Les bons parents propres

Si les images publicitaires du bon père ou de la bonne mère sont justes alors, je dois vous avouer quelque chose : "Je suis fier d'être une mauvaise mère mais consciente de l'environnement."

Les entreprises qui vendent des produits nocifs tels les nettoyeurs et les désodorisants ne mentionnent nullement dans leurs publicités que ces derniers ne sont que des mélanges de produits chimiques comme des formaldéhydes, des phénylphénols, des dichlorobenzènes, des hydrocarbones aromatiques et des naphtalènes. Ces produits chimiques peuvent être la cause aussi bien de dysfonctions cérébrales que de dommages au système nerveux central; ils peuvent aussi faire en sorte que même des enfants ou des personnes parmi les plus vigoureuses soient incapables d'apprendre!

Mon objectif est plutôt de me laisser baigner dans les parfums tels que notre mère Nature nous les offre et non pas d'être assommée par une suffocante exhalaison synthétique capable de causer des dommages au système immunitaire et de donner des maux de tête.

Je suis fière d'être capable de dire que je m'intéresse aussi bien de la santé de ma famille que celle de son environnement.


Good Clean Parenting?

Patty Donovan
Campaign for Pesticide Reduction, Quispamsis NB 
April 2002


(photo: Pledge website)icture it, an ambiguously blonde mother, young, thin, casually dressed, attractive (but not too beautiful), disposing of her mop and bucket in an impeccably decorated kitchen (color coordinated and clean counters too!). She is not alone in her kitchen. She is accompanied by a blonde cherubic child (genderlessly dressed and coiffured). Both are displaying wide, white, "I can afford a dentist", toothy grins, seemingly happy to be alive. She emphatically states that a new product has ended the drudgery of housework and she presents us with a Swiffer-type mop produced by the makers of Pledge (you know, the polish that shines the furniture with Naphtha and other petroleum by-products that causes brain damage and smells sort of like a lemon). Cut to cherub crawling across a perfect floor with perfectly clean knees on his/her pants (Wow, I think, not a mark on it, not even one scuff). Cut back to Mom who states, and I quote, "My house is clean. I feel like a good mother!"

As a woman, and a mother, it upsets me to see how advertising manipulates viewers. The woman in the commercial has been hand picked because the makers of Pledge want to reach a stereotypically specific demographic, i.e.: white, middle class urbanites who have cash to spend. She can not look too good, because the viewer may not identify with her if she totally out shines us, but she must look better than us so we can have something to strive towards. And we must not forget that this new Pledge (they mean promise) mop will be all we need to have this lifestyle. The message is that to be a good parent your house must look, smell and taste a certain way or you are not worthy of the title.

This commercial is but a sample of what we are faced with, sometimes on an hourly basis, that has, for generations, influenced how we define ourselves as parents. Since the dawn of radio and television, advertisers have tried to sell us things that they believe we cannot live without (while they make a few bucks in the process). Their job is to convince us that we need their stuff in order to be worthy of the title "good parent".

Advertisers play on our sympathies, our longing, our low self-esteem and our desire to belong, to be like everyone else, to look like a good parent, and to rid the world of that dreaded bacteria whose name we cannot pronounce.

Glade Plug-in
(photo: SC Johnson)

Let's think this over for a second…
It has been brought to our attention that this dreaded bacteria hangs around the toilet and will make us sick if we drink the water... we must try the new and improved 2000 Flushes with chlorine bleach! All of this makes me want to scream, "So don't drink the water, already. It's not rocket science, it's a place for human waste... think about it!" Advertisers fail to mention in their commercial that when chlorine is mixed with a fatty acid, such as urine, it off-gasses chlorine gas. You know, the stuff they killed people with during WWI!

Picture it, an angelic toddler sitting on the toilet in a perfectly clean, color coordinated, towel-less bathroom. After a stinky, he (it's a boy because it is okay for boys to smell but not little girls, God forbid!) presses a button to emit gas to rid the bathroom, and the world, of the smell of his stinky. They cannot even say the word, they allude to it with a nose pinch. It makes me want to scream! The advertisers who sell these noxious products fail to mention in their commercials that they are made from a combination of chemicals, such as formaldehyde, phenylphenol, dichlorobenzene, aromatic hydrocarbons and naphthalene, chemicals which can cause everything from brain dysfunction, to central nervous system damage and can render even the hardiest child/person unable to learn!

Have you ever walked into someone's house and you could not breathe because of the Glade plug-ins that make the house smell like everything from a "I cannot believe it's not a real pine forest" to a floral bouquet (if you have ever gone out of doors you would be able to spot the difference in a split second).

(photo: Glade website)

Well, if a product-selling advertiser's version of what it means to be a good mother/parent is true, then I have a confession to make--I am proud that I am an environmentally conscious, bad mother. My house does not smell like a "sort of lemon", or a "real pine forest", or a synthetic floral bouquet. On occasion, I have scuff marks on my floors, I get mould in the most unlikely places because my house breathes, on occasion my children wear socks that have darkened soles from wear, I have fingerprints on my windows and sometimes you can see crumbs on my counter. (Gasp! Shameless!) The upside is, that since I gave up the pine forest dream, I am a happier, more involved mother. My day is filled with my children and work, rather than constant anger at the little spills and messes that children often make--which seem to disrespect my hard work. My stress has decreased and I spend less money on those synthetic cleaners. My children and I have more time to spend together working with clay and paints, while sitting on the floor or at the table without a shine. We have not had the need for penicillin in years and I have only missed one day of work this year due to illness, not mine, but my child's.

(photo: Peter Walsh,
NB Telegraph-Journal)


Patty Donovan
outside her home
in Quispamsis, NB.

"The people of
New Brunswick
need to reassess
where they put
their values"


So, what are we supposed to clean with? I clean my house with Nature Clean organic cleaners (which can be purchased at most health and grocery stores), baking soda, vinegar and occasionally Borax, washing soda, and pure lemon or peroxide for those tough stains. What does my house smell like? My home smells like thyme, sweet grass, cedar, sage, rosemary, juniper berry, yang ylang or patchouli (and occasionally lavender) that comes from either plants that I grow in my yard, or from organic essences that I purchase from reputable sellers. I add those to my unscented cleaners when I feel the need to sweeten the air. My goal is to embrace Nature's odors in the form that she gives them to me, not through overpowering synthetic knock-offs that cause damage to our immune systems and give us headaches. I am proud to say that I care about my family and the environment. Staying healthy increases my self-esteem and empowers me as a parent. For me, the healthier and happier my children are, the more reinforcement I get that I am doing the right thing.