Would you pass the good mother test?

Sarah - posted on 05/28/2010 ( 25 moms have responded )





It's a long article about a new book by a man called Oliver James. It reignites the debate over nurseries being bad for kids, and it seems to be a very AP approach to a child's first 3 years of life.

It is quite a long article, but interesting, if you scroll to the bottom, the main points of his book are outlined.

Your thoughts?


Kate CP - posted on 05/28/2010




Okay, the part about adults being depressed because as a child they were separated from their parents during WWII is over the line. OF COURSE they were traumatized...IT WAS A FRICKIN' WAR!!! These kids were sent to live with new families (who often forced them into household service) and never knew if they would ever see their parents again. THAT is traumatizing; NOT being left at Grandma's for the weekend cause you need a break. This guy has already lost TONS of credibility with me just for that!

Katie - posted on 05/28/2010




wow, this guy sounds like a douche!

I agree that if you can avoid full time daycare before three, you are probably better off...But on the other hand I am sure living in a cardboard box on the street is more detrimental to a childs development. And that's where we will end up living if I don't go back to work before Otto is three.

I agree that you shouldn't abandon your child for long periods of time, but isn't that just common sense?

I agree that maybe we shouldn't let our children gorge themselves on candy on a daily basis, but again...Common sense, no?

As for the rest of it, it sounds like a bunch of self important garbage to me. Where are these studies from. And why does spouting off about one study make you an expert? I am so sick of hearing about these "Studies" by which we are supposed to be basing our child rearing. What ever happened to mothers intuition? Common sense? Morals and values? Manners? I have no interest in listening to some damaged man tell me about how what I am doing will fuck up my kid.

Interesting post though. Good to know that these people exist so that I can make extra sure that I don't fund their work by purchasing their books.

Sharon - posted on 05/28/2010




Sorry - I won't read any book that tries to stuff any woman into a hole and say "this is the way you do it, and if you don't you're wrong." What a load of horseshit. I didn't have to read it.

Just because my kids (well my oldest) needed to be spanked doesn't mean all kids do.

Just because your kid falls asleep promptly at 8pm doesn't mean mine will. My younger son is a night owl. Always has been. Since he could walk, he'd get up and entertain himself in the middle of the night. Still does. Wearing him out more during the day helps but only slightly.

Nope that guy is full of shit.

Isobel - posted on 05/29/2010




I'm just curious...if there is no spanking and no naughty step...do you sit them down and half long meaningful conversations with them? How are people supposed to discipline their kids anymore?

by the way...I'm a terrible mother by these standards.

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Anastasia - posted on 05/31/2010




I frown questioningly at some points he makes and agree wholeheartedly with others. I certainly agree with what is said under the title "don't blame it on their genes".
I love a good strong point of view so I will buy his books.

Charlie - posted on 05/29/2010




Avoid daycare....yes
Don't leave them alone for long....yes
Never use the naughty step....if that is some sort of time out then yes i do sparingly use time out.
Avoid stress during pregnancy.....I was a serene peace mumma with Cooper , this pregnancy DIFFERENT STORY LOL.
Don't blame it on genes......never
Never expect sorry.....never
Ban strict routines...no made routine , Cooper has fallen into his own but its totally flexible according to him .
No sweets......well he gets a bubba cino ( tiny hot choc) when we go out to a cafe and a choc chip cookie , whoops ! he gets his rare treats , and we bake a lot together where he stirs and adds ingredients , everything in moderation i say .

Uh Oh i am pretty stressed in my last trimester , will my child grow an extra head ?

Marabeth - posted on 05/29/2010




i think it's important to remember that the advice he gives in his mind applies to children under three. so once they're four you can hit them, put them in daycare, give them heaps of sugar and pretty much ignore them, right? :)

Amanda - posted on 05/29/2010




Avoid daycare --- Yeap all three

Dont leave them alone long --- Yeap all three

Never use the naughty step --- Yeap always thought that was a stupid concept

Avoid stress during pregnancy --- HAHAHA Not likely

Dont blame it on genes --- Hell no I am an identical twin, I know damn well genes arent the be all and end all of a persona.

Never expect sorry --- Nps I hate seeing 1-5 year olds saying sorry 1000s times a day and never really meaning it, or having no clue what the word actually means.

Ban strict routines --- Done and done with all 3

No Sweet --- Really we have to tell mothers this in this day and age??

As for being perfect, please, this is just what works in my home, that does not mean this would work for someone else!

[deleted account]

Avoid daycare....CHECK!
Don't leave them alone for long.....CHECK!
Never use the naughty step.....CHECK! (so far anyhow)
Avoid stress during pregnancy.....sadly it couldn't not be avoided! Ooops...
Don't blame it on genes......CHECK!
Never expect sorry.....CHECK!
Ban strict routines....CHECK!
No sweets......CHECK!

Haha! I'm damn near perfect by his standard and we ALL know that's NOT true! While I think he has some interesting points and I agree with the majority I don't believe I'm a better mother than anyone else and who cares if he's a man?!

[deleted account]

I think some of the advice is plausible, but he takes it a step too far when implies that mothers who fall short of his high standards are failing their children for life.

[deleted account]

Quoting Kate, "Okay, the part about adults being depressed because as a child they were separated from their parents during WWII is over the line. OF COURSE they were traumatized...IT WAS A FRICKIN' WAR!!!"

Yeah that stuck out at me too.

I stay at home, but other than that I'd fail his test. Oh well. I don't plan on changing. =)

Becky - posted on 05/28/2010




I think he has some valid points regarding attachment and the importance of a strong relationship with the primary caregiver. But, from the article, the book sounds like it's just another one of those books designed to make us all feel guilty if we don't parent exactly the way he tells us to parent. Some moms have to work, and daycare is their best childcare option. not everyone can afford a nanny!
I think even small children need some social interaction with other kids. My son is just over 2, and in the past few months, his ability to interact with his 3 year old cousin and other kids has really come a long ways.
And I agree, teaching manners is very important and I don`t think it`s ever too early to start. My son knows he needs to say please and thank you, and we have started getting him to say he is sorry when he hurts his little brother. he may not mean it and he may not fully understand what sorry means, but he knows it means he made someone sad, and that`s the first step to developing empathy.
I probably wouldn`t read the book. I tend to avoid parenting books, because a lot of them seem to just be written to make you feel like a horrible mother if you don`t do it their way. Or maybe that`s just my own insecurity. either way.

Johnny - posted on 05/28/2010




Interesting article. I don't tend to right off people's ideas simply because they are men. So while I think he is spot on in some areas, some of his other ideas are questionable.

There is quite a bit of evidence that a baby left for a prolonged period by its mother may suffer detrimental effects. I'm not sure that leaving a child at daycare while you work qualifies as a "harmful" prolonged absence though.

I know my own mother and her siblings all suffer quite serious depression and other issues, and they all believe that to be linked to the fact that not only was my grandmother cold and distant, but also absent for weeks on end during their babyhoods. But they were cared for by their grandmother, although that does not seem to have made up for it , since she too was cold and distant. Back in the '70's when my mom, aunt, and uncle each had children, they all resolved to be more present for their children and more loving because of their own childhoods (none of them had needed psychoanalysis to figure this out). Now, none of my cousins suffer from the depression, anxiety and other issues that plague the previous generation.

So yeah, just from anecdotal experience (whatever that's worth) I do tend to put some stock in what he is saying. But I think that being loving and caring and not gone for long periods of time is more important than whether or not the child is in daycare. Many daycares do provide very loving, stable, appropriate care.

[deleted account]

I don't really care whether I pass or fail because it's all nothing more than than upper middle class BS. Who ever heard of a child being messed up because his parents expected an apology or referred to naughty behavior as naughty. Good grief, people blame everything on their childhood these days. The auther needs to forgive his mother for being human, man up and stop being such a cry baby.

Rosie - posted on 05/28/2010




RUBBISH! so basically what he's saying is that mothers who work have horrible relationships with their kids, and there is no need to say please, thank you, and have manners, and that somehow people are not supposed to be stressed when pregnant. i'd like to know how NOT to be stressed while pregnant. glad to know all this invaluable info..... what a dillweed.

*Lisa* - posted on 05/28/2010




Yes I did agree with a tiny bit but I mostly just didn't like his 'matter-of-fact' tone. I agree Sarah! Learning to say please, sorry and thank you is important!
I really hope that the last trimester stress thing was a load because otherwise my boy's stress levels are going to be through the roof!

Sarah - posted on 05/28/2010




I thought the idea of stress during the last trimester of pregnancy was interesting. I've often thought that my eldest is a bit highly strung because i was VERY stressed out in my pregnancy. I was WAY more laid back with my 2nd, and she is a far more laid back child.

The rest of it, i'm not so sure about! While i think staying at home with Mum is the best for the first year or so, i don't think that nursery is a "bad" thing. I think it's good interaction, and a good set up for the school years to come.

I also think that learning to say please and thankyou and sorry, are important from an early age. My 2 year old is one of the most polite people i know! lol.

*Lisa* - posted on 05/28/2010




I think he's probably just trying to make money off all of the mums out there who are trying to parent 'the right way'. Pity there is no 'right way'.

*Lisa* - posted on 05/28/2010




So true Kate!! Actually the title of his book turned me off immediately.

Shelley - posted on 05/28/2010




I fail
Although i am a stay at home mother .I follow routines have strict sleep times, used the control crying method. I dicipline using time out and smacking and i expect my children to appolagise for bad behaviour as soon as they can. I believe under 3's can enjoy friends or interaction with other children and can be educated at their level and that stimulation is very important for babies developement. I love my kids and i do what i feel is best for them i find them to be happy, healthy, well behaved and well adjusted children. i love them and am proud to take them out and spend my days with them.

He clearly has no ability to take personal responcibility for himself in the way he blames his parents i feel sorry for him and hope that one day he can get the help he needs.

Kylie - posted on 05/28/2010




Yeah I'd pass because I'm pretty much a stay at home APer. I read the whole article i thought it was very interesting and i actually agree with him when he says all babies and toddlers “need to be in the presence of a responsive, loving adult at all times in order to thrive”, either the mother or a mother substitute (the pecking order of substitutes is this: father, granny, nanny, minder, day care). “They do not need a teacher, they do not need friends, stimulation or education,”

(talking about children under three)

I want to read this book now and find out more about stress during the 3rd trimester and the link with anxiety and behavioral problems...interesting stuff, thanks for the link Sarah:)

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