For mothers, sometimes parenting is just an educated guess. Parenting can be very difficult, and at times we make decisions because we believe that that decision is the best.
And why is it so difficult? Was it easier for generations before us? Was it easier before technology? Was it easier when families were more connected?
My theory (and when I say theory, I mean thought process) is that back in the hunter gatherer days, back in the farming days, families and communities stuck to each other. When children socialised, it was with the communities that were already well established; parents, grandparents and friends already knew each other. The level of trust was already established prior to children being brought up. Information was handed down from father to son, from mother to daughter. Sons followed their fathers (and the wider male communities) whilst they hunted and learnt the skills. They had their meaning, they had their belonging. Daughters followed their mothers to catch small lizards, gather nuts and berries or prepare the food. There was a sense of connection and identity here.
Parenting was easier in this setting as the men were able to socialise with the men, the women socialised with the women (don’t you always feel energised in a group of chatting mums!) and the kids could run around like mad. If you have ever been in this setting and thought to yourself, “What a fabulous day”, maybe we can finally see how life was always suppose to be.
However, when I listen to parents and children these days, I hear about things like the generation gap. I hear about how ‘back in my day, things were harder/simpler/nicer/not as easy’, basically indicating that this generation doesn’t connect with theirs. And in these very fast moving times, sometimes it is very difficult to pass on information that might be useful, because in fact, it simply is no longer relevant… or so we think.
In a short 120 years, we have had many wars. Two World Wars. The generation that raised children during the war, did it for survival. For these children, it must have been difficult to live without your parents, with little money and security. As these children grew up, they raised a generation wanting that security. These children are now our baby boomers. This generation is amazing. They lived in poverty as children, in a very insecure world, and as adults, they work hard, they invest and save, to ensure their future and their children’s future.
However, now comes something very tricky. The baby boomers gave extraordinary opportunities to their children, sometimes because these opportunities were not presented to them. This X and Y generation had lessons, fantastic schooling, toys, holidays, the latest this and that, friendships and above all… the freedom to focus on themselves. The frequent rhetoric of ‘Who do you want to be when you grow up?’ made children think that they could actually be anything they wanted to be.
But suddenly, we no longer knew our identity. And frequently as I was growing up, I felt people say to me that I would discover my identity when I was 15, then 18, then 21, then when I got married… But I continued to think, as with many young people today, “Who am I?”
What has happened to family connectivity? Why is it common place that we hear teenagers separating themselves from their parents, not wanting to be with them anymore and wanting to socialise more with their friends. Why do we hear teenagers speaking badly about the two people on earth who love them more than they love themselves? How did it ever get to this?
Is it because of all the advances in technology, in materialism, in the opportunities in life, or possibly, does the separation of children from their parents at a very early age, AS WELL AS the extraordinary pressure to succeed, fit in and ‘survive’ life mean that parents no longer matter.
Only in the last 30-40 years have we seen a surge in Aged Care. Yes, this is because of a very well cared for population who are living longer. But more than that, we are seeing people not being able to care for their parents any longer. We have become a society that is so busy and too caught up in doing well and giving our ‘future’ and children the best, that we must separate the care for our parents.
How did this ever happen?
So back to the title of this blog. An educated guess. It is difficult to get a sense of how our mums did life. If you are fortunate to have had a stay at home mum as your mum, you may have had more time to see her cook, see her take care of you and your siblings, you may have also had the pleasure of her guiding you through the hard times. And even if this was your best case… it still may not have been able to set you up for being a mother today.
Because today, there is the internet, society early sexualisation and certain social acceptabilities that come with this, there is dis-connectivity through TV, screens, there is heightened pressures on kids to ‘not miss out’ and be their best, drug related issues. What happens when you have a child who simply isn’t just naughty, but might have a behavioural problem or a learning disability, who just doesn’t fit in? When kids can’t hear well, or can’t speak well, when they aren’t hitting milestones, growing too slowly, growing too fast, what’s that lump, do you vaccinate, is panadol enough, should I go to hospital now, did they eat any veggies this week, what do you mean it’s PE day today, your stuffs in the wash…. Mums have to follow rules from play group, kinder, school, soccer clubs, ballet lessons, the right shoes, uniform, the right time, the right food, nude food, reading lists, dress up days, volunteer on behalf of your children, PTAs, some of us work, keep a clean house, be a good wife, a good daughter in law, be a good contributor to society…
There is so much pressure on us mums, too.
So sometimes when people ask me if what I am doing for my child is right. How do I know if homeschooling is right for my family.
The truth is, I don’t. I will never know 100% if homeschooling is right for my children. It is an educated guess. And I am prepared to wear the guilt, and to power through because I love them more than all the sacrifices that could ever be made. Because sending Mr. 6 to school when he simply does not want to be there is something I just could not do.
So lets start to be a bit less judging of our fellow mums, because mums these days have to make VERY BIG decisions for their children. Do you work really hard and long hours to send your children to private school? Well done. Good on you. It means you love your children and you want the very best for them no matter what. Do you send your children to the local primary school so they can be with their friends and you can pick them up and spend time with them, or take them to karate class? Excellent. You are a brilliant loving mum who wants to connect and show your children you care. Do you homeschool your children because you want them to learn freely? You are amazing. You care so much for your kids that you are willing to give up your time (and additional income) to give that to them.
See we all love our children. And we are guided by what we have learnt through our upbringing. And in a world that is changing so fast, where generations do not quite understand each other as well as they did in the past, lets us mums stay connected and help each other bring the village back and raise our children together.
Hopefully somewhere in this educated guess, we can have teenagers that know how much we love them, we can raise young adults who not only respect and serve themselves, but also serve and respect their families and community, but most of all, we can raise self-assured and confident people… who could never doubt that their mothers love them.