TIME Cover: ‘Help! My Parents Are Millennials

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Letting Your Kids Walk Around Outside is a Crime Now


The Tyranny of the Organic Mommy Mafia

JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images

JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images

She had just come back from the park where two mothers were discussing a recent vacation to a resort in Puerto Rico. One told the other that there, for the first time, her toddler was given Jif peanut butter. He loved it. Prior to that he had only had Whole Foods peanut butter, which (one might guess) pales in comparison for a 3-year-old palate.

When the boy came home and asked for more Jif, his mother told him it wasn’t available — that it was “Puerto Rican peanut butter.”

mommy-mafia

Wrapped up in that phrase is all of the arrogance and class snobbery of the organic-food mafia. If these moms haven’t come to your neighborhood yet, just wait.

Another mom, a class parent at a preschool in Westchester, told me she was being harassed by one of the other mothers to issue a new rule: Only organic snacks would be allowed in the classroom.

A mom in Washington tells me that she was unable to participate in a number of nanny-share agreements she looked into because the other parents were so crazy about not having their children come into contact with anything non-organic. One mother she met was convinced her child’s ADD became worse when he was exposed to non-organic food. A stray Goldfish or Cheerio might set him off.

But sometimes these parents are not even worried about their own child’s well-being.

organicfoodThey’re worried about yours. The organic foodies are not satisfied with controlling their own family’s dietary habits, they want to “evangelize,” says Julie Gunlock, author of “From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back.

The pressure on parents to use only organic food is, she says, an “outgrowth of helicopter parenting. People need to be in control of everything when it comes to their kids — even the way food is grown and treated.”

Order From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back” by Julie Gunlock from Amazon.

“Moms feel guilty,” Gunlock adds. They can allow themselves to think that even if they’re not perfect at something else, at least they feed their kids the best food out there.

The organic-food industry is thrilled by this attitude. But let’s be clear. Organic food does not necessarily mean better. It’s a term that’s been co-opted and manipulated into a billion-dollar industry by some of the biggest food companies in America. Read the rest of this entry »


Your Kids Aren’t Your Own

By Rich Lowry
The TV cable-news network MSNBC runs sermonettes from its anchors during commercial breaks. They are like public-service announcements illuminating the progressive mind, and perhaps none has ever been as revealing and remarkable as the one cut by weekend host Melissa Harris-Perry.

Harris-Perry set out to explain what is, by her lights, the failure to invest adequately in public education. She located the source of the problem in the insidious idea of parental responsibility for children.

“We’ve always had kind of a private notion of children,” she said, in the tone of an anthropologist explaining a strange practice she discovered when out doing far-flung fieldwork. “Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility.” So long as this retrograde conception prevails, according to Harris-Perry, we will never spend enough money on children. “We have to break through,” she urged, “our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes once wondered, “Why can’t somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks?” Harris-Perry’s contribution falls into the former category, at least within her orbit of left-wing academia (she teaches at Tulane University, after stops at Princeton and the University of Chicago) and journalism (she writes a column for The Nation as well as holding forth on MSNBC).

“We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families.”

Her statement wasn’t an aside on live television. She didn’t misspeak. The spot was shot, produced, and aired without, apparently, raising any alarm bells. No one with influence raised his or her hand and said, “Should we really broadcast something that sounds so outlandish?”

The foundation of the Harris-Perry view is that society is a large-scale kibbutz. The title of Hillary Clinton’s bestseller in the 1990s expressed the same point in comforting folk wisdom: “It Takes a Village.”

As the ultimate private institution, the family is a stubborn obstacle to the great collective effort. Insofar as people invest in their own families, they are holding out on the state and unacceptably privileging their own kids over the children of others. These parents are selfish, small-minded, and backward. “Once it’s everybody’s responsibility,” Harris-Perry said of child-rearing, “and not just the households, then we start making better investments.”

This impulse toward the state as über-parent is based on a profound fallacy and a profound truth. The fallacy is that anyone can care about someone else’s children as much as his own. The former Texas Republican senator Phil Gramm liked to illustrate the hollowness of professions to the contrary with a story. He told a woman, “My educational policies are based on the fact that I care more about my children than you do.” She said, “No, you don’t.” Gramm replied, “Okay: What are their names?”

The truth is that parents are one of society’s most incorrigible sources of inequality. If you have two of them who stay married and are invested in your upbringing, you have hit life’s lottery. You will reap untold benefits denied to children who aren’t so lucky. That the family is so essential to the well-being of children has to be a constant source of frustration to the egalitarian statist, a reminder of the limits of his power.

The socialist president of France, François Hollande, proposed a small corrective to its influence last year. He inveighed against homework for schoolchildren. Work, he said, “must be done in the [school] facility rather than in the home if we want to support the children and reestablish equality.” His education minister explained that the state should “support all students in their personal work, rather than abandon them to their private resources, including financial, as is too often the case today.”

The proposal went nowhere. If the Left wants to equalize the investments in children that matter most, it should promote intact families and engaged parents, even if it means embracing shockingly old-fashioned private child-rearing.

— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. © 2013 King Features Syndicate