Updated: Jun 11, 2021
Parenting is, hands down, the most demanding, challenging, frustrating, emotionally draining job in the world. Whether you are a mother or a father, rich or poor, prepared or surprised, parenting is tough. No employer on the planet would even think of hiring someone to do the same job without extensive training. And let's be honest, they couldn't afford to pay someone what the role is worth anyway.
So, why hasn't someone written a parenting manual? They have—many people. There are some outstanding books out there offering theories and practices that are enormously helpful. The problem is, there is so much information out there that parents become overwhelmed and confused when it comes to making decisions for their children.
We also need to consider that every parent is different, and every child is different, and every environment in which each parent attempts to raise each child is, well, different. So with 7.5 billion people on the planet, we would have to write millions of parenting books to offer ideas and strategies for every situation. Oh, and by the way, with every stage, phase, and change in circumstance, we would have to edit the books regularly to give parents a tool of any real value.
For centuries, experts in psychology, paediatrics, neuroscience, education, and so on have been trying to figure out the best way to raise and educate a child.
What is more important, nurture or nature? (Spoiler alert, it's both!)
Does a child develop from the inside out following predetermined stages, or does society influence development from the outside in? (Again, it's both!)
What does trauma have to do with child development? (A lot!)
I have been asking myself these questions and so many more ever since I became a mum. Like every other parent around, I wanted to make sure I did my best to raise my children to be happy, successful, compassionate contributors to society. But I was also acutely aware that I was operating from an underlying motive to do a better job than my parents did - or to make sure I didn't repeat my adverse experiences of my upbringing.
I read a relationship book once by Harville Hendrix called "Getting the Love You Want", and in it, he talked about adults searching for the perfect partner. Not necessarily the perfect partner to have a successful and loving relationship with but a perfect partner to either continue the pattern of our childhood experiences or completely do the opposite. I believe we tend to do the same thing when raising our children; we either unconsciously repeat the patterns, good or bad, of how we were parented, or we consciously, adamantly and intentionally do the opposite.
Take the example of a parent who was abused as a child. Sadly it is all too common to see abused children become abusive parents. The cycle is repeated. Alternatively, we find parents who were abused as children become incredibly passive and submissive in their parenting style out of fear of repeating the abuse, going from one extreme to another. There is another way.
We can't separate how we were raised from how we raise our children; our experiences help create who we become - but we can learn from them. We can better understand how children develop, what factors support or hinder that development, how trauma affects us all and how to ensure that the children themselves are active participants in their development and our collective healing. This knowledge not only benefits our children but also helps us to understand and reconnect with ourselves more deeply. When we acknowledge the reality of our own experience, we can begin to heal, to rise and respond to the responsibility of raising our children from a place of peace and love and respect rather than react unconsciously from a place of fear and control.
Parenting is both an art and a science; Raising Change aims to inform and educate parents on the science while supporting them in fully expressing their unique parenting art. Raising Change is not a how-to parent; parents are best placed to decide the 'how-tos' themselves. With a clearer understanding of the complexities of child development, parental instincts become more precise, and decisions are made with more confidence. Raising Change is a trauma informed toolbox of information. A community of support. A gathering of like minds who want to consider and discuss many different aspects of the parenting process to learn, heal and grow and raise the change we wish to see in the world.
There is so much information out there about how we humans develop over our lifespan. Raising Change focuses on child development, but still, there is a lot to explore, so, to keep it simple and organised, I have borrowed nature's four seasons as a metaphor for the process of raising and educating our children. In the next four blog posts, I will be delving deeper into each of these seasons. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter, so you don't miss a beat. And please feel free to reach out to me through the contact page if you have any questions, need support or would like to share your best parenting tips with me.