22 Feb Raising Children – The Next Generation of Us
This is a sacred subject, fraught with controversy, mine fields, specialists, academics, competition and guilt.
That said, I embark on this blog post fully aware I am opening Pandora’s Box.
Traditionally, the questions I am asked and the problems I see arising, were answered with a given, firmly entrenched, time honoured, tribal or cultural understanding.
How to raise children permeated old ways of life. The answers were there before the questions, doubts and fears arose.
Women did not feel guilty or disconnected from their maternal instinct. It was everything they were, not a separate knowledge or entity needing to be found outside themselves. Grandparents and elders had a no frills approach. Their children worked, hunted or gathered and their grandchildren all played or learned together. When studying anthropology, this simple way always inspired and intrigued me.
The one thing then, that holds true today, is that with new life we are given a unique opportunity to raise an adult we would wish to welcome into our family, community and world. A next generation to be proud of, or more importantly, one that is proud of themselves. With self esteem and humility in equal parts.
One truth that is not contentious is that the qualities we admire in our culture are kindness, gratitude, patience, consideration, honesty, responsibility and manners.
So it is with this in mind, a child at 2 can begin to recognise, mimic and appreciate these qualities.
It stands to reason that to raise great adults from this littleness, we first need to begin with great parents.
Parenting is not a part-time proposition. It begins at conception and lasts forever. It is really that simple.
Parentcraft evolves throughout the stages of life as an art form – individual and particular to the needs of the child and family.
I certainly have my private views about birth, breastfeeding and that sacred six weeks I’ve studied in other cultures. However, my overwhelming belief is that it is up to the mother to decide. I have one stipulation, that she decides with her own heart, her instinct, her whole being. And there can be no guilt from this place.
Many I see have left that connection behind, so a large part of Parentcraft offers reconnection to that brave and empowering place.
No longer needing to excuse, explain or justify, a baby may benefit from a more calm, contented and strong mother – whatever she decides.
The first stage of life, from 0-7, is all about unconditional love. The child learns to feel safe and secure, nurtured and nourished, protected and provided for.
Ideally stated, however, these years are also about boundary setting and winning the important battles. These are the battles aligned with learning our previously agreed qualities. Remember that we want to foster these values:
Write these words everywhere; explain them, practice them, instil them.
The most important part of Parentcraft is the sharp realisation and patient acknowledgment that we all fall off the positive parenting wagon – sometimes often, sometimes occasionally. Intention and perseverance are key.
When working with adults, my mantra is, “Trying is lying, you either do or you don’t.”
This fosters a feeling of empowerment and control.
However, with an under 7, everything needs to be tried – “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Trial and error wins the day. Be consistent, offer more encouragement to grow.
From 2, a child can take responsibility for small tasks. This is a hard job. Many clients say, “It’s just easier to do it myself.”
Of course it is, now…
If you want easy, don’t have children, nothing about raising them is easy. There is nothing more rewarding than watching someone you love more than life grow – and that takes the place of easy.
I’ve discovered, I’m most proud of my children when they are proud of themselves, when they achieve something because they have a survival skill set, when they determine to find a way through or take responsibility when it would be far easier to abdicate.
Always remember you are raising an eventual adult. Who would you want to share your home with, watch their relationships grow and extend your family?
Never imagine it’s too late to begin…
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Tune in for the next post, 7-14.