I wasn’t there. But I have heard tell that Henry VIII divorced a couple of his wives and beheaded two more. Because they did not give him a male heir. Poor planning on the part of two thirds of the spouse census. I load the dishwasher when my bride tells me; why couldn’t these women just come through with the straightforward request of producing a baby boy?
Didn’t seem like such a big ask in the 16th century. Woman were responsible for delivering (pun intended) children of the demanded—invariably male—gender. Subsequent scientific insight informs that it is indeed the genetic contribution of dad that determines blue versus pink. Sperm contributes the x (baby girl) or y (baby boy) chromosomes. Yet women got blamed, divorced, and beheaded based on their ability to produce offspring of the make persuasion. What has changed in these enlightened times five hundred-something years later?
Not a whole heckuva lot, I gotta say. Moms are still disproportionately blamed for the behavior, accomplishments, attitudes, and attributes of their offspring. When was the last time you saw disapproving glances directed at mom when Junior misbehaved? Answer: 20 minutes ago on average.
AS IF mom wouldn’t be more than pleased should Tommy remember to take his feet off the chair in the barber’s shop. You think she hasn’t mentioned that Tommy would be advised to keep his filthy feet on the floor, how many times do I have to tell you, were you brought up in a barn and besides everyone is watching?
I am as happy to cast the first stone, point a finger, snigger under my breath as the next judgmental, holier-than-thou, nose-in-the-air man. Did you see how that child behaved? Goodness me. So spoiled. His mother must be such a maroon.
If only it were so simple. If only a mother’s parenting style were directly, invariably, linearly, and completely responsible for each and every resulting behavior of her progeny. If only there were no other influences—family, peers, school, society, to say nothing of genetic predispositions—on how kids act.
Sometimes it’s easy: do recreational Xanax with your kids and the odds that your kidoodles will have an unhealthy relationship with substances increases exponentially. But lots of young adults with substance use disorder grew up in homes with moms who didn’t know how to spell benzodiazepines. So, let’s blame mom for not being knowledgeable about drugs. Or let’s blame mom for being too knowledgeable. Even Goldilocks made a couple mistakes before determining the proper porridge. Moms are blame magnets.
This humble author may have contributed to the oppressive burden on moms. “Take your kids camping and play Parcheesi with them” is the simplistic takeaway from some number of these 500 columns. Sure, my four grown kids are perfect in every way. But suggesting that there is a direct relationship between my having read them Harry Potter and their growing up drug free might be a bit of a stretch. Were my children in jail rather than in college, would I be blamed for having made poor choices as their dad?
No, but their mother would. Mom is excoriated every time her child uses the wrong fork.
Could it be time to let moms up off the floor? Should we acknowledge that mom is one of but not the only influence on her children? From a C in algebra to imperfect behavior in the barber shop to the gender of a newborn, maybe it is time to stop blaming and beheading moms for every perceived imperfection in their kids.