I worked at a parenting magazine and found out moms are selfish and crazy — Really?

Online Editor Jenny Charlesworth responds to a shocking anti-mom rant.

By Jenny Charlesworth
I worked at a parenting magazine and found out moms are selfish and crazy — Really?

Photo: digitalskillet/iStockphoto

Prepare for your blood to boil, mothers!

XOJane contributor Lauren Passell thinks you're "the most selfish people in the universe." She also calls you insane and judgmental, and says her stint working at a parenting magazine, as a women without kids, was pretty much the worst.

Yes, she rants about all this and more in the obnoxious post "I worked at a parenting magazine and found out moms are selfish and crazy," which, rightfully so, ran on XOJane's Unpopular Opinion blog.

Whether Passell went to town on the sanctity of motherhood for the sake of sensationalism (a way to boost her byline?) or because she really has some deep-rooted angst after her time at Parenting Magazine (a quick Google search reveals she was the Assistant Editor there), who knows. But she's waaaay out of line, and gives mothers AND those of us who aren't but work at a parenting magazine (like me) a bad rap in her no-holds-barred spiel, which includes charming comments like:

A mother is like that annoying, over-achiever in your physics class who spent 80 hours on homework and is willing to protect her work to the death. She cares about her work because it is a piece of herself. When mothers care about their children, they are caring about themselves.

Biological moms see their own kids as their physics projects. Their work. They think their kids are perfect. If I were raising someone else’s child, I think I would treat that child like a person, honestly, thinking of his welfare with the best, most objective intentions. I would know that this little person wasn’t perfect and I would do everything, to the best of my ability, to make them the happiest, most well-raised human being I could, without thinking that they were “just like me.”

Then, there's that whole part about fabricating parenting articles because she didn't have her own experiences to draw on:

When writing articles and manning the community boards, I actually made up children to write about, pretending that I was a mother, so I could write about parenting topics. I would call my mom and say, “Mom, do kids poop in the bathtub?” “You did,” she’d say. So I would write about how my fake son Leo or fake daughter Francis (Francis was “a pistol” and Leo was “a fish in the water at swim lessons”) pooped in the bathtub. It was totally fake, but it was the only way I could communicate with these mothers, with whom I had basically nothing in common.

I'd never dare to make up details. No journalist worth their salt would. That's right up there with plagiarism, people. And the fact that Passell brags about this is outrageous.

FACT: Not everyone who works at a parenting magazine has kids.

But that doesn't mean those without wee-ones are less qualified or masquerading as mothers in print. We regularly consult with staff members who are parents, we interview parenting experts, and we offer our own perspective as aunts or uncles, daughters or sons. And most of us don't think mothers are the worst. We have a deep respect for them (and fathers, too).

Obviously, there's a learning curve working at a parenting magazine when you don't have kids. I've had some major revelations around motherhood since starting at Today's Parent. For instance, discovering that one day I might have to tell my young daughter "a vagina is not a pocket" (Managing Online Editor Nadine Silverthorne clued me in to this one), or contend with her definition of sexy: "I know what sexy is, mama! It's a boy with no shirt on and in skinny jeans." (A jem from Online Editor Kristy Woudstra). Mostly importantly, I've also learned that, when it comes to raising your kids, you need to do what works best for you and your family.

I don't know how Passel wasn't won over by such wisdom, which was no doubt passed around the Parenting office. I've gleaned far more insight into parenthood and mothers while working at Today's Parent than I ever expected, and I'm so grateful for that. But then again, I didn't lie in my interview, like Passell did, when I was asked if I liked kids.

This article was originally published on Dec 12, 2012

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