By Anne Day
When my children were young, we didn’t have Family Day, so it so wonderful for today’s young families that they get this extra day together, especially in February, and more to the point, this February, when we are starting to feel that perhaps winter has overstayed her welcome.
In another life I used to teach a parenting program and one of the questions we would ask the mothers was to think back to their own childhood, and remember a time that was happy for them. Without fail, the answer was always one-on-one time spent with a parent. Christmas was a close second.
Lately I have been embroiled in discussions about our childhood and its impact on us. We are doing research for a book we are writing on being enough, as so many women we suspect, do not feel good enough. What we are finding is that so often the roots of self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy are planted in childhood. All of which serves to make you realize that as parents we have such a vital role to play in how our children grow and develop.
For myself I was an only child, living in a home with four adults – my parents who were married for 50 years, and my grandparents. They thought I was terrific, and I believed them. Hey, why not? But that solid upbringing of love has stood me in good stead.
Then I hear the stories of others, and I realize how fortunate I have been. Now it wasn’t all a bed of roses, especially when I was a teenager living with two different generations, but I knew for sure I was loved, and I knew that my parents would support me no matter what.
I had a safety net, so if I crashed and burned, there were people who cared about me who would help me pick up the pieces. But so many people don’t. They live in a dysfunctional environment, where the parents have so many issues, that they just don’t have the skill set and life experience to parent a child.
One woman shared that she found her support at school, but dreaded going home because of the constant put-downs and comments like “they wouldn’t like you that if they knew you the way I do.” So while she may have had a good day in the classroom, that bubble was burst as soon as she walked through the doors at home.
Children really only need two things – to be loved and to feel worthwhile – and they take these cues from the adults around them. They don’t question the expectations we have of them as children, because we’re the adults, right? But it is like the dripping tap, when all you hear are put downs, or worse, a quick slap to knock you into shape, it is little wonder that some children grow up to feel inadequate and worthless.
But before we all get depressed at these stories, it is also good to know that just one caring adult can make the difference – someone who takes an interest in and believes in you. For some it is a teacher, a coach or a friend’s mother, so if you are playing that role for a child who seems to be having a tough time at home, good for you.
It would be all too easy in our comfy, middle class existence to believe that all is well with the world, and all children receive the respect and love they deserve, but sadly that is not the case, and too often down the road, they go from unhappy children to become unhappy adults who don’t feel good enough. And I suspect, sometimes history repeats itself.
How does the saying go? It takes a village to raise a child, perhaps in today’s challenging times, that is just what we need, and spending time together on Family Day is a start.
If you would like to know more about The Good Enough Project, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org We welcome your input, comments and stories.