Have you ever noticed the way, whenever an article comes up about a bad thing happening to a child (and sadly, there are many) there is always a breakneck cutthroat race in the comments section to be the first to figure out exactly what (and however many times) the mother did wrong? I have. Even if a child was, say, murdered by its father the comments will inevitably turn to 'why did she date/marry/reproduce with that guy?' while hardly dwelling on the actual murderer's responsibility.

Let me add here that I am not out to excuse neglectful, poor, damaging parenting. The effects are brutal and by all means, something should be done in every situation where that is possible. What I AM critiquing is the too-common knee-jerk response to blame mothers for every problem and misfortune their children suffer, whether they caused it or not.

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I noticed this pattern a while ago with some disgust, but let it slide thinking, well, women ARE primarily the caretakers in most situations and therefore highly responsible for the children's well-being, flawed as that situation may be. And maybe the terrible comments calling the bereaved mothers murderers were understandable, if excessive, since it's only natural that humans, as social creatures with strong biological imperatives for caring emotionally for children, would have great concern and affection for children and anger for those who fail them.

But I thought about this for a while and then I realized that, actually, we don't care about children very much at all. If we cared about children, we might do something about the environment. we might do something about the economy. We wouldn't let them stagnate on the borders of our country while fleeing the bloodshed in their own. We would do something about the abysmal maternal and neonate mortality rates in our otherwise developed country. We would support and make more generous programs like WIC and Food Stamps that primarily benefit children and keep them from the harsher aspects of poverty. We would do something about poverty in general, a condition that affects the present and future lives of 50% of the children in our country. We would do something about the public schools.

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What we DO care about is policing women, holding them to unrealistic standards in parenting as in everything else, and making motherhood a social and economic liability fraught with anxiety. And that is what mother-blaming is about.

Could somebody, for once, genuinely think of the children and do something worthwhile to make their futures better? Important note: that thing is generally not tearing down their mothers.

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