7 Questionable Parenting Moments From Dr. Seuss

Think twice before criticizing the infamous absentee mom in The Cat in the Hat. Sure, she kept her kids in an unlocked house all day. Sure, she left them vulnerable to a visit from a semi-creepy stovepipe hat-wearing feline who turned her home upside down. Sure, the polka dot dress in her closet was kind of ugly.

But get this… she had a babysitter there the whole time!

According to this “interview” with the fictional mom posted on the New York Times’ Motherlode blog, the pet goldfish was supposed to be in charge… it just didn’t work out so well. (So much for the “Aquatic Mom” parenting method.)

Choose the wrong sitter for your kids, wind up all wet. C’mon, we’ve all been there.

Kudos to humorist Sarah Schmelling for getting inside the head of the woman whom Dr. Seuss left largely invisible, save for an outstretched arm and a lace-up pump (At least her shoe was cute?) glimpsed in a doorway.

But explaining Cat-In-the-Hat mom’s behavior may be just the tip of a Seussian iceberg.

I’ve read a fair amount of Seuss—rhyming tales like his are great for encouraging language development in young kids like mine—and I’ve come to realize that, for all their literary goodness, there are quite a few questionable parenting situations in the good doctor’s classic books.

Check out my findings below.

  • 7 Questionable Parenting Moments From Dr. Seuss 1 of 8

    Take a close look at the beloved author's classic books and you'll find quite a few examples of things that might not exactly resemble good parenting. 

  • The Cat in the Hat 2 of 8

    Beyond just the mom leaving the fish in charge, there was also the not-so-minor issue of the kids apparently not being trained to call 9-1-1 in case of an intruder. "Yes, hello, operator? A furry guy wearing nothing but a hat and a bowtie just broke into my house. He says he wants to show us tricks." One call like that and you can be sure your local police squad would turn up in full force. 

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  • There’s a Wocket in My Pocket 3 of 8

    Yeps on steps. Zillows on pillows. Have these parents never heard of an exterminator?

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  • Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! 4 of 8

    I understand that when your kids' friends get on your nerves, you might do anything to get them to leave your house... but suggesting that young Marvin take certain modes of transportation—stilts, riding the back of a fish—without urging the use of a helmet is simply irresponsible. Tsk tsk.

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  • One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish 5 of 8

    The narrator declares that all girls who like to "brush and comb" should have a long-haired pet at home. Excuse me? What about boys who like to brush and comb? Equality of the sexes should mean equal coiffing opportunities for everyone! 

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  • Green Eggs and Ham 6 of 8

    Dear children... if the ham is green, it's probably gone bad. Don't eat it on a train, in the rain, in a box or with a fox, no matter how persistent that shady Sam-I-Am character is. If you got diarrhea on a boat or with a goat, would Sam-I-Am be there for you with a cup of Pepto and a fresh pair of underpants? I don't think so.

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  • Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? 7 of 8

    The title character is praised as being "as smart as they come" for imitating the sound of a hippopotamus chewing gum. You know what's not smart? Giving gum to a hippopotamus. Apparently somebody was too busy going "grum grum grum" to read the "Don't Feed the Animals Sign." For shame, Mr. Brown.

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  • I Can Read With My Eyes Shut 8 of 8

    What's next? Driving with your eyes shut? Operating heavy machinery with your eyes shut? Wearing a white shirt while eating pasta and tomato sauce with your eyes shut? I've got enough laundry to deal with—do things with your eyes open, kids!

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