parent opinion

OPINION: 'I don't have kids, but actually, parents DO deserve more respect than everybody else.'

Parenting is hard stuff. Arguably one of the hardest challenges a person will ever choose in life

And now, more than ever, there is pressure for parents to perform their duties perfectly. 

But parents are also being more honest about the mental load — more honest than they used to be. More open about needing help and acknowledging they are incapable of being a perfect parent (because 'perfect' is impossible).

Watch: Be a good mum. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

When my sister gave birth to her daughter, I was overcome with joy, but also a sinking dread. 

She's younger than me, and had a big life to live. Now she would have to do it with a newborn latched onto her. I was petrified of what this would mean for her.

Would she be okay? Could she survive this? 

After all, it's not like she would magically develop softness, patience and compassion with the birth of her child. Would it be possible to do all and be all, with a kid attached to your hip, holding your hand and clinging to your leg? 

I didn't think so. 

Of course, my sister surprised me. I was right in that she didn't magically develop superhero-like mothering skills overnight. To say they were innate traits she had deep inside of her feels a bit woo-woo, too.


I think what it really was, was a desire to be good for a child who deserved it. She was 19 when she gave birth to my niece. Being a mum wasn't second nature, but she had the support of others to learn. She didn't need to worry about missing out on sleep because our siblings would swoop in and take the baby from her arms at random intervals throughout the day so she could rest.

My siblings shouldered the grocery costs and sometimes the cost of other things too. And while my other sisters worked, the mother of my niece would clean their bedrooms for them as a way to say thank you. Then she would also cook dinner for them so they wouldn't have to worry about that when they got home. 

Some might argue this is just what family does for each other. But I disagree: it's what a village does for their mothers. A mutual respect and a keen understanding of just how complex it is to raise a child alone, without the help of your community.

The thing is, I have heard far too many horror stories about mums and dads being treated like crap on planes because their baby has cried. I've heard whispers about what a terrible job parents are doing by raising such a 'disrespectful' generation.

I even witnessed another ugly form of disrespect while walking through a shopping centre with my sister and her baby in tow. As she pushed the stroller, a woman seethed at her, "You're too young. Close your legs next time."

The picture we like to paint is that parents (more specifically mothers) are entitled jerks who believe they deserve more respect than they actually do. They let their kids get away with everything. They can't control their crying toddlers. They're raising the next 'iPad generation' with no concern for what that could mean for them in the long term — as if child-free people are the only ones who think ahead.


But I disagree. Because I rarely see a parent receive the reverence they actually deserve unless it is from another parent.

We all know raising children is hard, and any parent who says differently is lying. It's emotionally and intellectually draining, and it often requires professional sacrifice and serious financial hardship.

Studies have shown us what most of us already know: a parent's emotional wellbeing is lower than that of child-free adults. They're a little more likely to have depression and experience negative feelings.

I won't go as far as calling mums and dads unsung heroes. But would it be so bad if I did? If we praised parents for raising an entirely new generation of people — our future leaders and lawmakers, artists and creatives? The next astronaut or ballerina, the wise karate teacher or university lecturer?

I will never be a parent, but I believe they deserve more respect than anyone else. Because they do what we do, but with mini-thems going around stinking up the couch with their dirty socks and making a mockery of the floor of a minivan.

I'm not saying we need to throw parents a parade. I just think that maybe if we let them know there is a village behind them that will hold them up if they fall, we would all be better for it.

And our future world might thank us.

Feature Image: Getty.

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