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School gate mums make each other feel like failures

Mothers who meet each other at the school gates make each other feel more inadequate than celebrities who effortlessly shed their baby weight and appear adept as parents, a study has found.

More than 90pc of mothers compared their child-rearing skills against those of their friends and relatives, according to research by Netmums, the parenting website.

Four in 10 respondents to the survey said they felt their friends were better than them at being parents, while one in five lied to others about how much time they spent playing with their children and the food they cooked at home.

The survey of 5,000 users of the website found that mothers who met each other at the school gates had a greater influence on making each other feel inadequate than celebrities who effortlessly shed their baby weight and appeared adept as parents in the media.

A quarter of mothers lied to each other about how much television they allowed their children to watch and 15pc exaggerated the amount of quality time they spent with their partners.

The campaign - The Real Parenting Revolution – called for a return to the “good enough” approach to parenting conceived by child psychologist Donald Winnicott in the 1950s.

Winnicott argued that parents who did not achieve perfection helped their children to develop self-reliance and a sense of their own identity.

Siobhan Freegard, co-founder of Netmums, said parents should be more willing to seek help and advice.

“No one is born knowing how to be a parent – you get along the best you can,” she said. “We hear from mums all the time who are struggling with all the conflicting advice being given to them about how to reach parenting perfection – and who are coping with huge amounts of guilt when they don’t achieve this.

“We want 2011 to be the year when mums and dads across the country can accept that being ‘good enough’ is just that.”