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  Texas : Features : Humor : Column - "A Balloon In Cactus"

Bad Mothers

by Maggie Van Ostrand
Maggie Van Ostrand
To a little girl, mommy is a goddess, the world's most beautiful woman and the one she most wants to be like. We honor our moms on Mother's Day, but the question is: should all mothers be honored? What about the bad ones?

It's difficult to write this story about University researchers in Canada coming up with the unpleasant fact that mothers take better care of "good looking" children than they do "ugly" ones. Do bad moms make their kids unattractive by treating them differently? Most of us believe all children are cute, but guess what -- some moms don't agree.

A study by the University of Alberta concluded moms treat their children differently at supermarkets based on the children's physical attractiveness.

The study was conducted using 400 parent-child observations in 14 supermarkets, where parents actually rated the looks of their children on a scale of one to ten, admitting that their behavior differed greatly between the kids they thought unattractive and those they thought good looking. Among the findings of the Canadian study are:

  • Grocery cart seat belts are dispensed with if the kid is ugly, but cute kids are protected by being belted in.
  • Ugly kids are allowed to stand up in grocery carts, but the cute kids, carefully belted in, are not.
  • Ugly kids can wander away and be out of their parents' sight, but the pretty kids are watched closely and may not travel further than a maximum of ten feet from mommy or daddy.
  • Good-looking kids are much better supervised than homely ones, who are rarely prevented from engaging in potentially dangerous activities.
  • Mothers strapped in a mere 4 per cent of the ugly kids, while 13.3 per cent of the best looking were protected by a strap.


    What kind of mother would even agree to take part in such a study and publicly talk about how unattractive her children are? The thing that makes a child unattractive is lack of love. There are many ways in which moms can permanently ruin their children, probably without intending to.

    Moms who advise friends and relatives "Don't encourage him," or "pay no attention to her" or "Don't give him anything to eat. He's fat enough," can leave lasting psychic scars on a child. Kids have long memories and the towering distance to self-esteem may never have a chance to begin if the damage inflicted by mom runs deep enough.

    It's a terrible thing to have a mom believe what an authority figure tells her rather than what the child tells her. The child is bound to conclude "What's the point of telling the truth if she doesn't believe me?"

    Little kids don't care about inner beauty. They only know about love. Do they get it? Or do they get criticism instead? The former results in happiness, comfort and security and the latter in pain, low self-esteem and mind scars.

    Being a mother is an unimaginably enormous responsibility; being a good one is awesome.


    (NOTE: In the Canadian study, when the dad was in charge, not one of the ugly kids was belted in safely while 12.5 per cent of the good-looking kids were. Remember this when Father's Day comes.)


    Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
    "A Balloon In Cactus"
    May 11 , 2007 column
    Email: maggie@maggievanostrand.com

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    This page last modified: May 11, 2007