By Sarah Beeson MBE, Health Visitor and Author
After four decades working with babies, children and their families as a nurse and health visitor, I can honestly say that this is the best generation of parents there has ever been. One of the biggest reasons is that mums and dads work as a team; putting their Little One’s needs at the centre of family life.
Today’s parents often intuitively meet the needs of their baby in a natural way. Even small babies respond positively to being treated with gentle respect. More people understand that their child is a unique human being with the same rights as anybody else and that you, as their parent, are the custodian of those rights.
How many of these have you nodding along? If you’ve ticked off ten or more, then let’s face it, you’re a confident, caring parent.
- Saying, “I love you,” – previous generations often loved their children but didn’t say it. Children need affection every day, more of today’s mums and dads do this naturally.
- Being brave – today’s generation of parents are the rule breakers. More and more parents recognise there is no perfect way to parent and are flexible about finding methods and techniques that feel right for their family.
- Telling it like it is – more parents talk honestly about the challenges of parenthood. Social media, blogging and parenting groups let people have a laugh, share tough times and know they are not alone or the only one that finds it hard sometimes.
- Safe sex – as more couples use contraception and plan for pregnancy the result is more wanted babies.
- Giving nature a helping hand – Gay parents, adoptive parents and parent who have fertility treatment have a more complicated journey to parenthood but are usually fully committed to making that wanted baby the centre of their world.
- Proud to be a single mum – a loving single parent can meet their children’s needs just as well as a couple.
- Childless by choice – it is becoming more accepted that not everyone wants children. People being honest and open about this means less unwanted children which is better for everyone.
- Quality time – more parents invest in giving each of their children individual attention, education and experiences that enrich their lives.
- More choice for women – today’s mums have a big balancing act but there are more choices available to them. When mums are happy whether that’s keeping a career they’ve worked hard for, or being at home full time – it leads to happier children.
- Employment rights – flexible working, longer maternity leave and pay, paternity leave and shared parental leave gives parents the opportunity to be with their children more and demonstrates to society how important the role of the parent is, no-one else knows their child better.
- Less teasing – more parents recognise that humiliating children in an attempt to toughen them up has the opposite effect and is emotionally damaging.
- Praise – more parents praise their child consciously and unconsciously and see the way to encourage good behaviour is to actively recognise it.
- Children are heard and seen – more parents today spend quality time with their children and there has never been so many opportunities for family friendly experiences.
- Health – more parents look at their diet, health and fitness when trying to conceive and during pregnancy. This has big benefits for mums and babies for their physical health but also emotionally they are investing in their baby from the very beginning.
- Free information – parents are able to access information from so many sources and prioritise reading, discussing and acting on the information available in a way we’ve never seen before.
- Putting children first – more parents than ever put their baby at the centre of their lives in a way that used to be considered as spoiling the child.
- Team work – more couples work as a team and there is increasing equality when it comes to childcare, household duties and work.
- Dads – a lot of men are more hands on. Which is a win/win for the entire family.
- Children are people too – more parents see their Little One as a person with equal rights and adults treat them with the respect they deserve.
- Emotional needs – more parents are meeting their child’s emotional needs from birth as well as their practical ones, which results in happier more confident children.
I promise you, no matter who you are or how things might look from the outside, every good parent has doubts about their abilities or the choices they are making. There isn’t one perfect way of parenting; every single baby and family is unique. It is the parents or the person who is the main carer for a child who has the greatest insight into the needs of their Little One.
In my book Happy Baby, Happy Family: Learning to trust yourself and enjoy your baby I offer the solutions to help you find your parenting style and to give you reassurance when you need it, so you can be the parent you want to be. Feeling confident, authentic and positive about your role as a parent is the key to building a loving relationship with your child.
About the author
Sarah Beeson MBE is a health visitor and author. She writes with her daughter Mumpreneur and writer Amy Beeson. Sarah’s memoir of training to be a nurse in 1970s London The New Arrival is a heartwarming true story. Their parenting book Happy Baby, Happy Family is published by Harper Thorsons and is available in paperback, eBook and audiobook