There’s no parenting police van
There’s no parenting police van
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop
Here’s a confession: I was a teen, once. I did lots of what I’ll call “teen stuff”. The kinds of things teens do when they’re bored, silly or creative. Some of those things got me into trouble at school, and some at home. There was a time when, if I saw a police van, I’d be overwhelmed with guilt, even if it wasn’t related to anything I’d done. I’ve noticed that’s how parents may feel: As if the parenting police van is patrolling and you are the suspect. The good news is: You’re not.

I even get it from my friends who are parents. They find out that I work for Parent24, and an edge creeps into the conversation. Ha, they’ll laugh nervously, my children hardly ever do THAT in public, as if I’m making notes in an invisible book.

I’m not.

You see, I get the parenting police van circling me, too.
  • When I see the other parents volunteering at school meetings, and I don’t, because that’s not my thing.
  • When I get cross and shout, and I see the hurt on my children’s faces.
  • If I can’t be bothered cooking and fling bread into the toaster and heat a can of beans.
  • If another parent is gushing about how they made customised cupcakes with sugar art cartoon characters for their child’s party.
  • When my kids want to go to the theme park and my wallet is full of dust and memories.
  • When I berate my child for wearing a pair of tattered shoes, and he’ll say, but it’s my only pair...
There go the police sirens, and I wait to be led off to parenting jail, or wherever Bad Parents get sent to.

And then I go online, and realise all of you are my defence team. It’s quid pro quo: You help me, I help you. We all help each other to realise that we’re not Bad Parents, but we’re all picking it up as we go along. The books, forums and articles help a bit, but mostly we encourage each other to be the best we can be, and not to feel too bad if it goes wrong.

Maybe you feel guilty about taking a bit of time for yourself. As if you aren’t an individual any more, now that you’re a mom or a dad. We should stop calling them “guilty pleasures”. Just call them “fun”. Then we’d feel more freedom to have some!

So, I guess I’d like you to all be kinder to yourselves, continue being great parents, and help make the imaginary parenting police van disappear forever. That’d be great, right?

What makes you feel guilty? Tell us about it at, and you could win a R250 voucher.

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