It’s fair to say that raising children is one of the hardest jobs going. You never get holidays from parenting, you don’t get paid or thanked for your hard work and you don’t get the chance to have performance reviews from someone who knows more than you to let you know if you’re doing it right.
You just never know if you’re doing it right.
One of the problems with parenting today is that you have the internet and all its glorious weird corners full of scaremongering articles or people telling you how to do it and how you’re doing it wrong.
The army of ‘gentle parenting’ alpha mums who tell you that leaving your child to cry even for a minute is child abuse. They’ll also tell you that if you ever raise your voice at your child, you’ll damage them for life.
The army of ‘baby led weaning’ fanatics who tell you that spoon-feeding your baby give them a lifelong problematic relationship with food.
The army of the ‘fed is best’ crusaders who will tell you that there is too much pressure to breastfeed, how dare people judge you for how you feed your baby and then they will tell you their story of why they couldn’t or wouldn’t breastfeed.
Then the even scarier army of breast is best campaigners who will shame any mother who simply doesn’t want to breastfeed and will even shame a mother who has breastfed for over a year (yours truly) when looking for advice on how to wean their baby off the breast. Why stop, if it’s what your child wants? How could you be so selfish? (Actual quotes from commenters in a ‘support group’ on Facebook).
The army of ‘no screen time’ mums who gasp in horror at another mum in a cafe who passes a mobile phone or similar device to a 1 or 2 year old and let them watch some Paw Patrol so she can just finish eating and listening to her sobbing friend.
Then there’s the army of ‘let kids be kids’ parents who shame you for bringing a toddler to a cafe in the first place. Let them play outside! You’re suppressing their creativity!
There’s also the ‘you need to prepare your child for the modern world’ mums who have their kids on tablets from when they are six months old, to prepare them for the classroom.
The parenting wars are real. The mum shaming, the persecution, the holier than thou attitudes, the warring factions are just different parenting techniques – the war is real, and it’s awful.
The problem with parenting is there is no right or wrong way to do it, surely we’re all just doing our best and working out what works for us? There’s so much pressure to be the perfect parent in a modern world that makes it as difficult as possible. A world where it’s not safe to just let your kids play outside anymore.
When I was a kid, we played outside from dawn till dusk and we survived on orange squash, Findus crispy pancakes, sugary cereal, full fat cows milk and fish fingers.
Kids don’t play outside anymore, have you noticed that?
If they do, it’s in organised, supervised groups in parks. Or naughty kids left alone out there for hours, but they’re not ‘playing’ they’re mostly vandalising cars.
Now it’s play dates, organic snacks, nut milk and homemade vegan lunches. No refined sugars for god sake. One turns up one’s nose at a small child wolfing down chicken nuggets from McDonalds. Doesn’t the mum know how poisonous that stuff is?
I’m guilty of all this too. I don’t digest dairy very well so I have almond milk and my two year old’s eczema was apparently exacerbated by dairy (the doctor told me this a year ago) so I switched him to soya milk and he’s had that ever since. I let him eat some chicken from McDonalds once as we were on our way home from somewhere and had missed dinner time so I swung by the drive thru desperate to get anything food like into my hungry shouting toddler. He loved it of course. I felt immense guilt for weeks.
We are obviously now more aware of the dangers of processed food and sugars on the body and the long term damage caused by a bad diet. But I bet childhoods were collectively way more fun when we didn’t know these things. Do read this brilliant article in the Guardian about our nostalgic relationship with processed food and the class war within the food debate- it’s a great read.
And yeah, we do play dates and will continue to do so until my son is old enough to go round to his friends’ houses on his own. Maybe 16? 20??
We live in a city so even when he is 10, I’m damned if I’m letting him play outside in the street. That’s how kidnapping happens. How grooming can happen. Grooming by unsavoury men with urges for young boys or unsavoury gangsters who will groom young boys to peddle crack for them.
It’s a much scarier world than it used to be.
Or maybe we are just living in an age where we know so much, we have learnt so much and are so well-informed that we are just scared of everything now. It’s made the problem of parenting so much more complex than it was.
There’s no real point to this – just a rant from a mum who is pretty tired.