Many mothers are under so much
pressure to appear like perfect parents that they cover up how much television
their children watch or what they cook their families, according to a survey.
Such “white lies” also extend to
how much “quality time” mothers spend with their partner, website Netmums said
its survey of 5,000 people suggested.
The parenting site said mothers
often made each other feel “inadequate”.
“Mums need to be more honest with
each other,” said Netmums’ Siobhan Freegard.
The website is calling for a more
honest approach to family life and an end to the guilty subterfuge of mothers
who feel unable to achieve an idealised view of parenthood.
Sleeping, not baking
Almost two-thirds of those surveyed
said they had been less than honest with other mothers about how well they were
coping and almost half covered up financial worries.
Almost a quarter of mothers
admitted to downplaying how much television their children actually watched –
and one in five “span a yarn” over how long they played with their children.
Ms Freegard, co-founder of the
site, said there had been another example of a mother who was exhausted and
went back to bed during the day, but explained her failure to answer the phone
as being because her hands had been covered in flour while making cookies.
The need to keep up a good
impression among other parents becomes even more important for mothers who are
living far away from their own extended families, she said.
But the survey suggested that this
fear of not being a perfect parent was not driven by images of celebrities in
Instead the sense of inadequacy was
caused by peer pressure from other mothers at the school gate or the nursery,
the survey found, with more than nine out of 10 comparing themselves to other
The website is launching what it
calls The Real Parenting Revolution, which encourages parents to accept the
reality of how they live, rather than feeling bad about not living up to a myth
“It’s the imperfections that make
us human,” Ms Freegard said.
One mother, known as Becky, who
responded to the survey explained that it was difficult to be honest: “My
friend was telling me about how she limited her son’s access to the PlayStation
and I agreed, telling her that I also limited my son to an hour a day, after
“After I’d said it, I kicked myself
for not telling the truth – I mean, it’s no big deal.
“It’s just very difficult to put
your hands up and admit that you parent differently to your friends.”
Parenting expert and sociologist
Frank Furedi said that parents were under “profound pressures” from society. He
said that a culture of parenting “incites parents to lie and to turn
child-rearing into a performance.”
He added that even with the best
intentions, reports such as these increased the pressure on parents: “Parents
are always being judged in one way or another – including by this report. The
real solution is to lay off parents and publish fewer reports.”
Psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos
said that it was common for people to feel that they were being judged in a
variety of situations. She advised parents to avoid comparing themselves with
“You’re in competition with no-one
but yourself – all you can do is the best for you and your kid.”