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The Fascination with Moms Gone Haywire

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Casey Anthony, charged with the first degree murder of her toddler, and Nadya Suleman, mother of octuplets plus six, share a few key similarities.

Nadya Suleman and Casey Anthony

On the face of it, Casey Anthony, charged with first degree murder, and Nadya Suleman, mother of octuplets plus six, don't seem to have much in common. One had trouble parenting one child and the other has an almost obsessive desire to have multiple children -- despite having no means to support them. They are both, in their own ways, examples of motherhood gone haywire, and people -- particularly women -- can't seem to get enough of their bizarre stories. "The public's fascination with aberrant behavior," says public relations expert Michael Levin, "makes us feel better about ourselves."

Does it take the worst possible examples of motherhood to give us confidence in our own parenting capabilities? A rep from the National Organization for Women says the enormous pressures of motherhood could be a factor in our interest: "Society and the media put the burden of parenting on the mother, whether you're talking about crime stories or who's getting marketed to in commercials."

Whatever the reason, following the plight of women in peril makes for a strange guilty pleasure. Could it be their common denominators that make Nadya and Casey's stories so compelling?

Irregular views of motherhood
Casey, it seems, never wanted to be a mother. Her mother Cindy reportedly wouldn't let Casey have an abortion or even put Caylee up for adoption. The result was tragic. Nadya Suleman says her desire to have many children stemmed from her being a lonely only child.

Dysfunctional relationships with their mothers
Nadya's mother has repeatedly voiced her dismay over the fact that her daughter insisted on having the octupets via IVF treatments when she already had six children at home. They've even been filmed arguing about Nadya's refusal to implement "selective reduction" of her implanted embryos. Cindy Anthony, Casey's mom, has been accused of treating Caylee as if she were her own daughter. Rumor has it the rift between Casey and Cindy began when Cindy was the first to hold her new granddaughter in the delivery room, not Casey.

Going it alone
With the extraordinary challenge single mothers face, Nadya Suleman has upped the ante to ridiculous proportions. With no man in her life, the "father" of her children is a sperm donor / former boyfriend. Casey also raised Caylee alone -- albeit with much family support. No one knows for sure who Caylee's father was -- the family has always maintained he was killed in a car accident.

Freeloading and lying
One sponges off her family and one off of the government. And both lie about how they supported themselves. Casey claimed to be employed at Universal Studios as an event coordinator -- to explain away her late nights out partying. Nadya told Ann Curry on "Today" that she is "not on welfare," although it was later revealed she receives both food stamps and state disability payments.

Obsessed with their looks
Nadya Suleman, even before giving birth to octopulets, had six mouths to feed. But somehow she still managed to spend money on what appears to be plastic surgery. Casey, when she was supposed to be searching for her missing daughter, entered herself in a "Hot Body Contest" at a local bar.

Can you explain what fascinates you about Casey Anthony and Nadya Suleman?

See Also:

Complete Octuplets Coverage
Complete Casey Anthony Coverage



next: More Pimps Recruiting Teen Girls Online
24 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous February 27, 2009, 10:10 AM

I’m not fascinated but I think what’s really common to both women is that they live in their own fantasy worlds. Neither one seems to live in reality.

Casey allegedly thinks she can just make up a story and stick to it and that makes it REALITY. Nadya seems to think a Masters in Psychology will pay the bills.

Both are delusional and act like the world owes them a favor.

lee February 27, 2009, 11:21 AM

I personally and not fasicnated with that women that had 8 babies. When it comes on I change the channel. As far as Casey Anthony, I just want to see her get what she deserves.

jodi February 27, 2009, 11:27 AM

What I’m facinated with is the media attempt to make ratings off the backs of these 2 women. It is sad that so many people can be misled by Nancy Grace, Michael G. and Jane V Mitchell…..CNN is no longer headline news it is tabliod trash.

Nadya was implanted with 6 embryos each ime she was pregnant and each time she gave birth to one baby except once when she delivered twins. Because 5 embryos dies during each previous pregnancy she would have had no reason to believe that this time all embryos would take and 2 would split into twins making 8 babies. Those against this Mother believe she should have let the doctor kill some embryos off but that has to be left to the Mother only. I do believe in abortion but I do not think it is my place to force another Mother to abort any fetus…..just like I do n ot believe anyone should be able to prevent a woman from aborting if she chooses.

Susan February 27, 2009, 12:01 PM

My fascination is not in the women themselves but how we as a society are helping them develop into the women they have become; television, movies, whatever. And then what about the children. Should Octomom even be allowed to bring the children home. I read that the hospital is holding the children until her home is childproofed. What is so sad, with six other children in the house, shouldn’t it already be “kid proofed”?
Blame the mothers is an easy out. Families can have good values, but peers and outside influences play a big part in character development.

Lisa February 27, 2009, 2:02 PM

Not so much a fascination, but a curiosity about how these stories will end.

Here’s an idea, put Nadya Suleman and her brood on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Nadya shouldn’t be rewarded for being irresponsible and she is probably not in her right mind (I’m being nice), but the kids are innocent and shouldn’t have to suffer. Neither should the grandparents. Anyone know the producers of the show? These networks LOVE this kind of thing and the ratings would be HUGE! Every kid should have a safe home. I’m certainly not defending Ms. Suleman, but at least she seems to love her children.

On the other hand, it appears that Casey Anthony didn’t want children. She deserves whatever is coming to her. I get sick to my stomach thinking about that poor murdered child.

These 2 women are definitely on opposite ends of the spectrum.


Marcie February 27, 2009, 2:13 PM

I am not fascinated at all with Nadya Suleman. However, the sick, twisted, toxic Anthony family is indeed fascinating, in the way you’d look at a squashed black bug on a slide.

celeste February 27, 2009, 2:24 PM

I don’t think they wanted the house child proofed, they wanted a separate crib for each child, more rooms for them so they have the home up to code. Basically, there is no room in the house for another eight kids. In simple terms, only so many people can live in a house at once. And seventeen people require much space. Let us not forget that these children are micro-preemies-they are going to need special care. That takes space-for the machines, beds, diapers, clothes, you name it.

I’m not fascinated with these women. I’m just sorry for these kids. Period. They will never get the care and love they so deserve. I have three kids and I have a hard time(along with my husband) giving them the attention they deserve as individuals. As for Casey, I hope she gets what she deserves.

Vanessa February 27, 2009, 2:53 PM

I hope both of these women get what they deserve. Talk about mothering gone wrong. What’s next?

The Octuplet mom may love her kids, but her love is destructive. Love is also based on the choices you make in the interest of your children. And with 6 kids at home, I don’t care if you just wanted “one more”, that’s still too much to think about when your other children are already living on borderline poverty.

rugbymom February 27, 2009, 3:27 PM

2 words. Morbid Curiosity. I read a lot about the holocaust when I was young, same basic principle… I still just don’t get it! I am just trying to understand it. I think we need the crew from the BAU to profile these chicks and shed some light…but you’ve done a pretty good job at tallying up the similarities. I’m not surprised they have ‘mommy’ issues, it is just unfortunate that it is the child that ultimately suffers, obviously that is the case in one of these sad stories, let’s hope it will not be the case in the other. Hopefully she’ll get her sh*t together, get a job and find away to take care of all these kids so I don’t have too!

Helen B. February 27, 2009, 4:00 PM

My fascination is not what you might consider a positive thought. Casey Anthony is a certifiable liar as well as a murderer who deserves the death penalty. She should have just left Caylee with her mother and moved out of the house for good. She did not want the baby but she did not want to give her to the mother either. Ms. Suleman is totally off her rocker and should be in an institution for the insane. There is no way she will be able to support those children alone, she will rely on public funds from Social Services to support them. We as the public will provide that for her too. The one and only reason she did this was so she could be set for life, feeling that the public would rally round and give her all her hearts desires since she had a multiple birth. I recall her being upset because public gifts were not forthcoming. I have heard welfare mothers say that they needed more money so they just had another baby and then their checks and benefits increased. This as well as hearing married women confess to having several babies so their husbands would not expect them to go out and find a job. Come on, what is wrong with being honest? I raised my own without one cent of public assistance and I did it the hard way, got up each day of my life, sick or well, and went to work. But, I did not have fourteen of them either, only two. She expects to set some type of record with the number of births and then she expects to be totally supported so she does not have to turn a finger to do a thing. She needs to consider that one person can not care for that number of babies alone, not even keeping them fed and diapers changed. She is in the limelight but not the one she thought she would sit under. The children should be removed from the home, and she should have to go to work to support her ownself. But first they need to cut her babymaking machine off for good. She is in for a hard life, Casey did her own hard life making and I sure hope to see her get what is coming to her. Both of these female persons, not women, are sick to the limit.

Squirt February 27, 2009, 4:40 PM

Fascinated? NO. Disgusted…ABSOLUTELY!

Linda February 27, 2009, 5:22 PM

It’s like watching a bag of coiled snakes, writhing all over each other. There doesn’t seem to be any sanity in either case. Just a pair of misfits.

Course, the parents have aided this sickness. One runs the show and the other one is scared to death of the daughter.

lis February 27, 2009, 6:12 PM

NOW thinks it is society and the media that ‘puts the burden of parenting on the mother’? Um, hello! It seems pretty obvious it is the infants themselves that create this “pressure”. They need their mothers more than anything else on earth those first few years and the only thing that can take mom’s place is another individual who takes that infant on as their own and provides all that the mother would have. The mother-child union is the basis of a civilization, so no wonder it gets our attention when it goes so horribly awry.

LPay February 27, 2009, 6:22 PM

Fascinated by how sociopathic these people are and curious as to what made them that way. What is really going on behind the scenes that isn’t being told?

Harriet  February 27, 2009, 6:47 PM

First, a correction. Nadya sponges off her parents AND the Govt. As for my fascination, these two stories speak to my own feelings on how unfairly all mothers are pressured beyond human endurance. I’m a mother of just one child, and yet I felt like when I had him I crossed some invisible line into CRITICISM land, where every move I made was subject to scrutiny by society. And yes, I understand it’s society’s role to look out for children. But PLEASE, no Mom, no matter how well intentioned, can be a totally selfless slavishly devoted error free robot. We Moms are people, not Angels, not qualified nurses incognito, or whatever humanitarian/super earner/sex kitten fantasy society is buying into at the moment. We’re people. We’re going to make mistakes, sometimes selfish ones (Gasp, how could a mother think of herselve for even a second.) And yes, sometimes the biggest mistake we Moms make is deciding to have children at all. (Another gasp, for a woman to even consider not wanting a child or giving up a child is unconsionable. Let alone the idea that a woman could have an intelligent thought as to whether motherhood is in thier own best personal interest in the first place.) People, the motherhood myth is just that. A myth. All women should not have children the same way all female cats should not have litters. And until society and Individual Women give up the motherhood myth ghost circa Victorian Times, that somehow magic fairy dust falls out of the sky the minute a woman gives birth to give her angelic powers, the Nadya’s and Casey’s of this world will continue to enthrall us with their ‘unmotherly’ attributes.

linda February 27, 2009, 7:36 PM

The only thing that will fascinate me will be Casey getting the electric chair. She is truly an evil person. The octo mom is just plain crazy.

GINNY MEADE February 27, 2009, 11:19 PM

I SEEM TO THINK DIFFERENTLY THAN SOME WHEN IT COMES TO NAYADIA OR HOW EVER SHE SPELLS HER NAME….I AM VERY PROTECTIVE OF HER NAME WHEN I HEAR PEOPLE AROUND ME DOGGING HER DOWN, MAKING ALL KINDS OF COMMENTS ABOUT HER.
IF I WERE A RICH PERSON I WOULD HELP HER WITH THOSE CHILDREN AND EVEN AT MY AGE OF SEVENTY FIVE I WOULD HELP HER CARE FOR THEM IF I WEERE IN HER AREA WHERE SHE LIVES. I THINK PEOPLE SHOULD THINK TWICE BEFORE SAYING THINGS.NAUDIA DIDN’T KNOW SHE WAS GOING TO HAVE EIGHT BABIES…SHE WAS TAKING A CHANCE ON HAVING JUST ONE IF IT TOOK. I SAY THAT IF GOD DIDN’T WANT HER TO HAVE EIGHT BABIES THERE WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN EIGHT BABIES AND YESW IN DEED SHE NEEDS HELP. I CAN UNDERSTAND THE FACT THAT SHE DIDN’T WANT HER BABIES TO BE TAKEN TO ANGEL CARE BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO HAVE THEM WITH HER. SHE IS THE MOTHER AND THE MOTHER INSTINCT IN US WANTS OUR BEW BORN RIGHT THERE WITH US. WHAT SHE NEED IS SOME HELP FROM SOMEWHERE TO GET HER INTO A BIGGER HOUSE AND HELP HER WITH THESE CHILDREN. A LOT OF SLACK WILL MOST LIKELY COME BACK ON THAT STATEMENT…SORRY GUYS BUT THATS MY OPINION JUST LIKE YOU HAVE YOURS. I SAY ANY WOMAN WHO CAN CARRY EIGHT BABIES AND BRING THEM INTO THE WORLD ALIVE NEEDS A SHINING STAR FOR HER BLISSFUL GIFTS TO SOCIETY. YES SHE NEEDS HELP. WHERE ARE THE BIG COMPANYS WHO HAVE HELPED OTHERS IN THE PAST WITH TRIPLETS AND SO FORTH? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEKM? CAN’T THEY SEE THIS IRL NEEDS THEIR HELP. SOME SAY SHE PLANNED IT SO THAT SHE WOULD GET HELP…I SAY THATS HOCKEY POCK. I DON’T BELIEVE THAT AT ALL. I BELIEVE THE GIRL JUST LOVES CHILDREN. I DO KNOW SHE CAN’T DO THIS ALONE AND I WILL STAND BY HER IN MY THOUGHTS AND MY PRAYERS THAT SHE CAN MAKE IT WITH THE HELP OF SOME BODY. lORD I PRAY THAT YOU WILL PUT ON THE HEARTS OF OTHERS TO HELP NAUDIA.
NOW ABOUT CASEY. I AM NOT FASINATED WITH HER . I JUST FEEL THAT SHE IS THE ONE WHO TOOK THE LIFE OF HER LITTLE GIRL AND IF SO…THEN SHE NEEXDDS TO PAY FOR IT. IT WAS CAYLEE THAT CAPTURED MY HEART, NOT CASEY OR HER FAMILY…JUST LITTLE CAYLEE.
GINNY

Anonymous February 28, 2009, 3:49 AM

Yes, I am fascinated because I had a mother who reminds me of the mothers of these two women.
I believe these two women both did what they did because their own mothers did not know, or simply refused, to love them properly.
In the Anthony case, what can you expect as a result if you are an overbearing, competitive so-and-so to your own daughter. The more you put her down, the more discouraged and weird she’s going to become. You have abandoned her, stunted her growth, destroyed her potential, left a hole in her heart she will forever try to fill with useless substitutes for the geniune love and bond with her that you refused to engage in, or because of your own unacknowledged baggage, simply couldn’t. I realize that in the case of my own Mom now, and it does make it easier to forgive. But it took decades for me to get to that point, and to get beyond the immaturity of a child in woman’s clothing. If you don’t affirm your daughter as she grows, if you run interference in her relationship with her dad, and immaturely compete with her as if you were on the same level as her, a child yourself, you keep her stuck, runted, in a childish state. To get past that stage, in my case, has taken dozens of substitute mother figures, one of the best of whom was my first professional counselor. I am not absolving Cindy A. lightly, like most people, of the destruction she has wreaked in her daughter’s life. I believe Casey, at the outset loved her daughter dearly. For Cindy to try to take over and yet again rob her of her role and her dignity as Caylee’s mother must have hurt like hell. Cindy needed to see Casey reduced to a worthless nothing, no matter what. If she loved Caylee so much why didn’t she ever try to find her, before a month was over, herself,or, at least verify Casey’s story? I think she was trying to manipulate Casey into submission to herself yet again, and this time it backfired at the toddler’s ultimate expense.
My own way with dealing with what I had been handed, family-wise, is mirrored even better by the supermom with the many kids. I really was very drawn to babies, would get ecstatic when someone gave me a newborn to hold. Since such gentle feelings were in desperately short supply in my own upbringing I probably overdid it a bit myself, once I got married. But kids these days can be raised alright, even if you’re not rolling in money. Humble circumstances are not the worst thing that can happen to a child. Not being loved is much worse. I just saw a photo of supermom’s mother. She’s Caucasian, and looks like one cold fish.
So, yes, I’m fascinated because I recognize myself in these two notorious mothers. And I thank God for how far I have come, considering where I have begun. To my own mother’s credit, she did instill a firm belief in God in me right early on. That has been my saving grace. She couldn’t love me, because of her own “stuff” but she gave me the beginnings of a spiritual foundation which has developed, and has stood me in good stead all my life. For those who struggle with their baggage, and find it hard to love their kids. Please, get help. Pride and fear simply aren’t worth the price your children will pay if you don’t.

Anonymous February 28, 2009, 3:57 AM

hold. Since such gentle feelings were in desperately short supply in my own upbringing I probably overdid it a bit myself, once I got married. But kids these days can be raised alright, even if you’re not rolling in money. Humble circumstances are not the worst thing that can happen to a child. Not being loved is much worse. I just saw a photo of supermom’s mother. She’s Caucasian, and looks like one cold fish.
So, yes, I’m fascinated because I recognize myself in these two notorious mothers. And I thank God for how far I have come, considering where I have begun. To my own mother’s credit, she did instill a firm belief in God in me right early on. That has been my saving grace. She couldn’t love me, because of her own “stuff” but she gave me the beginnings of a spiritual foundation which has developed, and has stood me in good stead all my life. For those who struggle with their baggage, and find it hard to love their kids. Please, get help. Pride and fear simply aren’t worth the price your children will pay if you don’t.

Amanda March 3, 2009, 11:04 AM

I am completely fascinated/borderline obsessed with the Casey Anthony case. I have read every piece of evidence, every article that has printed, watched pretty much every interview that have been released. (Octomom- Not so much) But I think my fascination with the Anthony’s comes from the fact that I’m not much older than Casey, while I don’t have children yet, my boyfriend and I are planning to get married and that is the next direction we will take together. I have a large family and I am very close to my nieces and nephews, and I can’t imagine a mother hurting her own child. Even if it was an accident, I can’t imagine disposing of the body like trash and then going out like its Spring break every night for a month until it catches up with her, This blows my mind and seems unfathomable to me. (when my nephew was 3 we were playing and he busted his lip and I was a nervous wreck to make sure he was ok, my sister’s daughter wandered off in the walmart one night and a surge of panic rushed over everyone, she was only a few yards away but at the age of 19 I got my first gray hair that night) I think that the availability of the case information has made this beyond the normal high profile case. The amount of video and text messages and pictures that have been available make this case so hard to just let fade away. I’m 23 and I know so many girls around my age that put themselves in the situation to get pregnant and have children that they don’t want. My own neice’s mother reminds me so much of Casey, She wanted to give my niece up for adoption until my brother said he would take full custody so out of spite she said she would rather take my niece home than give her to our loving family. She has said in court that my brother should have custody on weekends so she can take a break because having children, and welfare paying for all of her needs and no job is apparently too stressful and she should be able to go out with her friends. It blows my mind that anyone can bring a life into this world and resent it so much. They make birth control for a reason, it amazes me that people don’t use it. At any rate, I think the public has kept up the fascination mainly because I think everyone can relate to some part of the case, whether it’s the mom wanting a break, or having a child that age in your life, or being a worried family member, or anyone being fed lies by someone in their life or even the partier who can’t imagine giving that life up for a child, there’s a little piece of everyone in this heart breaking case.


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