‘How do you say that about a 2-year-old?’ Amid scandal, parents reckon with the politics of shame
When I told my husband about the ‘incident’ he just shook his head in disbelief. ‘You would never be that cruel to your own child,’ he insisted. ‘How come you thought of that?’
We were talking about his toddler daughter, who was getting an ice-cream and a ‘pancake break’ from her nanny at a nearby playground while her parents were at work. ‘I just thought it would be too much stress on the baby,’ I responded. ‘I didn’t think she could handle it. I mean, it’s not like she actually took her lunch break or anything.’
‘No, I was just so shocked about the ice-cream. I am now going to be so angry. How could I?’
He gave me a heavy look. ‘I am sorry, but we have to do something drastic. We have to throw her out.’
‘Why me? I am just asking for one ice-cream and a ‘pancake ‘break’ from the nanny. That’s all she’s been getting from her all day.’
I decided to look into it. It started to make sense. The ice-cream and the ‘pancake break’ were the most recent manifestations of a new trend, one that’s sweeping the nation: the so-called’safer-at-home parenting’, which encourages parents to let little ones run amok, play hard and learn from their mistakes without the help of a nanny.
The rise of the’safety-at-home parenting’ philosophy has been a political phenomenon. In the years since the first few ‘parenting manuals’ were published, the parenting world has been turned on its head.
‘Parents used to be seen as the best thing in the world,’ says one young mother who had recently taken on the role of nanny. ‘Then all of a sudden you started to see parents behaving like these irresponsible slackers. And parents are still seeing