Skip to comments.Has Promoting Mother Absence Spawned Campus Crybabies?
Posted on 11/01/2017 1:44:14 PM PDT by punknpuss
The reflective Mary Eberstadt has the latest Weekly Standard cover story, asserting that the late rise of identity politics especially among the young descends from the decline in family, despite myriad other theories. An excerpt:
Maybe that cultural scream of mine! is issuing from souls who did have something taken from themonly something more elemental than the totemic objects now functioning as figurative blankies for lost and angry former children. As of today, less than 65 percent of American children live with both biological parents, even as other familial boughs have broken via external forces like the opioid crisis, criminality and incarceration, and globalization. Maybe depression and anxiety have been rising steadily among children and teenagers for a reason. Maybe the furor over appropriation unveils the true foundation of identity politics, which is pathos. She touches on some of the research that has become well-known among child psychologists and sociologists, referencing the dramatic increase in, for example, mental health problems, at a high point now on campuses and in the public at large. Mental health problems are linked with family instability, as are reductions in the resources that can help alleviate them, such as church attendance and deeper, broader community relationships. Divorce and failure to marry before bearing children also harm nearby families that do not themselves experience these maladies. Private choices are in fact not private choices, after all. They hurt other people, inside and outside ones family.
Eberstadts storytelling about this phenomena, linking a search for social and political identity to a loss of familial identity, is unusual. It seems more common on the Right to make fun of these special snowflakes rather than take seriously their claims of suffering amid the richest time and country in history. To be fair, throwing tantrums like a toddler when youre 20 is something to jeer at. But I agree with Eberstadt that something underneath these tantrums deserves more than derision and dismissal.
Last year I argued protesting college students were right to complain theyre being exploited, but by a higher education system that cheats them out of a real education in pursuit of government subsidies. This time lets take a look at some evidence for Eberstadts charge that increasingly anxious and rootless young Americans have been cheated by their own families and society of their sense of identity due to selfish sexual and economic norms.
The Effects of Absent Mothers and Fathers Eberstadt takes more a cultural approach to describing and linking these phenomena than a clinical one, which makes her perhaps more readable but less convincing to picky people like me who like to see lots of proof in the course of an argument. Luckily I have been a reader of her books going back more than a decade, so I know she knows the data perfectly well. There is plenty to support her argument, which is emotionally touching to those who have not closed themselves off from it due to mommy or daddy guilt or the choice to prioritize their comforts above loving others:
many people no longer know what almost all of humanity once knew, including in the great swath of history that was otherwise nastier, more brutish, and shorter than ours: a reliable circle of faces, many biologically related to oneself, present during early and adolescent life. That continuity helped to make possible the plank-by-plank construction of identity as son or daughter, cousin or grandfather, mother or aunt, and the rest of whats called, tellingly, the family tree. In short, she argues Our macro-politics have gone tribal because our micro-politics are no longer familial. We learn from our family life who we are, how to conduct ourselves, our place in the world, and gain from it a base from which to launch our own adulthood. When masses of young people fail to launch successfully into adulthood, it is fair to source many of their problems in their families.
Before we extend our relations into siblings and neighbors, developmental psychologists find our prime sense of identity is developed through our direct relationships with first our mother, then our father. As psychologist Robert Karen wrote in his exhaustive overview of child development research, Becoming Attached, our early relationship with our mother (and then father) forms a template for all future relationships. How our parents relate to us as small children teach us how other people are likely to relate to us, whether we believe deep inside we are worthy of love and are capable of handling stress. Those parent patterns can be broken and healed, but typically set our default.
Babys Relationship with Mom Develops Emotion Control A new book out this year by Erica Komisar, a Manhattan-based psychoanalyst and social worker, provides more sociological and psychological research on this front for a popular audience. In Being There, she explains that babies are born without the ability to regulate their emotions and handle stress. So a mother essentially serves as a set of emotional-regulation training wheels for the child, especially in his first three years.
Every time a mother comforts a baby in distress, shes actually regulating that babys emotions from the outside in. After three years, the baby internalizes that ability to regulate their emotions, but not until then. For that reason, mothers need to be there as much as possible, both physically and emotionally, for children in the first 1,000 days,' she told the Wall Street Journal in a recent interview. With the increase of working mothers and mothers physically but not emotionally present for their small children, more young people are not having this crucial developmental need met.
Ms. Komisars interest in early childhood development grew out of her three decades experience treating families, first as a clinical social worker and later as an analyst. What I was seeing was an increase in children being diagnosed with ADHD and an increase in aggression in children, particularly in little boys, and an increase in depression in little girls. More youngsters were also being diagnosed with social disorders whose symptoms resembled those of autismhaving difficulty relating to other children, having difficulty with empathy. As Ms. Komisar started to put the pieces together, she found that the absence of mothers in childrens lives on a daily basis was what I saw to be one of the triggers for these mental disorders. She began to devour the scientific literature and found that it reinforced her intuition. In another interview, with Mother magazine, Komisar traces emotional problems to parenting, particularly mother absence: Weve seen children forced to be much too self-sufficient and independent and it backfires. They develop calluses for their emotions too early, before theyve internalized that resilience that mothers provide. They develop defenses. These babies hold it together the first three years, when their mothers arent there either emotionally or physically, and then they are breaking down after around 3. They are breaking down in school when the stress becomes great. Its like The Three Little Pigs. If you build a house with bricks, when the storm comes, it doesnt blow the house down. If you build a house with straw, at the first sign of a storm, the house blows down. Mothers being there, both emotionally and physically, builds a house of bricks.
Theres a pretty clear line here to current campus hijinks. Because of their distinct biology, mothers primarily develop childrens empathy, self-awareness, emotional management, and overall sense of emotional wellbeing. Fathers primarily protect the family and develop childrens ability to control aggression, solve their own problems, and not turn into nincompoops (thats a clinical term for learning to, say, bounce back into play after skinning a knee). Looking at not only the loudest, sobbiest voices on the quad, but also the emotional and social retardation of todays millennials and Gen Zers, the connection to mother and father absence is pretty clear. Surely we cant blame it all on moms and dads, but surely they deserve some blame.
Will This Change Anything? Up to You Now, of course, the question is: What are we going to do about it? In her Wall Street Journal interview, Komisar reports being shunned by mainstream outlets like NPR and socially by women because they dont like the implications of the research shes publicizing. Elites preferences pressure families to behave in ways that are not optimal for child development.
These include: popping mom out of the house soon after giving birth, expecting employers or taxpayers to provide for families rather than the families themselves (hi, dads!); pressuring women to measure themselves by male biological yardsticks; denigrating children and the work of raising them into capable adults; big businesses preference for full-time location-based workers rather than part-time, from-home, and gig options; and high government spending that soaks up the economic resources that could otherwise allow for more single-income, dual-parent households.
But the thing is, social preferences like this are very malleable. Women want a man-style life at the expense of the kids because weve taught them this is how we measure their value. I sure did. That is, until I married a man who kept telling me how great it is that women can have babies and how much he wanted some, and would do anything necessary to make that work. Then I had our first baby much earlier than Id planned and slowly started to fall in love with babies and motherhood. Nobody told me, and nobody tells most young women, how deliciously wonderful this aspect of our humanity can be. Its a whole new world, more challenging than any job, and more captivating.
Women need to know that. And they need to know others support them in discovering and dedicating ourselves to this world that belongs to us by birthright as women. That would be a truly pro-woman stance by men and business and government instead of all the meaningless virtue-signaling were subjected to in lieu of substantive structural changes to their anti-child policies. Thats also something you and I can do besides having a few babies ourselves and making life choices to put their needs first to reverse our anti-child culture bequeathing us so many sad, angst-ridden, identity-less adults.
Joy Pullmann is managing editor of The Federalist and author of "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," out from Encounter Books this spring. Get it on Amazon.
Remember Fred MacMurray and “My Three Sons?” Remember the “Mother figure?” LOLOL!
Today, there are far too damned many "helicopter mothers/parents", institutionalized trophies for just being/breathing, teacher & prof propaganda, lefty PC crap, and lives that even for those in poverty, is far too "easy"!
And it has been the damned lefties who have divided all of us into "groups" and GROUP THINK!
From time immemorial, one of both parents have often died young, men went off to war and were gone for many years, and in large families ( especially amongst those who weren't wealthy ) older children took care of the younger ones. Mother child "bonding" was therefore non-existent! And until very recently, if the father was even there, none of them changed diapers, fed the baby/children, or "bonded" with the infant from birth through the age of 3 !
Today's stupid snowfake 20-almost 40 babies are self absorbed, stupid, uneducated ( even though they've had their collective arses is school seats for MUCH longer than any other generation! ), and have no REAL problems to overcome so they happily accept lefty manufactured HOAX ones!
I feel sorry for kids who grew up in day care and after school programs. If you have a good mom, there is nothing better to prepare you for life and give you confidence and honesty.
So kids raised in day care and then pawned off on sports, scouts, band, etc. acting as surrogate baby sitters at night developed poorly? What a shock /s.
This essay is right on target. So much damage has been done to children today. Sad.
I dunno, I think those were extraordinary circumstances, in most times and places, mothers have been with their babies more or less around the clock through the first 2-3 years at least, and fathers have been responsible for making sure both are safe and fed. Now, it’s not uncommon to see women going back to their 50-60 hour a week jobs three weeks or a month after birth.
And the upper classes, from the dawn of written history, have usually employed nannies and nursery maids ( as well as slaves, if you want to start looking at actual terminology ) to do their job as mothers.
Also, until extremely recently, women died from childbirth very often; leaving that baby and/or other children without a mother.
And extended families can be good, bad, or inconsequential.
Today, most companies give THREE MONTHS maternal leave; some much more than that.
Far, far, FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR worse than mothers who work outside of the home, are the damned HELICOPTER MOTHERS, who treat their children ( even those who are in their 20s! ) as though they are fragile little things, who can't and shouldn't do anything on their own, never have to have any responsibilities, and need to be "protected" from ever being unhappy for ANY reason at all!
Your first two words , of your post, are correct...YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HISTORY, NOR THIS TOPIC!
From the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, many women have worked outside of their homes and their kiddos, for the most part, turned out if not "okay"...NOTHING at all like the over privileged, snotty, spoiled, stupid, emotionally retarded snowflakes of today!
Nope, I don’t think so, and I was a SAHM. I think it’s the rise of social media and everyone being so connected.
My kids got much worse when they got smart phones and ipads and went to college.
Only one of my kids is conservative, and it’s because she doesn’t like social media, and doesn’t get influenced by it. She also lived at home for 2 years and went to community collge. Wish we had done that with her brother. The crazy stuff that she had in college was easy to combat at home. She’s off at a 4 year college now, and she’s passed all the really crazy partying and more into finishing up her degree.
I was home, and 2 of my kids have problems with anxiety and depression and are crazy liberal. College did them in!
I remember lots of those shows that had “father figures” often with orphaned boys.
Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion
Only Lassie’s Timmy seemed to have a mother figure and he kept falling in the well.
Hmmmmm - absent mothers = crybabies and absent fathers = violent thugs....whodathunkit?
Don’t forget Sky King where the uncle (I think) raised Penny and her brother.
They have a solid base to go back to after this liberalism phase passes. One of my sons was screwed around in college. Not the other one.
How do you go back and fix the unfixable?
Good question - only Dems try that and they always cause more problems. Only way to "fix" it is to start stomping the crap out of the product of those who think society is their personal toilet and stop fostering the environment that breeds them. I started life in the '50s and our area of the city "went Black" while we were living there. They had 2 parent families, were buying their homes and maintaining them as well as or better than the Whites - they were integrating.
Enter LBJ and his "Great Society" and we had race riots where those who had been friends and neighbors became "pushy" and got a taste of rioting and destroying things.
Gonna take what nobody seems to have the balls to do these days - tough love....