When my first child was born I was given a book entitled “Parenting for a Peaceful World” by Robin Grille, 2005. I thought this was an apt title for a mum with two boys who love to tussle and shove each other, sometimes, relentlessly. So recently I started to dip into it and what I found was a deeply harrowing world for children from the ice age up until recent times. Grille does say that the evolution of parenting means today we favour a kinder approach but we are still marred by old fashioned ideas . Infanticide was common between all classes and males were the preferred sex. So much for my tranquil read into parenting bliss!
The mindset of the time is mirrored in comments/writings of revered philosophers, for example, Plato wrote “Any children born to women over 40 or men over 55 should be violently disposed of, and every family should raise only one son, while other viable sons should be adopted out to others” (p.28). And another great, Aristotle, called them “dwarfs with bad memories”. Although I find the later comical, the former scenario is still happening in some pockets of the world today.
How many of us feel the absolute guilt (if only fleetingly), (but overwhelmingly), of child-rearing I wonder? I personally am against smacking and believe it’s unnecessary but after speaking with my grandmother who is all for it, I have attempted it a few times and mostly out of frustration. It didn’t help us one bit and it was an act of violence as, obviously, I’m physically stronger and he was bewildered. We’re vulnerable as mothers, tired and emotional and as Grille says “the old adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is particularly true when we commit to meeting the child’s emotional needs.”I think it’s very important for carers/parents to take a break when we need to and it’s vital for new parents to foster a supportive network. I’m pleased to say I think we’re getting there with mother’s groups and play groups and community early health centres available across the board. I felt well supported in my pregnancy and postnatally, especially whilst living in the city and to a lesser extent living in this rural/residential area, but yet there is support. As Grille says: ” To a large extent, it is the responsibility of every society to support parents and their children.” This is why I took my grandmother’s advise, but in reality we have evolved from that generations’ parenting style and rightly so. We apparently are moving away from authoritarian ‘socialising mode’ of parenting and embracing the ‘helping mode’ or ‘natural parenting’. “What motivates helping mode parents is the desire to allow and support the natural unfolding of each child’s unique individuality”. He writes about the more concerted effort that child rearing requires, especially in their earlier years and this is reassuring me that I’m on the right track in devoting all of my energy to my children at this stage in their lives.
As I’ve said I’ve just dipped into the book but it’s the actual stages of the child’s early development that I will seek out next. I will keep you posted.