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2005.06.13

Comments

Girl Detective

Lisa, I think you're right on two counts. One that the article sets out to undermine her, probably because of Two, that she is a supremely un-aware person.

Is there a market for it? Probably. I have a good friend who's a New York mom, and she lives in a different world, one in which, for example, she writes a college-level application for her kid to get into kindergarten, and for which the kid has to go in for both an audition and an interview. No matter where one lives, there are competitive moms, they just take it to a different level in NYC.

I am a Snow Belt mother of one, whose husband drives off in our one car every weekday. After that, my son and I play, read books, walk to the coffee shop, playground, playgroup or library. In the Snow Belt, you learn to go out no matter what the weather is. I gave up on parenting books when I found they contained info that scared me that was often irrelevant, and strangely lacked info when I needed it. I rely on other moms and my own spidey sense, and we do just fine.

This will probably be the newest mommy article to be bandied about and criticized. Kallman is an easy target. For someone who thinks she's smart, she's pretty stupid. In addition to baby books, I avoid mommy articles and mommy books. That advice came from you, Lisa, to stop encouraging them and maybe they'll go away, so the rest of us moms who are at neither extreme can raise our kids in peace.

Roger

Oh good lord. Just...good lord. I feel so sorry for that kid. That soon-to-be-maladjusted-with-years-of-therapy-ahead kid. Not even mentioning the name..."Ryland?" Really.

I completely agree with you, Lisa (and GD). Does Kallman even understand what "close relationship" means? Sure she's feeling great - she's just discovered selfishness. But to read this article, it sounds like her relationship with her husband isn't all that great either.

To be honest, my first thought on reading this was, "How in the hell are Mr. and Mrs. Average supposed to afford this 'village'?" Not that I think it's even close to a good idea, but still. It seems to me like another indication of the great, and widening, divide between the elite and the masses in our society.

As for this being a ironic piece, you need go no further than the title - "The Martha Stewart of Parenting?" I know very few people who would consider that a compliment these days.

sam

Man. New York Magazine has been infamous for years for trashing the subjects it's covering. It's kind of it's raison d'etre. There's a reason that Sex and the City poked fun of it in it's first (or second?) season - remember the episode where Carrie gets put on the cover looking like she had been run over by a bus? My roommate in law school actually had a friend who was profiled, and when the profile came out, said friend couldn't show her face for weeks. They had totally misled her as to the focus of the article. It's what they do.

That's not, of course, to say that I don't pick up a copy every week and read it. But I read it for the one step above tabloid that it is.

Becky

As soon as I started reading the article, I predicted that this woman had a bevy of nannies and babysitters for her kid, and sure enough:

And the more she learned, the more she was told to stay close—and the more people she hired who could do that for her.

Oh, that made my day. Maybe I should worry that this is a trend, or that New York did a hatchet job on this woman, but I'm far too amused by Kallman's delusions. I'm sure she knows exactly what kind of advice those "Snow Belt" mothers need!

In all honesty, though, I cannot believe this is a trend -- I have never met parents who are as simultaneously uptight and detached as the Kallmans. Maybe I'm just not meeting the right people.

Terri

Aaah. That article has me so enraged I can't even articulate it. As the child of a Snow Belt mother (single mother, at that), I would be amused by Kallman's scorn if it wasn't so damn insulting.

How can that woman call herself a better mother than...well, anyone, really? She pencils her child in when she wants to find time for him. She outsources every aspect of his day, including his feeding. Her husband plays with the kid, and she complains about the noise.

That poor little boy.

Anne

Roger says: Does Kallman even understand what "close relationship" means? Sure she's feeling great - she's just discovered selfishness. But to read this article, it sounds like her relationship with her husband isn't all that great either.

Sounds to me like she understands a close relationship...with herself.

The husband is an irrelevance. The child is a means to greater self-aggrandizement. I'm sure there have been plenty of successful men who were wired just like her -- they just never claimed to be parenting experts.

Lisa

I'm sure there have been plenty of successful men who were wired just like her -- they just never claimed to be parenting experts.

This is the thing that I keep returning to: part of me thinks, "Well, how is this different from any other clever marketer selling dogfood they wouldn't eat?" and part of me is somehow irritated that she's selling HERSELF as something she's so clearly not. (And part of me is still irritated that women in this magazine are subject to critical examinations of their parenting in a way that Alpha Males are not. Is it all in the marketing?)

It's like the joke about Mom's Robot Co. on Futurama, where Mom is shown to be the total opposite of her public image. Except there, the joke is that nobody knows, while here, it's like nobody minds letting you see the gap between what they're claiming to be in their sales pitch, and what they actually are.

Rbelle

I like your take on this. I find it fascinating that she thinks I would WANT mom advice from someone who clearly hires other people to do it for her. Thanks, but a mom in the Snow belt with no car has to have a million more ideas on creativity, imagination, patience, etc. than a mom in NYC that works 100 hours a week and hires a village to raise her child.

Kay

Visiting from DaddyTypes.

Your point in this sentence ended up being the crux of my thoughts: "Although I'm kind of curious how the channel plans to balance the cachet of first-out-of-the-gate information with a mass medium like cable."

Way I see it, the whole premise of the cable channel and business is faulty. If you broadcast all the Upper East Side, cutting edge, alpha mom secrets to every little Betty Mae, Betty Jo, and Betty Lou in the mid-States, how exactly does this information stay cutting edge? It just pushes the cycle of parenting advice drivel faster and faster, as the New York moms strive to stay ahead of the curve. It's like hipsters in Williamsburg wrestling the trend cycle.

Honestly, Martha Stewart never ever ever said or presented the idea that the reader/viewer had to be the BEST or PERFECT. She portrayed a world in which people strive toward a high standard out of their own desire -- a world that must exist for MSLO to sell so many magazines/books/tv shows.

Alex

As NYC parents, we're fully cognizant of the "different world" we live in, and yet I would disagree with Girl Detective that it's an excuse for Kallman's behavior. We and plenty of other parents we know are somehow able to happily live lifewith our children while dealing with all the hyper-competitive minutiae that exists in our city. Two things made us laugh the loudest -- 1) that poor old Ryland didn't get into the Harvard of 2 year old programs -- such schools tend to take the kids who have the best chance of succeeding and with the way she's been treating him, no wonder he didn't make the cut! 2) Her blithe assertion that she worked 100 hours a week. Seriously guys -- that would be at least 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sorry, I don't know anyone in investment bank marketing who actually needs to work that many hours -- a sentiment that's echoed in one of the letters in this week's issue. Too bad it wasn't Dominick Dunne interviewing her....now that would have been really fun!

Maria

NYC mom here. Though things are competitive here - not all of us are insane like I.K. There's a difference between Type A personality and TOTAL STRESS CASE! And IK is a stress case and is working on making her son one too!

I work and I try to be good at everything I do, including raising my child. Working hard to be good at all is one thing - but working hard to essentially avoid raising your child is another - while I know some moms like IK - most here are nothing at all like here whether they work or not.

While the "snow belt" moms are offended, just think how we NYC moms feel with Isabel who essentially "took all of us down with her".

Most of us are trying to raise happy, relaxed, well-adjusted children.

Jana

Poor Ry-Ry. It's just a short leap from the crib to the psychiatrist couch.

phoebes

When I read this article, I thought that perhaps the author was writing a satirical piece for The Onion and sent it NY Mag, instead.

I know the pressures of parenthood on NYC's Upper East side is pretty heavy, by Isabel Kallman raises rediculousness to a whole new level.

She seems to have no relationship with Ryland. (And, what's up with that pretentious name?) Her child is "the child" to her (and I presume her husband, too). You noted in your critique if the article that to the Kallmans, their child seems to be solely a reflection of them. How true, how true.

Poor little Ryland is going to need years of therapy to emerge as even a slightly normal member of society after this horrendous upbrings. I can only hope that among his myriad of caretakers that he has one who simply hugs and holds him and gives him some love. He sure ain't getting it from those..."parents".

phoebes

OOPs. That should be "pressures...ARE". And, "BUT Isabel.."

Tom

My wife handed me this article when it first came out before we went to bed and asked me what I thought. Bad Move on both parts. I read it and got so annoyed about the pretentiousness of the "Alpha Mom" that I kept my wife up talking about it. She has learned never to give articles like that to read before bedtime again :)

We live in suburban NJ and adopted a son from Korea 5.5 years ago. It never dawned on us that we would need a "village" to raise him, even though we both work. My wife's folks have been great in helping out once in awhile looking after our son, but we have pretty much done it on our own and our son is doing pretty well.

I cracked us both up that someone who has (as many people have noted) spent so little actual time with her child (letting her hired help do most of the grunt work), then has the hubris to start up an enterprise telling other folks how to raise their kids.

I learned all I needed to know when I saw the bit about he being upset that her son did not get into a "2 yr old Harvard program". At least he husband had enough on the ball to say "He's only two."

Thankfully, from reading the feedback on the Net on Ms. Kallman, it seems that most of us parents think she is 14 and half minutes through her 15 minutes of fame.

Maybe her "village" can start a channel on dealing with "Alpha Moms". THAT is something I might tune in to :)

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