A couple of days ago many newspapers reported on a study which found that one in three mothers have fallen out with someone over how to raise their child. Apparently potty training is the most frequent cause of rows with behaviour, growth and a child’s eating and sleeping habits other touchy subjects. According to the study, commissioned by Pull-ups for Potty training, almost a quarter of mothers have argued with someone to the extent that they are no longer talking.
This study does not surprise me at all! I remember, particularly as a new and first-time mum, how the comparisons would begin disguised in seemingly well-meaning questions about Bearcub’s feeding and sleeping habits and particularly what he was or wasn’t able to do. I’d fall for it every time and only realise it was simply an opportunity for the other mother to either boast of her child’s amazing ability to roll over or eat a raw carrot or worse alleviate their own feelings of inferiority in an area by focusing on one that Bearcub may not be displaying! But I have to say I did find it all rather more amusing than offensive.
I was so fortunate to have a great NCT group of mummy-friends where the ‘Baby olympics’ was not entertained in any serious way. On the contrary we would all spring to the defence of any of us who were feeling insecure about an area of our child’s development knowing it would all even out in the end and that each child showed strengths in different areas. What I did really find difficult though was feeling I had to dumb down any of Bearcub’s little achievements that I felt excited about in case I made another mum feel insecure.
Over half of the mums asked in the study (56 per cent) were left feeling down and upset by the remarks of others and some felt so troubled that they ended up speaking to a doctor or health visitor. It troubles me that we are so affected by other people’s opinions despite our gut feelings about our own children. Again we, as mums, doubt ourselves and easily slip into feelings of guilt.
I remember walking down the street with Bearcub in his pram at around 11 weeks old I had the hood up to shade him and the cover on as there had been a brief shower but it was a very warm day. An ‘older’ lady from across the street bellowed to me to, ‘uncover that child it’s far too hot!’ I couldn’t believe she was speaking to me at first but when I glanced around and saw no one else with a baby I realised she was instructing me! I just said something like ‘He’s fine actually thank you’ and hurried on but was completely shocked at her audacity.
2,000 mums were asked in this survey and I do understand the annoyance when you become pregnant and everyone feels entitled to give some ‘helpful’ advice. However, life really is too short. Yes it’s annoying but not worth falling out with someone over. I found the best way to deal with it was to smile, nod, say thank you and then file the information under ‘B’ for bin!!
Have you ever fallen out with someone over a comment made about your child?
What’s the funniest/worst/most shocking comment someone has ever made to you about your child?