Culture in Mind

Mental health, culture, and ethnicity

The Good Mother

There are so many different ways to raise wonderful adults

The Mothering Olympics

I have resisted writing anything about this topic because I think the 'mommy wars' is a rather silly discussion that is overwrought with unnecessary drama and an old debate that is past its time. Nevertheless, I will add my point of view that does not address this so called 'war' but rather explores the role of culture (and subsequent choices) in parenting strategy. We are in a time when mothering (specifically middle-class mothering) is a competitive endeavour, each woman trying to 'outdo' the next in how much face time they have and how much their heart aches in their child's absence and the world-changing talents they have developed in their offspring. Score is kept by SAT scores, number of languages spoken, number of countries visited etc.

Global Mothering

With hundreds of countries and thousands of cultures around the world, it seems really silly to think that there is only one way to parent when every culture has their own set of values they want to pass on and each has their own way of getting their children to that point. Whether it means rigid rules or children left to roam unsupervised. Whether it means letting children make their own decisions and living with the consequences to doing their laundry until their adults.

Letting Go

Of course, parenting choices depend on your choice of adult outcome, and even then it's a crapshoot. The need for control drives some parents to distraction and creates children who are what their parents want them to be and not who they want to be. It creates children and adults who have no idea who they are and what they want because no one seems to care. Parents assume they know what's best despite who their children may really be.

The Proof is in the Pudding

The best parenting is the parenting that creates happy, loving children who can fend for themselves more and more over time. Being a parent is a lifelong state, but parenting changes over time until there is no longer any need for it because the state of adulthood would have been reached.

If Moms didn't stay home, then many of us working moms would have no one to make the school run and coordinate all the myriad activities that modern society has created to fill the gap of play. So many philanthropic endeavours would not exist without women with hours of time to spare while their children are at school.

Whatever Works

I don't expect other parents to parent like me, because they are not like me and I want different things for my chidlren. Thus I may wonder at others' choices but I don't judge them. As a social worker I have had the task of helping parents find ways to parent that works for them and their family, and that's what good parenting is about.

Ruth C. White, Ph.D., M.S.W., and M.P.H., is the author of Bipolar 101 and is an associate clinical professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California. 

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