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Archive for February, 2010

Mothers’ Groups

I’ve been part of a mothers’ group since Little Pearl was eight weeks old. It was initially facilitated by our local Maternal and Child Health clinic, but we decided to keep meeting and we still have most of our members eight months down the track. There seems to be two kinds of groups: the one where the women got on really well and became BFFs, and the one where the competition between mothers alienates most of the members. Our group falls somewhere in between, luckily towards the ‘get on really well’ end. I haven’t found a new bestie through my mothers’ group, but I can see that some of the other mums have made strong, immediate friendships.

The ugly face of competitiveness has not been seen too often. I think most mums are conscious of being seen as competitive or boasting, and try not to rub it in when their child is first to meet a milestone.  Because Little Pearl is one of the youngest and smallest in our mothers’ group, I rarely get the opportunity to boast about her accomplishments! But this type of mothers group definitely has advantages: the only common link is geographic location, so there is a diverse range of people who attend; and the babies are all mostly the same age, so you can share ideas that are either  immediately relevant to your child’s stage of development, or will be soon.

I also really enjoy attending another meeting, the local Australian Breastfeeding Association group.  The mothers at the ABA meetings have children of all different ages, from newborns through to pre-schoolers. Their parenting philosophies are usually quite similar to mine, somewhere on the spectrum of attachment parenting. I always find attending the ABA meeting very comforting and supportive.

You don’t have to be in a mother’s group to experience competition though.  My husband has an acquaintance in Perth who has a child about the same age as Little Pearl. He told this acquaintance that we had put her on the waiting list for the local Montessori school. A few days later, the guy came back to him and announced, ‘We’re not sending Little Eton to the Montessori school. I checked some anti-Montessori websites and apparently they are very Christian-oriented.” My husband was somewhat taken aback. Firstly, we’d not thought of Montessori as being overtly religious in any way. Secondly, my husband had not suggested Little Eton should go to the Montessori school, and was surprised that his ‘friend’ had gone actively searching for ammunition against Montessori in order to criticise our choices.

A friend (with several children older than Little Pearl, and therefore the Voice of Experience) tells me mothers’ groups rarely last longer than twelve months. This is because it is around twelve months that the differences in parenting philosophy begin to emerge… and the fighting really starts. So if you thought the differences between whether you breastfed or bottle fed, stayed or home or put your Little One into childcare were significant – just wait, because the fun is only just beginning.

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