in common with the 1950s than the 21st century.

The ideal modern mom, Badinter says, is one who devotes herself to the care and feeding of her child in a way that leaves little room for anything else. "For some, this new way of life might deliver a kind of joy, letting women immerse themselves fully in the act of being a mother, but for others it is a burden, a source of anxiety and isolation," she writes. And guilt.

I have absolutely nothing against natural childbirth, attachment parenting, cloth-diapering, breastfeeding, co-sleeping or making your own babyfood. I just don't want anyone telling me that is the best way to parent and that any alternative is somehow inferior. And yes, I'm looking at you, lady who told me I didn't "get to experience birth" because I had two c-sections.

Writer Melissa Fay Greene responds to Badinter's argument with her own Huffington Post essay, "Motherhood Is Not a Prison," saying that she fully embraced the attachment parenting philosophy, and points out that if it really were 1950, that the current standard of motherhood might be pretty tyrannical. But we live in the age of the Web, social networking, telecommuting, job flexibility and female entrepreneurship. Moms who want to go to work in an office can; moms who want to stay home and practice elimination communication can do that, too. (Of course, the economy can get in the way of both options, but that's another story.)

I agree: Everyone should set their own bar for being a mom -- and let's all pinky promise that we're not going to be judgy about it or say that any one way is better than another. 

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