Mothers--working, welfare, single, teen, or any combination thereof--get most of the blame for imperfect children and unraveling families. This firebrand book dismantles the bias of social scientists, parenting experts, and the media who blame today's mothers for all of society's problems caused by our disintegrating families, naming instead the true culprit: America's abysmal child-care system.
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An impassioned plea to stop blaming mothers for the ills of society and to focus, instead, on the real culprits. Eyer (Developmental Psychology/Univ. of Pennsylvania; Mother- Infant Bonding, 1992), explores current research and reveals its deep bias against mothers. She documents how American mothers are blamed for too many of this country's maladies, from poverty and divorce to the high rates of teen pregnancy and incarceration. It is far easier to find a scapegoat, contends Eyer, than to focus on the true offender: an economic system that has allowed 15 percent of the population to fall below the poverty line, and to provide a sufficient amount of acceptable child care. Yet it is the mother who is stigmatized. She is made to feel guilty for not adequately bonding with her babies, for working even when she has young children, and for traumatizing them if she chooses to divorce. And in their efforts to scapegoat women, the child care experts and politicians have somehow ignored the fathers. ``While they earnestly engage in scrutinizing the bad mother,'' Eyer notes, ``the bad father is nowhere to be found.'' What America needs to do, insists Eyer, is to devise a child care system that meets the needs of working mothers and to establish policies in the workplace that will allow both parents to become more involved in their children's day-to-day lives. Eyer examines in detail the child care policies in a variety of industrialized nations, including Sweden, France, Israel, and Japan and concludes that ``on any number of indexes the US has the worst record regarding the care of its young children.'' This country, insists Eyer, has clearly assumed no collective responsibility for its children. A strong indictment of current policies that scapegoat mothers instead of upgrading family services, Motherguilt is both enlightening and disturbing. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Eyer is so angry at society and at men telling women how to live their lives that the pages of her book almost hiss. She is particularly enraged at three "gurus" of child raising who she feels have terrorized and demonized mothers: Benjamin Spock, T. Berry Brazelton and Penelope Leach. British baby expert Leach cautions mothers, "If you continue to work... you give up raising your child"; Brazelton weighs in with the thought that "a woman's most important role is being at home to mother her small children"; and Dr. Spock admonishes that it's better for one parent [guess who] to stay home for the first two or three years of a child's life. Since it has become economically difficult for many women to follow any of this advice, Eyer, a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, points out that they are stuck with two full-time jobs and major guilt about both. She energetically debunks much of the conventional wisdom about "bonding" and blames most of mothers' problems on the abysmal state of American child care: "American child care is characterized by hostility to women and contempt for children." She's arguably got the right message, but the wrong tone. Her impassioned diatribe will certainly make many mothers feel supported, but it may fail to win over those with the power to improve matters.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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