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Playgroup Vital For Mums Happiness

Barbara Bryan for | November 9, 2010

The Good Mother Syndrome

New research has revealed the real reasons behind why mums attend Playgroup with their young children - and it's not what you think...

The recently published "The Good Mother Syndrome and Playgroup" research paper conducted by Dr Bronwyn Harman of the Edith Cowan University showed that the chief motivating factor for mothers taking their children to Playgroup was for their own social benefit, rather than the kids.

The surveyed Perth Playgroup mothers cited the top reasons for attending Playgroup were "for a sense of belonging", "to seek validation as a mother", and "to claim and exercise expertise", with their own childrens socialising being less of a priority.

Dr Bronwyn Harman, chief researcher admitted that the results were unexpected. "Mothers own socialisation (have a break, talk to other adults, get out of the house and so on) took precedence over their child's ability to play with other children, or play with different toys, or learn to share, or other social skills...."

In conclusion, the report found that Playgroup gives mothers the opportunity to regularly compare their parenting (good or bad), and normalises their parenting experiences, rather than leaving them feeling that they have to live-up to expectations set by the media's unrealistic portrayal of "the good mother". Also, that Playgroup offers peer support on many levels, depending on the children's age, as well as the particular Playgroup's location, and group-dynamics.

For single parents, attending Playgroup can be of even greater importance to mums themselves. Single mums from the echoed the mother-first research results. They cited that their reasons for going to Playgroup were primarily "to talk to an adult for a change and get a break from my daughter", "For company - it gets lonely with just me and my son" and "To be with people that want to talk about all the woes of young children...".

"The Good Mother Syndrome and Playgroup" report is one of a series being produced by Dr Bronwyn Harman of the Edith Cowan University. You can read the full report here. Dr Bronwyn Harman can be contacted at

With over 8,500 playgroups meeting each week around Australia, chances are there’s one not far from you. You can attend the first three sessions for free until you find the group that’s right for you. Find out how you can join a playgroup by contacting your state playgroup association on 1800 171 882.

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What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the


are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.


plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a


or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

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