11 October 2013

Strength

I often think about what my grandparents would have made of the choices and decisions I have made as a parent, sadly they all died before my children were born.  Would they have tried to impose their own views on me, would they have disapproved of what I am doing, are the choices we make when raising our children the same for each generation despite the different times we live in.

I was fortunate to know one of my great grandparents, my great gran was alive throughout my childhood we visited her often and I knew her well.  She was born in the 1890s which was a vastly different world to the one I grew up in and the one my own children are growing up in.  My granny, her daughter, was born at the end of WWI, my own mother her daughter at the end of WWII, they became mothers at the ages of 23, 25 and 26 respectively I waited until I was in my thirties.  All of these women gave up working when their children were born, they were expected to stay at home with their children and there was no such thing as maternity leave, my mother returned to work when my youngest sibling started school.  Do all these differences make us different parents?

I remember, when I was in my early twenties, staying with someone who was pregnant she was talking about co sleeping with her baby and that it was unusual in mainstream British society.  I talked to my mother about it and discovered that I had co slept with her for the first three years or so of my life and then I shared a bed with my brother.  My granny had done the same with all of her four children for the first months and years of their lives, they had a big family and very little room so it was practical for them on many levels.  It is what my mother knew so even if no one was doing so when she became a mother it was natural for her.  She didn't bat an eyelid when we did the same.

We have decided to home educate our children for now, a decision we did not take lightly.  I was worried about telling my mother especially as she had taught in primary schools for twenty five years thankfully she was totally supportive and informed me she would probably not send a child to school now either, she also told me that my great gran had fought with the authorities not to send her children to school until they were at least seven as she felt they were too young at five!

It is hard to know about the day to day parenting, how they spoke to their children, how they treated them, were they gentle, kind, considerate mothers or did they see their children as a nuisance and ignored them, were their children expected to be seen and not heard, were they deemed good if they behaved well (translates as doing what they are told all the time).  What I do know is how I was raised and that my mother does not intrude into the way I parent if she does not agree with what I do she does not tell me just lets me get on with it.  This could of course mean that her mother did and she hated it, I would prefer to think that this not the case that the women in my family have been and are strong mothers.  I don't mean in the physical sense I mean that we know our own minds and parent as we see is right rather than following the crowd because that is how we have been raised.

The challenge is to be yourself in a world that is trying to make you like everyone else

To raise a child to be an individual is hard work.  To raise them to be able to walk in the world as a confident person takes effort.  I am extremely fortunate to have been raised in such a family and I hope I can do the same for my children to continue in the path of my ancestors.


6 comments:

  1. Such a lovely post! Thank you so much for sharing. I wish you all the best in your homeschooling adventure!
    Recently my mother came to visit, staying with us and observing our daily life for a few days. (She has visited before, but usually stays in a hotel) One day, she was very quiet and just looked at me for a bit. When I asked her what was wrong she said, "Absolutely nothing. I was just thinking about you, my child, being a mother to your own child. You are an amazing mother, better than I ever was...truly." It was such a surprise and it is a bit uncharacteristic of my mother, but it really meant the world to me!

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  2. Thank you, this post really resonated with me! I am following a gently alternative parenting path, and get a lot of criticism from family members, but every so often when something is clearly working for us one of them will say "Oh, you Grandad was always telling me to do that with my babies..." Sadly he died eleven years ago and never met the little boy who is growing up in his image, but it's nice to think he might have been on my team!

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    1. It must be very hard to parent the way that feels right for you through criticism from your family, I hope you can find the strength to do what feels right for your family :)

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  3. You are lucky to have your mother's understanding, my parents were never really convinced by our home schooling our boys, it took both boys making it to university (the elder now has an MBA) before they would truly accept that home schooling can work, and now the younger has dropped out of uni and started working on a farm it is home schooling they blame for what they, not we, see as in some way a failure.

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    1. That must have been so hard, I know I am lucky. I have friends whose parents don't approve of what they are doing. They seem to be in a constant state of turmoil over whether they are doing the right thing. It is hard enough to tread an alternative path without the ones we love trying to undermine us.

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