The Perfect Childhood

The Perfect Childhood

“The Perfect Childhood”

   No child has a perfect childhood, and it is not only because there are no perfect parents.  (It is simply an accepted fact that all parents, being human, make mistakes).  Whilst you, as the parent have a huge impact on the quality of your child’s childhood, his or her childhood will be affected by a multitude of factors that you cannot control.  Ill health, accidents, bereavements, poverty and so on.

Ordinary relationships with our relatives and friends usually involve some angst, and our own temperament/personality mixed with our life experience, can cause us emotional pain.

The following excerpt from a book about ‘inadequate’ parents, gives us ‘food for thought’…

According to Susan Forward, PhD., (“Toxic Parents” 2002 -still in print!), parents have an obligation to provide the following for their children as the “foundation of adequate parenting”:

– They must provide for their children’s physical needs

– They must protect their children from physical harm

– They must provide for their children’s needs for love, attention and affection

– They must protect their children from emotional harm

– They must provide ethical and moral guidelines for their children

Her terminology (“they must”) is rather strong and I would like to add… “at least attempt to”, after the words “they must”. E.g.’ They must at least attempt to provide for their children’s physical needs’.

If you as a parent, are attempting to, but are struggling to meet these obligations, perhaps you could seek professional help, for your sake and your children’s sake. You can start by talking to your GP or MCH Nurse or even Nurse-on-Call, and find out whatever help you need. For example, if your child has a weight problem, a Dietician may be of assistance, or if you find it difficult to control your temper, a Psychologist can often do wonders.

It isn’t and shouldn’t be however, your total responsibility alone to provide your child with a perfect childhood, because that is simply unattainable.  A ‘good’ or even ‘good enough’ childhood is perhaps what you should aim for.

Try surrounding yourself with other adults who care about your child’s wellbeing to a high degree so that the total effect is a ‘good’ or ‘good enough’ childhood. Choosing a good Doctor, Child Care Centre, Kindergarten, School, religious community and so on, all backing you up, is likely to increase the chance of a positive outcome.

Maybe, just maybe, your child will actually have what he or she regards as a ‘really good’ childhood!  I was very fortunate.  Although my parents weren’t totally perfect, I had what I feel was a ‘really good’ childhood.

So, as an adult from a happy childhood, how did that affect my parenting?

Parenting for me still involved seeking help from family, friends and professionals along the way and I would like to think that my daughter’s childhood was ‘good’ or at least ‘good enough’ as a result.  Even if you had great role models in your parents, parenting is a massive job and trying to be a ‘super-parent’, doing it alone, probably isn’t the best idea.

One more important thing.  Parenting and feeling guilty seem to go hand-in-hand, so please be gentle with yourself.

 

The Village

The Village

The Village 

 

Maybe a child is not being raised by a “Village” but it would be nice if he or she was. Apart from a very small minority of parents who keep their children close and Home School, think of the number of adults and other children that are in a typical child’s life….

Child care educators, teachers, doctors, dentists, and other health professionals, shop keepers, entertainers, posties (think of the Postie who gives the letters to the pre-schooler with an encouraging comment), and many more. And that doesn’t include all the relatives and friends of the parents.

Considering to what degree humans are social beings, and how frequently they choose to live in groups, it seems an obvious statement that “it takes a village to raise a child”.

Culturally, in some groups, the grandparents do a lot of the child care whilst the parents work.  In other cultures the younger women work together with the children in groups whilst the men work.

Here in Australia we have many cultures so that there are many different parenting styles but I feel many parents today lack supports.

In our society, things have changed a lot since I was a child.  When my Mother, the main care giver,  needed assistance, one of her sisters or sister-in-laws would step in and help. They all lived in relative close proximity to each other.  Now many parents live a long distance or time from other family members, and both parents are working.

The take home message: use the Village as much as you need to. There’s no disgrace in getting assistance with raising your child be it information, advice or child care. A more rested or calmer parent is a happier parent, and a happier parent is a better parent.