Mommy bloggers are abuzz over one psychiatrist's claim that boys raised by nannies are more likely to become womanizers. In his new book An Unsolicited Gift, 85-year-old Dr. Dennis Friedman suggests that little boys cared for by long-term babysitters can develop the concept of an accommodating, dispensable "Other Woman" at an early age. As boys mature, Friedman says, they continue to harbor the fantasy of "this other woman, who not only knows, but caters for, all his needs." Do babysitters breed philanderers — or is Friedman just trying to sell books?
What a crock: We've heard some weak rationalizations for infidelity, says Vivian Manning Schaffel in MomLogic, but this has to be one of the worst. "Cheating is NOT something you can't help" — it's always a conscious decision. Friedman sounds like he's trying to absolve men of their moral responsibility by, of all things, making working moms feel guilty for hiring a nanny. Give me a break.
"Is having a nanny a precursor to cheating?"
There may be some logic to the argument: While Friedman's theory is admittedly "far-fetched," you have to admit it's a "fascinating idea," says Carol Midgley in the London Times Online. After all, a live-in nanny does "arguably blur boundaries" and "reinforce the idea" of juggling female relationships. And what about when that nanny is "sacked?" It's entirely logical that, to a child, this might leave the "residual impression that women are expendable [and] replaceable."
"Men and affairs? It's all nanny's fault"
Experience says Friedman is wrong: "I know plenty of serial womanizers among my friends," says William Cash, also in the Times Online. "Most of them are married, and after a few calls I can confirm that most didn’t have a nanny." The true reasons behind their cheating are more complex and ambiguous: "Ego, entitlement, boredom, anger, marital neglect, lust, love of risk, [and] mid-life crisis" would all rank above "nanny syndrome."
"Why it's wrong to blame nanny"
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