May 222015
transgender - a parents' guide pt II

It’s hard to write about transgender issues as a parenting blogger because in questioning the prevailing trans ideology I know I will be dismissed as transphobic by many, so it’s a risk. If it was hard for me to write honestly about what I see, imagine how hard it is for our daughters to speak out and question something that everyone else believes. Risking ostracisation from a group is very difficult, which is why group-think happens and is one reason why businesses fail – nobody dares speak out and disagree with the boss when everyone else seems to be in […]

May 152015
transgender - a parents' guide

My eighteen year old son tells me that at his college, everyone’s talking about gender and in particular whether they might be transgender, gender-queer, gender-fluid and a host of other things which he couldn’t remember. The teen/young adult years are a time of exploring identity; in those years it feels particularly crucial to find out who you are, and these days young people are faced with a bewildering display of options. I wrote here about transgender children (and how they don’t exist) but what about young people? What do parents need to know? The ideas that your kids will be […]

May 102015
staying friends when your kids fight

You know the scene, when your kids are little: whenever you go round to your friend’s for a nice coffee and chat the kids fight, one gets hurt and it happens again and again. Gradually resentments build up on both sides and you and your friend end up falling out or at least ‘having a break for a while.’ Let’s say it’s a typical scenario where one child is the ‘aggressor’ and the other child is the ‘victim.’ Or the ‘hitter’ and the ‘crier.’ I don’t like to use these labels but you know what I’m talking about so let’s […]

May 012015
how to deal with disrespect

So our child is treating us with disrespect or contempt and we’re feeling really pissed off. How do we do ‘pissed off’ effectively; what’s the best way to deal with disrespect? Here are a few do’s and don’ts: Don’t think about your child, think about yourself. Don’t engage with the content of the child’s message, just respond to the way he is sending it. Don’t bat the ball back over the net. In other words, don’t fight back, threaten, call her names or be really nasty to get your own back. Don’t try to be really polite ‘to model respectful […]

Apr 242015
socialising girls into motherhood

Writing my last post about kids treating their mothers with contempt got me thinking about the role of cultural socialisation on how we are as mothers. There’s a lot of discussion these days about female socialisation and how it impacts negatively on girls in terms of their confidence in speaking up, pushing themselves forward, standing up for themselves and being assertive in the arena of work and careers, but I have seen nothing written about the effects of that socialisation on the role of mothering. In the work arena a lack of that innate (and by innate here I mean […]

Apr 102015
obnoxious behaviour

I’ve been hearing stories all week of obnoxious behaviour from children towards their mothers. I’ve heard stories about kids of all ages, boys and girls, from toddlers to teenagers, and it kicked off with a piece I read in the paper by Rachel Cusk, about teenage girls treating their mothers with contempt. It was this sentence about overhearing their conversations that jumped out at me: “Their mothers are known as “she.” When I first heard about “she,” I was slightly puzzled by her status, which was somewhere between servant and family pet. “She” came in for a lot of contempt, […]

Apr 032015
sons and daughters

I had three sons in a row and then a daughter. During my fourth pregnancy people would say to me (in front of my three little boys!) things like: “I expect you’re really hoping for a daughter this time.” People have assumed that I carried on having babies just in order to get a daughter, which was obviously what I really wanted. I have had comments like: “If you hadn’t had a daughter this time would you have tried again?” As if! As if having four children was part of some kind of plan! (Rather than just plain carelessness). And […]

Mar 272015
will shared parental leave work?

When I had my four babies my husband and I were both self-employed working mostly from a home office so we had the perfect situation for sharing childcare (bar his frequent trips away). We were both able to spend time with the children while they were little and we could both escape to the office (mutually acknowledged as the easier job). When I had to go to outside meetings I would take the latest breast-feeding baby along in a sling. I was once in a meeting of all men, my baby was slurping very noisily on the breast and every […]

Mar 202015
nine ways we're made anxious

I haven’t always been this laid-back, easy-going and cool as a parent, I don’t want you to think I just landed here like this. It’s taken a lot of sheer effort, determination and hard work to reach this place of carelessness. Sorry, confidence. I started out, just like every other parent, overwhelmed with the sudden massive responsibility of keeping another human being alive, and by nature I worried endlessly. Worrying about our kids and being anxious about getting it right is probably an intrinsic part of being a parent, but I think there are certain factors that make it more […]

Mar 132015
top 3 gifts for mothers day

According to a poll by homes4media, the most popular gift for Mothers Day – as voted for by mothers themselves – is…a hug. 59% of mothers voted for that as their top gift, followed by a card at 58% and a lie-in at 41%. When did our expectations drop so low? Getting away with just a hug for mothers day, that’s not very aspirational is it? Isn’t a hug just one of those things children give you anyway, during normal day-to-day life (usually in apology for something). Isn’t it just part of any relationship, not even particularly remarkable? And isn’t […]

Mar 062015

I have been debating for a while about writing a blog about transgender issues for parents. This article, Parenting a Transgender Child, which recently appeared in the Huffington Post, has pushed me into action. It’s about an eight-year-old boy who likes to be called by a girl’s name, and it made me thank my lucky stars that when I was growing up people just didn’t know the term ‘transgender.’ I am a heterosexual woman who lived most of my childhood wanting to be a boy; for a few years my sister and I would answer to nothing except our ‘real’ […]

Feb 272015
I won't worry about my daughter

I refuse to worry about my daughter. Point blank refuse. She’s fifteen so there’s lots I know I should be worrying about but I am not going to. I refuse to worry about my daughter because of the unequal society she is growing up in. I refuse to worry about my daughter because of online porn. I refuse to worry about my daughter because of media representation of women. I refuse to worry about my daughter because of unrealistic expectations of perfect bodies everywhere we look. I refuse to worry about my daughter because of the low representation of women […]

Feb 202015
do we have to play with our kids?

I just read a blog called Why I’m Afraid to Play With My Kids which reminds me of an article in the paper I read a couple of weeks back, daringly and shockingly entitled ‘Playing with my daughter is so boring it melts my brain.’ Credit goes to Esther Walker for gleefully saying the unsayable in that article, and to psychologist Peter Gray for backing her up with lots of common-sense Official Expert reasons. I suspect that I have such a strong memory of spending an afternoon playing with my second son when he was about three because that was the only […]

Feb 132015

I’m not a fan of strategies and techniques of behaviour-management and discipline, I never have been, partly because it all sounds too much like hard work to me and I’m basically lazy. I’m also uncomfortable with the words themselves, they remind me of boardrooms, or war, they don’t seem applicable to normal messy life. So whenever I’m asked the question ‘What’s your strategy for getting children to..?’ (fill in the blank: go to bed, eat their greens, show respect…) I’m always flummoxed because I don’t think in terms of strategies and techniques, I think in terms of relationships and communication. […]

Feb 062015
what not to say to twins

I’m an identical twin so I know. Here goes. What’s it like being a twin? What’s it like being a singleton? Which one of you is the leader? We’re not a company. Or a cult. Or whatever. Oh my god! You look EXACTLY the same!! No, we actually really don’t. Hey twinny! That’s not my name. I wish I was a twin, it must be such fun. You’d think. You’re lucky cos you’ve always got a best friend. Meh. How on earth do people tell you apart? They get to know us. Do you fancy the same boys? Probably to the […]

Jan 302015

Separation and divorce can lead to a lot of guilt for parents, it’s not what anyone wants, nobody plans for it. And it’s traumatic, it’s the loss of the future you’d imagined and you don’t yet know what the replacement future looks like. From an adult perspective, our hearts may be breaking not necessarily for the loss of the relationship but for the loss of the family unit. We imagine that our kids feel the same way, but they don’t. Children don’t have that wider deeper perspective that adults have, children live in the here and now and what they […]

Jan 242015
want a copy of my book?

I have totally felt like the suffragette mother in Mary Poppins this week, although I haven’t actually left the house singing ‘Votes for women step in time!’ I haven’t actually left the house much at all in fact. As well as running courses, organising book-readings at book shops and dealing with publicity for my book which is published on Wednesday, I have been on full-alert action stations for the No More Page 3 campaign. NMP3 HQ this week has been like those scenes at Houston Mission Control in my favourite film ‘Apollo 13′ when they find out there’s a problem. […]

Jan 162015

In all my work with parents, the most shocking and upsetting stories I hear are those about teenage boys treating their mothers with contempt, and I am hearing more and more of those stories.  And far too often I hear about physical violence and abuse: pushing, hitting, knocking to the ground, pinning down, grabbing by the throat. The mothers coping with violence from sons are not some breed apart; the ones I know of are intelligent, otherwise confident, funny, thoughtful, ‘normal’. They are not bad mothers, they are not doing things markedly differently to anyone else. They are generally single […]

Jan 092015

Whenever I read about different types of authority, the two extremes are always represented as authoritarian and permissive. I think that’s wrong; being permissive is an ideology, not a kind of authority. The permissive parent allows the child free reign out of a belief in the benefits for the child of total freedom, and this has nothing to do with the kind of authority they exert. Permissive parents are just as likely to resort to an authoritarian approach when they’ve had enough. (It always used to surprise me when I would ask my kids where so-and-so was, referring to a […]

Jan 022015

WordPress kindly sent me my blogging stats for 2014 and I thought I would present the top 5 posts here in my own personal Hit Parade. In case you missed any, you understand, and not because I have a mind so fugged with chocolate over-consumption that there is no chance of me writing a new witty and engaging post until at least half-way through January. These are my Top 5 viewed posts during 2014, and not necessarily my 5 Top Liked posts (this will become clear when we get to number 3) so here we go: 5. Mothers Are Role Models […]

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