[box border=”full”]Parenting involves the raising of an infant to eventual independence as a young adult. Humans have been doing this successfully for thousands of years and so surely it should have got easier right? But you just have to look at how parenting features repeatedly on websites, social media, advertising, morning news shows, mother’s groups, dinner parties, magazines, and books to realise how complicated it has become. Much of this uninvited advice has the potential to make many parents feel guilty that somehow they are failing. Throw in the old fashioned advice from ‘mum and dad’ and this is a recipe for confusion and self-doubt. This section hopes to apply some common sense to all this, and cover the hurdles and issues that need to be dealt with whilst raising children. [/box]
So lets take a bunch of university students from different parts of the World sitting in a lecture , studying, say engineering. Some from Italy, England, Eastern Bloc, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, USA and Australia. All from different races, religions and beliefs. Each will have had unique childhood. Urban, Rural, Rich, Poor, some from violent countries, some with very strong religious beliefs. Parenting, diet, sleeping practices, hygiene, rules, rituals, access to education, will be vastly different. But here they are, all sitting in the lecture, ready to go forth in the World. They are all OK. They have taken diverse paths but have somehow ended up at the same place. Young adults training for a career. So what are the common themes in their upbringing ?
- Attachment – This means an attachment to someone who is a supportive and protective person. During infancy, attachment (nearly always to the Mother) is very important. A baby will feel secure if its senses and detects the familiar. The sight, smell, taste, and feel of a Mother provides this security. As they evolve this attachment will spread to other family members. During childhood attachments will change as they move away from the circle of security. It is someone who provides drive and inspiration. It maybe a parent, a teacher, another adult, or even someone they have read about, or even a sporting hero. A role model so to speak, to provide direction and guidance. But there is always a ‘home attachment’ which is usually a parent.
- Health – nutrition, sleep, a healthy lifestyle and disease avoidance (immunisation).
- Opportunity – Here in Australia we are lucky that education is provided and compulsory. Providing children with learning experiences, and valuable life skills such as dealing with peers, resilience and conflict resolution. Many parts of the World children have none of these opportunities as education takes a back seat to food, shelter and water acquisition.
- Drive – An innate desire to function and achieve. The nature of the child.
The parents – or carers – of these children have not necessarily performed any ‘parenting miracles’. They, like us are probably far from perfect, but have provided a platform for the child to develop. There is no secret ingredient – contrary to what the vitamin advertisements tell us – and no magic formula. Provide Attachment, health, and opportunity in some form or other allows the child’s ‘blueprint’ to evolve.
So lets look at some frequent concerns and hurdles surrounding attachment, health, and opportunity and hopefully this will allow you as parents to workout where to focus your ‘parenting energy’.
Attachment – Guilt free attachment.
Health – Common sense approach to health – healthy kids check
Opportunity- Schools and environment