Janet Lansbury is a RIE parenting advocate, author of Elevating Childcare, and blogger at JanetLansbury.com. She’s also a closed-minded sexist who endorses the idea that men’s opinions of child care and the psychological wellbeing of children is less valuable than that of women.
Those are pretty serious allegations. Don’t worry, I have pictures.
Before we continue, I must tell you my motivation for writing this article. I’ve been involved in hundreds of online and in-person discussions surrounding the physical and psychological health of children. My experience when dealing with women online (in this context) is that the vast majority treat men as inferior and illegitimate.
It is very common for women online to gang up on male’s who voice opinions and concerns. The moderators of such discussions allow this and even threaten to ban the men from the discussions. This is true even when it’s the men who are being personally attacked and regardless of whether or not they fight back. A common theme is for a woman to “call a moderator” to come “deal with the man.”
Interestingly, this defies what often happens in real life. If you’re face to face, this doesn’t tend to happen to the same degree. Somehow, socially acceptable behavior is lost online, which is why I prefer that medium. You get to find out who people truly are.
In my most recent interaction, all of this behavior was on full display. Now that Reboot Your Kids has launched and I’m publicizing my views on raising children in a healthy manner, I decided it’s important to point out that this rampant sexism exists. Not only is sexism unproductive, it’s irrational and destructive. It distracts from what really matters: the wellbeing of children.
I’m not writing this because I feel victimized. I’m writing it to shed light on the fact that there appears to be a majority of women who believe that being a feminist (which doesn’t mean what most people think it means) is more important than doing what’s best for kids.
I have a lot of respect for the work that Janet is doing. All in all, she’s a net gain in the realm of raising happier, healthier children. As a person, I no longer have any respect for her.
As she often does, she posted a question from one of her readers on her Facebook page and asked for opinions:
This is a mine field for anyone who wants to give an opinion. I knew this going in, but I can’t control people’s sensitivities and the world can’t afford to tip toe around them. So, here’s what I wrote. Short and sweet.
My goal was to offer an alternative view to the option of sending a one year old child to daycare in the hopes that if this woman could possibly find an alternative, she should do so for the wellbeing of the child.
I fully understand that’s a strong statement. It’s also not the only research I could have led with. This is a grave situation though. We’re talking about the possible abandonment (from the child’s viewpoint) of a one year old child and a lifetime of distress from that.
Here are some immediate questions that popped into my head as I read the original question that also might be helpful. As you read these, you may even feel anger personally. I fully understand. Acknowledging these things in my own life brought up pain in me as well.
- What does “need” to take up work mean? Does this mean she can’t put food on the table, clothing on bodies, and roofs over heads? Or, does it mean that she can’t order HBO, new shoes, and handbags without going back to work? There’s a lot of people who “need” to work but who have car notes, a mortgage that’s 40% of their income, and the latest iPhone. If social status and niceties are more important than the wellbeing of your children, fine, but let’s not call it a “need.” This is something that needs to be parsed (and rarely is).
- Being a teacher puts her in an especially rough position. Children who are left by their mothers to go work with other children can’t help but translate this as, “Bye honey, I’m going to spend time with the kids I love more than you.” That’s nobody’s intention. But, as I’ve said before, kids don’t care about our intentions — they’re not mentally or emotionally developed enough to parse the difference. They need US most and we’re leaving to go spend time with other children. That’s all they know.
- Her concern about the transition is an instinctive alarm that the situation is likely not optimal. If taking a one year old to daycare was an optimal situation, there would be no concern. She probably feels little concern at the idea of taking her child to her mother’s house for 3 hours. This is a mother who is about to defy her instincts. If it’s her only choice, then it’s a very difficult situation and I can empathize. If it’s not her only choice and she follows through, it’s a parenting tragedy.
- She’s not a single mother (even though the discussion — as you’ll see — somehow gets twisted to single mothers). But, even if she were, being a single mother and having no alternative doesn’t change the outcome for the child. Single mothers are still responsible for their choices and me presenting research to help children (and other parents watching) isn’t shame, it’s just reality.
- Janet’s original post clearly says, “advice welcome.” It doesn’t say, “advice I agree with…,” “advice that all women agree with…,” “advice from people with ovaries…,” “advice from people with ovaries who have used those ovaries in the past…,” or any other distinction. This is important to remember for later.
Quickly, someone requested the source of the research I mentioned. I quickly responded with a link to the research.
Familyfacts.org is apparently run by The Heritage Foundation. However, the research was not developed by FamilyFacts.org OR The Heritage Foundation, it was developed by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (clearly footnoted on the page).
That didn’t stop the first batch of women from chiming in with blind dismissal:
That’s the first strike against Janet Lansbury. I posted research which I feel is legitimate. That research was blindly dismissed. No reason, other than Amber’s opinion (along with her ad hominem attacks) on why the research is invalid ,was given. Note that Amber doesn’t even have a Facebook photo. For all we know she could have a dozen children locked in her basement.
Somehow, Janet decides that Amber is legitimate and I need to leave (or face a ban).
She blindly dismissed me again in a separate thread where someone had [sarcastically] asked for the research: “I would love to read the research study were (sic) scientists were able to simultaneously study every daycare center in America.”
Just to be clear, I posted research. Then, someone asked for research that fits a certain — and illogical — qualification (that the researches study EVERY daycare center in America simultaneously). I pointed out that legitimate research wouldn’t have to fit that criteria. Janet’s conclusion was that I’m “over-the-top.”
This is an “expert” who supposedly does what’s best for children based on principles (I would hope) and not blind emotion. I can’t say I’m impressed. Nevertheless, her blind dismissal is “liked” by five people (that number has now grown).
This continued to happen multiple times and women continued to attack me (mostly passive-aggressively).
“Nobody mind this Kevin guy. I’ve got some REAL advice!”
If that didn’t clue you in to her intellectual superiority, I’m sure her statement, “Don’t worry about your child’s development!” surely did. Here’s another…
Let’s not forget that all I’ve done is post research and a resulting opinion (which was asked for in the original thread).
“Be organized, plan meals, delegate with your partner, enjoy moments…” — None of that has anything to do with the wellbeing of children. This was a common theme in this discussion. “Me, me, me” seems to be the only concern.
Remember my question of “need” earlier? That “need” hasn’t actually been parsed yet. It’s just assumed. Also note that what I posted was not criticism, it was research and an opinion based on that research. There was no judgement or criticism to be found, though that’s what I’m charged with.
What’s astounding — and this is extremely common — is the lack of logic and relevance. Her main points are this:
- All my grandchildren go to daycare.
- I don’t know a single mom who has stayed home, it’s the way of the world. (So because she doesn’t know any stay at home moms, it’s assumed to the be the way of the world and this is assumed to mean that it’s perfectly healthy. That’s 1st grade logic).
- They’re all very happy, healthy, and well-adjusted (in her unprofessional opinion).
- They LOVE to go to school and summer camp (in her unprofessional opinion).
- They have so many wonderful experiences, great socialization skills, great caregivers, and friends (the fact that she’s blanket-stating things that she can’t possibly know, to say that her grandchildren are images of perfection, leads me to be extremely skeptical).
- The teachers and aides will do ALL they can to help (she hasn’t met the teachers and aides. This, as it stands, is a hypothetical situation. She’s making a blanket assumption that all teachers and aides are amazing people who do their job amazingly well. This is factually incorrect, based on research and video evidence to the contrary).
Nothing in her statement shows any concern for the legitimate wellbeing of children. It’s all sound-good, feel-good bullshit. Note that she has 13 likes, the most out of any post in the thread. The majority of those who voiced their opinion aligned themselves with obviously hollow statements.
Okay, let’s get back to sexism and Janet Lansbury.
This is another unfounded attack on the research with a sexist jab to close it out. “We moms don’t need a MAN telling us what’s wrong with how we are raising our kids. In fact, we don’t need MEN telling us much of anything…”
Let’s put the fact that I still haven’t told anyone what’s “wrong” with how they are raising their children aside. Let’s also put aside the fact 1990s comment (as if infants in the 90s handled abandonment much worse than the infants of today). The comment has two likes. One of them from…
Unless Janet failed to read the entire comment or somehow misinterpreted it, this is an endorsement of overtly sexist remarks.
Kimberly, at no point in time, was told she was “over-the-top,” threatened with a ban, or told to leave. Instead, she was allowed to continue…
Note: the topic at hand does not involve single mothers. There was no guilt in my statement.
Of course, I’m once again dismissed as a knuckle-dragging, know-nothing. So, I decided to question the sexism.
I can’t help but fathom that if this was a thread full of men, it would be labeled sexist for me to say, “We don’t need women to tell a man what to do.” Somehow, that’s lost on Adina. So, I made an attempt to clarify, which was met with this:
I’m not sure I follow the logic of me being an “internet stranger” on a thread where over two dozen women, whom she doesn’t know, posted opinions that she deems acceptable.
I also don’t follow her comment that it’s the “parent’s opinion that’s legitimate.” The parent who actually asked the question wasn’t opining on the thread, to my knowledge. Her identity was protected.
I also never expressed that I know better than anyone else. Again, all I did was post research and a suggestion based on that research, which was invited by Janet Lansbury. Of course, the charge of being sexist is conveniently turned around and placed on me.
She also charges me with “not answering the question.” This charge is very common on these threads. Apparently, if a mom asked, “I’d like to shoot my daughter with a .45 handgun OR a shotgun, which would be least messy?” Adina would like me to reply with, “the .45 is much better,” rather than saying, “please don’t shoot your child.”
Now you can easily say that I’m comparing the question at hand with murdering a child. I’m not. I’m using the process of universalization to show the ridiculousness of the charge of “not answering the question.” Questions often pose a false dichotomy. In this case, my false choice is presented as, “answer her question directly or don’t say anything.” I reject that dichotomy and post the answer I feel is most relevant, especially when the wellbeing of a child is concerned.
There are two reasons why it’s unacceptable for me to do that, in her eyes: I don’t have an opinion she agrees with, and I don’t have ovaries.
Kimberly also decided to come back and reply to my question to “wrap this up once and for all.” This is probably the best part. Remember, this is the girl Janet previously endorsed, who has yet to be labeled “over-the-top” or told to leave.
This is a masterful job of wielding white-guilt, geographic-guilt, (perceived) economic-guilt, and male-guilt all at once. And because I’m white, from a developed country, likely am well-off, and wasn’t endowed with ovaries, I’m disbarred from having an opinion.
Also disbarring me from having an opinion on the psychological wellbeing of children are the following circumstances:
- I’ve never been pregnant.
- I’ve never breastfed a baby.
- I’ve never pumped breast milk from my nipples [between work shifts] (well, there was that one time…nvm).
- 1/4 of moms are single moms.
- I, based on labor statistics, make 77% more than all women who live in the U.S.
So, right off the bat that excludes all male child psychologists and researchers. It also excludes all females who have never had children. And excludes all moms who didn’t breastfeed. And excludes all white women who make above average incomes. Oh wait, I’m sorry, let me back up. If you have ovaries at all, you’re magically inducted into the legitimate-opinion group. Nix all that.
Even though I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last 9 years, struggling to build two different companies, and failing at one, I’m dismissed with, “You’re about to go earn waaaay more money than this young lady.” Well, isn’t that sexism against women in itself? She’s assuming this young lady is economically worth less because she’s a woman. Dumbfounded.
She did correctly say that I’m not in this young woman’s situation. I think she forgets that nobody is. Yet somehow, all the women who gave opinions about this young lady’s situation are legitimate.
I know full and well why all of this happened and why these women act this way. And because I’m beyond the age of three, I know that all women are not like this. But, perhaps we’ll save the why for another time. The point of this article is not to dive into the philosophy and psychology behind sexism and feminism and mothers working as hard as they can to escape all responsibility for their behavior.
The point is is to illustrate that there’s a childcare “expert” leading a rapidly growing community who is concerned more about her feminism and preconceived notions than she is about the legitimate welfare of children. That’s tragic. And while I respect her work, I find severe fault in her character.