Erica Jong seems to think so. Last weekend the novelist decried attachment parenting and green parenting practices in her Wall Street Journal article Mother Madness. So what is she talking about and why discuss it in a design blog?Jong's article relies heavily on Elisabeth Badinter's Le Conflit: La Femme and La Mere, a recent French bestseller that critiques social pressures to breastfeed, cloth diaper and make baby food from scratch. Badinter posits that these green practices imprison women and set impossible expectations. Both Jong and Badinter express deep concern for working mothers, who they see as destined for failure by the parenting zeitgeist.
Erica Jong has no great love for William and Martha Sears, calling attachment parenting "a perfect tool for the political right" because she claims that it cuts parents out of the political process. She also suggests that the current mommy culture suppresses class differences and the socioeconomic realities of parenting. Towards the end of the article, Jong reads the state of parenting as "attempts to exert control in a world that is increasingly out of control." For the author, her perceived crisis in motherhood comes down to creating a home for our children.
Our obsession with parenting is an avoidance strategy. It allows us to substitute our own small world for the world as a whole. But the entire planet is a child's home, and other adults are also mothers and fathers. We cannot separate our children from the ills that affect everyone, however hard we try. Aspiring to be perfect parents seems like a pathetic attempt to control what we can while ignoring problems that seem beyond our reach.
If parenting is about carving out a place for our children in the world, then maybe our efforts to design a particular kind of domestic space betrays the same desire to construct a perfect world for them. That's assuming that you buy Jong's argument. Do you? Yes or no, how do these issues and questions play into your process of creating a home for your children?
(image: Flickr member Tony Oliver licensed for use by Creative Commons)