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To not agree with 'happy mum, happy baby'

(230 Posts)
user1471506568 Tue 20-Feb-18 10:27:14

Hard to articulate this without coming across as being intentionally offensive/goady but have been thinking about this issue a lot lately and would love to hear other people's thoughts.

Basically I keep seeing the phrase 'happy mother, happy baby' banded around in debates about loads of topics and it seems to almost be used as a means to justify whatever decision a parent makes as being best for the family. However the big assumption underlying this whole theory is that keeping mum happy is always the most important thing that contributes to a baby's happiness, but this can't always be the case and to what extent does this mantra let plain old selfishness creep in? Scientific research often tells us that some things are more beneficial for our children than other things and as our children are completely dependent and can't decide for themselves, should we not be taking more notice of this research rather than simply doing what suits us as adults best and what makes us happy?

I guess it's on my mind at the moment as I feel like I have to a certain extent sacrificed a lot of my happiness in order to make what I think is the best decision for my kids. Many of these decisions have come at a huge personal cost to me and I struggle everyday but I honestly do it because I think my choices are best for my kids.

So for me actually that phrase irritates me as it implies that it is easy to somehow achieve the dream where everyone in a family is equally happy and a baby or child's needs and wants can be met without anybody else's (usually the mother's) needs and wants being sacrificed. I think that this is damaging and gives parents an unrealistic idea of what parenting is like and also will be hijacked by some so that they can maintain their own happiness at the cost of their children's.

gimmesomeapachepizza Tue 20-Feb-18 10:30:45

I think its an idiotic phrase generally used by selfish people trying to justify pleasing themselves first.

AjasLipstick Tue 20-Feb-18 10:33:31

I think it is an old fashioned bit of crap and is touted to keep women in their place.

It's like saying...YOU are the one responsible for your baby's happiness...only THE MOTHER can bear that weight.

Shite. That's what it is.

InDubiousBattle Tue 20-Feb-18 10:34:26

I think it's a phrase generally used to make people feel better about something they never should have felt bad about in the first place. Like formula feeding or giving their baby food from a jar. I've never heard the phrase used when the mother wants to smoke around her baby or drink heavily during pregnancy or, well anything serious at all. It's usually only used for things that make very little difference and doing them differently is unlikely to actually harm a baby.

corythatwas Tue 20-Feb-18 10:34:56

Like everything else it's about common sense and moderation. Selfish parents aren't good for parents, but neither are martyr parents. Growing up feeling guilty is not good for your self esteem either.

A balance is good, making sure that all family members get some of their needs filled is good- and why Mother should get fewer of her needs filled than Father, beyond the initial labouring and breastfeeding stage, is not clear to me.

Biscusting Tue 20-Feb-18 10:35:17

I think you’ve worded it perfectly. The phrase annoyed me a lot too, although I couldn’t quite put into words why. I guess I almost felt like the sacrifices you make are stupid in some way, as if putting your children first in some situations is daft.

I guess it’s mostly about balance though, there is a lot of high expectations on mothers I feel, and I would like to think it’s a reassuring thing to say to someone who’s doing a great good, but is feeling frazzled.

Arapaima Tue 20-Feb-18 10:36:47


I do think this phrase can be used to excuse selfishness, but then again I don’t like the sound of the bit in your OP when you say that you’ve sacrificed a lot of your personal happiness for the sake of your DC. I don’t believe that should be necessary (in most normal situations) and I think it could lead to resentment.

Is it possible you’ve gone to far the other way OP?

Adoodoobydoo Tue 20-Feb-18 10:36:58

I've never felt comfortable with this phrase but I think it can be useful. For example a woman struggling with breastfeeding and feeling guilty about switching to formula to such an extent that it affects her mental health, may find some comfort from it. But it's so broad it can be used to justify any act, including very selfish ones.

Arapaima Tue 20-Feb-18 10:37:25

*too far

ChesterBelloc Tue 20-Feb-18 10:38:23

I agree, OP, and have made the same point on here also.

ExFury Tue 20-Feb-18 10:38:27

I've only ever heard it used when people feel they need permission to do something that is on the outside for their benefit, but actually in the long run benefits the child..

A friend of mine was absolutely wrecked by constant issues, but felt absolutely compelled to keep bf'ing. In her circumstance a happier (pain free, not sleep deprived) mother certainly made for a happier baby in the long run because they were in real danger of having no mother if it continued on. In that circumstance it was a fitting thing for the people who loved her to say.

bumblebeebunch Tue 20-Feb-18 10:39:01

I agree OP, especially for mums with mental health problems. Mums already put so much pressure on themselves to be the best for their baby (myself included), so phrases like that do more harm than good.
I do agree that it's meant as 'mum knows best', but the way it's phrased can put a lot of guilt on mums already struggling.

AvoidingDM Tue 20-Feb-18 10:39:24

It doesn't make sense to me.
Happy baby, happy Mummy makes more sense. There is nothing more depressing and stressful than having a baby scream and you can't workout why or how to stop them.

C0untDucku1a Tue 20-Feb-18 10:41:03

It annoys me too. Ive said it on mm before too. Might as well say, ‘selfish mum, child who knows no different.’

user1471506568 Tue 20-Feb-18 10:41:20

Glad I'm not alone in feeling about this. I find it particularly annoying when people use it almost to shut down any debate. I get that certain issues are an emotional minefield but that doesn't mean that the fact you were happiest doing something means that it is automatically the best thing for your child.

Also agree completely that the mention of mum and not dad is also annoying.

C0untDucku1a Tue 20-Feb-18 10:42:01

Oh and the other gem, ‘you know your child best’ to again justify selfish actions or ignoring professionals.

Hobbitch Tue 20-Feb-18 10:43:05

Ever since I became a mum I've been adamant that the phrase should be 'happy baby happy mum/dad'. Basically I've found that if we listened to our baby he was happier and therefore so were we. Ideally we wouldn't have coslept for example but it stopped him from crying and was the only way we all got sleep. He wouldn't go down for a nap in his cot or in our bed so he napped on us or in a wrap. Etc. Happy baby happy parents.

Tilapia Tue 20-Feb-18 10:43:42

OP, can you tell us a bit more about the huge personal cost you’ve decided to take on for the sake of your DC?

ThisLittleKitty Tue 20-Feb-18 10:44:11

I agree.

TeasndToast Tue 20-Feb-18 10:44:37

Totally disagree. From the moment a baby is born 99% of mums make huge sacrifices every single day for their children. Sometimes, so much so that their own emotional, physical and mental health are so shot to bits that they are unable to function effectively as a parent.

I have only ever heard this term used as a support to women who have given given them given some more and have come to the end of the road. I have never heard it used so mum can get pissed and smoke an ounce of weed.

I HAVE however witnessed many smug mothers acting the martyr and giving themselves a pleased little nod when seeing other mothers unable to cope with situations they themselves have come through, safe in the knowledge they are somehow ‘better’ parents.

zzzzz Tue 20-Feb-18 10:45:46

I think

UNhappy Mum, UNhappy baby

Is probably more truthful, but it’s codswallop really. I am regularly achingly unhappy and lonely, my children are for the most part oblivious.

ethelfleda Tue 20-Feb-18 10:46:26

I completely agree with you OP
Just one of many ridiculous phrases banded around about motherhood that started as something meaningful and ended up being hijacked to cover all manner of sins!

Lovesagin Tue 20-Feb-18 10:46:35

I've only ever heard it in the context of a mum not wanting to bf or wanting to stop,usually because of their mental health/stress caused. In that case I think it's absolutely true.

What other contexts have you heard it used?

jellycat1 Tue 20-Feb-18 10:47:28

It's only ever been said to me in the context of breastfeeding and on that subject I 100% agree with it.

jellycat1 Tue 20-Feb-18 10:48:01

Lovesagain spooky!! smile

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