A Review: Channel 4’s ‚How To Be A Good Mother‘

Last week Channel 4 aired a programme titled ‚How to be a good Mother‘ which is another one of those shows where they send an apparently well known Somebody to go and speak to the Average Joe about what it is they do and why it works for them. Or something to that extend. We watched this one ‚on Demand‘ and since I had not seen any negative tweets and Facebook updates about it, I had a little bit of hope although I didn’t expect much from it, because too often the topics Parenting and Mothers are full of either blatant lies from so-called Experts or misinformation disguised as ‚concern‘.

The well known Somebody here was Sharon Horgan who, we are told, is a writer, an actress and comedian (aha) and I had never heard of her before. From pretty much the beginning I neither liked her nor her attitude. All throughout the show her stance was skepticism (fair enough) and sarcasm (why?). She mocked the mums featured as well as their parenting though I do applaud her for trying the placenta encapsulation.

Where Cherry Healy seemed to have emerged from behind the moon for her shows (did she really not know most of the things she claimed she didn’t or was that for our benefit?) Sharon Horgan seemed to have agreed to present this programme because there wasn’t anything on the telly that night.

Cherry Healey – Breast Is Best/BBC (Source: BBC.co.uk)

She seemed unimpressed, uninterested and her comments came across as rude and ignorant. Which I thought was kinda sad. (Having spoken to one of the mums from the show, who I came across on one of my Facebook groups, about what she thought of Sharon, I got a similar answer. So it’s not just me.) She seemed to be intent on not being seen as too interested or won over by something even when she said she was. It was mainly the way she spoke and acted that gave me and the husband that impression. The voice-over – from a safe distance, of course – was even worse with snotty remarks and lame little jokes on behalf of enthusiastic and lovely mums.


About the programme: Sharon goes and visits several women who share their thoughts about what makes a good mother. One mum is a pole dancer and single mother of a 14 year old who she rarely lets out of sight. Another doesn’t ‚do‘ nappies (not even cloth) but uses Elimination Communication for her daughter. A third is a working mum who uses social media and gadgets like her smartphone to her advantage by having a lunch time video chat with her 2 year old. There are six mothers in total and all have a different approach to life and therefore motherhood.

Source: ArthursClipArt

Now, here’s a confession: whilst watching the bit about mum number one – ‚Charlene, who, by the age of 27, has got six kids, all home-schooled, breastfed* and called some combination of her name and husband Terry’s – Techar, Chartel, Charmar, Cherry, Telsee, and Chantee.‘ (The Guardian) (*added by me) – I found myself caught out by stereotyping.

Big Time.

In the few second between Charlene appearing on screen and Sharon telling me about her I had mentally put her in a box: formula/de-tached/possibly on benefits. Why? Just because of the way she looked. The programme had only just started, she was the first mum, these shows tend to be the same but I had so misjudged her (as well as the show). I had assumed and one should never assume. It was a bit like a cold&wet wash cloth in the face-moment. I vowed to work harder on seeing the big picture first before jumping to conclusions.

One of the most poignant moments in the programme was probably Sharon Horgan asking her two daughters what they wish mummy would do that other mummies did. Her eldest said in an almost pleading voice: See us more often? That was a bit of a heartbreaking moment and you could see just a hint of what…regret? in Sharon’s face and voice but we didn’t see what happened next as it cut to the bit about the working mum.

Anyway, the overall programme was great. What I was most surprised about was the lack of sleep training talk (Crying it out/CIO, Controlled crying/CC etc) although I figure that that could still be what some of those mums did but it wasn’t part of the show and thus I draw the conclusion that it wasn’t considered something that ‚makes a good mother‘. I can live with that. 😉 Also not covered was the usual debate of ‚Breast vs Formula‘. Could it be that they really did attempt to find out which emotional rather than physical attitude a mother needs to have to be considered a ‚good mother‘?


I really enjoy these types of programmes, especially when they do dig deeper and not just cover the mainstream, but I wish that there was more respect involved. With this one there clearly wasn’t, after all this was Channel 4 and they make TV for money. (Having said that, I am impressed by the lack of bashing and debate stirring..if only it wasn’t for that presenter *sigh*)

So, what did you think? Were you as annoyed with the presenter? Did she do a good job? Did she matter? Who would be a better presenter? Please share your thoughts. 🙂


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