Sorry – am flitting off for a little holiday. Have made the nerve-wracking decision that the laptop is not going with me just to prove to myself I can manage without it! Possibly! Might have to borrow one – is that cheating? Back soon!
I’m getting to see one of my two newest and bestest friends next week and I’m as over excited as a little child. Because she also happen to be one of my daughters.
Your children can be your best friends too. That’s a lovely thought isn’t it; that you’re not only raising children you’re raising new best friends!
That doesn’t mean cloying or possessive relationships – best friends are not like that anyway. It’s just about relationships and you’re sowing the seeds and building the skills for good ones right from when they’re tiny.
While many parents – and teachers too – often want to be the best friends of the children they are looking after, they sometimes forget what it is about friends that makes them so, what makes for that special relationship.
Sometimes it’s interpreted as all give and no take – that’s not a healthy way to forge relationships. Sometimes it’s misunderstood as making the other feel all-important to the sacrifice of the self – that’s not right either. Some people think that if they always give in to what the other demands it will secure friendships – nope!
That special relationship – in fact all relationships – are built around reciprocation. They’re two-way. Both give and take.
Take respect. Respect is essential in relationships. But it has to be mutual – demanded as well as given. This happens through behaviour. We have to behave in ways that others will respect – always – no short cuts. And we show respect for others if they behave in ways that command it. That’s important whether those others are adults or children.
And this mutuality works whatever it is we are giving and receiving within a relationship; with compassion and empathy, loyalty and support, understanding and trust, honesty and communication. All these are fundamental to good relationships, to good parenting, to good friends. They’re all necessary for relationships to properly work.
And they are demonstrated by the way you behave towards your children and the way in which you guide them to behave towards you and others. Everyone is as equal and important as each other in relationships. It’s never about competition or being boss or one-up. It’s a mutual demonstration of behaviour.
The other thing this approach will show your kids as well as how to be best friends, whether that’s to you or others, is how much they are valued.
Your children will feel as valued and important by having the chance to return that love and support and friendship you give, as they will receiving it. Children feel valued by knowing what they give to you, as well as by what they receive. You’ll know for yourself as an adult that it is lovely having friends you can turn to, but it’s also a lovely feeling knowing that you are a valued and trusted friend to someone else.
These things show children how to be good friends to others, an important part of their progress towards happy and enduring relationships. And one day they might become your best friend too. How lovely will that be!
It is – take it from me!
And I’m off next week to spend some time with one of mine. Hugs will be shared, chat will be endless and cake will be involved! Here’s wishing the same for you one day too!
My last blog before the weekend Random was a bit sentimental; this could be the same. But it starts with suspicion.
I reckon we’ve grown to be a suspicious lot – is that a trait of society or circumstance? Whatever; suspicion was my first reaction to a weird comment on my blog the other day that was completely off topic – I do get them occasionally from Randoms looking to further their own popularity.
It roughly read; Hi Ma’m, I’ve found the passport of Chelsea Mountney at Paddington station and would like to return it…..and it went on to say that if we’d like to contact him he’d make arrangements to return it.
At first I thought it was some kind of new spam or stalking and was dubious about contact. I didn’t even know my daughter had lost her passport. But then I remembered her stressy text from Paddington earlier about how she’d had to race through the station nearly missing her train.
Could it really be that a complete stranger had picked it up, gone to the trouble of googling to track us down, and would put himself out enough to return it? I rang my daughter who was doing some filming in London that day. She was shocked at what I told her as she hadn’t missed it yet. But she checked – it was gone from her bag.
Several texts with this complete stranger later proved it to be genuine. Mine were full of gratitude and thanks for the trouble taken. He sounded surprised at that and said that where he came from honesty was taught from birth!
He’d obviously looked round my site too and in further texts expressed his admiration for home schooling. He also said that as parents we all have the chance to raise our children with this sort of kindness and honesty and thus a chance to change society!
I felt moved by his trouble and kindness all day. And maybe a little ashamed of my earlier suspicions. And wondered; are we all suspicious because it is so rare to experience or express this sort of random kindness?
Perhaps because of media coverage we are scare mongered into being more wary than openhearted. Maybe in our desperation to protect our children from stranger danger we have sacrificed the idea of being helpful to each other. Maybe, despite the wonders of our global communication through the Net, it has also made us too anxious to consider kindness.
Perhaps we have to get a little braver.
And I felt uplifted by the kindness shown to us. Am going to make sure I pass it on.
And that’s what I hope this story will do. Plus offering a reminder that while we are raising our children to be wise about the contacts they have with the wider world, we also need to teach them to be kind. Talk to them. And make sure we are kind every day to each other – even to strangers. Because if kindness is what you’re teaching it will change the entire focus and feel of what you do not just for today but for the tomorrows too.
And the passport? It arrived by post just two days later as promised.
Thought I’d use this picture for my random weekend post: I’m trying to help the planet by putting the dog’s veterinary collar to reuse. But I’m afraid the rats will be losing out as I’ve erected it to stop them shinning up the bird table and nabbing all the birds’ food! Good idea? What d’you reckon?
(Funny blurry picture from the window - I never clean them!)
People who don’t write won’t know why it makes such a difference. It makes a difference because, although it’s commonly thought that writers have a very glamorous and easy life, the real scenario for most is that you sit in complete isolation, force yourself to climb the enormous mountain of getting thousands and thousands of words down on paper, bite down the self doubt with no idea whether you’re just wasting your time till the task is done probably a year later. So to know that you haven’t wasted your time is enormously heartening!
Thank you to all those who’ve sent me kind comments. I want you to know how much I appreciate it and how it moves me.
Especially as the whole reason I wrote Mumhood was to move others!
Firstly, motherhood (like writing!) can be a completely overwhelming experience, often isolating, certainly bewildering with all the decisions you have to make, definitely life changing, and I think few appreciate that. So I wanted to move people to understand that.
Secondly, I wanted to support all those mums in the job they do; from those who weren’t getting any to those who maybe don’t have a partner, their own mum, or family member around to give them support and pass on wisdom and ways they could handle it to make their life as smooth as possible. I just wanted to send all mums a bit of love and support. Mums give out love with such fervour and selflessness – they need plenty back again.
Thirdly, I also wanted to change a few minds. So many people have such fixed ideas about what mums should be doing, fixed ideas about parenting, often traditional and rigid ideas that may not work for everyone, especially about a mother’s role. I’m not knocking traditional – if it works. Trouble is, when it doesn’t, we can feel stuck with it and unable to launch into something different if we need to. I want to encourage mums to make choices about the way they want to be and the mum they want to be, despite traditions and current trends, cultures and social media!
And finally, I wanted to make sure mums know their worth. Mums are raising new human beings and those human beings are going to make a difference in the world and that’s important to understand. It’s so easy to forget that children aren’t children forever; we’re raising new adults, adults who will need to take on care and responsibility towards each other, towards the planet, and make their own special contribution. The way these children turn out starts right from mums (and dads) being there with their kids, giving them a demonstration of a caring, responsible human so the kids know how to do it when their turn comes. Mums are educating their children – raising children is educating them – right from birth. That is the vital work that mums do. And I wanted to move people to appreciate that enormous worth.
Whether I’m writing about mums, mothering, raising children, learning, parenting or home education in the end it all amounts to the same thing: the worth of the work parents do.
And that lovely comment showed me there’s some worth to what I do. I am grateful almost beyond words for knowing that. Thank you – you know who you are!
If anyone else reads my books and thinks they’re worth commenting on, do post a review on Amazon because this helps others find the book too and receive the help they might need.
Which is exactly what I do it for! You have my heartfelt thanks.
Frustrated doesn’t really describe it! My friend is seething.
That’s because she’s spent some tedious hours stuck listening to a guy who is supposed to be delivering a course on computers for business. Instead he’s been indulging in the sound of his own voice, his own anecdotes and his own ego.
“Now I know how the kids in school feel,” she ranted. “It’s hell being stuck listening to someone who is not sticking to the subject and waffling on about pointless trivia that’s off topic; it’s driven me nuts. I haven’t learnt anything new.”
I bet it drives children nuts too – although they of course are not allowed to have an opinion on such things!
What made it worse was that she’d had a taste of how it could be. Part of the course was delivered by a brilliant tutor, who was right on topic throughout, who didn’t fill time with irrelevant tangents and selling himself, who responded to the learners requirements.
“But today’s guy today was gruesome!” She went on.
“He kept asking patronising questions for something he already had answers for, making us kind of guess when I wanted to shout ‘just give us the bloody information’. He didn’t seem to be aware of our irritation or whether we were getting a good experience from him, he was so in love with his own agenda. I have complete sympathy with the kids in school. Why should they put up with idiots like him?”
Why indeed! It also struck me as I listened that most of us are prepared to listen to an adult friend ranting about a tutor on an adult learning course, yet we’re not prepared to take seriously the fact that some kids are enduring the same thing.
The thing about qualifying teachers is this; getting a degree doesn’t make you a good one.
A good one starts with a good person. A person who cares about learners more than themselves – this guy didn’t seem to. A person who can give up their own ego for their learners’ needs – this guy didn’t do that either. Who can identify needs which are different from their own, who can put themselves in others’ shoes, who are empathetic towards others’ lack of knowledge rather than patronising. And who understand that they are there for the learners, not for their own glory.
But how do you qualify for that? It’s less about academics and more about being human.
Her final remark on the subject:
“I think every teacher should be made to sit through the same teaching as the kids do on a regular basis and see how mind-numbing some of it is. Just imagine enduring that day after day for ten years.”
Yea – just imagine! Imagine what some kids go through in schools. I know we have many brilliant and inspiring teachers doing a very tough job and much of what they’re required to deliver is already boring and not their fault. They’re at the mercy of the system both training wise and in classrooms. But kids know who can make good of it – or not!
And I find it hard to understand why parents expect their children to tolerate it and don’t credit them with knowing which are which.
For, just like my friend, they usually do!