Over the break I have carried out some extensive research into parenting theories and have come up with my top three which I would like to share with you.  The aim of this process is to discover which theory would be most useful for me to use at the moment, whilst I am going through this difficult time (NB If you decide to plagiarise this blog for an academic essay in psychology or sociology you will almost certainly fail).

Theory one – children are resilient.  Many people are telling me this one at the moment, whilst secretly being grateful that their children have a relatively ‘normal’ life. However having observed the resiliency theory in real life with my own children – there does seem to be a lot of truth to this. Children have no previous experience to fall back on so they just get up and get on with it because it all seems normal.  My children have accepted that when mum sees a bruise on their leg, she might ask them where they got it from – even though she saw them fall over and attended to the incident last week.  It is normal for them.  They cope and they just get on with the various odd things that happen around them.  Still resilience theory doesn’t really resonate with me. It seems to suggest that it’s ok to make things bad for your children because they are resilient so it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Theory two – a classical psychological interpretation – This theory states that parents screw up their children and then the children spend the rest of their lives trying to undo the damage.  This theory was propagated by Freud, Jung, Piaget, Vygotsky and the like who believed that in these formative years a child’s cognitive and emotional development is established for the rest of their life. Oh dear, I think.  This is not good.  I thought children were supposed to be resilient and what I did didn’t really matter.  It looks like my children will spend years in therapy.

As a sub-theory to this theory is the one that says – if a mother is happy then a child is happy.  For my second pregnancy I was depressed almost throughout.  And if being depressed wasn’t bad enough the whole time I was thinking ‘My unborn child is picking up all my vibes and is going to be depressed their whole life.  How can I un-depress myself?   I am a crap mum before I have even started – what chance is there for my child?’ (I later miscarried, but that’s beside the point). And what about the one in ten mums who suffer from post-natal depression – surely all of their kids aren’t screwed up?  But there must be some truth in Freud et al’s theory – my children are not oblivious to my strange behaviour and my eldest can remember when I was chronically depressed.  There must be an impact – it must shape how they make sense of the world – but does it all have to be negative and does that impact have to last a lifetime.  What happens if some miracle happens and I get better – will my kids still be screwed up because there were some difficult years?

And then there is theory three – All a parent can do is try their best.  This is the theory I am going with for now.  I always thought it was a pretty odd theory – how do I know if I am trying my best? (Does an athlete only try their hardest when they score a personal best?).  However, I have come to understand that I am trying my best.  For me making a dinner for three kids is hard work (lots of decision making, planning, use of memory etc) – sometimes the kids have had the same meal more than once a week, often they don’t get veg and the kids only generally get a drink if they ask for one.  But I know 100% I am trying my best.  And if the kids end up in therapy in years to come, I will know that I tried my hardest for them and that life if complex and even though I tried my best it doesn’t always mean that my kids will have the future that I want for them – ie good mental health, a strong sense of self, to be a mensch (a good person who helps others) after all what else is important?

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Exciting News:  My poor suffering husband (and Boris Johnson) were right – if desperate write to your MP.  My MP Oliver Dowden wrote, on his House of Commons embossed-letter-headed paper to the specialist doctor that I want to see and told him I was feeling a bit desperate and the very busy doctor has now mysteriously found space is his diary for me in two weeks time (I would like a pad of Mr Dowden’s paper.).  The natrupathic medicine is not making a difference but this week I am going to add Lithium to see if that has an impact.

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