Erica Jong’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed “Mother Madness” has garnered a lot of (mostly negative) attention due to her criticism of modern mothering and the unrealistic expectations placed on today’s mothers, from making homemade organic babyfood to constant baby-wearing.
Erica Jong’s piece appeared with her daughter Molly Jong-Fast’s companion article “Growing Up With Ma Jong.” Molly Jong-Fast, who has chosen to stay home with her three children so she can “work at the school book fair,” paints a sometimes cringe-worthy picture of her mother. She describes Erica Jong as an absentee parent, who delegated most parenting duties to paid professionals as she was peddling her books out of town for weeks and months at a time.
I was struck by the extreme roles expressed in both articles–most mothers likely fall somewhere in the middle, whether they choose to work outside the home or not. I also noted the lack of meaningful discussion of the role of fathers in raising their children. Whatever one thinks of the opinions expressed in these articles, they seem to be a good starting point for a discussion of what modern parenting is and what it should be.