I know it’s unfash­ion­able to ‘blame’ par­ents for the behav­iour of their chil­dren but I think the time has come for every par­ent to accept respon­si­bil­i­ty for their chil­dren’s con­duct, even start­ing with a cry­ing infant. Let me be the first one to step up to the plate. 

True con­fes­sions: After I’d spent five days in hos­pi­tal fol­low­ing a C‑section for the birth of our first son I came home to spend a week, just a week, with my hus­band on hand as a helper. He knew noth­ing yet was­n’t pre­pared to lis­ten to me telling him what to do and how best to care for our new­born baby, just 6 pounds 12 ounces at birth!

I’d had a very stress­ful and long labour, cou­pled with the even­tu­al major surgery and recov­ery time involved in hav­ing a C‑section (often for­got­ten about in mod­ern dis­cus­sions of child­birth), but had a great start the next morn­ing nurs­ing this tiny crea­ture, imme­di­ate­ly named Daniel — after the Elton John song — mid­dle name Stephen, after my brother.

I spent the next few months won­der­ing if I would ever recov­er from the exhaus­tion. My par­ents came when Daniel was 3 months old — I dis­cour­aged them from com­ing over from Eng­land ear­li­er to help me, despite my des­per­ate need for ten­der lov­ing care, because I knew my hus­band would be very jeal­ous of their pres­ence and I did­n’t want to spoil his con­nec­tion with his first born baby. 

My in-laws caused inor­di­nate stress with their week­ly vis­its in which they did noth­ing, usu­al­ly ask­ing ques­tions like: “How do you fold a queen size sheet?” or “what shall I cook for you?” — when a woman is so exhaust­ed she needs to be nursed and cared for and know that her baby and her feed­ing prac­tices (nurs­ing or bot­tle fed) are being equal­ly respected.

Despite my exhaus­tion, in those first weeks of recov­ery of Decem­ber 1977 I walked our qui­et road car­ry­ing this baby who vir­tu­al­ly dou­bled his weight with­in a month! On demand nurs­ing works! How­ev­er, I did­n’t have the ben­e­fit of an under­stand­ing pedi­a­tri­cian, nor an under­stand­ing hus­band and cer­tain­ly not any fam­i­ly mem­bers to aid me. I was tired, iso­lat­ed, very lone­ly and only when I final­ly got fit­ter could I spend many hours walk­ing around our neigh­bour­hood push­ing our baby and singing to him lay­ing in the love­ly pram my sis­ter-in-law had passed on to us.

How­ev­er, the lift­ing of the baby car seat was more than I could often man­age, espe­cial­ly with a rapid­ly grow­ing baby sit­ting in it. The fold­ing umbrel­la pushchair was awful for a tiny baby — it just squash­es them and folds them up (anoth­er handme­down piece of equip­ment) — we should have ditched it!

So our lit­tle baby often remained in his car seat on our liv­ing room floor with me sit­ting in a chair, exhausted. 

In hind­sight I now take full respon­si­bil­i­ty for my con­tri­bu­tion to our son’s cur­rent prob­lems based on those ear­ly months — they real­ly do make a pro­found difference!

Our beloved eldest son has today missed an inter­na­tion­al flight! By 3 min­utes, accord­ing to him. He was at Heathrow air­port this morn­ing in good time but appar­ent­ly just mis­cal­cu­lat­ed the time he need­ed to go through security.

We have all done these trips for so many years by now he should know to allow suf­fi­cient time — not that he has­n’t missed cross coun­try flights on a rel­a­tive­ly reg­u­lar basis!

How­ev­er, there are three of us (his two par­ents and his broth­er) at this end try­ing to adjust our work lives to ensure that he’s picked up at the Mia­mi air­port, tomor­row not today. “Why?” you may ask. Because we love him and miss him and real­ly care and that is sim­ply what we do!

I am now grave­ly con­cerned for Daniel’s future and any rela­tion­ship he may form and chil­dren he might have. I don’t see how he can bear any respon­si­bil­i­ty for a fam­i­ly life if he does­n’t step up to the plate now for himself.

Recog­nis­ing that I was dreamy as a child and teenag­er I also realise that I was bossed around a lot in my youth by my moth­er and teach­ers and so it took me a while to devel­op my strengths — I hope I’m not too late, at least for me!

I am cul­pa­ble for my son’s cur­rent issues and so it falls upon me to make it right. 

I was­n’t aware of what a crit­i­cal dif­fer­ence ear­ly care makes in the rest of a per­son­’s life, but now I am absolute­ly con­vinced that we are being derelict in our duty as par­ents if we don’t do the right thing or at least ensure that those who are car­ing for our babies are gen­uine­ly car­ing and respon­si­ble, be they fam­i­ly or caregivers.

Now I get it — I hope I can still make a dif­fer­ence in Daniel’s life for the bet­ter. I’ll keep try­ing until my dying day. That’s my job — I’m a parent!