Saturday, 28 March 2015

Parenting. You ARE doing it right.

A while ago there was a ridiculous post being peddled around Facebook along the lines of “If you climbed trees, scraped knees, scrumped for apples, came home when the sun went down, got felt up by a paedo in a park,*insert other nostalgic, archaic nonsense here* and you turned out alright, re-post!”. It really annoyed me. Posts that wang on about how things were better in the past really wind me up. The world we live in now is fantastic! It's far more exciting, far more accessible, with amazing communication available on an international level with the press of a button. It's bursting with information readily available at our finger tips anytime of day or night. Most importantly, however, it is SAFER. We don’t leave our doors unlocked and our kids unaccompanied in parks, or by rivers or whatever other ludicrous notions that status it promoted because we are aware of rape and murder and kidnap and paedophilia.

HOWEVER.

I am increasingly aware that even though I thoroughly agree that our technological age means that our lives and our children’s lives are much safer, it also means that there is a staggering amount of information floating around us constantly on how to be a parent. When I was pregnant with my first, only 5 years ago...it felt like I was swotting up even by buying a few pregnancy guides....even the silly one with the crazy Aussie woman in it. These days, if you haven’t joined a parenting group or network or whatever by your first missed period then WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! How on EARTH do you think you are going to PARENT PROPERLY WITHOUT THOUSANDS OF MUMS/DADS TELLING YOU HOW?!

Recently a lot of there seems to be so much stuff in the media about what we should and shouldn’t be doing to or with or at our kids. Parents are heaping huge amounts of pressure on themselves just to parent their own children in a way that society deems acceptable. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to our peers consciously or subconsciously. Just today there was an article in a national hate-rag about how Helena Bonham-Carter had brainy kids because she educated them with “Mozart” in utero. WHAT.

Of course the quest for parenting guidance is nothing new. It’s just that historically your field of knowledge and comparison would be so much smaller. You close friends, family and neighbours would be your information points. These days we have not just peers on social media constantly shovelling heavily filtered visions of parenthood under our noses but “celebs” sticking their four-penneths in too! Which is turning us all into paranoid jibbering wrecks about whether or not we are doing it right.


We need to back-the-fuck-up now and realise that what we are doing is really probably OK. Let’s take some of the pressure of ourselves and stop overanalysing every little thing we do or don’t do for our kids. I hate to say it but we really probably do need to return a little bit to the sentiment of those ridiculous status updates and worry a little less about how our kids are doing. Because we turned out alright didn’t we?! Re-post, LOLZ!    


36 comments :

  1. Jess, as
    a woman of “an age” I love those statuses you despise so much. They are not trying to say that things were
    better in the past – I do agree with some of your points about the world being far more accessible on an international level and bursting with information readily available at our finger tips. I don’t necessarily agree that it is more exciting. In my work (both teaching and as volunteer with various youth organisations) I see more and more children with poor social skills, limited imagination and a lack of experience in some of the most simple and creative tasks such as colouring in,(lots of children don't get to glue, stick and make at home because it is too messy), playing board games with family (everyone too busy), riding a
    bike! Often because a computer or TV screen is babysitter and entertainment system all built in. Those statuses that wind you up are looking back to a time when children were allowed to start with a blank canvas, interact with fellow human beings on a face to face basis and make their own stories – not follow a series of increasingly violent images where it is ok to kill and maim and only interact with others via technology.

    I am not na├»ve, I appreciate the importance of keeping our children (and ourselves safe) but maybe you could have another look at those annoying statuses – I don’t want to do all those things, I don’t want my children or even grand children to do all those things – but I do want children to be able to enjoy the simple things – walking or playing in the rain, building a den, visiting other friends houses and playing games WITH them not just or their latest gadget or toy! Our children deserve to learn how take responsibility for their actions (not think that it is always someone else’s fault), know that they are NOT always going to be the best at everything (and that is OK) but most of all realise that that wonderful, exciting fast changing
    world needs to be enjoyed by being part of it – not viewing it through a screen or window.

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  2. I completely agree that kids should spend time outside more and less time obsessed with hand held devices. That's not what this post is about. The post was saying that those statuses seem to perpetuate that we live in a nanny state. And I was saying that even though I may disagree, we could probably do with relaxing a bit more about how well we are doing in regards to how we parent our kids.

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  3. I'm not sure I agree with you about things being more safe now than before. I think technology has brought with it it's own risks and problems. I also intend to raise my tot somewhere where he can play out by himself on occasion, so I guess I agree with the nostalgic posts.


    I'm with you that this generation's mums have a lot of pressure though, both internal and external. It's tough not to compare yourself to others and now we have a whole world of others at our fingertips. It's also easy for the media to force their expectations of parenting on us. That's tough to ignore.


    Thanks for sharing.


    #MBPW

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  4. There are definitely different sets of problems that have arisen from advanced technology for kids. But in general people are far more aware of the dangers of playing in parks alone or by rivers or busy roads etc. I feel our children are safer because we have more knowledge these days. I would love to raise our kids in a place they can play out unaccompanied but sadly that's not possible for us.

    Thanks for reading.

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  5. Tone is difficult with these messages so just know I'm not trying to troll or pick a fight, just having a discussion- no bad grammar, swearing, typos and capitalization...OK maybe some accidental bad grammar and typos :-)...Do you think parents didn't know it could be dangerous to play beside roads and rivers before? Or is it just that parents are more paranoid about their children being the worst case scenario because we read about horror stories all the time online and in TV and print media? As far as I'm aware the incidences of kidnapping (by strangers, not by members of the family), for example has fallen significantly in the last few decades and actually happens to a tiny percentage of kids.
    I feel like you are making contradictory points- on one hand that we shouldn't let the media govern our parenting and on the other that we shouldn't parent as people have done in the past (because the media is telling us not to because it's dangerous).
    I'm a new reader...is your blog name Mrs Helicopter because you are a proud helicopter parent (a judgement free question)? In which case perhaps we just have different parenting ideas and styles. Plus my tot is only tiny. I may well be singing a completely different tune a few years down the line.

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  6. Cardiff Mummy Says29 March 2015 at 15:34

    You are certainly right that parents heap too much pressure on themselves in how they parent their children because advice is coming at you from everywhere, what with the internet and so many help books on parenting, all of which seem to contradict each other. I also think that perhaps because times have changed so much, and social media is so accessible, people are more likely to ask their peers for advice than their parents/grandparents.

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  7. Yes absolutely! I spend hours trawling thru Pinterest looking for educational activities to do with my kids and looking for super healthy snacks I can make that pack a bag of kale into one chocolate brownie etc. whether or not I actually do said activities and recipes is another matter... ;) xxx

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  8. Jane Bloomfield29 March 2015 at 22:42

    My children are now 16,14 and 12 and I worry I got those early years right, all thanks to the media. I was a happy, hands on full time mum (oddly without mummy bloggers and pininterest that short time ago). Kids are really lucky nowadays, but if I could teach them anything it would be to use all these devices to save time not allow it to consume it...

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  9. I do think there is a bit of information overload nowadays, so much to look at, any question can be answered with the swipe of a phone. We are forgetting our instincts, and not relying on ourselves. Like you say it can be good to connect online with others, searching for activities or such like, but the flip side to that is searching for illnesses or negative aspects or judging yourself by what other people have deemed is the correct way to do something. Who says it is correct?! I remember asking my health visitor soooo many questions and all she would say it was up to me. Me! I had to make a choice not rely on anyone or anything else. I think a bit of technology and of course embracing the future bug you can't beat your own gut instinct and people need to retune into that xx

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  10. Yes! Instincts are underated! Know so many people who'd said they'd wished they'd gone with instincts or glad that they had gone with their instincts regarding some form or other of parenting. Great point Em.

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  11. I completely agree that there's too much info out there ... I joined Baby Centre when I was pregnant, but couldn't put up with all the "advice" and comparisons on the message boards. Even the good old baby books pile the pressure on though, I felt like a failure when I stopped breastfeeding because that's what the first half of my book focused on ... It was the single most important topic!
    I've found the internet is best for reading other blogs about mothers stumbling along like me, rather than reading the "proper" way to bring up a baby (strict routines etc).
    A great post to make you think!
    Alana x
    www.babyholiday.wordpress.com

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  12. Yes the blogging community is the best way to realise you're not alone and even if you think you're the most pants mum in the world, you'll see you're not! There's always someone else flailing about and blogging it up for us to read in amusement and agreement. :) Thanks Alana!

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  13. Great post Jess, you are absolutely right of course. I never bothered with any baby / pregnancy groups. Even now, we go every day to various groups like ballet, drama, playgroup etc. and I never pass any more than the time of day with the parents there. Predominantly, this is because I am a loser. But I also have no desire to compare myself with them or compete about how big my house / car / salary / husbands cock is and how much money I am going to spend on my daughter's birthday. We are all trying to do the best for our children and I think it's important to take advice only from people who we genuinely trust, not random people who don't like the way we do things.x

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  14. Hahahaha! Nat, i think we are kindred spirits! :D Xxx

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  15. I am fed up of people judging me on my parenting skills all the time. I do the best I can, I don't need to feel like a fuck up all the time! I love my kids, I do my best

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  16. I tried commenting on this the other day but got all muddle with disqus or what ever it is. Anyway I agree with most of what you have said here, I think the world is more interesting and exciting. Currently my boy is playing in his bedroom with three children who are in Southampton. I can hear all of them. And yes we have in fact met them in person, they are kids.
    The only thing I don't get is why you would put so much pressure on yourself to be the perfect parent. There is no such thing. We are all going to make some mistakes along the way. My parenting skills are one of the few things I have any real confidence in. I don't read much parenting stuff apart from your blog, but I have read quite a bit about children and learning etc as part of my job. Oh and I was a kid too once so that helps. And I love my boy, so I don't see how I can possibly go wrong.
    I don't compare my parenting to anyone else, I don't read trashy newspapers, and I barely know one celeb from another. Weather or not I have been successful in my approach remains to be seen, he's not an adult yet, but he sure as hell is a good kid :)

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  17. Well said Natalie Ray!

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  18. He is a good/smart kid, love. You should be proud. It's not that I personally am putting myself under that pressure. It seems that everyone having an opinion about it all over the media which is so in our FACE all the time is adding to pressure we may have felt only from our immediate family and friend's in the past. But also it doesn't depend on how much you let it influence you too. You've always been highly independent and have little regard for the "norm" and I love that about you. :) Xxxx

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  19. Hmmmmm, interesting blog, Jess. We are about the same age, but at much different points in parenting. And just to add my two cents....I am THRILLED that my kids were little long before the internet became our 'norm' and our information source. Thrilled!!!

    I can't say I agree with our kids being safer today. I don't think knowledge equals safety. And I don't think that because we hover over our kids at the park, or lock our doors at night that makes them 'safer'.

    Recently in a city near where I grew up there were 3 or 4 reports of a creepy guy in a van around a school. Parents stopped sending their kids on the bus. Drove them or walked with them. Parents stopped letting their kids out to play. A friend of mine wrote a facebook status. And I agree with it wholeheartedly:

    "Instead of teaching your children to be afraid and driving them everywhere why not teach them how to be safe and to be street smart."

    It turns out that there never was a creepy guy. It started with a Dad, picking up his son at school. While waiting for his son to come out of the school, he waved and said hello to a kid walking by who was a friend of his son's but the kid didn't recognize him. Ran home and told his Mom that someone tried to kidnap him. This prompted a phone call back to the school, with a warning from the police being sent home and posted on social media. This prompted other kids to report that they saw a creepy guy in a van. And the whole thing was blown out of proportion.

    Not to say that there aren't creepy guys in vans. But we need to teach our kids differently, in my opinion.

    When my daughter was about 12, and walking to and from school, she desperately wanted a cell phone. All her friends had one. Her argument was 'what if someone kidnaps me as I walk home from school'? My reply was ' they won't keep you long, they'll bring you right back home. And besides, since all your friends have phones, surely one of them likes you enough to call 911'. She got a phone when she started working and could pay for it herself (by 13).

    I watch some of my friends raising babies now, that are struggling with all of your social media comments above, and I look back and think I was soooo lucky to not raise my kids in that time. Sooooo lucky.

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  20. OK I do see your point. But there was a similar incident around Gus's school the year before he started except that guy was never found and there was no "simple" explanation....there just really had been a creepy guy in a car trying to lure kids in on two separate occasions. That terrifies me. I think it's really interesting that the people who seem to disagree the most about this post are either older or have grown up in less urban surroundings. I would feel safer hovering near my kid in the park than thinking he would be out with his mates, alone. (When he gets old enough). I don't think that's fear bred from media paranoia...i think it's common sense. I think the generalised pressure put on parents from the media about whether we should breastfeed, or have a natural birth or what to feed our kids etc is too much. But I am glad i live in a time where i have instant access to information whenever i want it. I just think we need to take more of it with a pinch of salt.

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  21. Yep, I think you hit the nail on the head (almost). Not that I am really older or have grown up in a less urban surrounding (I group up in a city of about 750,000 people). But more importantly we are having children (or had children) in a VERY different time. Different times, different media influence, different peer pressure, and different fears.


    And those different times lead to your conclusion, you are glad to live with instant access to information, and I am glad that I didn't have that while my kids were little. Neither of us are right, or wrong, just of very different opinions.


    As for the creepy guy in the car, my kids walked to school from kindergarten on. Now I should clarify that up until they were 8 and 10 they lived in a small town and day care was two blocks from school. After that though I moved them to city of a million people and they still walked to school. In fact at 9 an 11, they not only had to walk to school but I was a single parent that went to work at 5 am so they also had to get themselves up and ready for school. I made a choice to put the fear of MOM into them, instead of fears of other things. I talked them about things like stranger danger, and taught them how to be street smart, and avoid situations, and to look after each other. They didn't have cell phones. They had to rely on each other. Be safe together. And look after each other.


    And I happen to think they are pretty awesome, responsible, adults that are well adjusted and will be self supporting.


    My point isn't that my kids are great, and others aren't. But I see this generation of kids (especially here in Canada) being EXTREMELY ENTITLED. But that is a whole other discussion, hahahaha.

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  22. I think 'safer' should just read 'different' - some things were better then - some are better now. Years ago mothers did not always have to juggle childcare and a job - they often had extended family around to help and communities tended to be closer and more supportive. On the other hand there was much more of a taboo about certain subjects like child abuse and being in care usually meant the opposite of 'care' - parenting is not an easy road whenever you do it but I do think people worry more today though I am not sure why that is. TV never really turned out to be the death of family as we know it which is what people in the 60's claimed would happen and I dont think ipads and smart phones will be now. What I think is more worrying is the prevalence of online bullying and easily accessible porn distorting young boys idea of what life is like. Parents now have to protect their children in different ways from the way they had to when I was young. But it is never an easy job and parents will always feel guilty at not being 'perfect'

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  23. Very true about online bullying and access to porn. Didn't think about that as well. I just can't stand people being so negative about the present and the future when I think it's such an exciting time to be alive. You're right things were different in the past and there are different challenges now. But I do think lots of things are safer just because there is more awareness. Lots of points! :)

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  24. Heheh yeah I get that too. We're breeding a generation of consumerist capitalist bastards....! Ha! I want my kids to have independence and they won't be Molly coddled. They will be able to walk to school too because I'm way too lazy to walk them if I think I can get a lie in! Thanks for commenting Barb! I love s healthy debate! Xxx

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  25. I agree that it's different, and here's how... I wouldn't worry about my kids' safety walking to the park by themselves, but I WOULD worry that some 'helpful' stranger would call 911 and report some neglected children (which is why I don't do it!)
    #thetruthabout

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  26. I absolutely agree with you about there being so much pressure around how to parent these days. Most of that is due to the internet and ironically, BLOGS! Everyone has an opinion on everything and people seem to think it's ok to put their oar in where it's not wanted and pass judgement. I think there are massive pros to the internet but also massive cons. I have teenagers and I find what is available to them online both amazing and terrifying in equal measure. Definite pros to both and we are probably all doing our best to keep our kids safe whether it be then or now.

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  27. Sarah Howe @runjumpscrap31 March 2015 at 20:20

    I do think it is all crazy at the moment and it's because we all know so much about each other! Got to love the web and social media for that gem. Helpful and a hindrance. Completely agree with your end point though...how did we survive and our parents??? #thetruthabout xx

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  28. Yeah the irony wasn't lost on me that I was writing about MY opinion in my blog for the world to see! Hehe! :)

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  29. I guess it's true that every generation has it's good and bad bits. My mum points out that she used to lie in bed at night as a child worrying about the consequences of the Cold War. Nowadays its over-population and terrorism and all that malarkey. There is no real 'safe' is there. You've just got to do the best you can. I do think that our generation is learning from past mistakes though - as in, society safeguarding 'at risk' children post Jimmy Saville etc. X Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout

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  30. Yes This! And serious lolz at the Helena Bonham-Carter comment. Our world is exciting, we are more aware, but you know ours kids don't get caned at school (my husband did) - who wants to go back to that?!

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  31. I got hit with a ruler at school and had board rubbers chucked at my head... Had to do PE in my pants and knickers, forced to drink curdled milk at break time.... Boke! No thanks!!!!

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