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50 Years of Mothering Advice Has Made Us All a Mess, Left Us Without Answers

parenting advice, mothering advice, parenting manuals, dr spock, styles of parenting

This advice seems sound.

New research out of the University of Warwick in England shows that “50 years of motherhood manuals has … set unattainably high standards for new mums and babies,” according to EurekAlert. 160 women were interviewed “about the advice given by six childcare ‘experts’ who had all published popular books on the best way to raise a baby.” The interviewer found that “although the advice from these experts changed over the decades, the one thing that didn’t change was the way it was delivered. Whatever the message for mothers, it was given as an order with a threat of dire consequences if mother or child failed to behave as expected.”

Well, duh. The question is, do we still believe that if we aren’t perfect we have failed as parents? It seems so.

Angela Davis, author of the new book Modern Motherhood: Women and Family in England, 1945-2000, and the woman who conducted the interviews, says, “Levels of behaviour these childcare manuals set for mothers and babies are often unattainably high, meaning women could be left feeling like failures when these targets were not achieved. Therefore while women could find supportive messages within childcare literature, some also found the advice more troubling.”

During her research, Davis spoke to women who were different generations of the same family. She found “when reflecting back upon the changes that they had seen from when they were babies, to when they had their own children, and then watching their children raise their own families, they were still unsure of what had really been the best approach.”

As far as choosing the right method to raise your children goes, Davis says, “All this conflicting advice just leaves women feeling confused and disillusioned.” That’s why you should let go of trying to be perfect and just do your best! As my friend Desiree once put it, “This world is gonna screw you up somehow. So you might as well be screwed up by your parents first. At least they love you.”

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