It can't be easy to be a new parent in this day and age.

When I was a young mother, nearly 30 years ago, I don't recall there being the same kind of judgment and censure involved in raising a child.

There was only a handful of people whose advice I trusted - Kate's dad, my mum and the Plunket nurse.

I certainly wouldn't have listened to strangers telling me what I was and wasn't doing right - whether strangers in the street or the writers of spurious articles in various forums laying down the law about the best way to be a parent.


I tried to feed Kate healthy, nutritious, home-cooked meals.

I didn't know how to do that before I became a mother, but you learn fast when you want the best for your baby.

Treats were occasional and she had the odd Happy Meal but it never occurred to me that I might be branded A Bad Parent or the family's collective BMI be measured and judged when we strolled under the Golden Arch.

Now it seems because a significant minority of our young ones are obese, all parents must come under the scrutiny of the community.

Because some parents lack the knowledge or the desire to feed their children properly and raise them to do the right thing, all parents must conform to a set of rules that allow no deviation.

The latest furore has kicked off because an Aussie mum had the temerity to send her child to kindy with a chocolate slice in her lunch box.

Back came a note from the kindy, with a passive-aggressive sad emoticon, telling her a chocolate slice was bad food and she must choose healthier options for her child's lunch.
There is no such thing as good food and bad food, and telling kids and their parents that is just plain stupid.

The wagging fingers start long before a child is born.

There was a call for all bread sold in this country to have folic acid in its ingredients in a bid to reduce the number of children born with neural tube defects, like spina bifida. There are 80 such births each year.

Folate-fortified bread is available but that wasn't enough for the country's health watchdogs, who wanted all bread fortified because some pregnant women might not seek it out.

And remember the heavily pregnant woman who was celebrating her wedding anniversary with her husband and was denied a glass of champagne with her meal a few years ago because she was pregnant? Yes, women who drink and consume drugs damage babies in utero.

The terrible case of the 13-year-old who killed West Auckland dairy owner Arun Kumar is a case in point.

There seem to be two extremes of parenting - ignorant slacker and obsessive perfectionist.


The mother was drinking bottles of vodka and using P while carrying the boy. He never had a chance. But she is a world away from a woman choosing to enjoy one glass of champagne over a meal with her husband.

And that people can't differentiate between the two shows how far we've come in removing freedom of choice from people, particularly parents, and disabling common sense.

Now it seems the only way to be considered a good parent is to raise a family of clean-eating, additive-free, bilingual, sun-protected, slim and well-mannered children with their own Instagram accounts.

The mothers I see walking their kids to school, with the family labradoodle coming along for the ride, look impeccable at 8.15am.

Their makeup is perfectly applied and they are glossy and well-groomed.
No doubt they have a business selling gorgeous bijou things from home without interfering with the smooth running of the paleo household.

I can't imagine the pressure they're under.

There seem to be two extremes of parenting, if you read the papers and the internet - the ignorant slackers and the obsessive perfectionists.

Surely, there must be some happy-go-lucky, messy and loving parents who colour outside the lines but still raise good kids.

If there are, make your voices heard.