Confessions of a Bad Mother, The Teenage Years is the new non-fiction book from Stephanie Calman. As a mother of boys aged 18 and 13 and a daughter aged 15, I was keen to read it to pick up any wisdom or reassurance from another mum. I struggled when the children were small and it seems my challenges continue making me feel all too often I am not cut out for parenting at all even though I love them so very much.
Confessions of A Bad Mother, The Teenage Years
The Sunday Times called this book “an antidote to all those perfect mother manuals”. The book shares tales from the parenting of Lydia and Lawrence. It is very real and moves quite fast through the different ages right up to adulthood. It really reflects how challenging it can be to cope with the super-fast changes our children hit us with as they move towards being grown-ups. When are they to be trusted to do certain things? What will their fashion choices be? Will their current aspirations come to reality? How many twists and turns will there be along the way? Will they end up rejecting us altogether or is it absolutely right and proper that they question the way we did and do things?
What I loved about the book
The book is so very honest which is so refreshing in an age where blogs and social media are all too often parading the idea that parenting is a breeze and if you struggle with any of it you are a deeply flawed human being. This is the type of writing I enjoyed on blogs many moons ago before parent bloggers stopped doing so much of the telling it like it is and starting making their family lives more appealing to brands who just might send them something pretty or pay them. It was so easy to empathise with a mum who does not necessarily have all the right answers at all the right times. I don’t either and all too often and especially recently I have beat myself up internally for not being all-knowing and some type of wise guru for my children. Frankly, I struggle with some of my own on-going teenage-like issues never mind theirs! I also enjoyed seeing that other couples inevitably have different views and parenting styles and that perhaps that is OK too.
What surprised me about the book
Did you know that adolescent behaviour can begin as early as the age of 7? Stephanie describes events at around this time when shopping dining out and travelling out can be fraught with difficulties that we might associate with older children.
I was expecting this book to make me laugh but what I was not expecting was for me to reflect on some quite poignant moments. Also I was shocked about just how much this book made me feel better emotionally. I am on the cusp of letting my older son move overseas. I hate this and feel such a sense of loss already. I know it is the right thing for him but it leaves me feeling lost. Just like those blogs of yesteryear, this book helped me feel almost normal.
I recommend this book on those days when you are having a parenting wobble or six! Whatever possessed us when we became pregnant to think that we might sail thought the whole parenting lark? We don’t expect this from ourselves in fields such as work or education. We muck up and if we are loving parents, we stress out and carry on. In the end it might be the very parenting mistakes we hate ourselves for that help our children develop the most. Also many a parent’s eulogy includes memories from children of their not so perfect parents who they deem utterly perfect for them. As my dear late mum used to say and as this book reminds me, most of the time things do work out in the end even if we cannot see where we are all headed as a family at the time.
I recommend this book as a light-hearted read that cleverly has some important lessons to share with every parent or indeed anyone who is just doing their best.
Stephanie takes a fresh look at this whole process and finds that her teenagers are frequently thinking and feeling the same thing as she is: that the other person has all the power and basically hates them.
And having nurtured them through every stage of development, from walking to school by themselves to their first hangover, she finds herself dreading the separation – feeling
bereaved even – as they skip off to university without a second glance.
As the grown-up, you cannot let them see you in this pathetic state. It’s time to be brave and try to move on with your life