Confessions Of A Bad Mother
Book Reviews,  General

Confessions of a Bad Mother, The Teenage Years

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 Confessions of a Bad Mother 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.













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Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.


  • shelllouiseblog

    I totally need to read this. We’re going through the teenage girl phase with 2 of ours and I’m not going to lie, I’m finding it tough to deal with everything. There’s so much drama in school that to me, sounds silly and petty, but to them is a huge deal and it’s hard to try and help them through it all. A book that helps me feel less alone on this journey is very welcome!

  • sarahmo3w

    This sounds like a must-read for all parents of teenagers! As teenagers go, mine have been very good, but it’s still a difficult time. As you know, mine are a very similar age to yours – my eldest turns 18 this month and I have a 13yo and a 15yo. I can’t imagine how it must feel preparing yourself to let your son move abroad at such a young age. I know I would be very nervous.
    PS I like to read the old style blogs too, although they are increasingly hard to find! I still keep it real with mine.

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