Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Are we, as parents, far too British?!

We all endlessly hear about how hard it is to be a parent.  The trials that face us on a day to day basis.  I actually don't think that is the whole truth.  Along with the difficulties of being a parent I think its hard to be honest about your experiences as a parent.

I know I find it so.  And not because I'm ashamed of the my child - in fact it is quite the opposite.

However it seems virtually impossible to be honest about positive parts of parenting without feeling like you're being smug.  Without feeling like you have to offer a negative at the same time to make sure the person you're talking doesn't feel bad.

And thinking about it, that is actually doing my child and my family a disservice.

For example at school the other day the topic of breastfeeding came up.  When it was my turn I said "I breastfed for 3 years and 7 months" but I couldn't leave it at that I had to follow it with "........oh but I could never get her to take a bottle".  Where the actual truth of the matter is that we half-heartedly tried for a few days and then decided we couldn't be bothered!

Similarly talking about when our children first started talking my answer was "10 months" very swiftly followed by "....oh but she didn't walk until she was almost 2".

And again when asked "aren't the terrible twos dreadful" I replied " we never had them fortunately" following close behind with "....oh but she's still not sleeping through".

And I follow the "my daughter is advanced in literacy and numeracy" with "...oh but she's slightly behind physically"

Oh but, oh but, oh but!

Those two words seem to have become a mantra for me and I'm sure I'm not alone in not feeling comfortable with being honest about my child.  In reality I try my hardest to steer well clear of discussions involving parenting, behaviour etc.  And actually this isn't fair.  It isn't right.

I should be able to honest about things without my damn British upbringing getting in the way without having to feel discretion is the better part of valour.  Just once, once I want to be honest about my daughter.   I don't want to feel like I'm being smug when in fact I'm being honest.   I don't want to start what I'm saying then trail off as my audience tries to hide their looks of incredulity.  I don't want to end yet another anecdote with ".....oh but!"

So I'm finally going to put the record straight.  Probably not to the audience I need to do it to, but still in the name of catharsis I'm going to be honest.

I breastfed my daughter until she was 3 years and 7 months and enjoyed every minute.  We didn't have the terrible twos nor was she a threenager.  She has been talking since she was 10 months old.  She is very advanced with her literacy and numeracy.  She is permanently sunny tempered.  She has never been a biter or a pusher or a smacker, and yes I know "all children go through these phases" - but she hasn't.  She simply hasn't.

In my opinion we should be honest - we should not feel like we have to deny our child because we are too keen on preserving the (possibly imagined) feelings of others.

So from now on, the words "...oh but" are no longer a part of my vocabulary.  I resolve to be honest about my daughter without being apologetic.  After all I have nothing to be apologetic for.

So....who's with me?!


  1. Absolutely great post. I do exactly the same and it is awful. I plan not to do it anymore. My child is awfully bright, also very naughty though so I don't have to work too hard to find the "but's", regardless, I'm not going to do it any more!

  2. Great post. I've been mulling a similar(ish) post myself, I certainly fall into boy-bashing because it is somehow more socially acceptable to slag of my lads than to say (without sounding too Jack & Rose on Titanic) 'my sons are my heroes, they saved me and made me, they are beautiful and enchanting, they are clever and bright eyed and engaged and engaging, they are funny and loving and bring me comfort as well as joy (who knew babies could comfort you? not me) OH BUT most of all they have even when very young had an inspiring independence of spirit, they are themselves which makes me love them more each second' L x