They're all over the web: the open letter to a mom with two kids under 2. The open letter to a mom with a difficult child. The open letter to a mom who's exhausted and feels like a terrible parent. And though these letters are written with "incredible empathy," they "completely miss the mark," writes Madeleine Somerville in the Guardian. Yes, parenting is difficult, and many parents lack a strong support network. What they need is actual, real-life help, not an open letter posted on a blog they may or may not ever actually stumble upon and read. Open letters "allow us to do what politicians have done for years—create beautiful rhetoric about support for parents while simultaneously withholding assistance during their greatest moment of need," Somerville writes.
The woman on the verge of tears in a grocery store checkout lane as her toddler has a meltdown in the cart doesn't need an open letter addressed to her "any more than she needs a 'family values' candidate who refuses to talk about affordable childcare," Somerville writes. What she needs is "a human being, right there," perhaps to hold the groceries she's about to drop, or distract her kid for her. Yes, doing this is more difficult than typing out an open letter after the fact. But if we're going to demand that politicians "abandon their arm's-length interaction with parents" and actually put policies in place that better support them, "we must first be ready and willing to model that support ourselves." Click for Somerville's full column.