I’ve never really considered being a Mummy blogger – I’m not sure why – it just wasn’t what I wanted to write about; however this topic of conversation came up in the car a while ago, and as it was Mothers’ Day on Sunday, I thought I might do something a bit different and write about the subject in a blog post!
Yes I am in a category. I am a statistic of the 90’s. I was a teenage Mum….
I became pregnant with our first baby when I was sixteen, and she was born when I was seventeen. Chris, my then boyfriend, now husband is three years older than me. It may be a surprise to know that this was a planned and well thought-out decision. Most people find it difficult to understand this. Even I, now, twenty-three years later find it difficult to understand this, but it seemed like a good idea at the time!
“What a waste,” the woman who worked in the newsagent round the corner said to me. I’m sure many more were thinking it, but anyway, for a change, I’m not writing a blog post about me and my life; it’s about theirs: Rain and Jude, our two beautiful daughters’. If I’d had children in more recent years, when it is more usual to do so; would I have brought them up differently?
Here’s the thing; the bombshell: no I wouldn’t. To this day I believe that parenting has absolutely nothing what-so-ever to do with how old you are. Good parent or bad parent; whether you’re sixteen or sixty, if you’re new to it, I think you’re unlikely to do anything different. Nothing can prepare you for being a parent other than a natural desire to become one. Then you’re guided by instinct and learning from the way that you yourself were brought up. That sort of thing just doesn’t change when you get older. We all simply do our best.
Other things change – guidelines as to whether you put your baby on its front or back; smacking becomes illegal; Super Nanny gave us the naughty step and the next telly child-rearing expert took it away again; and whereas in my day there was pretty much a handful of books on the subject; now there is a plethora of parenting advice to baffle and confuse you. Praise, praise, praise was all the thing when mine were young, but now these ‘millennials’ have grown up and have a reputation for expecting the world at their feet, they’re wondering if that was the right approach after all. I haven’t even mentioned NetMums and Mumsnet! Overall I think all this new advice (and I hear some of it on Woman’s Hour occasionally) is a really good thing, but I hope parents don’t worry too much about it.
If I were to have more children now, there are two things I’d do differently. One is make sure I was a bit more savvy about certain things because the way I responded to a personal problem one of my kids was having in recent years was not the best. The other is the way I handled food when they were younger. (Now I’d let them stop eating when they wanted to, and I wouldn’t use pudding as some kind of reward.) Both those things I’ve learned from the experience of being a Mum, and hindsight is a wonderful thing!
I don’t think Chris and I made a bad job of it at all, but there’s no ‘considering we were so young’ that needs adding onto that. The best parenting praise of all came from Rain and Jude a couple of days ago when; now as adults, they said to us that they are very glad they got us as parents. And yes, I did have to wipe away a tear or two!
I hope all you wonderful mothers had a lovely relaxing day on Sunday!
This was the one parenting book I owned when the kids were younger, and I think my Mum bought it for me: