Parents everywhere, gather 'round. We have some more words of wisdom for you from a new mom and Hollywood actress. Just in case you had any doubts about it, Anne Hathaway says that "mommy guilt" is complete nonsense. Before you go all, "Well, thanks Captain Obvious" on her (that too, would be mommy-shaming, so watch it), she has an new take on how parents could be spending their time.
Instead of judging celebrity moms' breastfeeding selfies or throwing shade at another mom on the playground, Hathaway thinks that parents would be better off focusing their attention on the institutions that should be supporting parents and families. She might be on to something too. In an interview with Elle this month, Hathaway explained,
When [my son] Johnny was a week old and I was holding him and I was in the ninth level of ecstasy, I just all of a sudden thought, "Mommy guilt is invented nonsense." We're encouraged to judge each other, but we should be turning our focus to the people and institutions who should be supporting us and currently aren't.
She's totally right. Mommy guilt comes in many forms — whether it's going to back to work "too soon" or sometimes feeding your children canned cheese (no judgement!), it can take over your whole life and cause even more stress and anxiety than you might already feel. But if families were actually given paid parental leave, assistance with childcare, or better access to food assistance for lower income families, for example, there would be a lot less stress going around. And a lot less judging other people for how they're getting by, too.
Instead of writing a nasty comment on Facebook about bottle feeding, one could write to their representatives about paid parental leave. Or volunteer with organizations that provide lower income families with food, clothing, and other essentials. Really, doing anything but judging the parent next to you. Families and parents don't get nearly the kind of support from society that they need and the mommy wars only make it worse. There are better ways. Hathaway is right — mommy guilt is totally made up.
Hathaway had her son, Jonathan Rosebanks Shulman, last March with husband Adam Shulman. She told Elle that she and Adam approach parenting and their marriage as equals. Of their relationship, she said,
He changed my ability to be in the world comfortably. I think the accepted narrative now is that we, as women, don't need anybody. But I need my husband. His unique and specific love has changed me.
It sounds like Hathaway and her family are on the right track. And if everyone follows Hathaway's advice, all parents could be just as empowered.