Mothering in the 21st century

Mothering in the 21st century

By: Aufa Dahlia Bahar

From my grandma’s ten children to my mom’s four, I’m amazed by how mothers in the previous generations did it. Now, with just two little ones of my own, I’m struggling to navigate the challenges of raising a family.

Yes, I’m sure it’s never been easy to be a mom. Some might argue that all the modern technology and conveniences we now have, make the job easier. However, with that has come a pace that can be equal parts confusing and overwhelming. Being a 21st-century mom comes with its own unique set of challenges.

Balancing work and family is the most demanding for most. Like myself, many 21st-century moms are juggling careers along with their responsibilities at home. Finding the right balance between professional and family life can be incredibly challenging and often requires multitasking and time management skills. Financial pressures can add stress for moms, whether it’s the cost of childcare, housing, education, or simply providing for the family’s needs.

Being brought up by hardworking boomer mothers also meant that it is not all about achieving financial stability. We millennial women have been constantly fed the feminist idea that women can do everything, should be independent and self-sustaining. I mean how many times in our lives have we heard the slogans “women empowerment”, “superwoman” and “girl power”? Now I realised this doesn’t contribute to a fulfilling family life because you simply cannot kill it at work and be there for your little ones!

There is often pressure from society, social media, and even other parents to be the “perfect” mom. This high expectation for oneself can lead to feelings of inadequacy or guilt when things don’t go as planned or when it’s impossible to meet unrealistic expectations. There are often societal expectations regarding what it means to be a good mother, which can vary depending on cultural norms and individual circumstances. These expectations can create stress and feelings of inadequacy for moms who don’t fit the mold. Homecooked meals every evening sounds perfect, but after a long day at work, not everyone can summon that extra energy to cook.

Information overload at our fingertips is not at all helpful. With the internet and social media, there’s a flood of information about parenting, from breastfeeding techniques to sleep training methods. While this information can be helpful, it can also be overwhelming and contradictory, making it difficult for moms to know what advice to follow. While technology provides convenience and connection especially for busy modern moms, it can also be a source of distraction and can sometimes interfere with the limited quality time spent with our children. Parenting in the Digital Age also means monitoring screen time and navigating online safety issues. My young children were not given an iPad but guess what happened when they met other children with phones and gadgets? They want it too.

Despite these challenges, being a mom in the 21st century also comes with many rewards and opportunities for personal growth, fulfilment, and connection with one’s children. It’s important for moms to remember that they’re doing the best they can and to seek support when needed, whether it’s from family, friends, or professional resources. Remember that it takes a village to raise a kid. We may not have the same built-in support networks that previous generations relied on. So actively seek out for the help you need. It’s exceptionally important for us to prioritize self-care and to recognize that it’s okay to ask for help when needed. A happy mom not only benefits herself but also creates a nurturing and supportive environment that fosters the well-being and growth of her family members.

Happy Mother’s Day to you. Thank you for being the hero for our children.

The author is a Lecturer and orthodontist at the Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Malaya; and a 21st century mama

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