Dear Older Mums,
I'm referring to the mums who have adult children who may have left the nest.....for who child-wrangling was a long time ago.
You complain that younger mums do not seek your advice, and turn to books and health professionals instead. Are you cultivating a good relationship with them? Or is everything that comes out of your mouth laced with criticism? Do you ever tell younger mums that they're doing a good job, instead of focusing on everything that they do wrong in your eyes? Are you cheering them on in a role that is often wearisome and unappreciated? Maybe if you were more loving and kind, they would listen.
It's a different world out there than it was 30-40 years ago. Some things about child-raising remain the same, but there are different challenges for today's parents. Don't say things like, "I NEVER let my kids use iPads or iPhones." I'm not a fan of kids using them either, but each to their own in this case. It's really not an achievement forbidding your kids to use something which didn't even exist back then!
I understand you may have received little practical help and encouragement when you were where I am now. But I do not understand how you can deprive young mums of help just because you were denied the help you desperately craved. My mum was at a cafe with some ladies from her exercise class who started talking about how they don't help their daughters or daughters-in-law with babysitting - they didn't get any help, so why should they give it? My mum was horrified. She is a tremendous help to me, just as my Nan was to her, and we have a good relationship now. I know some of you may have been taken advantage of as grandparents - being lumped with the grandkids every day while your kids went back to work. That's not fair! But to NEVER babysit or help just because you didn't receive any help yourself...what is that going to prove? We ALL need help from time-to-time. Don't criticise young mums for using daycare for some respite. That daycare may be their 'village' which enables them to get some rest and then be a better mum.
I know many of you think (and have said) that kids these days have far too many toys, and I do agree. But don't be quick to judge, assuming that parents have spent hundreds of dollars on toys. For your information, many of Rory's toys were gifts from when he was born and his first birthday, but the majority are hand-me-downs from friends' kids. We have been very blessed in that area and we will pass the toys on to other families and organisations later. You've remarked that, unlike today's kids, your kids used to sit quietly in a playpen all day and play with a pencil, but sometimes the rose-coloured glasses can skew the past a bit.
You may have been frowned upon by the older generation when you were a young mum. Maybe they didn't help, or just told you, "Children should be seen and not heard." I'm sorry you were bullied by those who should have been more understanding. Please don't then become the bully by imitating the behaviour of those who criticised you.
A Younger Mum who does not know everything, but is doing her best and would love some encouragement along the way.
This is NOT aimed at all older mums. I know some FANTASTIC older mums who have offered so much encouragement and love. This is for those who seem to have forgotten how hard the baby and toddler years can be.