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.
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?