Why Did Nobody Tell Me? Home Truths Every Parent Needs To Know – review of new Mumsnet book

September 5, 2012

Why Did Nobody Tell Me? New parenting book from Mumsnet

I was recently sent a book to review, the new one from Mumsnet called Why Did Nobody Tell Me? Home Truths Every Parent Needs to Know. As it’s September and back-to-school, now seems like a fitting time for a book review (the last time I wrote one was when I was at school, where I do believe I copied out a chunk of text and gave the book a mark out of ten, thinking that my literary creativity would be applauded. Oh dear).

Why Did Nobody Tell Me? covers the type of nitty-gritty parenting issues you aren’t told in NCT and don’t really consider when your happily pregnant self is picking out prams and pre-washing tiny babygros. Less of a parenting manual, it’s more of a common-sense guide to finding a happy medium for bringing up your children.

First off, I loved the title; it completely reminded me of myself and all my NCT friends at our post-birth reunion, asking our teacher ‘WHY didn’t you tell us labour would be quite so horrible / hurt so much I thought I would die / how newborns don’t ever sleep / how you never, ever sleep / that you’ll go half crazy with hormones and constantly wondering if they are still breathing’ and so on.

The book covers a range of advice, from the beginning – ‘don’t have a birth, have a baby’ – and up ‘secondary school – don’t worry if it looks like a prison, they all do’. It’s split into chapters depending on age and stage; obviously the baby bits were most relevant to me at the moment, and some of the rest I’m not yet thinking about just yet – my lovely seven-month-old won’t ever have toddler tantrums, right? We didn’t follow any of the big-name parenting gurus, so the instinctive, middle ground approach of this book was right up my street. It’s an enjoyable read, it’s not draconian or dictatorial. I read and really liked the Mumsnet Guide to Babies recently, and this one is a similar tone and style.

All this is great. However; there’s a specific quote in the book, right at the start, which I wanted to point out. It’s in the introduction, which sets the scene of the unrealistic modern-day notion of perfect parenting as sold by celebrities, a vision which is says is perpetuated across mum blogs:

“Although you have to wonder about some of the blogging mummies – when do they find the time and how bored must they be to write these blogs? Why do they never post about their bad days? But let them blog – we all have to get through the day somehow.”

I don’t even need to mention that this is a pretty passive-aggressive quote really, do I? It seems like a pretty unnecessary kick in the teeth to all the blogging mums, who as mums are the exact target audience of the book (and there are currently over 3,700 members of the Britmums parent blogging network – so there are plenty of us). It’s also a bit of an own goal considering Mumsnet’s own blogger network, of which I am a member. And for the record, from this blogging mum: I don’t often find the time to blog, hence the infrequent posts of late but when I do it’s during daily nap time, in the evening or at the weekend – when else? – I’ve never been bored, and I’ve written about bad times here and here.

So there you have it. It’s a good book for people who hate the parenting gurus and are making their way through as best as they know how, and indeed for blogging mums who can overlook the quote I’ve picked out. It appears I have once again copied a section of text though, but don’t worry – having learnt a lesson from my twelve year old self, I’m not going to give it a mark out of ten.

I was sent a copy of the book to review, all of these opinions my own etc etc – but you can buy your own copy here.

Update 7/09/12: apparently the passage around mummy bloggers will be re-written for the next reprint, so it’ll be interesting to read the new version (although I’m still amazed that it was in there in the first place)


  • Muddling Along

    September 5, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Oh dear… because of course they couldn’t say that blogging is about community or that we do share the bad things because that is one reason we read them to feel we are not alone

    So much easier to say we’re bored / abandoning our children / bad mummies

    Rather than saying in fact small children are quite often boring and writing can be squeezed in around the edges


    1. gillian

      September 7, 2012 at 11:14 am

      Exactly – so many positives they could have mentioned, but instead they went with something deliberately provocative. It was such a sweeping generalisation, and a bizarre and outdated value judgement too. I’ve been told that they are taking that quote out for the new edition (although it’s amazing it was in in the first place).

  • shirley

    September 7, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    I am impressed you actually found time to read a whole book with a new baby

    1. gillian

      September 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      I know! Not yet quite managed to read a whole non-baby book (or magazine!) though

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