Parents & Kids. Some worries.

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annie's picture
annie
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Joined: Dec 7 2008
Posts: 18
Parents & Kids. Some worries.

This is the first time I've ever been on a forum and I'm a little tentative.   I'm a parenting educator and I'm out the there trying to educate moms and dads to a new reality.  It fun, but frequently frustrating because what I think they need to know is a long way from what they'd like to know. 

I live just outside Calgary and the although the recession has hit, it is only barely underway here.  Formerly this was a boom town and no doubt when higher oil prices return it will do ok, although I doubt it'll be the economic bastion it once was especially with all the other issues looming on the horizon.  People here still have money and so the attitude that all will be well shortly, reigns supreme.  

I run a website and I work much like Supernanny does for those of you that are familiar with the program.  I also talk about parenting after peak oil because much of the way we parent and the mystification of the process has been created by surplus energy.  Presuming that our future will include more manual labour simply to eat, my problem lies in the way we have made our children the focus of our activity, instead of part of it.  I look back at traditional societies and although mom & dad were available to kids, the kids themselves were remarkably independent.  In support of that, there is a lady named Jean Liedloff who studied the Yacuana indians in South America because she wanted to find out what made them so easy going and well behaved.  She observed the closeness between mother and child and many other things but she also observed a critical part that many modern parenting methods that have adopted the methodology, have left out.  Namely, that the child was regularly part of all kinds of activities but not the focus of them.

That has somehow been 'modernized' to mean that parents do the very thing that Liedloff noticed was not a good idea and I'd have to agree.  They extrapolate the closeness between mother and child to mean they shouldn't say no and they frequently confuse the difference between 'wants' and 'needs,' terrified that any lack of attention toward their child will result in not properly meeting those needs.  I recognize all parents aren't like this but it's something I see all the time.  Families being run/organized by the child and not the other way around. I have a feeling this will cause people even more stress in the future, as our leisure lifestyles disappear and are replaced by ones that include having to get something practical done or nobody eats.

I'm all for lots of love and stability for kids.  It's not like I'm some kind of killjoy but I know that time is short to create the leaders of tomorrow.  We need thoughtful, energetic, kind and determined people.  People who can fail and get up again and again and not demand that failure be removed as an option.  People who can think and put community first and themselves second.  

I wrote this to find out what other people think.   Please if you have thoughts I'd love to hear them.  For those of you that are interested you can visit my site at http://www.anniethenanny.ca/ and check out my peak oil button.

Sometimes I think I should stick to writing about temper tantrums and potty training but then I think no, I should keep going.  I guess that's why I'm tentative.

Annie

 

 

 

 

 

Ready's picture
Ready
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 30 2008
Posts: 917
Re: Parents & Kids. Some worries.

Anne,

 First, welcome to the forum and congrats on your first post.

While I did not see every page on your website, I was curious what your thoughts are on schooling post crash. Do you see home schooling as the norm?

Thanks,

Rog

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SkylightMT
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Joined: Sep 30 2008
Posts: 125
Re: Parents & Kids. Some worries.

I, too, was fascinated by Liedloff's study of the Yequana tribal customs when it came to child-rearing.

However, I have come to the conclusion that humans are remarkably adaptable. They come into the world with a cultural blank slate. A child can develop healthily following the older children as the older children follow the adults doing the work. A child can also develop healthily in a family that practices consensual living. A parent who prioritizes a child's need for play by regularly getting down on the floor and playing with the child will not harm the child in any way, and that child can end up as healthy as any Yequana child. Humans are truly amazing in their adaptability.

 I find it very difficult to employ the Yequana method in my culture (our family lives in the Pacific Northwest) but I think its great for the cultures it belongs in (tight small communities that do a lot of basic, down-to-earth labor, unlike mine - I do most of my work on the computer sitting still). 

What I think is important for both me and my child is planting gardens, building rain barrels, riding our bikes to get places. She's a little young yet but she watches me fix the plumbing and "helped" papa build a barn in the backyard. These are skills I want her to have; just the basic skills of getting along in life without needing to pay someone to fix things too often. I think camping out, fishing, hiking, etc are probably adequate at this point to prepare her for what might be coming. If things get rougher than that I will be learning along with her.

annie's picture
annie
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Joined: Dec 7 2008
Posts: 18
Re: Parents & Kids. Some worries.

Hi Rog

Certainly home schooling will be far more prevalent than it is today but I think the best solution would be very small community schools, basically groups of people who can work together and utitilize each other's knowledge.  That way when people aren't able to offer help in a particular area, they'd be free to do something else and children would get some diversity in teaching style along with exposure to a larger range of ideas.

Thanks for the encouragement.

 Annie

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annie
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Posts: 18
Re: Parents & Kids. Some worries.

Hi Skylight

Great post.  I think a good attitude is the most important and it certainly seems your daughter is learning that and lots of other worthy stuff.  It's not that parents shouldn't play with their kids.  The crucial difference between many modern parents I see and the Yacuana Indians, is that the Indians are not child centered.   Kids naturally follow, imitate and assist but the moment parents turn the focus too much on them, they get the very behavior they want to avoid.  An unhealthy focus creates children who feel more dependent, not less.  It's very interesting.

Annie

Amanda Witman's picture
Amanda Witman
Status: Peak Prosperity Team (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2008
Posts: 409
Re: Parents & Kids. Some worries.

This is not a topic I generally speak up about here, but here goes.

As a mother of four with a BA in Anthropology, I have a keen interest in the parenting practices of other cultures.

There is much that can be learned from traditional cultures, in many
areas including parenting and child-rearing, but I think it's really
important to investigate the sources before making any assumptions. 

Liedloff's book provides good food for thought, but I want to caution against taking it as fact.  It is my understanding that it is not an ethnographically accurate account and that it was not sufficiently documented to be considered a valid source by many anthropologists.  Some have definitely questioned its validity.

However, the book has inspired many parents to rethink the way they relate to their children, and I think the collective outcome of this has probably been more positive than negative.

It has been awhile since I read Liedloff's book, but I remember
having conversations with other mothers about the debatable wisdom of allowing
curious toddlers to (for example) self-regulate their own safe distance from the edge
of a ravine or fire pit.  The consensus was that Liedloff would say
kids are innately able to err on the side of self-preservation, if
given the opportunity.  My experience with my own kids tells me that at
least some young children are simply unable to keep themselves safe
in these types of situations, even if the adults in their life have done their best to allow the child's inner risk-assessment to develop on its own.

I believe that both traditional and modern parenting practices have
arisen in response to myriad cultural and environmental influences.  I
hesitate to say that any given "traditional" or "tribal" parenting
practice is any more appropriate than any other, especially if it is
taken out of context.  It's my feeling that no culture's practices are
or were ever "pristine."  They have evolved, and ours will continue to
evolve as well. 

annie wrote:

She observed the closeness between mother and child and many other things but she also observed a critical part that many modern parenting methods that have adopted the methodology, have left out.  Namely, that the child was regularly part of all kinds of activities but not the focus of them.

In my experience, hifting the focus overly onto children is stressful for the adults,
and shifting the focus overly onto the adults is stressful for the
children.  Parents and children are in community with each other and
I feel the needs of both parties must be considered in concert.

My hope is that parents, now and future, will
treat their children with the type of healthy respect that they
themselves would hope to receive from others.  I imagine that healthy primary parenting goals - really, family goals, or even community goals - might
include collectively working to meet everyone's basic needs, practicing
respect for all regardless of age, encouraging healthy communication and
stress-management practices among members, and fostering a sense of
supportive community within and outside of the family. 

annie wrote:

I have a feeling this will cause people even more stress in the future, as our leisure lifestyles disappear and are replaced by ones that include having to get something practical done or nobody eats.

Honestly, I think the stress you predict is going to happen regardless of parenting approach.  I don't think it is a bad thing for kids to participate in the work of the family (actually, I think it can be quite healthy, to an extent), and I think the parents' attitude can make more of a difference in how stressful a situation is than the task itself.  Some parents are better at managing stress than others, and some do a better job of teaching their kids to manage stress.

And children are generally resilient and adaptable.  Some more than others, but still, it's a human characteristic.

annie wrote:

I'm all for lots of love and stability for kids.  It's not like I'm some kind of killjoy but I know that time is short to create the leaders of tomorrow.  We need thoughtful, energetic, kind and determined people.  People who can fail and get up again and again and not demand that failure be removed as an option.  People who can think and put community first and themselves second.  

So what do you think is needed to help foster these traits in children and young people? 

I think kids need the adults in their lives to model these traits.  Thoughtfulness, kindness, determination, persistence, self-reliance, resourcefulness, compassion.  I think this is an important role for any and all adults to play in helping the next generation grow into the kind of leaders we desperately need

annie's picture
annie
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 7 2008
Posts: 18
Re: Parents & Kids. Some worries.

Hi Amanda

Thanks for your very thoughtful response and I entirely agree with much of what you say.  We do need to model compassion, persistance, self-reliance etc. for children and many people do.  I agree that it's absolutely critical for children to be part of the work of the family, imitating and learning by doing, as is their natural tendancy.  My worry comes from what I'm actually seeing on the ground, as it were.  What we need to stress and what we are stressing seems to me to be two completely different things.

I recognize that parenting methods are constantly evolving.  However, what we have here is a fundamental warping of a methodology, one that has a huge following and one which is likely to have major negative implications in a rapidly changing society.  Parents are coached to focus on trying to read their child's needs in the false assumption that such an approach is compassionate and will create caring children.

Let me give you and example of how an unhealthy focus on a child's needs negatively affects the child, something that both Jean Liedloff and myself have noted in practice.  A toddler for instance, will watch an adult, imitating and learning as they go along.  If the adult is happily centered on their own activity, the child will learn what an adult does in a natural way.  If the adult stops what they are doing to acertain the child's needs, they are short circuiting this natural learning process.  This interruption makes it appear to the toddler that the adult they are watching is at best lacking in confidence and at worst, looking to them for direction. The child, lacking the ability or know how to provide leadership themselves, registers this discomfort in parental uncertainty by demanding that the parent resume control of the situation and provide the leadership necessary.  The child's uncertainty will then be displayed in behavior that parents generally read as 'naughty' or 'bad.'

If the parent realizes what's going on they will resume control, provide the leadership necessary and the behavior will subside.  If they don't, the child's demands will continue to ramp up and subsequently become very difficult to deal with.  That behavior will in turn drive mom and dad crazy, who will more often than not respond with uncertainty in how to fix it, perhaps by reading various parenting books or trying different approaches instead of focusing on the lack of leadership that created the behavior in the first place. The child for their part, will continue to push until the situation is resolved.  These then become the hallmarks of a negative cycle. 

As a result of the above, you have many families out there where the tail is wagging the dog. So to close the loop,what is it that encourages parents to parent like this?  One word, energy.  Take the energy away and the whole paradigm collapses.  The problem will of course eventually fix itself but not without a huge problem for those that have grown up as guinea pigs of this approach, both for the children themselves and everyone else around them. 

What I'm trying to do is to get the word out whilst we still have energy available to us. My worry is that although leaders beget leaders, so does the converse. 

Annie

 

 

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