The Universal Truths of Parenting


I have a confession to make.

I used to be one of those mums. You know the ones – you see them at baby and toddler groups, sat with their one and only child*, looking sympathetic but a little bit smug whilst watching another mum attempting to reason with her toddler or preschooler. She feels smug, because she is utterly convinced that her impeccably behaved child would never hit another, shout at it’s mother to go away, run around screaming excitedly and refusing to be caught, repeatedly snatch toys from a baby or throw an epic fit because they aren’t allowed any more chocolate buttons. She is utterly convinced that now, having reached the benchmark age of 2 without much to write home about – maybe one or two scary tantrums, but nothing she couldn’t handle – that she and her precious babe have entirely escaped the stressful and sometimes downright frightening attitude makeover that most kids seem to go through at some point in their first four years.

Yeah, my 2-year-old was pretty incredible. We had maybe four tantrums that whole year. And there was me, armed with all of my new-found knowledge on how to deal with tantrums empathetically and kindly without raising a beast of a child or effectively sealing their fate of paying £35 a week on therapy for their entire adult life. I couldn’t wait to try all my Clever Gentle Parenting Techniques. And when those epic tantrums failed to materialise, I couldn’t help but think that it was because of all the research I’d done and how hard I tried to be a gentle and empathetic parent (cue smug smile and content glow).

Well, I’ve got news for you, lovely readers. I have a 3-year-old now. Well, a 3-and-a-half-year-old to be precise. He is amazing, funny, gorgeous, infuriating and fantastic – and he has shown me what a self-congratulatory so-and-so I used to be. It is 12.20pm at present. He is watching Balamory, and we are having a rare moment of calm (and by ‘calm’, I mean I am attempting to write whilst he tries to climb on me and demands the food that he didn’t want before I sat down at the computer to work). Since we got up, I have heard:

“Go away mummy.”
“I don’t want to share!”
“I want my daddy. I don’t like you mummy.”
“I love you so much mummy. You’re my best mummy ever.”

I have also been kicked, slapped and pushed (all in excitable jest, I might add, rather than anger) and have intercepted some rather hard pokes to Squish’s head. Squish has also been hit in the face with a pillow (although he actually kind of liked it). Yeah, it’s been a great morning.

I like to think of myself as a fairly good mum, as far as mums go. I have my moments, of course – I’ve got a pretty short temper, and I often have to apologise for my own outbursts – but I am usually pretty good at instigating problem-solving rather than punishing, keeping an open dialogue within our family and generally treating my children as equals. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, I’d just like to let you know that none of this means shit when you have a preschooler. Well, it means something, obviously. It just doesn’t mean that your kid won’t act like mine does sometimes. I have to remind myself often (on a sometimes-hourly basis at present) that loving guidance is not The Goal – it is a means to an end.

On that note, I’d like to run you through a list of what I think are the Universal Truths of Parenting.

Universal Truth #1 – No matter how you parent your kids, they will inevitably go through a stage within which they’ll more closely resemble small terrorists than children.

Universal Truth #2 – You will always know a bunch of breastfed kids who are always sick, and a bunch of formula fed kids who are as strong as an ox.

Universal Truth #3 – Similarly, there will always be a bunch of breastfed kids who are in perfect health, and a bunch of formula fed kids who always have runny noses. And you will also notice that once your kids reach the age of three, nobody really gives a shit about the breast vs formula thing any more.

Universal Truth #4 – If your child hasn’t gone through one of these stages – hitting, kicking, yelling, being rude, running off in the supermarket, throwing epic tantrums, repetitive and incessant snatching – don’t be too smug. They’ll get there, trust me.

Universal Truth #5 – There will always be a sanctimonious bitch waiting in the wings to make you feel bad about your parenting. And sometimes, you will be that sanctimonious bitch, making somebody else feel bad – probably without even realising it.

Universal Truth #6 – Thinking you know everything about children and parenting is a sure-fire way to know that, actually, that isn’t the case at all.

Universal Truth #7 – Every child really is different. And not every parenting style suits every kid. Yeah, I used to think that was mostly a crock of shit, and just an excuse for what I view as shoddy, lazy parenting, but it’s really not. They really are all different, I swear.

Universal Truth #8 – Your parenting style is not the goal – it’s the means to an end. Just because you don’t see “results” straight away doesn’t mean that UR doin’ it rong.

Universal Truth #9 – The baby will always wake up as soon as Coronation Street starts/you fall asleep/you’re about to have an orgasm.

Universal Truth #10 – Your children will surprise you. All the time. Even when you’re utterly convinced that they will act a a certain way in a certain situation, they can and will totally shock you sometimes.

Universal Truth #11 – Your kids will probably be fine, as long as you feed them, love them wholeheartedly and do your very best for them – whatever that might look like for your family.

What have you learnt since having kids? Did you have certain beliefs before that you now see were flawed? What are your Universal Truths? Please share in the comments below!

*sometimes these mums have more than one child. Occasionally it takes three kids to show you just how little you really know about parenting.
**’Little Tiny’ is Monkey’s nickname for Squish. Very cute indeed. In fact, we’ve all started calling him Little Tiny a lot more than we call him Squish.

image: imcountingyoufoz @flickr


  1. majella says

    after four kids I still struggle with this one but for all its worth in my experience MUM KNOWS BEST,not the doctor or teacher or other mum. if your still worried seek a second opinion.

  2. Emilee says

    This post is very timely for me. If we didn’t live in the middle of nowhere, I would have been dropping my two year old off with someone else for the day. As it is, it’s mercifully naptime and this post has reminded me that my child is not the only mini terrorist out there.

  3. Elsabie says

    This sounds like my house minus Squish. Some days I just stare at her with my mouth hanging open thinking ‘where did I go wrong?’ because my child should not behave like this. Mine is 3.5 as well. They say it only gets worse once they hit 4. Woohoo somenthing to look forward to then ;)

    • says

      LOL at the staring, I do that too. My 3yo goes from being all “oh mummy I love you so much, mummy you’re so cool” etc to saying “I’m not going to listen to you today. You’re annoying me. Stop talking.” I just look at him like…. OK. lol.

  4. April says

    Yes, it really does take 3 kids sometimes to learn these lessons. My first two were great sleeper and my third wakes up when you breathe in his general direction!

  5. says

    So glad I’m not the only one hearing a kid waking up just at the apex of #9! We call it our “natural birth control”!

    Oh, and #7? Yep! My oldest had FIVE tantrums – ever. No joke. I was positive I had done it all perfectly. I was a smug parent. Then, I got one that my mom and dad say is just like I was (my husband’s parents say the same.) Anyway, I know we’ve already gone through enough tantrums that I’m that mom you see calmly walking down the street with a kicking & screaming toddler locked securely under her arm (you know the hold – so you don’t get kicked or hit?)

  6. Annett says

    I have a 17 & 14 year old and along the way have learned never to assume that what works for one child will work for the other. No two children are ever alike and all require individual management.

  7. karen says

    Your children will always, ALWAYS start screaming/squabbling/asking you random questions (“why does Matthew have a willy?”)/try to climb on your lap, want to nurse/need a poo/want a snack you don’t have handy/fall over and hurt themselves… When you’re on the phone! Even if you’ve bribed them, plied them with favorite toys/snacks, put CBeebies on, got them playing happily and quietly! As soon as you start a conversation on the phone, it’s a sure thing that complete bedlam will ensue! I’ve given up making phonecalls when my kids are awake, it’s just to stressful and I can never finish a conversation without having to deal with them, or apologise to the person on the other end at least 5x!

  8. Meggin D says

    Yikes! I try not to be one of ‘those mums’, but my nearly 3 year old is really quite the angel. I hear that 3 is worse than 2…but someone mentioned that 4 is not good either! I’m waiting for the little hellion to emerge – and considering #2 is on the way, we might have a trigger for it! :) Love the bit about breast/formula feeding! I’m so pro-breastfeeding, but that one really cracks me up!

  9. says

    YES! I can totally relate. When my girl was small, I was sure that she would be well behaved because, obviously, she would be well parented. Well. I can tell you she has proved me wrong. Hard. And often. Her first temper tantrum came at about 10 months. She bit me. She had never been in daycare or really around other kids much. That little nugget of tantruming was totally organic.

    And now, at 15 months, its hitting, screaming, flailing around on the floor etc etc etc are typical. All because I did something so awful as to attempt to wash the dishes after breakfast and in so doing could not offer 100 percent of my attention.

    Oh. She’s a ginger. I blame it on that.

  10. Zoe says

    I absolutely love this post!!! Actually I have your blog on my home page :) all 4 of my kids could not be more different, my eldest who’s 7 now was THE perfect child, but I take absolutely no credit for that, he’s just my little freak who’s well behaved, well mannered and is an absolute stickler for rules…. But then came number 2, holy shot that was a rude awakening… He’s 3 now and has turned a beautiful corner!! He’s my little artistic, constantly nude free-spirit. Now number 3… Oh woe is me!! He’s 28 months, and at the best of times he is the ‘worlds naughtiest little man’ he hates not wearing a nappy and as soon as he hears the word no will scream like a shrieking bird.. It’s bloody awful, then last but not least is my little autumn, the perfect princess! (for now) she’s only 17 months old so still plenty of time left :) I laugh at a certain family member who has only one and he’s 10 months old, but everything is going perfectly and I am constantly being told what the latest book is saying about child-rearing and how the little master will eat 5 bowls of the wholly-organic 3 course meal that has been prepared… Aaahhh… But time can be a bitch!!! Then I shall be the smug one :)

    • says

      Thanks so much for your lovely comments! Ah yes, it’s so hard not to be a know-it-all when friends with one kid are all smug about how great their kids are, haha. I had one friend who would constantly go on about what a fab sleeper her 3 month old was and how it was all down to her laid back attitude towards sleep (ie it was my fault that my kid wasn’t sleeping). Then the 4 month sleep regression hit and I have to say I felt somewhat vindicated ;) Yeah, I’m a bitch, but whatevs :P

  11. Pip says

    I was directed to your blog and found all of these to be 100% true! The one that always gets me, is how they can drop a tantrum, do something else happily for 2-5mins and the pick the tantrum straight back where they left off including the tears! Or is this my daughter only? Lol.


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