Thursday, March 05, 2009

Grandmas and Kids

Look! It's another NY Times trend story with no legs. Does Jack Shafer do the mommy beat?

Apparently some moms are pissed off that their own mothers do not help take care of their grandchildren. The story quotes four moms, an academic (gender studies), and a psychiatrist. The closest it comes to quantitative data is a report from the senior product manager of Urban Baby that "complaints about uninvolved grandparents are a recurring theme," and the claim that "They are also a theme among certain of Dr. Saltz’s patients." The only concession that there might be another side? "Many young parents, of course, complain of smothering attention from grandparents who won’t leave them or their children alone."

Mmm, I'm convinced.

Of course, happy families make bad press. Lots of us have loving grandparents who are around when we need them and when they want to be, even if there are occasional glitches and conflicts. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least a half dozen families in Town alone where grandparents regularly hang with grandchildren, to everyone's benefit. And, hey, where you have no statistics, my anecdotes are as good as yours!

But two things trouble me about the article, besides the pathetic journalism.

1) It's all about bashing the maternal sex. The grandmothers are selfish; the moms are demanding; they all suck. The dads and grandfathers? Nowhere to be found, but presumably aloof and saintly.

2) I suppose, living in our confessional culture, I shouldn't be, but I continue to be surprised and, honestly, a little shocked, that people would be so angry at their mothers that they would go on the record about it in a major newspaper. I mean, if your mother embezzled your life savings, or prostituted you to buy crack, sure, plaster her sins on billboards over the world. But you think she doesn't help enough with the kids? Isn't that for you and her to deal with? Or you and your partner? Or you and your shrink? Or you and your friends (because what are friends for, if not complaining about your family)? But the NY Times? Get over yourselves. Besides, why would you want someone around your kids who didn't want to be there? (Like I said: your shrink would be a good place to go with that one.)

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