Raising Useless Children – A disaster of Helicopter Parenting, by @LK_Pennington

Cross-posted from: Louise Pennington
Originally published: 14.09.17

My eldest daughter’s first year of secondary school included a residential outdoor education trip. She had already been on one in primary school at a similar centre so I wasn’t going to bother attending the parent’s information meeting. Until she came home with not only a list of things required to take but skills needed to be allowed on the trip, including:

  • Being able to butter her own toast
  • Cut up dinner
  • Pour herself a drink without spilling
  • Getting dressed by herself
  • Brushing her own teeth.

As with all comprehensive schools in Scotland, integration for students with additional support needs was policy (although these children never get the actual level of support required due to systemic underfunding). The school also had a unit attached for students with autism who may find a full day too difficult. I assumed that my daughter had collected the wrong form and that the list was to double check children’s support needs in order to ensure the appropriate level of staffing to ensure that all children could attend. I went along to the information meeting assuming it would be a waste of my time (since I’d sat through a similar one the year before).

I was wrong.
Read more Raising Useless Children – A disaster of Helicopter Parenting, by @LK_Pennington

The invisible children, @headinbook

Cross-posted from: Head in Book
Originally published: 30.05.17

Luckily, I’m past the stage of needing to use the Parent & Child parking spaces at the supermarket. I still play the game of “spot the invisible child”, though: eyes peeled for that strange phenomenon afflicting people who nab a convenient place presumably on the basis of owning a parent, or having once been a child.

There are ripe pickings for “spot the invisible child” in politics, too. On a more serious level which I’m not qualified to discuss, there are severely disadvantaged youngsters, whether through poverty, neglect or unmet special needs, whose plight too often goes unmentioned. On a level that affects me personally, though, along with millions and millions of others, are the children in the current hot topic of “childcare”.

To listen to politicians and most media coverage, you’d be justified in thinking that it’s an issue which applies only to tots. There are endless reams of thinkpieces on the harm or otherwise of paid care for babies and toddlers; endless (and fiendishly complex) policy wrangles around entitlement to free childcare (or is it early years education?) for the 3s-and-unders.


Read more The invisible children, @headinbook

Nothing Like A Toddler to Dash Your Feelings of Self-Importance

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 08.12.16

3 Year old: Mommy let’s go to the big bouncy place!

Me: Ok Lilly, we’ll go tomorrow. Do you want to go alone or with friends?

3: No friends!

Me: Ok, go alone then?

3:  Not alone mommy, I want to go with you!

Me: Awwww, that’s so sweet, I’d love to go with you. 
Read more Nothing Like A Toddler to Dash Your Feelings of Self-Importance

Tiffany Dufu’s ‘Drop the Ball’: Women Blaming Themselves, Again, by @LucyAllenFWR

Cross-posted from: Reading Medieval Books
Originally published: 14.04.17

A quick post, in irritation. Today, I read in the Guardian that women should expect more of their partners, and less of themselves. Not terrible advice (though not really a revelation either). The article is a puff piece for a book I never plan to buy, written by new mother and bringer of epiphanies to the oblivious, Tiffany Dufu. In her book, so we are told, Dufu describes her revelatory experience navigating the return to work after her first child’s birth, and her growing realisation that her partner would have to do some of the work around the home, since they both had full time jobs. The experience that brought on this revelation sounds depressingly familiar. Back from a full day of work, while struggling with breastfeeding difficulties, Dufu heard her husband return home to the meal she had prepared, past the dry-cleaning she had picked up, only to dump his dirty plates in the sink for her to clean.


Read more Tiffany Dufu’s ‘Drop the Ball’: Women Blaming Themselves, Again, by @LucyAllenFWR

Is It OK If Other People Discipline Your Child? by @cwknews

Cross-posted from: Communicating with Kids
Originally published: 05.06.16

other people discipline your childI was on BBC Radio Tees last week discussing whether it’s ever OK if other people discipline your child (you can listen here, from about 01.29.00) , which made me think we’ve come full circle: in my parents’ generation it went without saying that it was everyone’s duty to do so. ‘Bobbies on the beat’ would give kids a clip round the ear if they were caught stealing apples or being ‘cheeky.’

It’s surprising to me that some people have such strong views that you should never discipline another child, until they state the reason: “because THAT’S THE PARENTS’ JOB” and then I get it. Parents these days! No authority!

To inject some nuance into the discussion, there’s a huge difference between different parents, some of whom I have great sympathy for and some of whom I don’t.
Read more Is It OK If Other People Discipline Your Child? by @cwknews

10 Things My Toddlers Found Boring Today by Never trust a jellyfish

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 16.11.16

You know how kids pick up a new word and suddenly they’re using it all the time and it’s completely adorable? And you know how it’s adorable for maybe the first few hours and then it’s maybe not all that adorable?

Yes, that.

Lilly recently discovered the allure of the word ‘boring’ and for the last week or so, everything and anything has been enthusiastically described as ‘boring’.

What exactly has she been calling boring? Well here’s 10 things she insisted were ‘boring’ just today:

1) The moon

How exactly can the moon be boring? No idea. I suppose it does just sit there without hype or glamour or neon disco lights so it could appear boring to a toddler..

Super-moon
Though I’m sure Mother Nature would beg to differ (image courtesy ABCnews.com)


Read more 10 Things My Toddlers Found Boring Today by Never trust a jellyfish

Plus size and Pregnant by @NurseBlurg

Cross-posted from: I'm Sorry I'm Like This
Originally published: 20.08.16

bump1On Monday I’ll be 15 weeks pregnant. You have to count it in weeks because the constant terror that something might go wrong means you need weekly milestones.

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about my constant terror. Saving that for another blog post. I’m here to talk about clothes. I love clothes. I’ve not bought any in nearly 4 months now which if you know me at all you’ll know that I am clearly  very ill.

Plus size pregnancy options are, well, limited. I guess they think that pregnant people just want to wear nighties all the time, which we DO, OBVIOUSLY but also we have to go outside to our jobs. So where can we shop? WHERE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CAN WE SHOP?
Read more Plus size and Pregnant by @NurseBlurg

“That’s a boy thing” by @MurderofGoths

Cross-posted from: Murder of Goths
Originally published: 05.01.17

My kids have reached that age. Now the infuriating conversations have started.

“Boys do this, girls don’t”

“That’s a girls toy”

“Girls don’t like that”

No matter that, up until this point, I’ve always encouraged both children to play with and like whatever they want. I’ve been very clear that there are no “boys toys” and “girls toys”. Myself, and the rest of the family, have done whatever we can to make clear to both children that girls and boys are more alike than different.

Unfortunately I’m not able to control the environment my children grow up in as they get that bit older.

Here’s the thing that gets me though, I hadn’t quite considered how strange small child logic can be, as evidenced by conversations with my 4 year old son.
Read more “That’s a boy thing” by @MurderofGoths

Chocolate slice prohibited! Is food shaming harming our kids? by @meltankardreist

Cross-posted from: Melinda Tankard Reist
Originally published: 10.02.17

About 15 years ago, a message was sent home from my daughter’s primary school teacher. It wasn’t about chocolate slice. It was about her hair.

My then six-year-old’s head was covered in tight, thick ringlets. While many clucked and cooed about her “gorgeous” hair, they didn’t have to wash it, or try to get a brush through it.

It was an ordeal, one I approached with dread — she’d cry and flail about. And so it wasn’t washed or brushed as often as more patient parents might have done.

(I also had two other children and a baby who needed attention.) 
Read more Chocolate slice prohibited! Is food shaming harming our kids? by @meltankardreist

Getting pregnant won’t ruin your life: teenage girls, pregnancy and myths

Cross-posted from: Slutocracy
Originally published: 12.04.13

As Doortje Braeken noted in her telegraph column, “we’re not teaching young women about teenage motherhood because we don’t believe it’s a good idea because we do see that it reduces a woman’s future choices.” She went on to say that personal choice is absolutely sovereign. I fully agree with Doortje Braeken but I want to highlight the issue of believing that pregnancy limits choices.

Because the idea that starting a family at a younger age somehow magically limits a woman’s choices is absurd. If you’re under 16 it is the law that you have to go to school so even if a young parent wants to stay home with their child, they can’t. No university will ban you from attending because you are a mother or father and it’s the norm for older or mature students to be parents. If older students are often parents why are younger students assumed to be unable to cope? And that’s without considering the fact that while kids take up lots of time and attention, many students work while studying so it’s not like being childfree means you have unlimited reserves of time.
Read more Getting pregnant won’t ruin your life: teenage girls, pregnancy and myths

Picking apart the mother-blaming that takes place with abused mothers by @monk_laura

Cross-posted from: Mother's Apart Project
Originally published: 11.05.16

I’ve been working on a theme that is to do with unhelpful/punitive/harmful responses to mothers who have become, or are at risk of becoming, separated from their children in a context of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) (mothers apart for short). I am arguing that these responses stem from mother-blaming and involve attitudes, beliefs, values and perceptions that are influenced by culture, society, theories and the media. I also argue that blaming mothers apart can lead to secondary abuse/coercion, re-victimisation and re-traumatisation, and relates to the dearth of support for this at-risk population of mothers apart who are largely a marginalised and stigmatised vulnerable group of women with complex needs that are currently not being met by services/interventions.
Read more Picking apart the mother-blaming that takes place with abused mothers by @monk_laura

What My Mum Went Through by @HelenSaxby11

Cross-posted from: Not the News in Brief
Originally published: 06.03.16

My mum was twenty eight when she had her first baby. That was quite late for a first baby in those days, especially as she had been married for a whole five years at that point, but she and my dad wanted to wait till they could afford a baby and had their own home to live in first. Finally they got a mortgage on a narrow two-up two-down terraced house with damp on the walls, silverfish in the fireplace and a toilet in the back yard, and then they started their family.

My sister took a whole day to be born, she was a big baby, and my mum had to have stitches after the birth. However, that didn’t prevent her from getting pregnant again within a few months. It has to be remembered that rape within marriage was not a crime in those days, and although I am not casting aspersions on my dad, I do think that those ideas, that a wife owed her husband regular sex whenever he wanted it, were strong enough at that time to ensure that most women would see sex as their duty (and most men would see it as their right). Even after a difficult and painful birth.
Read more What My Mum Went Through by @HelenSaxby11

The Inri Letters – Part 1: Mother’s lament at She means well

Cross-posted from: She means well ...
Originally published: 15.10.15

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 08.21.31Dear Sarah,

Well, I suppose you’ve heard the news.

My boy’s been arrested, and he’s not talking to anyone. Not even me. His mother, for heaven’s sake.

I can imagine the gossip in the village market this week. I bet they’re lapping it up, aren’t they? Especially that bitch Katy from the bakers. She must be having a field day. She’s always been jealous.

Our boys were born on the same day, in the same hospital. Did you know that? And, if you wanted proof that there’s absolutely nothing to all the rubbish about star signs and horoscopes, it was those two lads. They grew up just a few blocks from each another, too. Matt was a loud, annoying child as soon as he was old enough to kick a ball around in the back streets. Always making a racket with the other lads after school when my boy was trying to read his books.

Not that it’s surprising. My son had my undivided love and attention, while Katy had five other brats to take care of. No wonder that Matt went feral. Even now, he’s nothing more than a glorified barrow boy, for all his millions and that awful, extravagant house he’s built just outside town.

I can’t help wondering what I did wrong. How I failed my boy. He had everything he ever wanted growing up – not that he ever asked for much. He was clever too, too clever for those idiots they called teachers at the village school. How else could he have possibly have been ‘just’ an average student?

So how we did end up here, with him sitting in prison and refusing see anyone? I wish I knew.

Personally, I blame that lecturer at college. Filled his head with all sorts of ideas. Introduced him to unsavoury sorts who filled my nice, clean house with smoke, loud music and long conversations late into the night. Eating my food without even a “thank you”as if I was some kind of skivvy serving at the table of their ‘higher cause’. They sat around talking about equality and fraternity – but who did the washing up when they’d all passed out on the living room floor? Yes, you guessed it.

And then there was that strumpet, always hanging on his arm. Stroking his hair like he was her special pet. Like he was her property. Not even she had the common decency to offer a helping hand when I fetched and carried as they plotted late into the night. Playing the Lady – like I didn’t know where she’d come from, or what she really was.

But did I ever complain, or leave them wanting? No. Not once.

Let’s face it, they were the first group who ever really befriended him, the first friends he’d ever had over for a meal. I could hardly turn them away, could I?

The only one who showed the slightest decency towards to me was that Jude. A strange lad. Always so intense, so much in earnest. A little bit too eager. A little bit too fey (not that he stood a chance with my boy). But to give credit where it’s due, Jude was the only one to speak to me like I mattered. His praise of me as “the woman that made the man who leads” us was almost embarrassing at times. Almost.

I wonder what’s become of him  now?

Sarah, I want you to do me a favour. When they ask you what you know about the whole thing (and let’s face it, they will, everyone knows you’re my favourite cousin) just tell them that he’s a victim of wrongful arrest. That it’s all been a huge mistake, it’s a conspiracy, and that he’ll be out soon. That one day, they’ll be proud to tell the world that he came from THEIR village.

And if my mother asks you, just tell her that her grandson has gone abroad to study for a few years.

Please write back soon, and let me know what that fishwife Katy has been saying. I wouldn’t wish ill on anyone, you know that, but so far as I’m concerned she can go drown in all those fancy cushions her loud-mouthed son has swamped her with from the leftover stock from his import-export business.

And just one more thing? Can you drop this cheque in the collection box when you go to church on Sunday? Just make sure you leave it open so everyone can see who it’s from.

Meanwhile, I’ll give my boy your love when he finally agrees to see me. And I’ll let him know that you’ll have a plate of your famous almond pastries waiting for him when he gets comes home.

Because he will, of course, be coming home.

Won’t he?

With love,

Your cousin, Mary.

 

She Means Well I’m a feminist, loud and proud, but I’m also married and have a son. I demand to be treated equally based on my qualities and abilities, not the ‘equipment’ I was born with – but I am a firm believer that humour is one of life’s essential and that, yes, silliness DOES save lives. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, mostly in a mildly humourous way, including life as a transplanted Brit living in Greece, the imagined thoughts of my cat in The Kitty Letter Chronicles, things that make me go “Hmmmm” and things that make me go “Aaaaagh!”

The egg

I come from my mother, full as an egg with the weight that sits and grows, sinking into her pelvis, into the centre of her like a truth. I am plump and round and perfect, as the midwives declare my sex, and for a moment, all is whole. One has become two, and each of those two is one. A whole.

Crossing the road with my mother when I am 11. She launches a volley of fury at a man passing us. Somewhere, later, I learn that my swelling breasts, still tiny mounds on a child’s body, had drawn his eye down. A little piece of me is nipped away.

A dark bus station, 14 years old, counting the chewing gum pebbles on the bricks. A man sits next to me. His hands, my legs, my skirt. I am giddy with relief when another man comes to help, hollowed a little more when he asks me to show him my gratitude. The police come and my mother, who was the start of me, tells me I will be the death of her. Another chunk of me falls away.


Read more The egg

Train Tracks of Doom

Cross-posted from: Never Trust a Jellyfish
Originally published: 05.11.15

Fifteen minutes from where we live, there run a set of train tracks.

Not special train tracks, nor particularly busy train tracks, just normal, run-of-the-mill train tracks like thousands of others all over the country. Yet those train tracks manage to give me panic attacks every time they announce their existence.
Read more Train Tracks of Doom

THE BATTLE STARTS YOUNG

Cross-posted from: The Coven Speaks
Originally published: 02.06.15

My son was two when I first gained an interest in feminism, and initially, I found myself keeping him out of the conversations that arose from a subject that has come to be very close to my heart. Over the past five years, however, matters have shifted and I have found that feminism hasn’t so much become an occasional conversation for us, but one that heavily underlies a way of life.

I rarely blog about my son for several reasons. The main being that the voice of male children so often over-rides that of female children in feminist circles. Even now, these words will not be entirely my own, but touched with the thoughts of a seven year old. The reason, this time, being that I feel it’s important to discuss why feminism – along with other forms of equality and liberation – is a discussion that our children need to be included in. Regularly.
Read more THE BATTLE STARTS YOUNG

What’s The Big Deal With Skin-To-Skin?

Cross-posted from: Your Journey Doula
Originally published: 12.03.15

Skin-to-skin has become a birth plan buzzword. The term has penetrated birthspeak and, in my view, is at risk of being treated as a trend that is only paid lip service in the immediate postpartum period. I did just this with my first child! I knew skin-to-skin was something I *should* be doing but didn’t really know why or what it should look like.

I mention skin-to-skin A LOT in my professional and voluntary  practise supporting mothers, the evidence shows it is something of a panacea for mother-baby pairs. I wonder if it is sometimes overlooked as a suggestion because it is such a simple idea; putting your bare skin to your baby’s bare skin is not difficult, radical or revolutionary.


Read more What’s The Big Deal With Skin-To-Skin?

I Couldn’t Love My Post Pregnancy Body by @rupandemehta

Cross-posted from: Rupande Mehta
Originally published: 21.07.15

Last week I saw a picture of a musician mother’s tummy from South Carolina on my Facebook feed. Tired of being told that she has the perfect body, she wrote,

“Everyone always compliments me on how I have such a ‘perfect’ body after 4 kids. I decided to upload this pic and leave my belly ‘unedited’ and ‘unphotoshopped’ because I used to struggle with accepting my body after kids.”

Even though my initial reaction was, “I would never tire of someone telling me what a fab body I have,” the picture made a huge impact on me. I thought about my own assessment of my body because yes, I too have struggled to accept it.

I mean, who hasn’t?

In 2012, I was in the BEST shape of my life. This is not to say I am dangeroulsy unhealthy as of right now, but back then, I fit the media’s idea of what sexy and gorgeous was supposed to look like. At 125 lbs and 5’7”, I loved the way I looked- my abs, my biceps and my tall skinny legs. Mind you, I’ve never actually had a six pack but I loved everything about myself and was proud to flaunt it. Standing tall in a size 4, I had no insecurities and was proud to admit I was one of the few women who loved their body and was comfortable in her “skin”.
Read more I Couldn’t Love My Post Pregnancy Body by @rupandemehta

Man tells women breastfeeding is easy. Woman observes man is a nincompoop.

Cross-posted from: Herbs & Hages
Originally published: 05.12.14

“I think that given that some people feel very embarrassed by it, it isn’t too difficult to breastfeed a baby in a way that’s not openly ostentatious,”

After swearing, I literally laughed when I saw that statement from Nigel Farage who was commenting on the story about a woman in Claridges being required to cover her baby with a large swathe of fabric, thus rendering her feeding of her child far more conspicuous than it would otherwise have been.

How nice it is to be a man who has never breastfed but nevertheless knows how easy it is to breastfeed a baby discreetly.

And how nice it is that even though you know nothing whatsoever about the subject of breastfeeding, you can pronounce on it and expect to be listened to.  Indeed, your voice is much more welcomed and likely to be heard, than those who have actually done the stuff you know nothing about.  How very agreeable it is to be a white man.
Read more Man tells women breastfeeding is easy. Woman observes man is a nincompoop.

Emerging issues concerning mothers apart from their children by @monk_laura

Cross-posted from: The Mothers Apart Project
Originally published: 15.02.15

The overarching aim of my research project is to address the problem that, in the UK, there is no comprehensive, statutory provision of support for mothers who have become, or are at risk of becoming, separated from their children. But how is it that there are so very many women that need this support? Mother-child separations occur largely in a context of domestic violence and can have profound and long-lasting effects of both mothers and their children. Provision is made, of course, for the health and wellbeing of children through health and social care and the children are the priority – as they should be. However, largely due to a lack of understanding about the dynamics of domestic abuse, professionals often do not see that children could be better protected by protecting and supporting the mother as a priority – by recognising and respecting her status as the primary carer and attachment figure (in the majority of cases), who is often the child’s prime source of soothing and security.

We seem to have found ourselves in a position, however, that mothers are blamed for being in abusive relationships and in seeking to protect the child from being in an unsafe household/environment, all the focus of professionals’ interventions are aimed at the mother: not on protecting her but blaming her. By threatening to remove her children, making action plans with unrealistic targets and setting impossibly high standards of parenting she is all too often set up to fail and ends up losing parental responsibility. Meanwhile, the perpetrator frequently remains largely invisible to any intervention and when a child is removed from its mother because she has supposedly failed to protect the child from the fallout of the abuser’s behaviour, the mother might even find that the abuser eventually ends up with having more contact with the child than she does or even residency of the child. This is likely to be a devastating outcome for both child and mother with lifelong implications for mental health and wellbeing.
Read more Emerging issues concerning mothers apart from their children by @monk_laura