"For thousands of years parents and teachers learned the art of raising children through grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles and neighbors who lived together under relatively stable circumstances for generations.
When changes became necessary, the value of sharing wisdom and experiences was instinctively understood by the pilgrims and pioneers, who traveled together and settled communities with common values and community goals.
Suddenly, at the end of World War II there was a mass migration from small towns and farm communities in to urban and suburban environments. An entire culture was dislocated due to the combined effects of the Industrial Revolution, GI bill, reaction to the Depression, and technology. The wisdom and support of extended family and long-time friends was lost.
Soon after this dramatic shift to urban communities, nearly eleven million couples began giving birth to an average of 4.2 children each and became urban pioneers crossing a frontier of life-style and technology without networks and support systems to offer an accumulation of wisdom to guide them.
Not knowing they were pioneers, these couples forgot the basic strategy that had enabled other pioneers to successfully colonize a new continent. They forgot that pioneers got together with strangers around the campfire to compare notes on the journey so that everyone didn't have to perish learning the same lessons. Instead of following the wisdom of generations who relied on learning from each other, they became isolated.
Those who did not replace family and community support systems with networks of fellow travelers often covered feelings of inadequacy and lack of knowledge about what to do with a false sense of pride in "handling their own problems." They adopted the belief that people shouldn't discuss family business with strangers. It became important to them to hide their problems and handle them, often very ineffectively, behind closed doors. They traded in wisdom and principles acquired over centuries for books and theories untried and untested.
At the same time, a national fantasy grew up that the only thing between Americans and a generation of perfect, super children, was perfect, super parents. What a shock when many children did not turn out perfectly. The guilt, stress and denial tore people apart.
Parenting, which was once the cumulative work of generations, became a grim, part-time struggle for two or more relatives who did not have much experience in what they were trying to do.
Statistics show that the approximately 4.3 million children born in 1946 overpowered urban schools in 1951. They took the achievement tests in 1963 and reversed a three-hundred-year upward trend. In all areas of achievement, children had been improving up until this time. The children who were born after World War II started a downward trend in crime, teenage pregnancy, clinical depression and suicide. Clearly, our understanding of and resources for raising and education children was compromised by urbanization and technology."
I've been reading this (fantastic) book because ... I have a confession to make.
This whole parenting thing?
I'm figuring it out as I go.
(Shhh. Please, don't tell anyone!!)
Sometimes, my motherly intuition is running strong and I have a good idea of the right thing to do. But as our children are growing, it is becoming a lot more convoluted.
My children were babies just ... well, it seems like just yesterday. And now they're forging friendships and have this whole budding independence thing going on and sometimes, I feel perplexed wondering, "How should I handle all of this?"
By and large, when I'm conflicted with what to do, I'll write down my thoughts and see what I can sort out. Instead of "closing my door" and giving off the impression that I'm a Super Parent who has it all figured out, I'll pose my question to ABSOLUTE STRANGERS that are either forging this new ground with me, or are seasoned veterans having already traveled down the parenting path.
In regards to my last series of posts, it seems that with the comments coming in, something is being lost in translation and I want to circle the wagons.
What I'm writing, is intended to all surround the same issue which pertains to the socialization of my young children, while also, finding my comfort zone.
There are three core issues, as I see them.
1. I am uncomfortable sending ANY of my children to someone's house for a play date without either Charlie or I also in attendance. Why? Because I worry about perverts and guns and a whole lot of other stuff that, as a parent, I should worry about because for Pete's sake, these are my children and they are SIX YEARS OLD.
If we attended a play date at someone else's home, we're not going to hover, but we are going to get comfortable with the parents, with the family, with the environment. We'll be hosting play dates at OUR house, too. Since we feel more comfortable with our children in our space, that's how we've decided we're going to roll on this subject. For now. It may change. When it does, I'm sure I'll write ALL about it.
2. I am NOT opposed to ONE of my children having a friendship and participating in a play date without their siblings. Yes, this WAS a concern for me when Carolyn came skipping off the school bus two weeks ago, and Elizabeth cried the whole way home. But what I've since concluded is that when that time comes that Elizabeth goes to a play date without her sister, or vice versa, it would soften the blow, AT LEAST INITIALLY, to invite a friend over to our home for the other SISTER to play with.
This does not apply to William, nor Henry, because frankly, they don't care.
3. If a birthday party invitation came to William, fine. If a birthday party invitation came to Elizabeth, fine. If a birthday party invitation came to Carolyn, fine. If a birthday party invitation came to Henry, fine. Wow, look at all the combinations here. But wait, there's more!!
If a birthday party invitation came to all three of the triplets but not Henry, fine. If a birthday party invitation came to William and Henry, fine. If a birthday party invitation came to Carolyn and Elizabeth, fine. HOWEVER, if a birthday party invitation came to William and one sister, but excluded the second sister, there is NO way I'd let the kids go. It is at that point, and that point only, OUR TRIPLETS ARE A PACKAGE DEAL.
Why? Because at this stage in their lives, that is cruel to intentionally single one out. If it's the two sisters going to a party, I can easily tell William, "It's a girl thing, there will be a lot of pink, we'll stay home and build dinosaurs out of Legos. Won't that be awesome?" And he'd happily agree.
BUT, if it's a sister and a brother going to a party and the second sister is left out? How do you explain that? If you disagree with my approach and you think it would be an excellent opportunity for my children to learn that sometimes, they might be left out and the world's not fair and they need to toughen their skin, that's COLD.
I'd NEVER drop William and one of his sisters off at a birthday party and tell the second sister, "Sorry Honey. Better luck next time. Maybe if you TRIED HARDER you'd have more friends!" That would CRUSH the spirit of my child and cause more harm than good.
Do I always take the advice that is offered to me? Absolutely not. But whenever I ask for advice, I am extremely grateful that I am provided with an abundance of things to think about. From there, I will sort through, process, try to hone my intuition, and figure out what sustainable solution will work best for my family.
It was not my intention to offend anyone.
I am definitely not angry.
I am definitely not feeling defensive.
I am definitely figuring this all out as I go.
I am very willing to throw these "important topics" over the fence for discussion.
I am extremely appreciative of the wisdom and suggestions from fellow pioneers.
It really helps when you get things "sorted out" and feel like you have a plan.
I am extremely comfortable in our "new" strategy.
I am hopeful that whomever is similarly navigating this particular phase of socialization with their child, will benefit from this "discussion."
Now, go consume some fuel and gather your strength.
I'm working on another "topic" for discussion tomorrow.
We'll have a virtual campfire and compare notes.