Are you parent-ready?
Even an 8-year-old can tell when a parent isn’t up to the task, says single dad Marlon Abrahams. Can you?
‘He’s not parent-ready.’
She said it so calmly and as a matter of fact that for a moment I was not sure that the words had in fact been uttered by my Hannah, who was 8 years old at the time.

Hannah was sharing an experience with me in which an acquaintance had reacted with howls of laughter when his own little girl, just learning to walk, toppled over, as they do.

Hannah observed the incident and promptly declared the man to be unfit as a parent. I remember her being quite upset about it at the time and when I gently probed as to why she felt the guy wasn’t ‘parent-ready’. She, again matter-of-factly said 'He’s too young (26) and parents shouldn’t laugh at their children when they fall down, they should help them up.’

We chatted a bit more about it and I suggested she not be too hard on the guy as he was probably just enjoying the humour of the incident. But she was adamant and nothing I could say would assuage her contention that the man in question should be tarred and feathered by the parent police.

I think we all have different styles of parenting and while there is seldom only one way of doing things, there are a few non-negotiables which I’m sure we can all agree upon, like not letting a toddler run around for half the day with a smelly diaper, or wiping the snot from the mucous encrusted nostrils of a baby too young to do it themselves.

Or rather so I thought.
I have a lot of my mother’s good neuroses, like cleaning up immediately when there’s a mess, packing away clothes, doing dishes, cleaning noses, clean feet before bed etc. And I’ve noticed how they’ve rubbed off on Hannah for example, while Maddison couldn’t care less. I usually find myself saying: ‘why do I have to ask you to do everything 10 times before it actually gets done?’

To which I get a silly smile which implies that I am in fact the village idiot being humoured by the queen.

Like-minded parents

I’ve noticed that I’ve quietly, probably subconsciously extracted myself out of parenting circles whose styles of parenting I don’t feel comfortable with.

First the smokers were left off the Christmas list, then the messy slobs who allow the filth to pile up for an entire weekend until the maid swings by again. Then I deleted the parents who visit, get pissed and leave the well-being of their kids up to me. Oh and those who overstay their welcome, especially on a Sunday night.

I also cringe (quite literally) when grownups use hardcore profanity around kids. Look I’m no prude and I can slip in a good ‘jou ma se porche’ when the story calls for it around the pub with the boys, but it’s just trés uncool around the kids.  

And having read all of this I suddenly feel like by great aunt Martha. Have I become an old fuddy duddy? Or have I missed the middle road on this issue?

Do you keep your social life to those parents who seem parent-ready?

Read more by Marlon Abrahams

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