Becoming a Parent – A Step on the Path to Who Knows Where!

In this blog I am focused on babies who arrive wanted and who have parents that are full of hope for the future. In some ways it’s this group of parents that get so knocked about by cultural and political forces.

From the minute that pregnancy is confirmed, the first step is taken to who knows where.
From the minute that pregnancy is confirmed, the first step is taken to who knows where.

I’m going to ignore all the fear introduced during pregnancy about what you might be doing to your unborn child and jump straight to birth.

The minute that baby is born due to funding policy and the economic rationalist mind set – that money is all that matters. The medical team is under pressure to get that mother and baby discharged.  This is coupled with a requirement to impart compulsory knowledge. This has less impact with subsequent babies, but with the first it feels like one has just landed in a pressure cooker. With conflicting information being tossed at you and then you’re discharge into the world. It’s completely irrelevant whether you know what you’re doing, have support, or are physically ready.

I’m aware many people feel ready to leave at the 4 day mark, but I sometimes feel that this is to escape the pressure of panicked nurses, not because the new parents feels ready. Being the last of a generation who could stay 10 days with my first – hospital felt like a calm time when I could both rest and build confidence. To chuck a mother out before her milk has come in, feels like a cruel social and economic policy.

Out you go into the wilds of life - whether you sink or swim is irrelevant to religion of economic rationalism
Out you go into the wilds of life – whether you sink or swim is irrelevant to the religion of economic rationalism.

From here on all support is tokenistic and disconnected. The only thing that seems clear to me is get the primary carer – even that word rather than parent – back to work. The national maternity leave scheme is linked to the assumption that the parent who is primarily responsible for consistent love – returns to work within 12 months. What has happened to our community that we no longer want our taxes to support families with young children?

And get that baby booked into child care because…. As  I did some research I noticed that 1. You may need to actually pay to go on a waiting list. 2. There are now companies that will search for places for you.(Childcare and Education – Choice 2016) What sort of society does this to people – fleece them at their most vulnerable.

At the same time there has been a shift in the policy around when the aged pension can be accessed – the age is now 67 which means many grandparents are still working, which limits the support that they can offer their own children and grandchildren. It feels safe to assume this would have a direct result on the shortage of child care places. So even if a grandparent would like to care for a grandchild they may not be able to afford to.

Then there is the social policy of having children later and so often this is reflected in a personal rigidity that can cause a lot of distress. Once in our 30s many of us have had some years of being established in a particular way of being.  Consequently the deconstruction process that occurs with the birth of a child can be monumental. The falling apart of established day-to-day practises, becomes the fodder for anxiety and depression. Whilst we know this is not good for the baby – or the new parents – there is a total lack of kindness around this. Unless you happen to be lucky enough to have a support network that can stand beside, not criticise or offer unwanted advice, you’re on your own with the medical model and the drug companies.

The shock and trauma of deconstruction of our being, at any critical life stage, is rarely talked about. Having a baby is, I think, the number one deconstruction experience. And to add insult, of course, people have been having babies successfully forever.  What’s missing from this comment, whilst yes, that’s true. Is I think it’s probably unique to our era that financial wealth has been pretty much universally swamped the importance of emotional wealth. Good luck – its a harsh environment to be a parent. And remember if something goes wrong it’s your fault – is the icing of fear on an already distressing cake.  The idea that sometimes things go wrong does not sit well in a culture that likes to believe it and control and prevent any adversity.

love and kindness has no economic value

6 thoughts on “Becoming a Parent – A Step on the Path to Who Knows Where!”

  1. Well said, I agree!!!!
    How sad that as a society we preference wealth over loving and caring relationships.
    Also I’d never considered the impact of older age retirement on childcare.

  2. Hi Claire
    As i read your comment above I feel myself getting so angry.
    For the sake of our children and our parents in todays world….where is the support. The acknowledgement that parenting is the most important thing we can do for society. I remember seeing a first time mum on TV once and she was silently crying about the fact that she wanted to find work and was struggling to find it. Her sadness was that she didn’t want her child to grow up thinking she was a bludger!!! Imagine thinking that working was more important than being a parent. That is the outcome of a society that values money and the driop feed effect on parents and their view of themselves. I talk about this in my groups as it is the context of parenting and the result of that view that helps parents choose to make changes to their own world and their own families.
    By the way Claire, I read your book in 3 days and plan on reading it again. I so enjoy the way you write. It is quite different to the way you teach. I have recommended it to some colleagues of mine.
    When thinking about the issue above I can see how your book title “Rethinking Love” so fits with what is missing in our worlds…..love plain and simple.
    I won’t get started on my transition to becoming a grandparent except to say I have a heightened sensitivity now to the world and what is happening in it.

  3. All parents face difficulties now and then. But when you’re a stepparent, those obstacles are compounded by the fact that you are not the birth parent this can open up power struggles within the family, whether it’s from the kids, your partner’s ex, or even your partner.

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