Can we please cut down on the mumsplaining?

Can we please cut down on the mumsplaining?
Written by Publishing Team

But before the five-year-old could answer, it turned out there were three people in the conversation. “She is going to the local school like her older sister and brother,” the child’s chief communications agent and PR manager answered, staging an intervention.

Truth was, I already knew this. I just wanted to have a chat.

Also, I couldn’t see any reason for the intervention. The family are all basically geniuses, so I am sure the question wasn’t a stretch for the budding student.

But what do I know about mumsplaining? I speak with all the authority of a 48-year-old childless man whose sole one-night-only attempt at parenting resulted in the four children in my charge erecting a tent in the middle of the lounge room.

So I went in search of some expert commentary.

Child clinical psychologist Dr Elizabeth Westrupp, a researcher at the School of Psychology at Deakin University, lets out a gasp upon mention of the term.

“That’s a bit judgmental. It’s a reflection of mums trying to cope in a society that often isn’t that supportive of parents, especially mothers,” Westrupp said.


“Parents are often judged on their child’s behavior in public. However, by definition, children have not yet learned social norms, can be wildly erratic in their responses, or not speak at all, which can be socially awkward. Parents may step in a bit too quickly to speak on behalf of children purely to make a social setting run a bit more smoothly.”

Westrupp says there is an overdue shift in parenting, moving away from teaching children about “polite society” in favor of a more supportive approach.

Social and emotional skills are fundamental to determining a child’s education, mental health and employment outcomes, as well as success in friendships and romantic relationships.

“Instead of controlling kids, this requires parents to gently guide them, and letting kids practice in the real world. But it also needs a society that supports parents, and understands that interactions with kids might be messy and imperfect,” she says.

One early childhood educator says one problem is society doesn’t always view the child as the capable being they are.

“Too often our parenting approach hinders a child’s learning when they have greater ability,” says the educator.

“The brain is working hard. When we ask a young child a question they might not have the ability to answer it, or they might need more time. But often an adult rushes along without waiting.

“It is always with the best intentions. Parents do an incredible job with the information and guidance that they have.”


Given all of that, the term mumsplaining seems needlessly pejorative.

While the art of parenting is said to be the art of letting go, in the big wide world we are pushing our offspring into, the catalog of male iniquities is sadly growing.

Mansplaining has now been joined by he-peating, and worse, bropriating and these behaviors reach into the highest rooms in the land.

When Julie Bishop stepped down as foreign minister, she told an Australian Women’s Weekly lunch how she would make a suggestion around the cabinet table to a muted reaction. Ten minutes later when the same thought was uttered by a male colleague, it met with a chorus of approval: that’s
he-peating. Bropriating, meanwhile, is when the idea is stolen by a man entirely and claimed as his own.
So once kids get over the mumsplaining hurdle, there will always be plenty of other social challenges to deal with.

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Publishing Team