In the last five years I had the opportunity to closely watch children being raised right. It has been balm for my soul. A delight. Eye-opening. It’s not the first time I’ve been around parents and their children of course, but it has marked the longest, closest, best opportunity in my life so far. I’ve had a bird’s eye view.
I was terribly curious as I watched things evolve from the births onward. How is it done when it’s done properly? When nobody’s watching? When parents have a game plan? When mom and dad are essentially united in their goals for their offspring?
The beauty of it has been that absolutely nothing has been done for my benefit; I am simply an outside observer, although granted, I observe more than most (but that’s between you, me, the lamp post, and the blogosphere). My point being that people often – though not always – change when they feel they might be watched or judged, particularly parents interacting with children, adopting phoney postures and words. Hiding their worst behavior for behind closed doors. Such was not the case.
You know what happens when you raise children right? You get children with a strong sense of self, who believe their feelings and wishes matter, who are confident in their place in the world, who are unafraid. These children don’t see the world as a place where you get hurt, literally and metaphorically. They don’t know how horribly vulnerable they are because it hasn’t been pointed out and demonstrated on them. I’m not talking about cosseting or over-protecting children either; of never correcting or reprimanding them. From what I’ve seen, there’s LOTS of correcting and directing to do. My head would POP OFF with the amount necessary, with having to repeat the same information and directives so often. But here’s the thing: the workload, from what I can figure, is put in upfront to reap dividends later. The investment in a child builds on itself. When it’s done right.
Have I idealized what I’ve seen? No. These are modern children of two working parents, products of their time. Over-scheduled, fast-track children. From age 3 months they go full-time – all day, five days a week – to what I privately refer to as “Baby School.” It’s like they have jobs! I made unspoken judgements about this. I believed the children would prefer more time with their parents or at least a parent; why not one or two weekdays with mom or dad? Ditch the second car, cut a corner somewhere, slow down a career, in order to do that. Just my opinion as I say, never shared. (Well, never requested either!)
I remind myself the children don’t know any different, they have nothing to compare their lives to. When you spend some 40 hours a week elsewhere from age 3 months on, how could you possibly conceptualize anything else? I do think there was backlash in terms of tantrums and “acting out” on the homefront, which I privately speculated sprung from a frustration small children have no other way of articulating. Their time with their parents is often structured and limited.
Still, even with my reservations or criticisms, I’ve been impressed. I am not often impressed with how I see children being raised (but that may be a whole other post topic). The important thing is whether in the end, there are happy, healthy children being prepared, step by step by step, to be successful in the future. To one day live independently. To know how to interact with other people, how to take care of themselves and the people they love. These children I tell you of, should have all of that. I was a lucky girl to get to watch their launch into life. I sat up and paid attention because at some level I knew I was getting a nudge: “Look at this. You need to see this.”