Thursday, 26 May 2011

Latest blog from Anita Kerwin-Nye, Director

Oh come on – now the Guardian says that bottle feeding mothers are responsible for an increased risk of their child having Behavioural , Social and Emotional Disorders. Leaving aside irritation that, having reviewed all the articles on the subject, it is the always the mother who chooses to give their child the bottle (are fathers somehow absolved from making decisions about their child by the British media) it brought home to me again that the line between supporting parents with good information and making them feel bad for their, often well intentioned, decisions is a thin one.

Both the Trust and our members aim to get the best possible guidance and support to families - and I think that the wonderful range of materials that are coming out under the Hello campaign and the services available from the charities that we work with exemplify this.

But it's easy to get it wrong. Being a parent of any child is hard – being a parent of a child with a disability or additional need is even harder. Guilt weights heavily on parents of children with SLCN and so many parents blame themselves . Organisations or experts that add to these pressures through careless words, that often expose their own subtle prejudices of how things should be, cause great pain.

Inevitably journalists, MPs and especially parents themselves want to know what it is that parents can do better. But for every thing that parents can do better (and heaven knows for me there is a long list) there are a hundred things that parents are doing brilliantly. And it is that point that we need to make because parenting is not one choice – tv or no tv; forward facing pram or parent facing pram; bottle or breast – it is a hundred choices. There is no one magic bullet and the things that we know make the biggest difference to the outcomes of any child – class, income and parent education – are still areas that we struggle to find the right words over and struggle even more to find the right solutions for (note the angst that Field’s and Allen’s reports on childhood outcomes created when they attempted to tackle these issues).

So for me – I'm giving Josh his next bottle in a few hours. Following his tummy time, baby massage, ten minutes in front of the TV while I wash up and a push around the block in his parent facing buggy while he looks at pictures on my IPhone. I’m leaving guilt aside for a while and replacing it with love – and as I do that it occurs to me that maybe there is a magic bullet after all.

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