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The Big Answer


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The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars

a book by Miriam Peskowitz

(our site's book review)

Who Decides What Makes A Good Mother? is the book’s subtitle. The book is a well-written, acclaimed treatise on the twenty-first century collision between work and mothering.

The mommy wars are simply stay-at-home moms and working moms arguing interminably about whether a mom should work or stay home. The media draws lots of attention to this hot-button pseudo-issue left over from the Culture War. Can you guess which side conservatives are usually on?

But, like mercenaries, the media keeps wringing this “issue” out as long as it continues to sell toothpaste and soap. In reality, Peskowitz tells us that moms have no desire to fight or argue—they just want more options. Flex-time, part-time, working hours in which one can get caregivers, avoiding shifting around of work schedules so getting caregiving isn't impossible, soccer moms, etc.—she covers lots of ground.

The media, for profit motives, keeps exploiting the “issue” of whether moms should work
The media, for profit motives, keeps exploiting the “issue” of whether moms should work

As she says in an online interview, the Mommy Wars phenomenon “has almost nothing to do with disagreements between individual mothers about the superiority of different work-life solutions, and almost everything to do with the inevitable conflict between progressive ideals—including feminist ideals—and the radically conservative values of the nation’s power elite. In the Mommy Wars, defending the status quo is the objective, women are the target, and mothers and children are the biggest losers.”

In this book Peskowitz combines her multifaceted skill from being a counselor, historian, professor, musician, as well as being a mother of two girls. She includes detailed research and factual evidence using statistics, case studies, anecdotes, examples personal experiences as a mother.

Peskowitz happily describes an ad hoc community group that, through hard work and perseverance, renovated a playground, making a public, integrated space for children rather than retreating into the privacy of their own homes. They showed good civic/community spirit. She says they could have settled for only building a local playspace in their immediate neighborhood, pooling money and sharing, and she's known groups of friends to do that. One family buys the big playscape, another sets up a large trampoline, another installs a pool, and everyone shares.

A playground
A playground

But the ad hoc community group’s renovated playground created “improved family life for everyone.” Depending on the neighborhood, either the revamped playground OR the revamped backyard could be the better idea. It depends on safety, sanitation, gang and crime activity, and accessibility.

Here are a few excerpts from people writing about playground safety which we—not Peskowitz—are citing:

According to an article in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, many "outdoor urban environments are often ridden with hazards such as stranger-danger, traffic speed, gangs and drugs."

In today’s fast-paced and crowded society, with increased mischief, gangs and violence, there are fewer and fewer natural environments for our children to play.

A gang
A gang

Some New York citizens wrote, after a kid was murdered in a playground: “Gun violence has taken the lives of too many of our children. Gang violence has disrupted our families and our communities. This has to STOP! We are asking that cameras be installed in all NYC school playgrounds and parks. Playgrounds and parks should be a safe and fun area for our children and, in the event that something should happen, cameras would help aide in finding the perpetrator. Having cameras on the playground will help deter criminal activity and enhance our ability to watch over our innocent children. No one should have to lose a child to such a senseless act, especially on school grounds where our children are supposed to be safe.”

No one should have to lose a child to school shootings just because gangs put no value on human life
No one should have to lose a child to school shootings just because gangs put no value on human life

Around 2 million kids a year make emergency visits due to playground injuries. Over 900,000 injuries were due to playground falls in a 6-year period in the 1990s.

Hurt child in hospital
Hurt child in hospital

Injuries due to falls from playground equipment result in a higher proportion of severe injuries than either bicycle or motor vehicle crashes, according to a new Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Cincinnati study of emergency department visits throughout the United States.

But in spite of all this, playgrounds—safe ones—are essential for kids, caregivers, and parents. We need to do whatever it takes to make sure these playspaces are available for all children.