Monday 11 June 2012

Never Did Me Any Harm

You know how when people say “I’m not racist but...” and you immediately know they are a card carrying member of the BNP? Well, “Never did me any harm” is the parenting equivalent of that.
No-one ever says they’re not racist, unless they’re really bloody racist. And they never prefix a sentence with that phrase unless the rest of the sentence could have been taken straight out of Mein Kampf. If you’re not racist, you basically never need to say it. People can tell. If you are racist, saying you’re not doesn’t convince anyone, especially when you’re carrying a copy of the Daily Mail.

Parents say “Never did me any harm” as a justification for their own parenting style. It’s often used in relation to smacking - “I got smacked, and it never did me any harm.” You know, unless you count the fact that you’ve grown up to become an adult who uses violence to exert power over small children who truly don’t yet understand how society expects them to function. If you do count that fact, which I do, then I guess it did do you a bit of harm, you idiot bully.*
* The last bit of this sentence was shouted while running away very fast.
When I hear parents say “Never did me any harm” I subconsciously substitute it for “It did me lots of harm but luckily I’m too stupid to notice.”
It also makes me realise that whatever advice they are trying to disprove, I now believe more strongly than ever before. Because I really don’t want my daughter to grow up and become them, that terrifies me.
Part of the problem with “Never did me any harm” is generational. Parents from the past are defensive that the way they raised their kids has come into question, and so they argue against change by ‘proving’ that it never did their kids any harm.
If there is scientific research to suggest that a particular activity can cause harm to a baby (like feeding them solids when their gut is not yet formed) then I’m more likely to listen to the scientist than to the idiot at baby group who has only been a parent for the same amount of time as me.
I don’t know everything about parenting - most of the time I have no clue if what I’m doing is right. But before making a decision, I listen to advice (from scientists and the government, not the strange woman from baby group), I read the science, and then I do what I think is the best thing for my baby. I don’t do whatever the crap I like and justify it with nonsense, and I really don’t want to spend my time listening to other mums do the same.
I find it really tiresome having to pull a polite “what an interesting point of view” face when being told how great it is for babies to eat high sugar, high salt diets from a young age. If asked my opinion on something, I will give it, but I won’t force it down the throats of strangers. If you asked me what I plan to feed my baby and when, and I tell you, don’t then disagree with me by saying your upbringing never did you any harm. It’s defensive, and it’s quite rude. I’m not trying to insult your parenting style, I’m just saying that I have chosen a different path. There is no need to publicly demonise me for raising my child in a different way to you.
You may think that my baby wanting to be close to me at all times proves that she is clingy, but I think it shows we have developed a strong bond which is exactly what I want for our future relationship. I may not be able to predict the future, but I hope that giving my daughter a good foundation will avoid potential future pitfalls. I’m sorry that this doesn’t sit easy with your own parenting choices.
“I’m not being rude but” please be quiet. You raise your baby, and I'll raise mine.

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