Snowflake Parenting

Our kids are being called, ‘the snowflake generation’ – lacking resilience and emotionally vulnerable, but you know what? It’s not their fault. It’s our fault as parents. We are parenting them from a position of fear. We are snowflake parenting.

When you go with your gut instinct in a situation, you usually make a quick decision. You don’t necessarily work through every possible scenario and consequence, you just react to your initial thought. You then will probably go about the rest of your day without it taking up much more head space. Brilliant.

Unfortunately, this isn’t how most parents these days parent. Parenting from the gut is a dying art and I blame Google, Facebook and Mumsnet.

Back in the day when you had a persistent cough or a weird rash, you’d get one or two people’s opinions on what it might be, and that may or may not have included a doctor, and before you knew it, it would have gone away. Nowadays we google the shit out of every ailment, so that within an hour we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s something far worse than it probably is.

It’s the same with parenting. We have a concern about our child. We voice our concern… to literally thousands of people online. We get back a deluge of opinions, many of which are basically telling us that our parenting is shit. We doubt our ability to parent. We wonder how we are even allowed to parent. We sit in a darkened room, lit up only by a computer screen and we worry and we are confused and we may even cry.

We are parenting from a position of fear. It’s making us forget what we really should know: that our kids will be ok. Because my mum didn’t breastfeed me and I am ok. I walked to the shops on my own when I was 7 and survived. I went up to London with a friend from the age of 12 without a mobile phone and I didn’t get lost. My mum didn’t care less, she worried less. She went with her gut and then carried on with her day.

Yet now we are parenting from fear: fear of what others might think, or even worse, say. Fear of defying the online majority’s opinion. Fear of being told by someone we don’t even know that we are a bad parent.

Fear takes hold and spreads like a wild fire. We quickly lose control and our way of trying to regain control is by smothering it.

We are smothering our children. They are unable to think for themselves. We would rather rescue them from difficult situations than watch them struggle.

They are delicate and so are we.

The snowflake generation can blame us for their emotional weakness, but it really isn’t our fault. The internet has stripped us of our logic and is leaving us vulnerable too.

In my book, ‘Raising Girls who can Boss it’ I address this fear. I talk about how we as parents need to have the confidence to let go a little. To give our children space to breathe in their own air and to exhale their own thoughts.

We need to worry less. Stand back, take a breath and hope.
…and yes, nowadays this is easier said than done.

A hope

I really don’t feel that we’ve got a hope. I use the noun specifically because this entity is, I think, severely lacking right now. We must still cling on fervently to the verb: we must hope, but when I open my eyes and turn on my ears, a hope can be hard to find.

‘Be kind’ we tell our children, whilst silently praying that they will find the right group of friends to see them comfortably through their school years, without loneliness or dread. ‘Be kind’ we tell them, whilst silently praying that they are not a bully. Then I scroll through my Facebook feed, feeds on forums that are only for mums. They are exclusive in this way, partly because we are all of the same ilk; we are going through the same shit on a daily basis and if not the same then very, very similar. This means that we are easily able to empathise and to offer advice…or so you’d think. Yet frequently I read these feeds and I don’t feel we’ve got a hope. Mums judging other mums. So brutally and so publicly you could be mistaken for thinking that they are modern day gladiators: fighting in a very public arena and vying for the moral high ground. We would be disgusted if this were our children, yet this is how people are and this is how our children learn. We haven’t got a hope.

When Donald Trump was elected President of the USA, like many (many, many) I felt that we didn’t have a hope. As a female, all the talk of the way he treats women added to this feeling. Then there’s his first week in office. It’s too depressing to write it out again here, but you know it anyway, because like me you have no doubt read and watched in disbelief. His narcissism must render him deaf, dumb and blind and his advisors, stupid. We haven’t got a hope, I thought over and over again and then I saw the photo of the six men bearing witness to the signature being drawn on an executive order that will affect millions of women’s access to abortion, and another hope was gone.

We haven’t got a hope when our Prime Minister won’t publicly take a stand against him. We haven’t got a hope when all Muslims are treated with suspicion, when walls are being put up, rather than torn down. We haven’t got a hope.

Yet despite all this, now is one of those times in history when we absolutely must not give up hope. Because to do this would surely be giving in – playing right in to the hands of those who call the shots.

Where we haven’t got a hope, we must find one and then we must fight for it and protest and remain open minded and fair. We must do this for our children, or we haven’t got a hope.

 

Age is Just a Stupid Number

A few years ago, I think it was in my 40th year, I was in a coffee shop slurping on a latte, when the chap sitting next to me started engaging me in conversation. During the course of which he said that I looked young: 16 years old, he said. I spat out my latte with a snort of laughter and he continued assuring me that I looked like a teenager.

Now, before you all snort out your own coffee and judge me for being a sad old cow, who takes compliments from elderly men (oh, had I not mentioned that he was old…) and spouts them as gospel – I didn’t. I thought: you joker, but I’ll take from it that I don’t look too old and wrinkly just yet. I did, however, return home and whoop away to partner how someone in Neros had said I look 16 and when he asked how old that person was, I had changed the subject.

Ever since that day, periodically, partner has made a sarcastic comment in passing about me, ‘only looking 16.’ It generally comes up when I remind him that he is nearing 50 and is older than me and so on – it’s his weapon of mass sarcasm.

This morning on the dog walk we got chatting to a fellow walker and she was asking about the ages of our kids. “You don’t look old enough!” She exclaimed. “You only look 37”.  When we’d parted company, I looked at partner and glowed. I grinned like a Cheshire cat and I couldn’t help myself saying to him: aren’t you lucky to have such a young looking partner!

Crikey, he replied. From 16 to 37 in 5 years. You’ve aged 20 years in that short time. Life has been hard on you!

That’ll teach me to gloat.

Fail!!!!!!

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FAIL!!! Oh, and I’ve just used too many exclamation marks…FAIL!

This did make me laugh. I tried to leave a reply to a lovely comment someone had made on my blog and instead what I got back, clear as day, in black and white was: Please try to say something useful.

Omg! What a put down. I was literally floored. I have 5 tween/teen/21 yr old girls and I know what it feels to be put down. Seriously, I do. If you do not have girls aged 10-21 years then you will not know what I mean. If you do, you will be nodding. They can cut you down with a look. They don’t even need to speak to you. Non-verbals are a teenage girls’ language. They rock those non-verbals like it’s party time!

I comment that they are wearing too much make-up for school. Cue: the look.

I comment that their skirt is too short. Cue: the look.

Oh, I’m sorry that I am unable to say anything useful at this time. But, tbh that’s simply your opinion and, as you felt my comment was too short, I can quite happily bore the crap out of you for the next hour on why I think your opinion sucks…on why you are wearing too much make-up, on why I feel that your skirt is too short.

Actually though, this is pretty much what my girls might say to me. Perhaps I was just being given a taste of my own medicine (eeuuckk!)

You know what, Mum. If you can’t say something useful in relation to me spending the night with my boyfriend when I’m only just 16, then ERROR!

I’m speechless. Floored. I’m where my girls want me most of the time, because that’s when they can walk right over me.

Oh Crap…

For the past three days, dog 1 has had the shits. I say, ‘days’, but this obviously includes nights and I’m bloody knackered. It’s like having babies all over again. Wtf…the kids are currently in 6 different locations, none of which are here, but still we get no peace to do anything remotely romantic, except pretend to be asleep when he needs letting out again at some ungodly hour. Talking of which, to all mums with young kids: what are your top tips for getting out of the middle of the night/very early morning wake-up call? Do you take it strictly in turns with your other half? Or, do you have a special duvet over the head technique you’d like to share with me? I need more sleep!

The shits cause huge problems on the morning dog walk too. You know the scenario: there are people walking behind you and your dog has a crap. You make a big thing of pulling out a nappy sack (I’d forgotten how awful the fragranced ones smell – every jacket pocket I own smells like a whore’s boudoir) and leaning over as if there’s an Oscar at stake, to pick up aforementioned poo. Tying the sack up with a flourish and a smug look.

The trouble is, when it’s the shits, there’s nothing to pick up. This happened to us twice yesterday. Dog 1 squatted exactly as if a perfectly formed turd was going to descend, but instead it was slop. There was a man walking behind us, so I gestured to partner to pretend to pick it up. He gave me a weird look and his performance wouldn’t have won an award, but he’d gone through the motion for the sake of our fellow dog walker. On straightening up, he looked at me as if to say: what the hell do you want me to do with this empty poo bag, so I diverted everyone’s attention by pointing out that dog 2 was weeing directly on dog 1’s head. With that, the bugger only went and squatted again. Partner shot me a look and handed me the nappy sack. Oh bloody hell. The fellow dog walker had now caught us up and I got a hot flush with the pressure of it all. Divert, divert, I was silently screaming to partner, who was just standing and watching me, arms folded.

Kids, dogs, they’re all the same. Well, dogs are a hell of a lot easier, of course, but they’re all high maintenance. The thing that I have come to value most about the dogs though, is that they can’t answer me back. In a house full of teenagers, this one factor goes a long, long way and for that reason alone, I shall do the midnight shit run with a huge smile on my face and not roll over and hide.

This post is dedicated to my friend’s dog, Monty. Who sadly died suddenly today. RIP Monty.

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