Bad Mums Versus Good Mums: What’s the Difference?

Sick of the pressure to be a good mum? Us too. Here’s what makes a good mum – and here’s what sure as hell doesn’t! Kick off your shoes and relax, there’s no pressure to be polly perfect here…

The pressure on mums is enormous. Never have we been so informed about how to parent. The advice is constant, inconsistent and completely overwhelming. There are so many things to do to get this parenting gig right – and so many, endless ways to get it wrong. What we see all around us is mums struggling to be the perfect parent.  Endless searching to achieve the very best way to do this hugely complex thing called raising kids.

So just what is a good mum? And how do we become one?

Going right back to basics, if we look at the definition of mother the dictionary says: “A woman in relation to her child”. And this thing called parenting, or mothering? It says simply: “To bring up a child with care and affection”. Too simple you say…. or is it? Have we made something so beautifully easy into something impossibly complex? Have we made good mothering impossible to achieve?

If you ask me if I loved my child, my answer would (of course!) be yes. A completely all consuming, unconditional whole-hearted yes. And if you asked me if I cared for my child, again it’s a yes. With every thought and action, at every moment, in any way I can and in ways I never knew I could. Yes.

Yes, yes, yes.

In this information overloaded world are we trying too hard to understand and be something that we already actually are? Maybe loving and caring is actually all it takes to be a good mum. And if we simplify mothering success to just this, what is the flipside of the coin?

Here are the factors that definitely do not define being a good mum (and hence force you should stop thinking / worrying / measuring your mothering-worth by them!)

  1. How you got pregnant. However it happened does not change the fact that you are a mum, and a good one. It’s nobody’s business how you got that little bundle into your arms!
  2. How you got the baby out. Natural, forceps, caesarean, drug me or drug free makes no difference to the fact that you are a mum. Again, it’s nobody’s business.
  3. Whether your baby was bottle or breastfed. As long as your baby was fed, you are a good mum.
  4. Whether your nursery looked like something on Pinterest or a pin-fail! Fancy or not, you are a good mum.
  5. What brand your baby’s clothes were. Still a good mum.
  6. What age your baby first walked, talked, grew a tooth or slept through the night. Good mum.
  7. If your baby ever went through a difficult stage, threw a tantrum or bit someone. Still a good mum. Especially a good mum for loving them even through the tough times.
  8. Whether you worked or stayed home or studied or did a bit of all of them or something else entirely. Your child was still loved and cared for. Still a good mum.

Feel like there’s a theme here yet? GOOD! Because there is one. You see, being a good mum is about being a mum. About loving and caring for your child. It’s not about the latest theory of parenting or the portrayals of perfection you see online. Yes all these things are interesting and some possibly even helpful. But they can bring with them impossible expectations and unnecessary pressure.

At the end of the day, if you love your kids and do your best to look after them, you’re a good mum. Keep at it sister, you’re doing a stellar job!

Avatar of Kerry Rosser

I love my three country kids - and all things writing! Like most mums, I wear lots of hats - writer, children's author, organisational psychologist and the pairer of the odd socks!

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