You can’t have it all.
That’s the message the Government appears to have for modern mothers.
Like to combine a career, motherhood and beauty?
Forget about it.
You can’t have the cake and eat it.
This is a subject that stems from a recent report that Jo Swinson, the Coalition’s Minister for Women and Equalities, has seen fit to publish.
The report in question suggests that some mothers damage their daughters, foisting their own thwarted and unrealistic ambitions upon them. This leads, it is said, to childhood anxieties about appearance, image and weight that can linger long and stunt future career prospects.
‘There is a cultural rhetoric of girls and women having it all,’ the report’s authors claim. ‘These exhortations impinge on girls and mothers in ways that create excitement and anxiety. They make it sound as though women can have it all. This is entirely unrealistic.’
Ms Swinson, who herself wrote the foreword to the report, says it ‘shines a welcome light’ on the pressures that girls face nowadays and, in our book, anything that can aid understanding, fuel discussion and put such topics on the news agenda is to be applauded.
But that makes this no less controversial.
Siobhan Freegard – representing Netmums – disagrees with findings that she says she does not recognise. ‘Not helpful and not realistic’ is her response, whilst she feels that generalising modern mothers as being ‘pushy and bitter’ isn’t accurate or fair.
‘Everyone knows the odd pushy parent, the tiger mother, but the vast majority seem to be relaxed and don’t want to put this pressure on their children,’ she says. Ms Freegard went on to speak, among other things, about feminism and there can be no doubt that, in political terms, this entire topic is a hot potato.
Our take on this is that, whenever it comes to children, politics and posturing shouldn’t even be on the agenda.
Is this report accurate? To us, it matters not. It’s not about politicians against parents, Ms Swinson versus Ms Freegard or Netmums taking on the Government.
It’s not about politics. It’s not about feminism. It’s not about income. It’s not about parents’ rights.
It’s about children – pure and simple. Putting their needs first. Nothing else matters.
To quote from the Children Act, ‘The needs of the child are paramount’. This is enshrined in law. Forget everything else – this is the guide that matters.
Parenting is difficult. Challenging. That sacrifices must be made is inevitable. Yet such sacrifices are worthwhile. For parenting is rewarding.
Do parents need to be told this in such terms?
Sometimes, perhaps, but as a society, we should all be able to recognise that putting excessive pressure on our children isn’t healthy, that often something has to give, that it’s a parent’s role to make the sacrifices, that children must almost always come first.
Pushy? Bitter? Such rhetoric isn’t helpful.
Parents (and it’s important to stress that this isn’t just about mothers) can’t do everything.
You can’t have it all.
You can’t have your cake and eat it.
But then, hasn’t it always been this way?