Because I needed more Guilt

Posted on | February 8, 2011 | 12 Comments

The United States recently published a study that makes me want to kick a senator in the gonads. I know it’s not the senators fault, but kicking people in the gonads might make me feel better.

The study, found here, was conducted on the children of working mothers.  Yes. Working mothers. You know, the segment of society that already comes equipped with it’s own box of tissues, bars of chocolate and a heaping side order of overwhelming and debilitating guilt. Some genius social scientist decided to link up childhood obesity with working mothers.

Let me give you a moment so that can sink in fully.

You read it right.

There is now a study that says working mothers have obese children.

Want me to wait while you sharpen a few more knives? Okay.

I read this article and I wanted alternately curl up in a ball and cry and march up to whoever sanctioned this study and beat them with a bag of stale chicken nuggets. Honestly? HONESTLY? You thought it was a good idea to blame childhood obesity on working mothers? You thought “hey, know what would be awesome? If we conducted a study that made it seem like women who work outside the home are selfish bitches who make their kids fat.” YOU THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA??

Who paid for this study? Who said this was news worthy? Because I will cut a bitch. I work because I have to. Because, unlike the happy little 1950s world where most men seem to live, I don’t have the luxury of popping bon bons during the day while I happily iron my husband’s clothes. I work because I HAVE TO WORK.  Sure, I chose this path. I chose to go to law school and pursue a career outside of the home. But I shouldn’t be told that it is my fault and the fault of women who blazed the trail before me that children in America are obese.

Besides that, this study seems like little more than useless propaganda to support a movement to put women back in the kitchen, you know… where they belong.  There is no mention of the father’s role in this study. There is no indication at all that maybe, just MAYBE, the father could be at home cooking for the kids. Or maybe helping the mother prepare the meals. Or hell, I don’t know, SHOULDERING SOME OF THE BLAME?!?!?!

I’m pissed.

There are enough reasons for me to feel guilty about dropping my child off at daycare without Fox News reporting on a study that insists women should be at home or risk having fat kids. It’s not fair. It’s not accurate. I don’t care how many people you followed. I don’t care how many children you measured. I don’t care how scientific you think your study was… it is inaccurate.  Children are obese because they eat poorly and don’t exercise enough. Children are obese because instead of playing outside, they play on the internet and on video games.

Children are NOT obese because their mothers work.

So take your study and shove it somewhere exceedingly uncomfortable. I do the best I can for my son. I feed him the healthiest food I can get him to eat. And if one day I look down and my darling son is overweight, I will not blame it on my working outside of the home. I will blame it on my inability to get him to spend more time outside and less time on video games. I will blame it on my setting a bad example or my failure to teach him good eating habits. I will certainly believe it is my fault, because that is what parents do, but I don’t need some damn social scientist to point the finger at my career.

I do enough finger pointing for both of us, thanks.


12 Responses to “Because I needed more Guilt”

  1. Jim
    February 8th, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

    Kicking “people” in the “gonads”? Hey, you are safe saying “guys”, we don’t care. Or you can use “ass” which is gender neutral. Seeing how this whole child obesity thing is Michelle Obama’s “baby,” I’d use ass. Otherwise I agree with you on this. Obesity, like being gay, is something you are born with and there is no way to avoid it.

  2. Natalie
    February 8th, 2011 @ 2:01 pm

    If you want.. I’ll hold the senator while you kick him..

  3. Adrienne
    February 8th, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

    I fully agree. Although I hate to mention and hope that I’m wrong, that we as the taxpayers may have paid for this ridiculous study.

  4. Anne @ A JD + Three
    February 8th, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

    Really? This crap makes me so mad. So, we can’t place the blame for childhood obesity on parents feeding their kids bad food? Because that’s what it is.

    This working mom plans to work her foot up someone’s ass for this one.

  5. Lizzie
    February 8th, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

    I know you’re probably going for the drama here, but seriously, you need to chill out a little. I read the reports of the study, and it seems that it was a very scientific study. I don’t think anyone started the study saying “hey…let’s see what we can blame on working moms.” But childhood obesity is a problem, and the study said it found a “small” correlation between working moms and obesity. Also, it said the correlation was higher when the mom worked non-standard schedules.

    So is no one ever supposed to point our the possible consequences of the mom working outside the home? (for the record, I work full time). There are positives and negatives for a child being at day care full time, and for a child being kept at home full time.

    Here’s what I took from the study…there may be some things to be aware of since I work full time, and my child is in day care. Perhaps it is a note to keep good tabs on the nutritional value of the food served at daycare, so that I can send my own lunches if it seems the food is too high calorie & not nutritionally balanced. Maybe it is to be aware that on the weekends, we need to be active.

    This study was not aimed at demonizing working moms. It seems to be fact based, and facts are never a bad thing. It doesn’t say that the mere fact that you work means your kid will be obese.

  6. Law Momma
    February 8th, 2011 @ 2:54 pm


    Here’s my problem with the study… they make no mention of fathers. At all. The study draws a correlation between working mothers and childhood obesity and, at least the news articles that covered the study, make no mention of how a father plays into that equation. It seems to equate the entirety of blame or responsibility for a child’s health on the mother. And that is where my initial knee-jerk reaction came in.

  7. Lizzie
    February 8th, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

    I get the no mention of dads. They should have focused more on having no care giver at home (i.e. two working parents or a single parent). But, at the end of the day — right or wrong — things like nutritional choices often fall to the mom.

    Also, having gone to graduate school in a social science field, these first round studies often have to be highly controlled — i.e. you need to control for one factor, and in this case, it’s the working mom. The next study could focus on dads more, maybe.

    Anyway, not to ramble, but I totally see where the knee jerk reaction can come in. But I would read it again, not as an attempt to demonize working moms, but as a chance to address issues that might be present in a proactive way. Think of it in the same way that a mom that stays home might need to be proactive in ensuring that her child has lots of opportunity for interaction with other kids for socialization purposes (something that is an inherent part of daycare).

  8. KLZ
    February 8th, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

    Eh, screw ’em. Statistics can say just about anything depending on how you cut the data.

    What’s the old accountant’s joke? What’s 2+2? Anything I want it to be.

  9. Headmistress Yca
    February 8th, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

    I was driving my dad home from work last night when he passed on this little jewel to me and I almost freaking lost my mind. I grew up a fat kid and my mom worked. But after a lot of discussion, a little therapy, and some major decision making with my hubby, we know where my mom went wrong and have made the right choices for our kids.

    It is perfectly understandable *why* they would make this conclusion. Kids that don’t have a PARENT (not just Mom, but Dad, too – you’re right, that’s where they screwed up) at home every day monitoring what the children are eating and how much exercise they are getting, are going to be more susceptible to being heavy. That’s a given.

    BUT … there are things you can do to prevent that. There are *affordable* sports out there (not just the expensive football team or whatever) that you can sign your kids up for, you can stock your fridge with ONLY healthy snacks (we will get them a treat during the weekend so there isn’t any in the house), go do fun stuff when you’re not working – its good for all of you! I didn’t get a chance to read the study, but did they take any of that into consideration?

    I think this country needs a serious change, and I’m all about shocking people into change, but from what I’m not sure shaming working moms is the way to do it. Tsk tsk.

  10. Jennifer
    February 8th, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

    I wrote on this exact same thing today. I read about the study last week and I’ve been trying to work up a healthy dose of indignation since then, but I just can’t. The study itself was so lame and didn’t cover everything it should have that the results were meaningless. The results were in no way helpful to anyone. It is just more nonsense to try to make mothers feel bad and pit working moms against stay at home moms. Completely useless.

  11. Jennifer
    February 8th, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

    Ok, I’m going to weigh in here (no pun intended).

    First, Law-Momma, I think you hit the nail on the head when you commented above about the way the story was reported. More than likely, the study was given summary treatment with only certain aspects played up for their sensational value.

    Second, it is probably worth pointing out that while obesity may be “linked” to mothers who work outside the home, it is poor journalism (see point #1 above) to package the story as if there’s but-for causation. Let’s be real. It is plausible that mothers who work may more often rely on convenience and pre-packaged foods that are more highly caloric and processed and lacking in whole grains, thus perhaps setting the stage poorly, but at the end of the day, as you pointed out, children are obese because they don’t get enough exercise. Overweight = too much to eat + not enough caloric output. Parents who work outside the home are just one of the many factors in the obesity equation. I know several children who are grossly overweight and their mother does not work; instead, she feeds them fast food, sugary drinks, and lets them play video games all day long.

    You ask who funded the study…wanna take bets on that it was an NIH grant or grant from some other government entity, OUR government who’s first lady’s platform is childhood obesity? Ironic, though, that the first lady herself is (was?) a working mother.

    Children aren’t overweight because their mothers work. Children aren’t overweight because they weren’t breastfed, or breastfed long enough, or didn’t start solids at the right time. Children are overweight because they are not in an environment that understands or encourages healthy, responsible eating and fitness choices.

  12. Heather
    February 9th, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

    I am always sensitive to people jumping to conclusion about correlation = causation. Maybe there is a correlation, but does that mean that working moms CAUSE obesity in children? Of course not.

    Realistically, though, we do (or will) have to work a lot harder to establish healthy eating habits early on, and we *will* have to work harder as our kids get older to ENFORCE those habits. It is the very nature of the fact that we’re not around them all the time. It’s harder for us to practice what we preach when we get home late and we’re exhausted and just want to order Chinese and call it an evening…

    It’s funny because I was pondering this over the weekend — Rebecca was sick with a really nasty cold that lasted almost an entire week. Naturally, her eating was off, and I cut her more slack than usual in terms of rejecting veggies, eating cheerios/snacks… and I was worried about how to get her back on track, especially at day-care.

    So, I think the only thing I can do is:
    1) Resolve to let her care-givers know exactly what I am trying to do at home, so they can be as consistent as they can
    2) Be consistent and strong when I am home.

    What I fear, more than anything, is that a study like this will give parents’ a free reign to absolve themselves of responsibility for their child’s eating habits. If their child DOES develop poor ones, some will claim it is because of their “lot in life” as a working parent. Day-care/School/etc. cares for our children — they do not parent them for us.

    Parenting is hard — and it is [justly or unjustly] harder for some people than others. I wish I had that natural “loves every minute of it” parenting gene. I personally would go crazy as a SAHM, and I wish that I had more patience. I wish I could relax better and didn’t get anxiety so easily. I wish I hadn’t gotten PPD. These personality traits of mine make it harder for me to be a mom than others. But that is something *I* have to deal with, and something *I* have to overcome to be the best possible mom to my daughter. She is worth it.

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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