The Adequate Mother Manifesto

When I was pregnant with my first child, I read and I read and I read.  Reading and researching are my preferred methods for dealing with the unknown.  I know people who deal with the unknown by pretending it doesn’t exist, or by pretending it exists within pieces of chocolate cake or on the end of a credit card or in the bottom of a glass of wine or tear stains on a friend’s shoulder.  I’m not saying I never do those things (I do quite a bit of them) but for me, nothing beats the comfort of a thick book full of information.

While books are dandy, nothing can beat the internet for shear volume of information and misinformation and when you read as quickly as I do, once you run out of books you turn to websites.  And that’s when I slammed up against something interesting – most of the noise is created by those that are passionate…and those that are really passionate seem to be disproportionally drawn from people who gravitate to the extremes.   There’s so much written by bloggers and forum posters about extreme mothering sports like babywearing, extended breastfeeding, adventures in co-sleeping, refusing/ delaying or otherwise monkeying with the childhood vaccination schedule, maniacle organic food preparation, the creation of non-toxic, non-offensive shampoo from herbs and plants found in your garden etc etc.  There are fewer voices from those of us who are just trying to be “good enough,” because standing on the “good enough” soapbox must seem less exciting and less sexy.  After all, “good enough” parenting is the status quo and none of us are trying to forge exciting new child-rearing ground.

But I now believe we are becoming lost and its time to regain some air-time for the adequate parent.  Frankly, reading too much about “natural mothering” was making me feel inadequate even though, intellectually, I know there is no good basis for the practices they use in order to divide mothers into “good” and “bad.  Of course, these seem to be the same women from the “natural childbirth” movement who seem to use arbitrary birthing criteria to divide mothers into “good” and “bad.”

The adequate parent:

  • knows that loving their child is the most important thing and that loving their child means making what they believe are the most reasonable decisions based on the information and experience at hand
  • does not measure the worth of a parent based on any arbitrary child rearing practice (Ain’t no one gonna make me feel inadequate ever again because I only wear my baby some of the time.  Hell no!)  Speaking of which,
  • Wears their baby some of the time…but not all the time cos, damn, is that thing is heavy!  Or all the time, or not at all but makes sure their baby gets stimulation and cuddle time everyday.
  • Co-sleeps with the baby sometimes, all the time, or not at all but always makes sure the baby and the parents are safe and comforable.
  • Breastfeeds exclusively, or some of the time, or not at all but makes sure their baby is getting enough food for adquate growth and development.
  • Keeps their child healthy by maintaining a productive working relationship with a healthcare provider and by trusting their expertise and years of education rather than that of some random poster on some random forum.  And yes, vaccinates.  The ugly truth is that those that refuse to vaccinate are free-loading off their vaccinated neighbours.
  • will admit their imperfection but understands that good enough is really good enough and that no child will become emotionally scarred for life if you have to let them cry for a few minutes while you pee or if they don’t have the world’s most intricate, hand-crafted Hallowe’en costume, or if *gasp* you let them eat a non-organic apple…or chicken mcnuggets.

I could go on and on and on in praise of adequacy but I’m tired and, well, this is good enough for now.  Lets bring some balance back to the mothering.


  1. Hello
    Ive just found your blog and I just wanted to say – its a breath of fresh air and fantastically written. Im very similar to you, I read and read in my pregnancy but unfortunately as I am not from a science background I was unaware of the many issues surrounding misinformation, evidence and science at that time and became extremely anxious and upset with many things I had read. After a difficult birth I was most upset for a long time that this had caused damage and that I was a failure as a mother in so many ways. I didnt realise how much information was not only skewed and cherry picked but often downright lies. There was so much i didnt realise and as a result beat myself up for a long time. Another child and a heck of a lot of confidemce later I know now what to ignore and where to find rational interersting information and advise. Thank goodness for the other Drs and scientists across the web making an attempt to counter argue and set the record straight – keep up the good work! I follow your blog with much interest. Many thanks, its a lifeline for people like me!

    1. Oh dear apologies for the many spelling errors!#

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