I write about parenting for a living, so I feel uniquely qualified to declare that parents are big, fat liars. Not all the time – but a lot. Parents lie a lot. Well, I hope they do anyway – because if all of the tales of parenting perfection out there are true, my child is really screwed.
This is why when I saw the results of a recent BabyCentre UK poll, I was relieved. It seems that mothers are screwing up just as much as I am. They’re just lying about it to seem like better parents.
BabyCentre (sister website to BabyCenter US) spoke to 1,000 UK moms for it’s Secret Life Of Mum survey, in order to “debunk the myths about real-life parenting.”
The findings showed that it’s not just with other parents that mums feel the need to put a positive spin on things. One in three mums (32 per cent) confessed to not being truthful when talking to their midwife or health visitor, and nearly three quarters of mums (71 per cent) admitted to lying to their child to make their day easier.
The survey covered such questions as, “do you use a TV to keep kids quiet?” Nine out of ten moms confessed to using this tactic. “Do you replace a bedtime story with a TV show?” One-third of moms admitted to this one. About one-fifth of families resort to giving kids sweets for dinner once in a while. These results aren’t groundbreaking, are they? I know I’m guilty of all of these actions. It’s the mother’s willingness to admit their foibles that is pretty amazing. Sasha Miller, International Managing Editor for BabyCentre has a theory about the study subject’s transparency:
“What I find really interesting is how mums tell us that they try to keep up appearances with parents they meet in the real world but online there is nothing they won’t share. In our community on BabyCentre mums are always confessing to less-than-perfect mummy moments. And they find that when they do, they get a chorus of other mums saying: ‘Oh yes, I’ve done that too!’ You can be anonymous in the online world so it’s easier to be honest and it makes you feel so much better to find out that you’re not alone.”
Isn’t everyone sick of trying to be perfect all of the time? I mean, I’m not – because I’ve never really tried – but I think it must be really exhausting for those who do. It would be great if we could bring some of this online truth-telling into our real lives. I know that when I have written stories about my less-than-perfect parenting moments, there are always a handful of commenters out there waiting to shame me. My child has never seen a TV! He doesn’t even know what one is! You give your child packaged snacks? Non-organic? Your child cried on a plane? Terrible parenting!
I think perfect parents are things of legend and myth – like the Loch Ness Monster, or Santa. Let’s stop pretending they exist so we can all breathe a sigh of relief.