Friday, February 20, 2015

The Guilty Mum

How myself and my siblings survived childhood remains an utter mystery to me. Dire threats were only made about going on the roads, staying away from water dams and never going into a paddock where there was a bull. Otherwise, we had pretty free reign. I think at about 12 years old we were finally allowed to cross the road on our own.

Little Jo at the age of nearly 8 can easily pick our tramstop as we approach in the tram. I remarked to her that she will be able to travel to town on her own soon. No, she replied. I won't be allowed to until I am a teenager. So that is much the same as my own parents' road rules. Otherwise, compared to the lives her mother and uncles lived as children, she is very protected from any threat or danger. I can't imagine her being allowed to roam alone in the bush or climb 25 metres up a tree. I expect if the dangers of dieldren and asbestos were known, there may have been a few more rules for we children.

Of course, the loss of one child if that is all you have would be absolutely destroyingly devastating. Had my parents lost one child, at least there were still three more. I don't mean that to sound so harsh, but it is true.

River made an interesting point yesterday about babies with wet nappies. Nappy, diaper if you like, companies would have us believe that as soon as a baby is wet, it is in great discomfort and the nappy should be changed immediately, preferably for a very expensive ultra absorbent. I'd not thought about it really, but of course a baby doesn't know they have wet their nappy. They won't be uncomfortable. River expresses it well, so take a quick read.

Making parents feel guilty makes a lot of money for retailers and suppliers of baby goodies. The Guilty Mum was an ongoing segment in ABC's brilliant tv show The Checkout.

Here is a clip.


39 comments:

  1. As a child on the edge of 'bohemian' Kings Cross with a navy base literally metres away on the other side I was probably exposed to danger of another sort but if so I was quite oblivious.

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    1. Lordy Victor. All those sailors! The dangers to you were tremendous.

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    2. envy Victor. Woolloomooloo? colourful, and if only we had Time Travel and you could see it through the eyes you have now. I experienced KingsX at close hand for 18 months of 1969 and was only harmed once, by a tourist in a suit who spat at me because I looked like a hippie. I kicked him and he punched my face. bloody Straights.

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    3. Ann, only as tourist staying there a few times, I have never felt unsafe in the Cross but harassment by touts was annoying. I held hands with R's big brawny brother in law one time, and the touts did not bother us then.

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  2. Andrew, definitely now children are overprotected by their parents. And life for them is very difficult now because they live in the digital era and most of their free tme spend in front of screen. They don't have any duties at home so adulthood is very difficult for them. The don't play on the playground climb trees as we did.

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    1. Yes Gosia. All are problems. Where will life go next?

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  3. I always wanted a Jewish mother

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    1. I know what you mean John. Before about 8, our neighbour was English and she cuddled, hugged and kissed her children. How I wanted that.

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  4. I loved the video when she tripped over the perfect hammock. How sad but true it all is. Worse yet, all of this protection only seems to deliver a breed of overly protected, spoiled, not ready for the real world brats. Now, when I were a lad...

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    1. Craig, without denying what you say, I don't see these children turning into adults and not being able to cope. If I ever so much as mutter, when I was young, R gives me kick or a filthy look.

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  5. The Checkout! I love that show! all those "guilty" mums. Ha Ha. There's a lot on the internet every now and then about mummy guilt. I've never understood it. mums feeling guilty for not being the perfect mum? not raising perfect children while keeping a perfect house? Feeling guilty because they should have done this or that instead of the other? It's a load of hooey! when you are raising the kids, you do the best you can, the best way you know how. if you know you should be doing better AT THE TIME, then you change your method and do it better. If you don't know there is a different or better way, then you have nothing at all to feel guilty about in years to come. Unless you knew better and did the wrong thing anyway.
    Our childhoods were so much more free weren't they? I remember after mum left us, I pretty much had the run of the town, roaming all over Port Pirie even crossing main roads and going to the beach, park, library all on my own. as long as I was home when the sun went down, all was good.

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    1. River, I incorrectly guessed you had not seen the show. Kids did get hurt or killed because they had such freedom back then, but I really don't think the figure would be much higher than now. I reckon you would be as I was, fairly cautious and careful about what you did. We may have roamed, and though we were young, we kind of knew what we were doing.

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    2. River, I definitely think mums of my mum's generation had it right. Though my mum is now appalled at all the things they "didn't know", to my mind they just got on with it and didn't feel too guilty or get overwhelmed with different options!

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    3. Jackie, there was often family around to help and advise. Not the case for your mum?

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  6. Add these to the list of other products, aimed at women, that make them feel guilty. About their appearance, their weight, their clothing etc etc

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    1. Fen, that is a whole 'nother post. Women do suffer that and have for a long time, but so do blokes now whereas they never used to.

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    2. Yes, this is very true.

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  7. Ooooo, I never felt guilty about what I did for my children....
    Road rules, have to be careful these days as the people have changed the times, so many accidents, more traffic than when I was young, however parents can be too protective, then there are those that don't care.

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    1. WA, I do have remember that I only have a limited knowledge of how children are raised. Perhaps in some demographics children have much more independence. Traffic is heavier now, but slower and more cautious than in days of old.

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  8. Love that show too Andrew, it really does make a mockery of the advertising business and our susceptibility to whatever is deemed necessary to make our lives more worthwhile :) As long as we are onto them and not suckered into the vortex :) unfortunately many new parents these days aren't as confident as they could be.

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    1. Grace, while we may think we are smart enough, clearly many are not or the advertising and products would not be there. It must be really hard for some new mums that don't have support from their parents. Ah, parents on one side or the other.

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  9. Hmmm...I wonder what the average age is before kids are allowed to cross the road on their own? 12 seems rather old.

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    1. just depends which road though. So glad to be old and have had the wild free regional childhood of neglectful parents "be back before dark" was about it.

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    2. Ad Rad, I do see many kids younger than 12 out and about on their own, but I have seen a few near misses too when they forgot to be careful.

      Ann, and how adaptable did that make us? Me in inner Melbourne, as you have been in the past and inner Sydney too.

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  10. disposable nappies are landfill hell. OTOH prolongued wet backside gives infant nappy rash which must hurt. oh wait more consuming "buy creams for it". and the ad industry is more evil than Mad Men dares to describe.
    Little Jo will be the most capable and stupendous teenager I hope I live to read about it here.

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    1. Plain old fashioned vaseline, a layer over the entire nappy area, not just the bum and genitals, helps to waterproof the skin, when applied at every single nappy change a rash just doesn't happen unless there is some sort of food allergy involved that causes skin eruptions. Even then, vaseline helps prevent urine contacting the skin or any sores.

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    2. Vaseline is what my mother used, as River said. Ann, I hope she is. She shows signs of selfishness and emotional fragility at times but perhaps no worse than any girl of her age. Don't ask R where the former comes from. Sister is smart, but I reckon Little Jo's donor father's genes are good and she will be smarter still. I can't imagine it as she is a dead ringer for Sister at that age, but it seems there are some physical similarities between her half brothers and sister. What please me is how much she loves her Mummy, her bio one. They have such a strong bond and where the going gets tough, Sister will be there to comfort her.

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  11. As a modern society we shower moms and women with guilt over virtually everything under the sun...

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    1. Keith, I hope we all don't do that, but I am afraid I have been guilty of the 'screaming child glare'. I just can't cope with the noise.

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  12. On our regular trips to the Grampians, Pilchard often remarks on childhood camping holidays where the 6 boys (yes, his mother deserves an OZ day award) ran off unsupervised to play in the rock pools, waterfalls, streams etc etc while mum & dad set up the tent. Nowadays, we'd think something was wrong if we saw a group of 6 kids aged 3-15 playing in a creek without a responsible adult - but no harm was done. An accident can just as easily happen when there IS a responsible adult present. The freedoms of which you reminisce are still found in the rural and remote areas we visit - and the kids seem a lot more resourceful. Is there a connection??!!

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    1. Red, poor Pilchard's mother. Mine had one last roll of the dice after three boys, and Sister arrived. I don't think I would be troubled by a group of kids with that age range. 15 year olds can be quite responsible. Gosh, at that age they even went off to war as cannon fodder. I think the less cosseted life of country children does make them more practical and adaptable. Give them a good education as well, and the world is their oyster.

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  13. That clip made me chuckle. I had never seen it, but it's very apt. I remember as a 'guilty mum' when my babies were not sleeping, desperately searching for that one, elusive, magic trick or product that would surely do the trick! Luckily we didn't have the cash to spend on all this stuff, or I would probably have bought the lot!

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    1. Jackie, a difficult crying baby would really wear you down, I think, to the point of grasping at expensive straws.

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  14. Parenting today is a hard job not that it was easy in our day either. There are no qualifications needed to be a parent and so we have such a diverse range of parenting types. I like the term "Helicopter parents" which is used for some parents today who are always hovering over their kids.

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    1. Diane, helicopter parenting is very much how Little Jo was brought up, although things are a bit more relaxed now.

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  15. Commercials make mothers feel guilty. Then there's all the self-help books to make sure we know we're doing things wrong. And if we decide to follow the advice in that book, another book will tell us we're doing it all wrong.

    I just watched a TV show that had FOUR horrible mothers. Evil types. I watch stuff like that and feel it's inevitable that I'm going to totally screw up my child and he's going to end up hating me.

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    1. Dina, yes, you hear contradictory advice all the time. Babies and toddlers don't need very much to to survive and prosper.

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  16. Also...very interesting about the wet diapers. I'm pretty sure I've seen it many times on television. A child is crying and it ends up his diaper is wet. But now that I think of it...my real life experience probably matches what you and River are saying. I don't think I've ever seen a child upset about their diaper being wet. They just go on playing.

    I do think sometimes babies cry, and they're too young to go walk off playing. Caregivers can't find anything wrong except for a dirty diaper, so then they assume that's the cause. But if the dirty diaper doesn't bother the playing two-year old, why would it have bothered him at 5 months?

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    1. Dina, how often do you hear, check the baby to see if he/she is wet? Otherwise there is no outward sign.

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