There has been a few stories in the media recently that have really made me stop and think about parenting, and therefore what I want for Monkey and baba as they grow up.

The first was an article about a mum who gives her 2 and 4 year old daughters spray tans, pierced ears, manicures and hair pieces. I’m pretty big on the whole live and let live mindset. We all have to parent our kids in our own way and I try really hard not to criticise others, but… the article made me feel uncomfortable. Largely because I worry about how the girls are going to feel about themselves growing up. If they are so focussed on their appearance now, how will they ever feel happy in their own skin. Will they always feel that they aren’t good about themselves unless they have spray tans, fake hair and make-up on? It just feels like a symptom of a much bigger problem that does worry me as the kids grow up.

With all the images of perfect skinny airbrushed celebs thrown at them from all angles, how are normal kids ever going to realise that a) looks aren’t everything, and b) that these images aren’t real and you don’t have to try and look like that in order to be attractive? It makes me despair a little, but there are worse articles out there and at least those little girls are well loved.

Because the second article I read is much sadder, and I wish I hadn’t read it at all. It was about a mum who apparently wrote “I love all of my children, apart from one” and then battered her 3 year old to death 5 months after he was returned to her by social services. My mind boggles how anyone could hurt a child, and the thought of hurting your own child? Just makes me shudder! She must  have had a serious problem as it cannot be natural to feel that way about your own child, can it?

The final thing I saw was on TV. A Programme called “Child Genius” on C4, have you seen it? Basically a competition to find the cleverest child in the country. In some ways it is fascinating and there are some seriously clever kids out there. And some of them have very normal seeming parents who are supportive and encouraging but also realistic and kind. On the other hand there are some parents out there who seem to put a lot of pressure on their kids. Of course I know it is TV and things are not always as they seem, but there are a couple of parents who have made me uncomfortable with the things they have said to their kids on the show. That’s actually putting it mildly as I have sworn at the TV a couple of times in anger when instead of being proud and supportive, a couple of parents have been downright horrible to their child who tried their best.

Those parents may not be hurting their child in the way that the mother in the second article hurt hers, and of course it is entirely different, but I do worry about how they are affecting their children too. If a child who tries their best is always made to feel, by their parents, that they aren’t good enough…. what lesson does that teach them? How do they grow up with any confidence in themselves? These are seriously intelligent kids who instead of being supported and encouraged, are being punished because they don’t get it right 100% of the time. They are being put on a pedestal of perfection that actually they can’t always live up to, because they are human and fallible. And when they fall from the pedestal, do their parents support them? Help them understand that you can try your best and sometimes make mistakes? No, they shake their head in disappointment and talk about how the child should be disappointed too. (As I said, not all of the parents on the programme are like that, but some have made me very angry.)

All of this makes me think a lot about what I want for our kids, and honestly all I want is for them to be healthy and happy. Of course as their Mama I will always think of them as the most beautiful and cleverest children out there, but in truth I hope they aren’t. I don’t want them to be totally beautiful, or child geniuses. I don’t want them to live under the pressure of what those titles carry with them. The need to be perfect. It’s just not realistic is it?

What I want for them is to grow up to be good people. I’ve written about this before but I want them to be kind, to think of others, and to have respect for others. Respect is a big thing actually, I want them to have respect for themselves as well as other people. For Monkey I want him to have respect for women. I guess this links back in to the whole ‘beauty’ thing and what is beautiful, and sexy and what is normal. I have read stories in the past about teenage boys expecting very unrealistic things from their teenage girlfriends because of what they have seen online etc. How girls have been made to feel that they need to look and act like porn stars in order to be sexy. Which is just wrong, in my opinion.

I know we have a long way to go before Monkey reaches that stage, but Hubby and I have already spoken about the kind of sex education we want to give at home so that our children hopefully understand that pornography (goodness knows what it will be like by then) isn’t real. In the same way that we want them to understand that the flawless, airbrushed images of people (men and women) aren’t real either. We want them to have respect for other people and not have unrealistic expectations of them.

We want them to have respect for themselves too and hopefully they will be strong enough not to be walked all over. Not to be pushed into doing something they aren’t comfortable with. We also hope that they will take pride in themselves, work hard and hopefully always try their best. They will be better at some things than others inevitably, but as long as they do their best, how, as a parent, could you be disappointed with that?

I like to think that my hopes for our kids aren’t completely unrealistic. I joke that we have a mini mathematician on our hands because Monkey likes numbers, but I would be equally happy if he decided he wanted to do something more creative. I honestly don’t mind what our children grow up to ‘be’ as long as they are happy.

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46 thoughts on “Parenting

  1. A really thoughtful blog. You will always worry for your children. But always be proud of them, and tell them how proud you are. A parents job is guidance and reassurrance and most importantly love.

  2. It is really sad when you read about what some parents are capable of doing to their own children – mentally, emotionally, physically. No wonder there are so many f****d up people in the world – and a cycle of abuse perpetuated. The thought of talking to my kids about sex and what’s normal is a scary one. One of my biggest fears is what happens when they get to an age where they can use the internet. I know their are parental locks but it’s still scary, inappropriate stuff seems to just be increasing at an exponential rate. I think all any good parent wants for their kids is to be happy and healthy really so at least we’re on the right track! Great post hon 🙂 X #wotw

    • You’re so right, and it is so sad! I can totally understand your fears and I worry too, parental locks can only go so far and I am not sure what the answer is. I was searching for pregnancy on twitter the other day and there was porn in the results. If I can find it using an innocent search term kids must be able to do the same and that is so worrying!! xx

  3. What a really interesting post. Fake tans on three year olds is just plain wrong :-(. I also hope my children grow up with respect – I think everything else naturally falls into line. #theprompt

  4. Really thought provoking piece Caroline. You echo my thoughts! Parenting is about love, care, guidance, being a role model and much more. The incidents you quoted made me sick. When will people learn? 🙁


    • Thank you, I totally agree and I had to write about the things I had seen because my mind just boggles at what people think is good parenting!! x

  5. Really great post!
    “I have read stories in the past about teenage boys expecting very unrealistic things from their teenage girlfriends because of what they have seen online etc. How girls have been made to feel that they need to look and act like porn stars in order to be sexy. Which is just wrong, in my opinion.”
    I totally agree – it is WRONG!
    It’s all an illusion and girls are suffering because of it. All we can do is educate our son’s to respect girls and to keep their expectations realistic. x

    • Thank you and you have summed it up perfectly. As parents we have to be the ones to try and help boys understand that it’s not reality! xx

  6. I find it deeply disturbing and upsetting when I read about things like the stories you’ve shared here. I cannot comprehend it. Like you, I get on with my thing and hate being ‘judgey’ as each to their own, but some things are just awful. I want to bring my kids up, firstly as kids, and not mini dolls or have them growing up too fast, and I want them happy, loved and kind. Respect should stem from that, I hope. Great post, Caroline, thanks for sharing with #WotW x

    • You’re totally right and I agree they need to stay innocent as long as they can, and be happy and secure children knowing they are loved and supported. xx

  7. You’re right – being a good person is what is important not striving to achieve some false standard of beauty. And being a good person is attractive anyway – it creates a beauty from the heart I think. Putting huge pressure on our kids to look a certain way or achieve a certain thing is horrible and I’m almost certain it doesn’t lead to happiness! #theprompt

    • You’re totally right, in fact I think it leads to the opposite – constantly striving for a perfection that doesn’t exist? Can only lead to unhappiness! x

  8. Great post Caroline, really thoughtful and thought provoking. I worry about my sons and my daughter, and what they are and will be exposed to. The stories you’ve shared make me both sad and angry; it is our responsibility to guide and love our children. I think your goal of respect is so, so important. From respect comes empathy and consideration and care. Thank you so much for linking to #ThePrompt x

    • Thanks Sara, I worry too and I just hope we can lead them down the right paths and give them a good grounding to understand the world they see around them! x

  9. That story of the spray tan mum really disappointed me a lot. But like you, I just want H to be happy. I wouldn’t like for him to be overly vain or put too much weight into any of that stuff. But whatever he chooses for himself, whatever makes him happy and content, that’s what will make me happy too xxx

    • I am exactly the same as you and hopefully we can give them a good grounding to start them off and then support them in their choices!! xx

  10. There are lots of things in the media about parenting at the moment, and how to be “wrong.”
    Bringing them up to be good people is definitely the right way. Beauty will come from that.
    The images in the magazines can be pleasing to the eyes (who doesn’t like looking at traditionally good looking representations of human beings) but they are not the same as having our hearts made happy by love.
    The pornography trend is particularly worrying as teenagers become desensitized to “normal” sex by things in the media (including finding copies of Fifty Shades and reading that when parents are looking – I remember going through my Mum’s Mills and Boons when I was about 13 looking for *those* scenes) and our kids could have potentially damaging expectations of sexual partners when they get to that age.

    As you can tell from the essay this is a wonderfully thought provoking post x

    • Thank you for the thoughtful comment, it’s a huge and complex subject isn’t it? And so worrying in so many ways. Hopefully we can help steer our children through all the minefields! xx

  11. There are some horrific stories in the press at the moment, and it’s truly sad when something happens to a child who cannot defend themselves and has their lives taken away. Your hope and values for your children sound perfectly achievable to me. Great read #weekendbloghop

    • Thank you, I hope so! And I know what you mean, sometimes reading the news makes me so sad that I end up not looking for days because I can’t bear it! xx

  12. A well-put argument, Caroline. I find a lot of these examples pretty horrific. While I have hopes and dreams for all my kids, I would never want to enforce these upon them. I’d much rather they grew up to become their own selves rather than some kind of Mini-Me clone, living life the way they want to and not the way we’ve told them to. All I would want to do is to provide some guidance along the way to encourage them to develop some basic values of common decency and respect, while giving them the confidence to go out and achieve whatever dreams they want to pursue.

  13. Nice post! I want my daughter to be confident, good-humoured and kind, and interested in others as much as herself. I’m trying to set her that example. I will try not to spoil her or push her or give her ambitions that I can’t support, but I also intend to let her find her own way through things. Call me back in 15 years, and we’ll see how I do! We care, which is 99% of the job, and we all seem to be doing ok with it! #brilliantblogposts

    • I think you are bang on with your hopes – hopefully we will manage them, like you say, we shall see in 15 years! I totally agree that caring about it is 99% of the job though and all we can do is try our best 🙂 xx

  14. Wonderful post! And one I completely agree with.

    All we can ever really wish for, for our children is to be happy, healthy and respectful of themselves and others. Everything else is surely a bonus?



  15. A very thoughtful post. Like you, I try to have a laissez-faire attitude towards other people’s actions and beliefs – as long as it doesn’t hurt others. These examples you cite are beyond the pale. Having lost my only child earlier this year, I think there is a special place reserved in hell for those who abuse and kill children.
    Also, the example of the mum putting fake tan etc on her children is sad – it runs the risk of harming their self-esteem as they grow up.
    The pushy parents too – all parents want what is best for their child, but there’s probably a limit. x

    • Thank you, I’m really sorry to hear about the loss of your child, it must make it even harder to read about cases like these and I totally agree with you! xx

  16. Really enjoyed reading this. It makes me so sad when I read about the things that some parents can do to their children. I find it inconceivable that people can treat their children in this way. How can anyone not want to raise happy, healthy, confident children who feel loved?

    • Thank you, I know it seems crazy doesn’t it? Makes me so angry to see children treated in a damaging way, like you sat, how can parents not want their child to be healthy and happy above all else? xx

  17. Excellent post!
    I often worry what things will be like for beauty in the media by the time my little miss is old enough to want a magazine.
    I remember reading Shout mag as a teen and loving the advice. As an adult I read Vogue and Glamour… perhaps these have a lot to answer to?
    My husband is a photographer and I could sit for hour watching him crush away blemishes and watch how he makes people shed a stone or two in the click of mouse… I do wonder how many people realise that some pictures aren’t real?

    • thank you, I know it’s scary how far things have gone already and you do have to wonder where it will all end! Must be fascinating to see the process at work though like you say I think some people don;t realise how fake these images are!

  18. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently too, those ‘blinging up baby’ parents turn my stomach, the crazy expectations of the parents on ‘Child Genius’ baffle and sadden me, I feel so sorry for all the kids- it’s definitely a form of child abuse, what’s wrong with letting kids be kids?! The awful awful cases you see about parents hurting their children, and the Gammy case make me cry, and as you say, physically shudder, those poor poor children who didn’t ask to be brought into the world to face all that. Our children are so lucky to be born into families that really care, that will set them up well for the rest of their life I’m sure xxx

    • You are so right and we just have to do our best, but it is so sad to think of the poor children who are brought up in less loving or supportive families! xx

  19. Such a powerful, poignant post. I shudder about the parents that act so cruelly to their kids-murdering your child is unthinkable, and to push your kids so far is unkind too. I too want to raise, caring, respectful children and hopefully my husband and I will offer positive role models to counteract the shoddy ones out there because throughout all the ages threatening societies existed in their different ways and parents, grandparents and friends lead by example. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

    • Thanks lovely, it is so important to be positive role models you’re right, it’s the best way to counteract all the awful ones out there! xx

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