Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Parenting.

I woke up thinking about parents and parenting this morning. I left publishing this post late, as I was undecided whether or not to just trash it.

But I didn’t do that, obviously.

It’s hard to remember when I first heard the word ‘Parenting’. It was certainly new to me when I did hear it, and would have been unknown to my own parents’ working-class generation. They had childen, and just got on with it. Those children were expected to do two things. Behave themselves, and have a better life than they did. They wanted boys to be like men, and girls to be like women. They wanted a better education than they had known before, and more opportunities in life than had been offered to them.

The life skills they taught then were already cast in stone. Girls learned to cook, sew, do housework, and look after babies. Boys learned to stand up for themselves, fix things and do any heavy work, be strong and responsible, and to work for a living in a decent job. Yes, that is old-fashioned. Times change, and often for the better.

Then they felt the need to teach me some values.
Respect my elders.
Have good manners.
Show commonsense.
Be grateful for what I had.
Care for the sick and elderly, relatives or not.
Avoid criminal activity, and respect people’s property and person.
Learn from my mistakes, and try not to repeat them.

Even now, they are good things to aim for.

If you look up the definition of ‘Parenting’, it is a simple one.
‘The activity of bringing up a child as a parent.’
But in the twenty-first century, it has taken on many other meanings. This has had some interesting results. Children live at home with their parents longer than they ever did before. They remain in education for much longer too. If they start work and are earning a decent salary, many do not have to contribute to the running of the household, or even pay for things like food and clothes. They expect to have a good Internet connection, access to a mobile phone, and all the other trappings of modern life.

In most cases, modern-day parents provide all this without hesitation. It is modern parenting. Whether they still teach similar values, I am not sure.

But what do I know? I never had children, though I have tried to help bring up four step-children over the past twenty years.

Is ‘Parenting’ better than just having kids and getting on with life? What do you think?

53 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

  1. Great Post Pete! Gets you thinking for sure. whatever changes with parenting habits. As long a the child is loved and has a good mental wellbeing the child can flourish into adulthood. With those foundations providing opportunities for children to learn to push their boundaries is paramount for them finding their independence. When we make a child’s life to comfortable then they will find it hard to embark on the uncomfortable parts of life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. Never having had children, I do find many modern parents are just laying the foundations for problems for their children in the future. They are so cossetted, I doubt they will ever cope with any adversity in adult life..
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. Thank goodness you didn’t trash this post. I was brought up like you. Roles for girls and boys were clear. I often think of parents who really didn’t want to have children, but that was the expected thing to do. Sad. Today parents have the best of intentions, but they can’t let go for fear their child might fail or get hurt. And I’m not just talking preschoolers. They are teaching with a moral compass, but their children have no resiliency. The “I did it myself” is sorely missing at home. Best to you, Pete.

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  3. I love this posting, Pete! In my eyes caring for another person is honourable itself. Caring for kids and guiding them to become adults is for me the same as doing this for own children. I can not see any difference, means one needs not to have own children to be a perfect member of the community. Michael

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post Pete 🙂 Everything you have said about parenting could not have been more inspired or wise. I do not know If this is true or not, but in some parts of Europe and India, it is considered normal for regular working class folk to live with their parents until they either make the kind of money an upperclass person makes or until marriage – that is If that person chooses to get married. Bear in mind, I learned this from a few European and Indian friends of mine, who have lived there respectively. True or false, it is an interesting thought 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In some cultures, even those who have emigrated to Britain, the extended family lives together on a long-term basis. Parents, married children, grandparents, etc. This is very true of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi people in England. Also some African and Chinese immigrants. It was once the case with British white people, but that tended to fade away by the early 1970s.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your observations about modern parenting are apt, Pete. There is more of a sense of entitlement these days. Kids live with their parents much longer, yes, that is true. My eldest daughter lived with us until she was twenty-seven. Both of my daughters were/are glued to their devices–Iphone, PC games, apps, etc…they can’t get anywhere with out their GPS (that really bugs me) but they are far more kind, thoughtful and tolerant than they were in my generation and, I dare say, my mother’s generation. So it’s a mixed bag, like everything else. But all those “old fashioned values” i.e., good manners, personal responsibility, common sense, etc., most kids still have those to varying degrees. Most kids, thankfully, have decent parents. That’s my observation.

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  6. I was raised with many of the same things you listed – but I’ll add my ‘two cents’ to the peanut gallery – – Parenting – the act of bringing up a child to be better than you are in ALL areas – including your biases, your coping skills that you can’t let go of long after they served their initial purpose’ – The one thing you didn’t list, that I learned from my mom and dad, that I strove to demonstrate and pass on to my kids? With even more explanations, and examples? “Learn how to stand strong when controversy is strong and take your lumps if you end up being wrong, without whining” and “It is NEVER a sign of weakness to admit when you were wrong or apologize for it” – – EVER –

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  7. I mean I have a child and I am getting on with life. There are definitely values that I want him to emulate. I want him to approach every situation with kindness, I want him to be tolerant and generous and curious. I expect him to be polite and mindful of the needs of others. I also want him to feel free to express his feelings and be his best and most comfortable self. And with all of this I would expect him to be independent and make his way in the world. He certainly won’t be living with me rent free once he completes his education.

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    1. Thanks for your own thoughts and opinions, Abbi. I have always had the feeling that you are a very good mother, and I am sure you will continue to do a great job as he grows older.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  8. I was fortunate to have a mother who rebelled against the norm. She had dreams of things bigger than most girls her age. Some, she was never able to achieve because of lack of family support and some because of money. She always instilled in us that we could be anything we hoped to be. Respect and decency was always part of the lesson as well though. You can have both.

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  9. Glad to know you posted it Pete. I agree, sometimes parents have different set of values that their kids need to learn like respecting elders, observing honesty, having good manners, and many more things that a child should learn at an early age.

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  10. Like many aspects of life, it is not cut & dried, black & white. I am guessing that the concept of parenting was invented in the 1970s, when there was a new impetus to formalise & codify how we live; it wasn’t the first, by any means: I think there was a similar movement in Victorian times, especially where technology was concerned. It is clearly still going on, and new ideas, whether good or otherwise [subjective, mostly] spread very quickly via the internet; I have realised this through the theories surrounding the development of babies, as a result of recently becoming a grandparent, although to give the parents credit, whilst they might acknowledge a new theory, they don’t just accept it credulously, partly because the science is still very new and has yet to be proved by large-scale studies. To return to parenting though: it will have some merit, but what worries me to some extent is that it feels slightly condescending, because it assumes that parents don’t instinctively know what’s best for their child. That will be true in some cases, regrettably, as a result of previous bad parenting and/or poor circumstances, but I don’t know how helpful it is for parents to feel that they are failing if they don’t always conform to a code of conduct that might well have been the result of an academic seminar, rather than practical experience; I might be doing it a disservice, of course. The crucial thing for me is, however bringing up children is regarded by society [which will vary widely by country & culture] that hands-off support is always easily & quickly available for parents if they need it [the extended family generally being the best form of support], with intervention only ever being a last resort as & when necessary, if the safety of the children is in doubt. Cheers, Jon.

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    1. One of the biggest changes I have noticed since my childhood is that families now often live a long way apart. My mum had the support of her mum, two sisters, and two sisters-in-law. All were within walking distance, or a short bus ride. It would have been incomprehensible to them to move 100 miles away, or even 30 miles. This leaves many young parents today more or less coping on their own, with little or no family support as I knew it.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Knowing when to love and cuddle, when to shout or adopt phycology, or when to be just plain silly 🙂
    I’m sure it will get more difficult as they get older, but I hope we are building some good foundations for them, even if they are spoilt rotten by everyone around them.
    Of course we have the luxury of working from home and rely less on school and childcare to fill in the gaps, something which more parents have to do nowadays as both go out to work to try and stay afloat or keep up in the new modern way of life.

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  12. Parenting is serious business. Having taught for thirty-one years, it was the single biggest factor in children’s lives. There were exceptions, and some children overcame all of the dysfunction in their lives to not repeat the cycle, but those were rare occasions.

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  13. It’s a wonder that word parenting hasn’t been superseded, because there are many adults helping to bring up children who are not their parents; grandparents, foster parents, aunts and uncles, step parents. However you come to find yourself raising children, how to be a parent and how to look after your family finances are the two things still not taught at school. Most children achieve success or happiness in spite of rather than because of their parents; all children are different with different needs and their position in the family is also a factor in the ‘eighteen year nurture package’ they receive.

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  14. I think there are a lot of external factors influencing parents these days that weren’t about when I was young and I’m sure those who are older than me will say the same about my generation. I’m pretty sure my parents did the ‘parenting’ thing, it just didn’t have the label then along with a list of suggested instructions coming at them from every angle. Life has changed a lot since then too. I do know that in my line of work there was a conversation with a social worker who informed us that access to the internet is now classed as one of life’s basic needs the same as heat, food, shelter, safety (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). It is the new norm, as is mobile phones, tablets etc. Children with their gadgets appear to be getting younger and younger (my own son was 11 and was later than a lot of his class mates). I try to reserve judgment on it and can only hope that they are ensuring their child’s safety at the same time. It’s has it’s pros and cons. In my experience parents tend to parent how they were parented or the exact opposite. I feel values are still passed on but parenting as such has changed. External factors such as social media, access to friends, family, the internet etc 24/7 as well as the almost instant gratification play a part. Before we could only hear the news, gossip and events at certain times in the day and communication with the world outside that was limited. News certainly didn’t reach us as fast, opinions and factors that influenced our values didn’t either. Families have also changed with many variations and for many different reasons. I’ve met some amazing parents who have made a very serious effort to do their very best and I’ve met those who could only parent how they have been parented themselves. For me I just hope that my parenting has been good enough and I’ve raised a member of society whose values reflect my own, while respecting the different values of others and he actually knows what his values are. I’ve had quite a few clients who, when I have asked what their values are, they cannot name them and have to have a serious think. Is it a sign of the times or getting caught up in a society where they no longer seem to matter?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your personal experience, and your carefully considered comment, Siobhain. I have no answers of course, but I really appreciate your contribution to the post.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  15. (1) It seems like these days the chicks rule the roost.
    (2) Overheard:
    Lee: Obviously, I’m not cut out for this! Maybe I should become a monk?
    Sally: A parent, Lee! That’s what you need to be!.
    (3) List of values:
    — Respect my elders, even when they’re passing gas.
    — Have good manners. Refuse to put on a gas mask.
    — Show commonsense. Use an air freshener.
    — Be grateful for what I had. Nasal congestion was a gift.
    — Care for the sick and elderly, relatives or not. Buy them a pair of hazmat underwear.
    — Avoid criminal activity. Think twice before running after a flatulent geezer with a chainsaw.
    — Respect people’s property and person. If you must use it, try not to damage the chainsaw.
    — Learn from my mistakes, and try not to repeat them. Oil the chain next time. Learn chainsaw maintenance.

    Liked by 5 people

  16. Either way, those who have children, need to give it some thought before they have them. People tend to plan for a whole list of things in life, they need a plan for raising children, regardless of if they parent or just get on with it, Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 4 people

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