Monday, March 06, 2006

Betty knows Best

Yesterday I witnessed a scene which brought back some not-so-distant memories. The scene involved a terrified 4-year-old boy who was being forced to face a large audience. The quivering boy did everything he could to hide within the folds of his father's suit jacket.

With great interest, I watched the reaction of those around me, expecting people to shake their heads and roll their eyes at such "papa's boy" behavior. Why? Because that's the reaction I've received, ever since my child was born, every time "mama's boy" wanted to hide within my folds.

Instead, people seemed mildly amused, somewhat sympathetic, and basically non-judgmental!!!! What the.......?

So what I've read is really true! Society truly does judge mothers (especially single mothers!) much more harshly than fathers.

A vivid nightmarish memory has pestered me since yesterday's demonstration of that phenomenon. My child was 3, and being the conscientious zealot that I tend to be, I had researched all available services for single parents and found a little-known program offered by the local school district. It involved free monthly home visits from early childhood educators. I was happy for any support in my parenting that I could possibly find.

During one visit, when the educator rang my doorbell, my 3-year-old began crying for me to pick him up. (Mama's boy behavior, indeed.) I had been practicing attachment parenting, believing that its effects would serve him well throughout his life. He was accustomed to being held, and I thought nothing of his desire for me to pick him up before opening the door to let the educator in.

Well, let me tell you, this educator was HORRIFIED that I would "allow a 3-year-old to control me" in such a manner! She entered my house and raked me over the coals for the entire hour, and demanded that I call her suggested child psychologist AT ONCE!

I did, and the psychologist had already been warned about me. She insisted that I hire a sitter for my son (even though he was already with sitters while I worked fulltime) and show up by myself. I followed her orders, and arrived for my appointment filled with trepidation. She proceeded to rip me to shreds, insisting that by allowing my son to "ruin" my life, I was ruining his! She flat out demanded that I "lock (yes, lock) my child in a room by himself" whenever he asked me to pick him up! I sat there and listened, stunned, for 50 minutes, then feebly stood up, (over)paid her, and said, "Your beliefs differ vastly from mine. I won't be coming back."

For the next 6 months, every time my doorbell rang I expected Children's Services, fearing that those professional witches had found a way to "blow the whistle" on me and my twisted parenting. How could I have been so fiercely attacked by other women, mothers themselves, whom I had called upon for support?

Somehow I suffered through that very difficult period, learning to get by with no support. A flash of clarity appeared as a fleeting gift one day, when I was given the message "This, too, shall pass". I chuckled at the thought of a 16-year-old boy crying for me to pick him up when the doorbell rings!

26 comments:

Kelley Bell said...

I am SO PROUD of you for standing up to those lunatics!

(But FYI, a "Witch" would NEVER do such a thing. A real Witch would do just as you did, for these women follow a path that is in harmony with nature, and in nature, all mothers and babys cling together.)

And, we must remember, that all these species have done just fine without the intervention of school psychologists.

Priyamvada_K said...

Dear Betty,
I pity any and all children the educator and the self-styled psycho(logist) may have. Imagine their plight - at least you were spared in an hour or two ;-D

Seriously - good that you put the counselor in her place, and stood up for yourself. I can't believe these people did that to you.

I too have learned that society is harsher on mothers than on fathers. After a while I put this down to society being harsher on women compared to men.

But what hurts is some married mothers avoiding single moms like we have a disease. Hurts when it comes from one's own gender.

Priya.

Betty said...

Kelley,

Yep, that's why I chose attachment parenting- because it lined up with what nature intended. Throughout my parenting career, though, I have found precious little support for my choices. Your approval helps. I wish I'd had a blog all along!

Betty said...

Priya,

For sure, you nailed it- society IS harsher on women in general. And the judgement IS harder to swallow when it comes from our own gender and subset (mother). Some of these judges, though, are going to someday find out what it's like to be in our shoes, if the divorce rate keeps up.

EC said...

I've been in your shoes numerous times, so I felt I had to comment. I ran accross your blog through Blogexplosion by the way.

My son sounds very much like yours. He has this overwhelming need to hide behind me, scream for me to pick him up, and basically not talk to anyone but me whenever we're around other people. This has gotten me many numerous comments from others, saying I baby him too much, and he will be too "attached" to me to be an independent child.

Oh PULEEEEZZ is what I say... he will grow up with a healthy idea of what love is, and how he can always come to his mommy when he needs to. I fully expect that our children will grow up to be find upstanding citizens that don't need their mommys TOO much, lol.

garnet david said...

Good for you. I have to admit I wondered at times what the long term effects of attachment would be, but I think you did the right thing.

I still can't believe the way you've been treated over the years by women and parents. At least I have an excuse: I have no experience and therefore no idea what I'm doing.

Sideways Chica said...

Hmmmm? Sounds like those "other" two women should have been locked in a room by themselves. :)

Betty...there is a saying that those who can, do...and those who can't teach. While I certainly don't believe this is a universal theory, and I enthusiastically applaud all of our underpaid, overworked teachers, this saying has "taught" me one thing. If anyone ever gives me advice on child-rearing, I always "interview" them. I ask for their credentials. Not scholarly credentials, but practical credentials. Such as..."How many children do you have?" What are they doing now? Are they in college? Prison? I think you get my point. This also applies to other family members who always wanted to provide their 2-cents (or more!)

I went through a terrifying time that involved teachers, counselors and doctors wanting to put my youngest on Ritalin...and saying things in front of him that would tear your heart out. My husband and I were very tough, and put a stop to this before it could cause further damage. My boy is a sophmore in college, well-adjusted, well-balanced, and yes, giving me lots of gray hairs to cover up each month...but he is a normal 20-year-old young man, that grew up wonderfully, in spite of those school physcologists. Thank goodness for the private physcologist that I found...the one that did all the proper testing before saying no to a pill that would have quelched my son's wonderful spirit and imagination. My son was not A.D.D. - his teacher just didn't appreciate his social personality, and the pill could have caused irreversible physical and emotional damage. Money was very tight at the time, but it was well worth our sacrifices. My heart goes out to those who can't afford to get that second, unbiased opinion.

We have a lot in common chica...I wish you the best.

taikochan said...

Betsy,
Three cheers for standing up to nuts-o child phychologists and parenting the way you feel is right. My siblings and I had frequent enounters with school psychologists when we were younger... My Mom never paid them any mind (even when one said my sister must have abusive parents because she cried during a math class with a teacher she hated.) and started home schooling us. Which was, as I understand, was supposed to have stunted our development in all sorts of awful ways. We seem to be fine -- if a bit quirky, and with a tendency to acquire more advanced degrees than is strictly necessary.
Keep parenting from your heart, and by your instincts, and let your son develop to his natural form.

Shankari said...

O Betty, thank God for people like you! So I don't feel all on my own. I've had more than my share of these judgemental folk 'assessing' my child and me- I do believe BOTH he and I are survivors- though I still carry my scars.

Blage said...

There are child rearing books that I have ripped to shreds....mostly because there are many ways to raise children and we have to figure out what works for ourselves, and our kids. Also I tend to really stick up for any mother that anyone is dissing , it is a hard job. It turns into this "who is the best mom" competition for some not what is the better thing to do in this situation for this child. Keep whirling.

Jay said...

Good grief! With all the children out there abandoned, neglected, unloved, and abused by parents....this nut was worried that your child was being harmed by being held by his mother? I'm suprised you actually paid for that screwy advice.

Angel said...

Never ever let someone else tell you to go against your gut instincts as a mother.

I could write para upon paras of examples but that really sums it up.

BTW---my nearly 17 year old no longer takes refuge in my folds but indeed still comes to me for adive and comfort when needed. Instead of drugs, alcohol or whatever else.

Stay close to your son.

Angel said...

advice even..

Ananke said...

Good Lord! What a couple of idiots. I'll be NOBODY picked these women up when they were children. I can't believe they actually wanted you to lock your child up for anything much less something as simple as that. Yikes. Good thing you got away from them so quickly.

Betty said...

Erin,
Yep- we're on the same page.

Betty said...

Garnet,
Yes, it's the judgement from other mothers that stings the most, because they're the ones who know what a hard job it is. You, on the other hand, are forgiven for any transgressions into doubt.

Betty said...

Teri,
Wow- I can just imagine what that was like, dealing with school "authorities" who promoted Ritalin. Do you suppose they get a kickback?

Betty said...

Taikochan,
You're so fortunate to have been homeschooled. I'd try it with my son if I didn't have to work.

Betty said...

Shankari,
Yes, you're definitely survivors. Keep up the good work. "This too shall pass" applies universally.

Betty said...

Blage,
Yep, there are many ways to pull it off, I'm sure. I'm constantly experimenting, within a framework of basic beliefs. It is a constant challenge.

Betty said...

Jay,
I paid for the advice of the psychologist because I was afraid of what a person harboring her beliefs would do to me if I didn't.

Betty said...

Angel,
Yes, you are describing the future I hope for. Thanks for the hope. I see why they call you "Angel".

Betty said...

Ananke,
I think you nailed it- surely both of these women's backgrounds left much to be desired. It's good to look at it that way.

Sideways Chica said...

Dear Betty...regarding your query about the *kickback.* Not so sure about that, but they sure got a "Kick-Butt" from my husband and me.

Ciao chica. :)

Betty said...

Teri,
Thank heavens! Fortunately, my child is in an alternative school, where Ritalin is virtually unknown. If the same group of students could be placed in a traditional school, I guarantee that many of them, especially coming from such an atmosphere of freedom, would be targeted for Ritalin.

Anonymous said...

滿..................................................