The Conflict

Michele - posted on 04/19/2012 ( 6 moms have responded )




"If you have ever experienced a dark hour of the soul in the middle of a dinner party, where the men seemed to be talking about something intriguing at the end of the table, while you were deeply immersed in a women’s conversation about how to transition from the bottle to the sippy cup, the French feminist Elisabeth Badinter’s rousing indictment of our child-centric culture, The Conflict, is bound to offer some consolation.
Her very French, rather severe, and fascinating book does not pander to readability in the way an American cultural analysis would, but she raises important points about the dangers of what she calls “L’enfant Roi” or the child-is-king culture, to the hard won gains of feminism. She describes the blow to our freedom, to work, to expansive ideas of self delivered by rigid standards of what motherhood should be. She discusses and attacks among other things: La Leche League and the pressure to breast-feed, the fad for natural birth, for total abstinence from alcohol during pregnancy, and the stigmatization of women who decide not to have children."

Wow, she hits a lot of hot button topics. On one hand I agree that parenting is often competitive in US culture (can't speak to elsewhere) and people are very judgmental, which is not good. I don't think the children should be the "kings" of the house either. OTOH, I think that children are important members of the family and there is a biological response to having children that involves nurturing and wanting the best for them that is very natural, especially for women. There has got to be a balance between "French parenting" and Tiger Mother parenting. I haven't read the book yet, though. Generally I am comfortable with my choices and understand that other people can reasonably make a different choice regardless of my opinion.

What do you think?


[deleted account]

I utterly disagree with the concept that feminists put themselves first. My mother was a homemaker for 30 years, raising 3 children and didn't work, volunteered with her Church,etc. Yet she proudly calls herself a feminist. It's the call to respect all choices and to allow women the freedom to make those choices that determines the feminist culture. Unfortunately the term feminism has been so butchered by women like Phyllis Schlafly who enjoy the benefits brought by feminism but want to deny them to other women. And the men who are angered by women's rights in the first place that it means something completely different. Much like how the word, 'liberal' means something completely different and is pejorative now.

I do think we put too much emphasis on babies and 'baby bumps' and oh my everything is about the children no matter what side you're on.

Alison - posted on 04/19/2012




This book is definitely intriguing! I like the reflection on our generation of parents reacting to under-nurturing, self-absorbed mothers.

My mother a home-maker, not a feminist. She was a nurturer. And I consider myself to be a fairly laid-back and balanced mom (although I have to fight the tendency to lose myself for my family).
My MIL, on the other hand, and many other women of her generation in the province, seem to fit into the feminist mold of putting self first.

I feel there is an unhealthy pressure placed on today's moms (yes, the moms way more than the dads). We have become responsible for ensuring that our children are protected from every "bad" thing (television, toxins, bad grades, under-stimulation, accidents). And we are suffocating the mothering instinct by telling everyone how they should or should not raise their children.

I miss the simplicity of good old fashion community. More than anything, I think I miss the ignorance that allowed for children without car seats and a beer while breastfeeding.


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Johnny - posted on 04/20/2012




That I agree with Jen. Feminism should be about women being empowered to make their own choices, regardless of what those are. But I don't think it is just anti-feminists who have messed that up. I often hear so-called feminists deriding women who choose to stay at home. I was once told that breastfeeding was "anti-feminist".

Johnny - posted on 04/20/2012




I drank beer while breastfeeding and I plan to do it again.

I just thought I'd put that out there. What I really wish is that people were empowered to make the decisions that are right for them and their families without other people's expectations hanging all over it. Obviously there are the reasonable expectations of providing safety, appropriate nutrition and nurture, and opportunity. But beyond that, we need to stop fretting the details.

When I worked in Child Protection I had a colleague who felt all children should be potty trained by age 3 and if kids were not, she sent them to parenting classes. This drove me up the wall, because we were often working with cultures who didn't share those views and had different methods of training. My pointing out to her that it must work fine because you don't see all the adults running around in diapers seemed to have no effect.

I must admit though, that I don't lament car seats. I'm glad, very glad, to have a perfect excuse to tie that kid down for a while every day. I'm eagerly anticipating when the laws change to force us to strap them down for other things. I am joking.... sort of.

I find the "child as king" culture very hypocritical in some ways. Parents become the servants of their kids, but they also often view the child as their property with which they can do as they please. It's always fascinating to me when I read on here the same poster saying both, "my kids come first always" and "my kids, my choice". If your kids came first, then you would take their desires into consideration. If everything that your kids experience is up to you and only you ("my rights as a parent"), then you aren't really putting them first are you. But that's my personal little pet peeve.

I guess that while I do wish I could stay at home as a mom, it is kind of nice to be able to spend my work days with a variety of people who discuss a variety of topics. While I also have mom friends, none of my closest friends have kids. So I actually usually have to come on here to discuss issues to do with childrearing. Even my mom friends don't want to spend that much time talking diapering or baby sleep. I think it might just be the cultural environment that I am in where I live, but I don't experience much mom-pettiion in real life. On COM I do see it all the time though.

Sorry for rambling, it's Friday....

Mary - posted on 04/20/2012




" More than anything, I think I miss the ignorance that allowed for children without car seats and a beer while breastfeeding."

I wholeheartedly agree. There was a simplicity, freedom, and joy to childhood that has been lost with all of our "advanced knowledge". I was born in 1970, so I had a childhood that was free of even seat belts, much less car seats! At this rate, my 3 year old will still be in a booster seat while taking driver's ed!

It's a bit of a double-edged sword, isn't it? While reducing the risks of physical harm to our kids, we have exponentially increased the restraints and limitations of our child's existence. We have also greatly added to the parent's list of things to worry about.

While I know too much to ever let my daughter not be "safely" restrained in the car, I simultaneously lament that she will never know the pure and simple joy of rolling around in the way-back of station wagon, and hanging her head out the window with the dogs. (hell, it's even strongly recommended that the dogs be belted in as well!).

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