What does a childless woman know about raising children?

By Nina Steele 

I was with an acquaintance the other day. She performs a service for me on a regular basis. Our relationship has developed into what can only be described as a quasi-friendship. We don’t socialise together, yet, whenever we meet, we share the kind of personal information that I would usually only share with my husband.

She is a mother of four. Her youngest child is very spoilt and naturally, she throws a lot of tantrums. Whenever she wants something, she expects it straight away, if not, she starts screaming. For peace of mind, her mother always gives in.

I generally keep quiet and refrain from getting involved. The other day however, I decided to speak up. I told the mother to ignore her daughter and carry on with her work. Which she did. After a while, the child stopped crying and came over to us. Her mother joked that I knew more about how to deal with her child than she did.

The truth is, I may not be a mother, but I was a child once, and a very spoilt one too. By the time I was born, my mother had already given birth to four boys and was desperate for a girl. Needless to say that I took advantage of the situation. Even as a child, I knew the power that I had over my mother.

I would throw tantrums for no reason. I wanted my mother’s undivided attention whenever she was around, and if she didn’t give it to me, throwing a tantrum was my way of getting it. One day, she became so fed up that she totally ignored me, when I refused to eat my lunch. She would normally beg me to eat, and even though I was hungry, I loved to be begged. I would let her beg me for a while and then eat. Only that day, there was no begging. After a while, I was so hungry that, with my tail between my legs, I got the food and ate it. I never refused to eat again.

And so I recognised myself in that child, which is why I knew exactly what her mother should do. Some people argue that childless women should refrain from giving their opinions on how to raise other people’s children. The assumption being that as childless women, our understanding of what children really need is limited. What people always seem to forget, is that childless people were children once!

Gina Ford’s childlessness is often used against her, even though her books are extremely popular with a great number of parents. Again, events in her own childhood influenced her thinking on how best to deal with young children. She was raised by a single mother, who let her as she herself put it “rule the rust” . This had a negative impact on her overall upbringing. No wonder she believes in discipline.

So to the question of: what does a childless woman know about raising children? The answer is: A lot, actually.

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