It takes a village
A couple days ago I spoke about parenting on my instagram stories and how I have viewed it from a young persons perspective to now an adult. From a young age I decided that I didn't want to have children for a plethora of reasons and it changed a little bit in my 20's because what I was looking for was love (in completely the wrong place) or an emotional support person.
An emotional support person is a term I came up with when thinking about the reasons why people have children and one of them is because people have children much like some people get an emotional support animal to help them with their mental health. In this sense people have children to fill a void that would be better if the person work through their issues instead of putting an indescribable amount of burden onto an unwitting child.
This idea that your child will love you unconditionally is also dangerous, children are people and have autonomy over their mind's and bodies, they do not have to love you in the way that you love them. If you guide, love and protect them, they will (hopefully) love you no matter what because you gave them safety, happiness and love. If they don't, they don't for their own reasons and it isn't up to you to demand that your child love you. Yes it would be nice that they did, but you are putting an unfair expectation on someone who didn't ask to be here. This may seem harsh but we can not force our expectations on others, this is a great example of loving someone freely without expectation, unconditionally. Children should not have the fact that you created them and brought them into this world hung over them because of a choice that you made; children did not ask to be here.
Looking back on my thoughts as to why I wanted a child, I realise that the reason that I wanted children was not to bring life and love into this world, it was for absolutely selfish reasons. This is grossly unfair and neglectful to a child/ren and I really wish that we could have honest conversations about parenting. So many people regret having children and there should be space for this; how do we as a community accommodate the parent/s and the child so that everyone has a good quality of life. This is where community care, love and having a village come in handy. People should not have to suffer in silence, also it could be that they just wanted to say that out loud to get that off of their chest and it doesn't mean that they do not love their children or want the best for them.
Too often people throw "You can't tell people how to raise their children or my child" or "You don't have children, so you can't speak on the issue" and all the other versions of this nonsense. I understand that some people talk shit and do not have a clue how to raise and child and I need people to understand that that includes people who also have children and yes some people need to shut the fuck up, but healthy public discourse is vital.
Every child is different and none of us come with a guidebook when we are born and none of us know what to expect, but there are general helpful tips that we can pass to each other, parents or not. Most people have some kind of experience with children and sometimes we can learn things from one another and can pass information on, for example I learnt that a non medicinal way of helping with teething is so freeze breast milk in the ice tray and let the baby suck on it to help them soothe their gums. Obviously this won't help everyone but it's something to try when you are tired and stressed and can't think of what to do.
I believe that raising a child is the hardest thing to do in the world and it is not an easy task, it is also not for everybody and a lot of people should not be participating in it; including people who are already parents. Just because you are a parent, it doesn't mean that are automatically doing a good job, especially if you emotionally neglect them. Which happens more often then people care to admit.
For as long as I can remember I've been talking about societies unhealthy view of parenting, this idea that all you have to do is feed, clothe and shelter your child and that makes you an astounding parent is redundant and neglects to give space to a child's emotional needs.
I have been learning a little bit about early years on my training course and it appears to me that people get passed the early years (0-5) and think to themselves I've made it, the hard part is over, and stop growing with their child. I think people forget that children have to be taught how to control, or regulate for a better term, their emotions because they do not understand what is happening to them. This problem suggests that parents they themselves, do not know how to regulate their emotions effectively so thus can not guide a child with theirs.
As I do not have children, I do not know the level of teaching or support surrounding how to manage and support a child's emotions, but I think that it is vital that we have access to these services as a community.
Although this is my own personal view and it is different to others, I believe in the proverb: "It takes a village to raise a child." My family weren't good at it, but it still allowed me to benefit from having my aunty for example to sometimes emotionally support me or my uncle for financial support when I was a teenager. Whilst the participants of my village were crap, the model is not. One person or two people can not raise a child alone, and this isn't to down play how bloody amazing single mums in particular are doing, but more so in the grand scheme of things.I say this because a person being the primary caregiver needs a break sometimes, in fact I argue that they need regular time alone, to enjoy themselves and recalibrate their minds, so that they can fill up their cup to be available and be able to give to their children fully. Similar with a two parent family, they need time by themselves, but also time with each other to pour into their relationship.
I also think about the things we teach children, like DIY skills, sex education, cooking, faith (Religion), entertainment (cinema, sports, amusement parks etc) and that sometimes parents can not give all of that or an alternative view, for example a child's parents maybe atheist but the child's uncle may be Spiritual and the child may look for more information on Spirituality and align themselves with that rather than atheism; thus that uncle giving a safe space for learning. Children deserve options and should have the safety to choose what is comfortable for them.
It is so vital to have trustworthy people in your circle, and it is so important to work on yourself and be the best person you can be before you have children. The whole defensive act is tired now, let it go. I understand people do not speak with tact on a good day, but sometimes people get offended over nothing, even when we are playing about. I remember seeing a post on twitter about a newborn looking at their mother with disgust and the caption said something like: "The baby doesn't even know you" It was a funny harmless joke, which in fact had some truth to it, because neither mother nor baby really know each other, the baby just knows that this person is their lifeline. They do not know if they are a good person, kind, compassionate, empathetic etc they just know that to survive they have to rely on this person. The same with the mother, they do not know who this child is going to grow into. But of course those offended missed this part and claimed that they child knows their mothers voice blah blah blah, first of all we know and second of all, it is clear (to me anyway) that emotions are not even considered in child raising. I am aware that children do not start to experience emotions when newborn, but as the baby grows it should be factored in as the child grows. They will start to experience emotions and will need help with regulating them, not giving them materialistic things to make them be quiet or to soothe an emotional need.
Children require so much emotional support, especially in this world that we live in; a world which profits and gains off of our insecurities, so the old adage of "I want to give my child everything I didn't have" is regressive as almost always it is in reference to materialistic objects. This is not to say that you can not give your child materialistic things but that alone does not help raise a child. Be mindful of why you are giving your child these things, is it to impress other people, soothe your inner child, because you think that is what children need? Over giving your child materialistic gifts of affection is spoiling them and this is where you create narcissistic people, they believe that the world owes them something and when they don't get it, results into a tantrum. They do this because they were never told no, it wasn't explained effectively why they couldn't have it and their emotions outside of the materialistic gift was not soothed.
This behaviour is not healthy and it is definitely not good parenting, just because you have the means to give them expensive things doesn't mean you should give it. Even if we lived in a perfect world where everyone had access to the basic human rights, food, water, clothes, shelter etc, the entitlement complex that you are creating in that child would mean that everyone around them would suffer and this includes themselves too, as people who can not regulate their emotions can harm themselves.
We currently live with them and they are insufferable, the world does not revolve around them and it seems as if everyone is a narcissist, when in fact that are displaying signs of lack of respect, lack of boundaries, self awareness and emotional regulation; the things we should have learnt when we were children.
Parenting is no easy task and should not be rushed into, it requires so much from us and this is another point about village raising, because people would get a better idea of the work that you have to put in, instead of going into it blind. Society needs to do a better job of creating a better view of family and what families look like and it needs to stop at the idea that the nuclear family is the only way to be and the ultimate goal of life. Until we talk openly and honestly about raising children we are going to continue the cycle of emotionally neglected children, which results in people pleasers or people who display behaviours of narcissists.
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