There are two things that really strike me about the 20 Sure Fire Ways to Guarantee Happy, Well Adjusted Children List:
The first I’ve already shared, and that is how it points to the different parenting camps, sometimes used to promote good fun and giggles, and sometimes used by those with a vested interest in pitching parents against each other.
The second is how different such a list would have been if you had of asked any of my Grandparents to write it when they were in the middle of raising their young families.
Hilarity would have ensued if I had asked my loving, gentle, strong, practical Grandad, “Grandad , how can I guarantee my children are happy?’ He’d call me a crack-pot and tell me, ‘”You can’t”.
What if I had have asked, “Ok Grandad, how can I ensure they are well adjusted?”. He may have asked for clarity on what I was blathering on about. Then, once he had the drift, he would have said, “Teach them manners, teach them wrong from right, and if they give you any lip, give them a clip round ‘ ear ‘ole.”
I’m pretty sure breast vs bottle, attachment vs schedules, five a day vs 55 a day, or water vs hypno-birth would not have made much of an appearance on any list on how best to be a parent, even as recently as the 1960s. Please tell me if I’m wrong.
I rather suspect that my grandparent’s list, and certainly the generations that preceded them, would have read more like this:
- Keep fingers cross that….
Someone can get hold of the woman that delivers the babies. And that she knows how they come out. Because you may well not.
You don’t die during childbirth.
The baby doesn’t die during childbirth.
The baby doesn’t die of hideous yet fairly prevalent infant illnesses.
The breadwinner doesn’t die of hideous adult illnesses or in a hideous manual-labour type accident.
Nobody dies in a war.
There’s sufficient money and food left before pay-day each week to ensure nobody dies of starvation, or diseases related to totally inadequate calorific intake.
You have sufficient warmth, shelter and sanitation to not all die an untimely death.
Your child gets a fair pop at learning to read and write (with the caveat that you would expect them to make their own way to school and back, and would make no appearance at parent’s evening, nor help them with homework).
- Ensure your child leaves school, gets straight to work , and works hard until they can physically work no longer.
- Ensure your child is a ‘good’ boy or girl, where being ‘good’ means following rules laid down by you, as informed by the church (probably).
- Discipline you child consistently, sometimes physically.
- Love your children always, but rarely too publicly.
- If you were really optimistic, and depending on how old you were at the time, you may hope for them having a kindly employer, a supportive state, a happy marriage, and the right to have a say in the running of the country via a democratic process.
You may have gleaned by now that I come from a long line of working class stock. The list may have differed slightly for those of you with a more luxurious lineage.But I reckon the grim reaper was always somewhere on the horizon, however much cash you had.
As for parenting stereotypes, I can’t believe there were more than a handful: rich parents; poor parents; virtuous parents (married, heterosexual, same race) and bad parents (unwed, gay, mixed race, down right cruel).
Ahhh. Simpler times. But does simpler mean better?
No. It doesn’t. I’d rather be parenting right now in the UK, than trying to raise kids under the circumstances my Grandparents had to endure.
We have so many choices now, so many options, and so many of us can make these choices from a position of relative comfort, when compared to previous generations.
Surely that is something we should rejoice in everyday. But for many parents, the information we receive and the choices that we feel we need to make are not liberating but daunting. And they still bring no guarantee of raising happy, well adjusted children.
Often the choices are fraught with anxiety and worry:
what if this decision is the one that ruins their life?
Given all that we have, all that the previous generations achieved, and how we never know how long these relatively good-times might last, it’s a shame so many great parents are so often convinced that they are not doing the best by their children.
It’s time to feel better about parenting. Don’t you think?
For a blog that keeps the fun in parenting, try Hurrah for Gin
Here is an extract from Katie’s about page:
I have written this page a few times and come to the realisation that I HATE about me pages. They make me shudder and want to die.
Sounds gruesome. But it is a fun blog. I promise.
This post is part of the NaNoWriMo challenge. Feel free to share if you like what you read.