Monday, November 8, 2010

Mother Madness: Letter to the Editor, Wall Street Journal

The following was written in response to the Saturday Essay (November 6, 2010) by Erica Jong, published in the Wall Street Journal. Click here to read the essay:

I have to fundamentally disagree with Erica Jong’s recent essay “Mother Madness” in which she suggests that attachment parenting and “green-parenting propaganda” represent an “avoidance strategy” and perhaps the “ultimate bondage for women.” My experience through the Holistic Moms Network, a national organization representing thousands of American women who share a passion for holistic parenting, does not bear out these conclusions.

In my experience, the women choosing to follow an attachment parenting, green parenting path are indeed choosing this path of their own free will, often not in alignment with mainstream parenting ideals although, admittedly, it is becoming increasingly more popular. These women do not view their roles as “victimization” but are rather reclaiming motherhood as a source of empowerment, awareness raising, and, yes, political action.

The women I have seen embrace “mother madness” are taking on the patriarchal institutions and authorities who seek to dictate their motherhood experience, to subvert breastfeeding in the workplace and in public locations, to give their parental decision-making power to their pediatricians and parenting experts, and to look the other way when educational institutions suppress independent, creative thinkers who seek to “solve problems for themselves” in unique ways. These holistic mothers are distrustful of the powers-that-be and the power that corporations and government institutions try to wield to dictate their parenting systems. They are empowered by using their individual power of choice and purchasing power to induce change, personally and politically. Rather than being “an avoidance strategy” that squashes political protest, holistic parenting has empowered women to make the connection between personal choice and political action. We have seen our mothers protest pesticide spraying in local playgrounds, spearhead healthy, local school lunch programs, and run for political office because of passions they cultivated raising their children and their desire to change the world, beyond that which they and their children inhabit.

Far from giving “up on the ideals of community”, Holistic Moms Network members and leaders work to create local parenting communities, bringing together mothers and fathers who are passionate about connecting with their children, with each other, and with the planet. They do indeed realize that “the community and the child cannot be separated” and seek to cultivate an environment where children can develop independence as a result of healthy attachment, where play is more important than “every waking hour [being] tightly scheduled”, and where alternative learning environments are celebrated.

Parenting from a place of awareness, empowerment and support is not about creating mother guilt but about feeding our own desires to nurture and make informed choices in spite of institutions that would have it otherwise. And it’s not about being perfect. To the mothers out there, no matter what path they have chosen, we concur with Ms. Jong on her final statement: “Do the best you can. There are no rules.”

Nancy Massotto, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Holistic Moms Network


  1. Love your response. I'll be referencing it in my rebuttal/point of view tomorrow on

  2. Very thoughtful, well written response, hardly crafted by a woman who has been "victimized"! Great!

  3. Very thoughtful response. Hardly written by a woman who has been "victimized"! Great and thanks for advocating motherhood!

  4. I posted about this on my blog as well:


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