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Here's where we keep you updated on news about parenting as it relates to division of responsibilities, career versus home decisions, work/life balance, and legislative and grass-roots movements toward equality or better choices for families. We'll also throw in our opinions of life as equal parents in a nonequal world, regardless of what's in the news.

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Equality Blog

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Unhealthy Kids? Blame Mom, of Course

The BBC News aired a segment on Monday that examined data from an Institute of Child Health study of 5-year old children. The study looked at the eating habits and physical activity level of 12,500+ kids, breaking them into those with stay-at-home mothers and those whose moms worked at least part-time. The findings? Working moms make kids junk food snackers and couch potatoes. The study's lead author hypothesizes that working moms don't have as much time as SAHMs to devote to providing healthy snacks and limiting TV watching.

What about the dads? The researchers wave them away as background noise. They didn't examine men's work hours because these haven't seemed to change whereas women's work hours have. This argument doesn't make much sense to me, unless they really mean that they could not find a large enough cohort of stay-at-home dads to include in the study.

But the bigger issue is why this kind of research continues to be conducted and then promoted as 'blame the moms' fodder. Father employment levels may not have changed as much as mother employment varies, but father involvement sure has changed. And what if parental involvement counts more than a 'yes/no' response to a "Do you work?" question?

Parents who haven't got time, or energy, or knowledge, or inclination, to care what their children are eating or doing will probably raise children who eat more chips and log more tube time. Parents who have chosen to balance their lives (regardless of whether this includes working) and care about these issues will take the steps to teach their kids to lead healthy and active lives. With ESP, for example, both parents have plenty of time with their kids (together at least as much as a SAHP would have, in most cases), and they are both equally competent to handle the nutrition and exercise issue every day.

Can we stop blaming the moms and ignoring the dads?

Hat tip to Melissa for sharing this news.


Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Amy, I was listening to the BBC Woman's Hour podcast featuring the story and thinking the exact same thing you were. Where are the dads??? Not saying I handle feeding my kid always in a responsible way. I sin against the rules from time to time, but so does dad. And rules need to be broken sometimes. A little.

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