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Moms acting like dads

May 25, 2010

At least all men do is punch each other in the face, eh,  USA Today?

Although mothers can provide one another with invaluable advice and understanding, they also can be quick to cut one another down, making devoted mothers feel inadequate, says Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician and mother of two.

“I call it ‘competitive parenting,’ ” says Swanson, who writes the blog Seattle Mama Doc (seattlechildrens.org/seattle-mama-doc). “Other parents can be so helpful. They tell you about a product and it changes your life. But they can also make you feel like junk.”

“Shit” is actually the word you were looking for there, Wendy. Any man would have known that.

This is an interesting article, the gist of which is: Women act like assholes to each other. Considering that people are all awful, it doesn’t seem exactly like a revelation to me. What I’m trying to figure out is if this is something men do as well, but I think probably not. After all, since most women act like men don’t actually exist when it comes to parenting, and since they’re backed up in that idea my most media, most men probably don’t feel that territorial about doing it right. Hell, as long as my fantasy football league is doing okay and my fridge is stocked with beer, I usually don’t even notice if the kids are wearing clothes when I take them out to another showing of Human Centipede (kids love bugs).

But I can tell you that women don’t confine this sort of behavior to themselves. I’ve often been amazed at how comfortable random strangers feel approaching me and telling me–implicitly or explicitly–that I’m doing something wrong with my kids. Like the old lady who stopped me one cool autumn evening to ask my why my daughter wasn’t wearing a coat. The possible replies ranged from, “Because when she gets cold enough she’ll ask for one,” to “Go to hell,” (“Go to hell” is a particularly useful phrase in these cases), but instead I chose to ask her, quite sincerely, why she felt so comfortable criticizing a total stranger about something completely personal. She seemed shocked by my response, which told me all I needed to know: Women do this because they think it’s their right. It never occurs to most of them that it isn’t, even with other women.

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