One young mum has taken to popular parenting website Kidspot to air an open letter to other parents who criticise her age.
Writer Jessica Offer, author of girltribe.net, is mum to four daughters under 10. She had her first child at 19, and since then has been consistently scrutinised for her decision to have children young.
Now that she’s about to turn 30, Jessica says she would have hoped things had improved, but admits she still receives the same kind of negative comments.
Talking about the first time she experienced this particular kind of age-shaming, she says: ‘I distinctly remember the first time a stranger thought it would be acceptable to comment on my age as a mother. A woman in my class, also pregnant, asked me point-blank if I knew who the father was.’
‘After I got over the initial shock of what I’d just heard, I answered her with ‘Yeah I do. He’s also my husband.’
Jessica points out that had she been an older mum, it wouldn’t be acceptable for strangers to comment on her age. ‘I know for a fact that if I rocked up to some random woman who appeared to be middle-aged and said, “Aren’t you a bit old to be a Mum?” I’d get completely flamed; I’d be met with disgust.’
And along with the double standard, she finds it insulting that people assume her young age meant she had been reckless with falling pregnant in the first place, with reference to both the comment from her classmate about the father, or the fact that people seem to think her children were unplanned.
‘I’ll let you in on a little secret that may shock you: all four of my daughters were planned, intentional and much-desired pregnancies. My husband and I, absolutely without question, intended all of them.’
Visitors to the website were also quick to congratulate Jessica on her bravery in speaking out.
‘Why do some people feel it’s their given right to pass judgement on others? No one has the right to do that. Come to the conclusion some people need to get a life…’ commented one reader.
‘A lady in a supermarket once asked if both of our kids had the same dad! I told her I’d stolen the baby!’ added another.
Jessica concludes that it’s no one’s business how old she was when she gave birth or who the father of her children is is.
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‘Every single individual has the capacity to learn, develop and love their children unconditionally – regardless of their age. Every individual has the capacity to be an incredible parent to their children, whether they are 17 or 45,’ she writes.
What do you think? Is it ever okay to comment on someone’s age as a mum? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!