How to be a parent……if you are me.

Abby Boid

Bugger.

I’ve landed myself in something of a predicament.

When starting out on the NaNoWriMo challenge I wrote this post that summed up how contradictory and unhelpful all the ‘advice’ given to parents is.

Then, from a nice, meandering, thoughtful blogging journey came this ‘let them be human’ post. Here the tone moved away from how to parent towards what to prepare our children for.

Kids are going to be faced with violence and love and war and money worries and broken hearts and a whole host of other experiences that sound particularly scary to these parenting ears of mine.However, faced with them they will be, so I’d like to think about how to prepare them to deal with such situations.

Here comes the predicament:

If I am going to write a few posts on what I think we should be teaching kids about sex and drugs and money and life, won’t this whole “How to be a parent” project of mine just become another load of unwelcome opinion on what I think is best for your kids?

As I said – Oh Bugger.

The first two observations that are on the ‘let them be human’ post are to do with us all having our very own individual perspective on the world, a perspective that nobody else can ever fully appreciate. While we are all of us very human, we all of us perceive this human condition differently. How different is no doubt on a scale, depending on how many variables we have in common.

A sharp, insightful post giving some thought on difference, attempts to understand each other, and adult conversations around our differing beliefs would seem pertinent now – all other posts could flow from that in a non judgemental yet illuminating way.

Alas, the sharp insightful post is failing me.

I’d like to suggest that over the next few days I will write about what I think about certain topics. Then we could have some ‘open minded’ discussions, full of ‘respect’ where we each say politely what we think, and the problems with our respective arguments. Finally, we can ‘tolerate’ our respective differences.

Unfortunately, though, all too often I find words such as ‘open minded’, ‘respect’ and ‘tolerate’ hollow.

What if you have seen my profile pictures and read some posts and find this whole blog shallow and infantile. How can you respect me?

What if your strong religious convictions make it impossible for you to tolerate my more existential take on life?

What if your open-mindedness means you support your children watching age 18 films and twerking at family weddings? My open-mindedness suddenly starts to close its door a little.

Am I really just writing here a “How to be a parent if you are a five foot ten, white, middle class, heterosexual woman, living in the south of the UK, born to a northern family” blog?

If so, what use is that, really, other than as a memoir for myself?

At its worse, what I write could undermine another parent who is struggling enough as it is. Does the world really need any more of this personal opinion on parenting?

I guess I am going to have to confront head on my views on moral relativism:  Should all views on parenting be equally respected? If not, who decides what’s in or out? Why should my view matter?

And really, what does any of this matter at all when faced with the task in hand of just trying to get our kids to adulthood as safe and sound as possible?

24 thoughts on “How to be a parent……if you are me.

      • shilyot says:

        Dunno. I’ve managed to raise keds to adulthood. Apart from an incident with a fire extinguisher Ked#2 and assorted 16 year old prospective spouses arriving at the door Ked#1, parenthood has been relatively uncomplicated to date. Admittedly we live rurally and at some distance from the coke dens of SW England, but none of them have drowned or maimed anyone ( to my knowledge). Morally: you are your child’s best model.

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      • shilyot says:

        I’m at the other end.. majoring in hindsight and wishing I was ‘at the beginning’ again.. I’d still feel I could have done it better??? The best thing I learned was through a session on Motivational Interviewing. Brilliant for stopping stroppy teenagers in their tracks. Check it out!! The best thing about parenthood is sharing and loving

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      • shilyot says:

        Yup trials and tribulations, love and exuberance of sharing parenting. TheKeds are the pebble that creates the ripples in the pool of your life. I can’t say I shared these via the web-blog.. not available and no time! Parent, self-employed, employee, partner. Being a stayathome wasn’t an option. You are priviledged.. you are a Mum!!

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      • Sarah says:

        Abby – you mention self absorption as being a likely motive for your blog but for me reading a blogs is about sharing experiences as parents. I am not really looking for someone to tell me what to do, but for moral support (is that the phrase?) that I am not alone – along with the odd tip for potty training :-). Being a parent to one very headstrong 4yo boy who has an answer for everything (which is often ‘no’ but perhaps more worrying sometimes a rather logical counter-argument) has been at times a very lonely experience. Not because I am actually alone (I’m not) but because many decisions have to be immediate and almost instinctual with no reference to any other adult at the time. I was staying with my parents last weekend and it was interesting to see what their responses were to the daily ‘issues’ with my kid – it made me realise that the extended family is really important in family life. I guess this is the gap that social media can fill.

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  1. Sarah says:

    There are no right answers because every person (child or adult or somewhere in between) is an individual and every situation unique, however i reckon there are some wrong answers out there. Is that philosophically possible? Does an answer that is ‘less right’ inevitably also have to be ‘more wrong’ or does the ‘most wrong’ just end up being the ‘least right’?

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    • Abby Boid says:

      Oooh – now you’re talking. From a philosopher’s perspective, there are lots of different groups who believe in looking at ‘wrong’ and ‘right’ from different view points. As a parent, and as a person, I tink we naturally dip in and out of all the different schools of thoughts out there in moral philosophy land.
      Here are some examples to explain my witterings. http://wp.me/p3XdqW-s9
      I think you may have helped me with my next post thank you!

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  2. Virtually All Sorts (@AllSortsHere) says:

    Well Abby, what a thought-provoking post! For me, I (dare I say…) err towards the hippy-like approach of chilling out, letting them learn from their mistakes and hope they make friends with the ‘right’ children… and that their parents are okay… and that they don’t let them stay up until stupid o’clock (even at the weekend) drinking fizz that rots your teeth and gets them wired just when they shouldn’t be. I seem to have gone full circle… hmmm :s

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    • Abby Boid says:

      Thank you for your lovely and considered comment.
      I think I like to think I am a hippy-like parent.In many respects I am, but when I really really want or need them to do things, I struggle with standing back. There are quite a few ‘because i said so’s in this house. I am not sure I am too happy about that.
      I am with you on the other kids/other parents thing – I am so lucky to be a stay at home mum i have made it my business to know and get on with as many parents as possible. Then, when there is a concern with one or other of our kids, I find it easier to raise that concern in a friendly environment.

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  3. hkhaneveer says:

    I never thought of myself as a hippy until I saw Virtually’s post above. I prefer to think of my parenting style as wu wei; or rather, wei wu wei, because there are moments when a lot of action is indicated. I’m certainly not a laissez-faire parent, but when I look around I see that parents who are too ‘results oriented’, or who simply think they have the deciding vote in how their children turn out, are mostly making a lot of trouble and extra work for themselves. Children- at least, my children- are people from the moment they’re born, and I think everyone is better off if you can see them for who they are at any given moment, without too much of who you want them to be. That being said, I try not instill too many vices and bad habits in them until they are old enough to decide for themselves which ones are really worthwhile.

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    • Abby Boid says:

      Thanks so much for this comment – really interesting.
      Me and the husband were speaking yesterday how, in all three of our boys, there is this little kernel of ‘them’ inside themselves. In retrospect, you could see this tiny but important part of their character form day one. There will never be any changing it.
      I am totally with you on the results oriented approach – life’s hard enough without trying to fit square pegs into round holes.
      I really want them to decide things for themselves. I would like me, and the community they grow up in, to provide the framework to allow them to make these decisions wisely.

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  4. weebluebirdie says:

    Well, how about asking the Kids what they want to know? Chatting while building Lego or whatever will probably get better results than lining them up on the couch!! It’s quite likely that because you seem like a grounded person, your kids will absorb these aspects too. As you say, each child already has the kernel of his being as soon as he is born. You have to work with that, not against it. Sometimes that’s hard, you want them to avoid mistakes you’ve made. But if they have some of your personality traits, then you have to accept that they will have the dodgy bits as well as the good bits! And nothing wrong with the “because I said so” line. You can’t negotiate everything!

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    • Abby Boid says:

      We try hear and there to ask the kids for their views on things, sometimes the conversations get lost in the desire for more milk and biscuits though! Your comment about nothing wrong with ‘because i said so’ is encouraging. I strongly believe that in many situations, the younger kids need clear boundaries, and that they are happier for having them.

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  5. sabretoothedchickenstour says:

    There is nothing wrong with opinion, Abby. It is the inability to listen and the unwillingness to change your opinion that can be harmful. So what if you give your views or perspectives. You represent a parent. No two parents are the same. In order to give us parents a voice and a focus for discussion – someone has to speak out. Why shouldn’t you be that one. Yes, people will disagree, yes people will undermine what you say. But the world doesn’t become a better place if we deny our freedom of speech.

    We need to teach our kids that you have to take educated risks, that it is ok to speak out, to defend your idea of the world and to fail or admit you were wrong.

    I say go for it. You can’t speak for us all and no one would expect you too.
    You can speak for yourself and so can we.
    Please consider.
    I am interested in what you have to say – even if I don’t agree with it. 🙂

    Pru

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