Thursday, October 25, 2012

pride and prejudice

In a recent conversation with a (child free) friend about teaching kids respect, she said ''What I am fascinated by is the absolute hatred in some people for a particular type of person - particularly when they are parents, or want to be - and yet have no idea how their child may be in adulthood.  Will they love that child or be proud of them? What pressure goes on a child to be a certain way, or to not become what the parents despise? How does that pressure show itself in a child?''

As the parent of two inquisitive kids, I am often confronted with some tricky questions - why do they believe that Mum? Why is that person fat?  What does gay mean?  You know the stuff... I want to raise my children to be tolerant of others, to accept differences but to remain true to their own beliefs and values.  So this poses an interesting question:

If there's a  particular belief/lifestyle choice/view that I strongly disagree with, how might that affect the way I parent? What if YOUR child grew up to be the ''someone'' who chose to live a lifestyle you found totally offensive?  For example, what if they are a supporter of a political party you abhor, or in a religion you find unacceptable, or chose a path - stumbled into a path - you didn't understand and couldn't condone - atheist, gay, obese, drug addict, alcoholic, criminal, bankrupt, hermit, abuser.  Whatever.  Its not an exhaustive list, and it's not my own personal record of no goes - just some examples to get you thinking.

My own view is that it is imperative to teach some tolerance, with boundaries, to our children.  So that might mean explaining the impact or consequences of certain behaviours, but giving children the freedom to choose a path for themselves.  Which is all very idealistic when the child is 7 or 8, and less realistic as they approach adulthood.  My main concern is that I do not allow any hatred to form, particularly when it relates to people who are different to ourselves - and yet make it clear that there are certain behaviours (as opposed to beliefs/values/inborn characteristics) that are not OK.

How about you?  Do you have a no go area?  Is it ok for children to know their parents own prejudices? Are there prejudices you are aware you are passing onto your children?  Why?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

a lifetime in a decade

This time ten years ago I was on the brink of first time motherhood. And it certainly is true what ''they'' say - that nothing, absolutely nothing, can prepare you for this experience.

Its still all SO clear to me, from the first labour pain, to holding that beautiful new baby in my arms.  Her first words, first steps, first trip to the beach.

The ten years have been a lifetime of ups and downs for our family, and although much of it is not the path I would choose, I have, sleeping just down the hall, an amazing human being.  A feisty girl with talent and spirit and spark.  One who has a very defined sense of right and wrong, one who is quick to react and just as quick to forgive others.

My ten year old has a great group of friends, many of whom are coming to share the day with us tomorrow.  Doting grandparents and adoring cousins.  A little brother who thinks she's absolutely wonderful and also his favourite person to tease and squabble with.

She is brave and fearless in a crowd, or on a stage, but still cries if she skins a knee.   A great sense of style and a love for  sparkle and bling - and a penchant for comfy trackpants and a pair of crocs.

A love of pop music and, surprisingly obscure jazz.  A taste for spicy curry, imported olives, iced chocolate and chicken chips.  She loves to read magazines and cookbooks, watch Masterchef on TV and transform her room into a hairdressing salon one day and a beauty spa the next.

Shes a water baby who can spend an hour in the bath, or a day in a swimming pool and still want more.  She dances, every day, and has taught herself to play the piano.  She has an affinity for language and dreams of one day visiting Paris and speaking French.

We are best friends most of the time, arch enemies occasionally, and share a fierce and protective love for each other.

To my amazing dancing queen: I love you to the moon and back.