Today’s guest blogger is Sarah Tucker who is an award winning travel journalist, novelist, producer and broadcaster. Her novel ‘The Playground Mafia’ was published in 2006 and became a best seller. Sarah is a single mother and lives in South West London with her son and two tortoises.
Five years ago, when my novel THE PLAYGROUND MAFIA (Arrow) was published, I opened a can of worms on a subject everyone knew about but no one discussed. To put it simply, the playground mafia are the bitchy girls at school who have have grown old but not grown up.
I initially developed a series of ‘ten tops tips’ devised by child psychologists and emailed these back combined with first hand experience of my own encounters with mafia. But this month I devised an app ‘mummy mafia’.
Together with the organisation which helps children recover from bullying, Red Balloon, I am conducting a nationwide survey to identify if we are a nation of yummy mummies or scummy mummies.
We need mums and dads (as there is a daddy mafia too) to download the app and take the test and send the results to me at email@example.com with anecdotes of the playground politics you have personally experienced. The results will be published in national press, and broadcast on national TV and radio late September. We will then try to action a policy to nip the playground mafia in the bud.
There will always be mothers who try to undermine others, what we can do is make them ineffectual. This is why I whole heartedly applaud the Netmums Real Parenting Campaign. It’s as far away from the celebrity airbrushing of perfect parenting as you can get, the fairytale of the nurturing playground community, and the mothers always immaculate, faultless, perfect simply does not exist – and it irritates me how we get taken in by the photographs of those carefully PR placed poses with yummy mummy and yummier baby, and think it is inspiring when it is fake. Even the celebrities with all their money and support still need airbrushing.
There is no such thing as perfect parenting. Parenting is an art not a science. You don’t have to love or even like children – I don’t – but I do love deeply the one I have, and I want to help mothers transcend petty playground politics by identifying the mafia and stop becoming one themselves or becoming a victim of one.
Mothers need to know that their best is good enough. The playground mafia survives on nurturing the belief that no one is good enough unless you play by their rules and live by their values.
Unless mothers become more confident in their own instincts, the issue of over competitive parenting and what I call the impact of hippies (high impact parents) will continue. And so will the playground mafia. And so will the bullying.
Find out more: www.sarahtucker-website.com
This blog and Sarah’s concept of the Mummy Mafia has sparked a lively discussion on our Facebook and Twitter pages. If you want to join in the chat then we have started a thread in the Coffeehouse on Netmums here.