Dita De Boni does her final blog on parenting in the Herald and lists what she has learnt:
- I knew nothing, absolutely nothing at all, about children before having them.
- People who are violent to children (not a smack on the bum when they’ve done something wrong, but serious violence), I believe, forfeit their right to be around children at all.
- Boys and girls are very, very different, and basically need different parenting.
- Bottle feeding isn’t poisoning your child; daycare probably won’t harm them; crying babies down at a certain age is bound to restore sanity to a household.
- I have been incredibly lucky to have a husband who enjoys spending time with the children is an excellent dad.
- There are many days parenting young children (or even older children) that will test your sanity and make you despair.
It is her first point especially I want to focus on. She also said:
On the one hand this was terrible: the first child is the clusterbomb that blows your life to pieces. I firmly believe that, in the main, the first child is the hardest (while the subsequents grow the workload, they are not mindblasting in the same way, major issues aside). On the other hand, fewer people in general would probably have children if they were fully conversant with the effort required. Perhaps that’s not a bad thing, which is another purpose an honest parenting blog/column can fulfil.
I’d like to be a parent one day, but I have to say the thought does terrify me also. I know that until you have actually been a parent, you really have no idea what it is like. You may have a year or two of never having an undisturbed night’s sleep. You can’t relax if your kid suddenly disappears out of sight etc etc.
Just as someone who has never worked in business generally has no idea how business actually works, I think those who have never been parents also have no real idea (including myself in that). We can be sympathetic and empathetic, but nothing beats living it.
There is a political element to this also. MPs who have never been a parent I think will always struggle (no matter how well motivated) to truly understand the challenges of raising a family. This is in no way to suggest only parents should be MPs or have views on political issues that affect families. Of course not. But that it is useful for MPs to have experiences beyond the political.