Thursday, 3 September 2015

Mothers' groups: friends or foes?

Story from Kids on the Coast Magazine by Penny Shipway

Pic: She Knows

When you have a baby, your life as you know it ceases.
Fast-paced careers become laborious feeds and menial housework, corporate suits are swapped for pyjamas which are sometimes worn around the clock, and Friday night drinks are replaced with late-night milk parties of a different kind. So when you throw a random group of sleep-deprived, first-time mums together in a room and feed them cake and tea, it’s a wonder they don’t start a food fight.
Mothers’ groups are a lifeline for many people in the early months with a new baby, but just because you all happen to have a new baby does not mean you will automatically click. Some mothers’ groups bond immediately and last a lifetime, while others descend into unhelpful gatherings that are a joy to leave.
Melbourne author and social commentator Monica Dux says mothers’ groups can be an invaluable support system for new mums, but it’s not surprising that many groups fail. “Mothers’ groups are a really difficult place to navigate. Some people do find a place, some don’t,” she says. “They are good in theory, but I don’t think they always work. And the reasons why they don’t work make perfect sense; they are fraught.
“If you put a group of people with nothing in common – other than that they have procreated – in any social context, it’s going to be complicated. Parents are feeling scared, insecure and frightened. It can spell a social disaster.”
Monica, who has written two popular parenting books, Mothermorphosis and Things I Didn’t Expect (when I was expecting), says during her research she found just how passionate new parents were on this topic, albeit polarised. “I heard a lot of strong language. A lot of people said their mother’s groups were a pack of judgemental b*tches. One lady said it saved her life.”


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