Betty Draper doesn’t take any crap. Well, until she booted Don out of the house last season, the “Mad Men” matron took a lot of crap from her two-timing husband. Rather, stay-at-home suburban mom Betty doesn’t take any crap from her two oldest children, Sally and Bobby, and that brand of maternalism would make her practically an endangered species in America today. In nearly every episode, Betty sternly barks: “No,” “Go upstairs and play,” or “Don’t touch that”—and the rugrats actually listen. Bets reminds me of my own mother, who was born during World War II and always seemed so old-fashioned compared to my playmates’ parents while I was growing up. But nowadays, Mom and I roll our eyes together when we overhear parents cooing at their two-year-old, as if the toddler is a very, very fancy member of royalty: “Please?” “Thank you!” “You’re so good at this!” Geez, coddled, much? It’s highly entertaining—albeit in a sad way—to watch a parent with a little kid who’s having a screaming, flailing, object-throwing tantrum because the parent always look too terrified to say something responsibly parental, such as “no” or “stop.”
Granted, Betty’s gone overboard in the discipline department a few times, like when she caught Sally smoking a cigarette and shut her in a closet, or when she insisted Don spank Bobby (he refused, saying his own father used to beat him). But I feel like that’s just the 1960s-ness of “Mad Men” peeking out. The truth is Betty, with housekeeper Carla’s crucial help, is still raising her kids right. To be sure, the Draper home is a far from perfect parenting arrangement, of course, considering breadwinner Don is hardly ever home and definitely doesn’t change his fair share of the diapers. But even with a distant father, I’d much rather be a mom like Betty than a parent like half the ones I gawp at during family parties and at the supermarket.