Reflections on Judging Mothering
August 26, 2010 12:27 PM Subscribe
(pdf) Chris Gottlieb writes in the "Baltimore Law Review" about judging parents.
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The article discusses instances of racism and classicism in the family court systems.
An adaptation of the "Baltimore Review" article appears in the New York Times.
From the full article:
The other day, a woman approached me on the subway to tell me that looking at print six inches from one's face could cause eyestrain. I quickly learned she was not worried about me; she was concerned about my baby's eyes because I was carrying him face out, where he was about six inches from the paper I was reading. Not long before, a driver had leaned out of his ice cream truck to admonish me to be careful --- he thought the sling in which I was carrying my son was unsafe. An elderly man on the street told me my baby's legs were cold. A saleswoman was more worried about his arms, but didn't stop at commenting --- she reached out to pull down his sleeves. More than a few strangers "tsked tsked" me when they learned I had my baby out of the house before he was six weeks old.
Even when mistakes are caught and unnecessary separations ended, those children can never again have what we like to believe is the birthright of all children: a feeling of security that their parents will always be there for them, that their parents have some power to control an otherwise scary world. We take that away when we act as though parents are so great a threat to their children that it should be easy for government workers to come between them.
The judgment that falls on yuppie women in snide remarks made at cafés falls on poor women with a hammer. My friends feel inadequate, a significant burden no doubt. But my clients feel fear. The primal fear that one's child will be taken. The unspeakable fear that your child will be hurt and you won't be able to protect her. Of course, children learn fear too. My clients' children learn too young that their parents are not all-powerful, all-protecting. When these children worry that a monster may come and take them away from their parents, it is true.
More on handling unwanted advice for parents:
The Nurture Center
More on children later ruled to have been wrongly taken into custody:
Disputed Medical Evidence
Polygamist sect in Texas
Approved adoption despite wrongful taking at birth
A blind couple considered to be unfit parents reunited with their daughter
Baby taken at birth when the mother refused a c-section
Mother who didn't speak English loses her baby in Mississippi