[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/12/donna.reed.art.jpg caption="Donna Reed starred in 'The Donna Reed Show'."]
From CNN's Carol Costello and Ronni Berke
Back in the day, it was a cinch to know what a good mom was: the ideal TV mom, Donna Reed. Reed embodied 1950's motherhood. Always there, wise and involved from afar. And exceedingly well-dressed. Today it's difficult to define what exactly an "ideal mother is."
It's as if we've taken Donna Reed's image and put it on steroids. Carl Honoré, who wrote the book “Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children From the Culture of Hyper-parenting," says this generation has “kind of professionalized parenting. There’s a feeling now that on the frontline of child rearing, that raising a kid now is all or nothing."
For Melissa Chapman, a woman from Staten Island who works at home to care for her two children, it was time to get off the parental fast track. Shuttling her daughter back and forth to activities every day of the week, the family was stressed out and exhausted.
“Monday was dance. Tuesday was art. Wednesday was piano. Thursday was gymnastics,” she said. The family had little time to talk and [her daughter] was often too tired to finish her homework.
“My whole schedule was revolving around, you know, where I was taking her, when I was picking her up,” Chapman adds. “There was no quality family time, just getting in the car, getting out of the car, packing up the car, unpacking the car."
So this year, Chapman cut back. Now her daughter, 8, has only one after school activity a week.
Yet she still wondered whether she was a good mother. And she's not alone. So many mothers feel her pain. Blogs like “Her Bad Mother,” and “Real Bad Mommies” have started popping up, rebelling against the notion moms have to be perfect to raise perfect children. On “Her Bad Mother,” one mom writes: "...I have left my children alone in the bathtub. I have spanked my daughter. I drink. I curse..."
But Ayelet Waldman, author of “Bad Mother,” says over-parenting is certainly not over. “We're not going to turn on the dime here but I do think there's a backlash to over-parenting.”
And Waldman ought to know. In 2005, she was viciously, publicly attacked for writing in an essay that she loves her husband more than her children.
“OK, so now fast forward four years.” Waldman says. “And I publish this book "Bad Mother" and the conversation and response is totally different. And I think in this weird way, the world has caught up to what I had been saying.”
The economy may be forcing the issue. Parents now can’t spend all hat money for their kids to take dance and soccer lessons. Instead, the kids stay home and play with their siblings.
Chapman says cutting back on lessons has saved her $300-$400 a month. But there’s an added benefit, she says: everyone does more as a family.
“We'll go for that bike ride. We'll bake cookies. We're still doing activities – it's not like I'm just sitting them on the couch and saying bye-bye, you're just home now doing whatever you want, but it's more one-on-one time now as opposed to her doing things with her friends and coming home.”
Filed under: Just Sayin'
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