This week is National Parenting Week; this has led to a lot of discussion about modern parenting. Last week I completed a netmums survey about parenting in 2011 and today the BBC published an article discussing similar issues.
Some of the discussion has been around the differences between modern parenting and the way our own parents brought us up. My mother stayed at home until my brother and I were in secondary school. She assumed the traditional role of home maker and child carer while my dad earned the money. I have also been a stay at home mum for the past 3 years. As far as I am aware my mother was never dissatisfied with being a full time mum. For me the experience is different as I find myself constantly searching for something more. Is this a personality difference or were the expectations of motherhood very different in her day?
I have been pondering for a while the need to turn my writing and passion for early education into a business but it hasn't really been going anywhere. I know what I need to do and really want to do it but I am held back because it seems self-indulgent. It isn't that I think other people will view it in this way and I certainly think the children will admire me for following my dreams. The uncertainty regarding a steady income makes me feel guilty that I am not providing the children with solid financial support. I shouldn't look to do something purely because I love it, am good at it and it makes me feel fulfilled. As a mother are you supposed to put yourself first?
I had this conversation with a friend who said ' but it's natural to feel like to feel like that, as mothers we find it hard to think of ourselves because we are so used to putting everyone else first'. Is this true? Or is it only the case with stay at home mums? I don't think our mother's generation felt like this but maybe then there was no pressure or desire to be anything but a mum.
Modern parents are often criticised in the media for the job they do. Blame the parents if children are unruly, blame the parents if children are spoiled - how often are parents rewarded when they raise polite, considerate, creative children? The latest suggestion is that all parents should be offered parenting classes. Is this a good thing? Isn't it just one more reason for us to feel inadequate? I agree that parenting doesn't come with a rule book, that it is difficult and many parents could use a bit of advice. I am a parent who knows all the theory behind conflict resolution, behaviour management, conversing with your children and appropriate play but with lack of sleep and stress in your personal life the mayhem of organising 3 children can often send all that out of the window. So will a course really make a difference or should we really be supporting the whole person and their individual needs first so that they have the capacity to apply that theory?
Parenting comes with its own challenges for every generation. For me it's the challenge of how to balance being a mum with being a woman in my own right. Give parents a break, there is no one size fits all and most of us do a great job.