18 July 2012


At the start of our life we are totally dependent on adults to look after us. We need milk, preferably from mama, to nourish and sustain us and we need contact and warmth to keep us safe and secure. We continue this dependency for many years although the level diminishes the older we get. As adults we continue to need and want people around us our friends and families to maintain those feelings of safety and security though contact. The dependency of our children is an intense relationship, one which in some cultures around the world is still shared. In our now fractured society it is, usually, the mother who bears this responsibility for most, if not all, of the time. She no longer has a network of extended family, her own parents or in laws, aunties, uncles or cousins or other unrelated members of her community to help with the child care and looking after the home. This intensity requires the care giver to be an emotionally strong person, to be able to carry on with little sleep or rest, to put her needs last at all times. If we have not received this level of care and attention ourselves we also, therefore, have not had the opportunity to learn these skills.

In most families, when a child is around the age of two, conflict can set in. At this age the child is starting to find their place in the world, they are exploring and testing all the time. We can be conditioned by our own upbringing and therefore experience to try to restrain this, to fight it, to bring the child in line with your own beliefs. What we should really be doing is providing them with a safe and secure haven from which to go out and learn and come back to. Sadly, in most families this is the start of a journey of conflict which continues until the child leaves the family home many years later and the cycle is then repeated.

A child who is not given the level of care and contact they need does not feel safe and secure. They learn to be independent for the wrong reasons, as they cannot depend on the adults around them to meet their needs. They become unable to trust, they become compliant or aggressive to gain attention for the care and contact that they long for and are not recieving.

Bringing up a child is an intense relationship, which changes over time. If you are trying to do this as a small family unit, mother, father and child(ren) the insensity is even greater. We no longer live in extended families in my society and in most across the world, so we need to find a replacement. Many find this in friendships forged over a common bond of parenthood. This in itself is a maze to be navigated, finding parents with the same views on parenting as yourself. As we no longer live within a community for life with several generations together, each generation becoming parents has lost this vital support network and goes it alone.

Being alone in an intense dependent relationship with your child(ren) is not a good place to be but is where most of us find ourselves. According to this interesting article we have evolved as co-operative breeders. So if you are having a bad day with your child(ren), be gentle with yourself.


  1. I especially liked the last paragraph, it offers words of comfort.

    The courgette recipe looks good, I'll definitely give it a go, it looks like it might be good picnic fodder... assumimg we ever get any picnic weather!!

    San x

    1. Thank you, the weather is supposed to improve next week. Here's hoping. I am missing having picnics!


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