11 July 2013

Planted and Blooming

Has anyone seen my soapbox around here?

Ah, there it is.

Katherine (the common sense side of my brain) sent me the below article and asked what I thought of it.

From Dr. Spock to Tiger Mom: What to expect from your parenting library

I have some parenting books. Mostly "The Nursing Mother's Companion" and "Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child." Other books have passed through my hands and into the hands of my peers, or have disappeared into the Abyss (laundry room). 

The parenting books I've loved are the books that speak to me with encouragement and fact. Sometimes it really helps to have a handy reference in print, but what crossed my mind as I read this article was, "Well, I really knew most of that stuff before I had babies."  

How do I begin this? It's not really a rant, but an observation. My generation is that of two-kid, one-parent households. Most of the sibling sets are close in age, which is how America does it. Once the kids are 5, Mom goes back to work and the kids head to school. They spend the largest portion of their day at school with children of their own ages and then come home in time for bed. they do this for 13 years and then head to college, with young adults of their own ages. 

So...who's teaching them how to raise kids? Books. 

When I was 11, my mother pulled my sister and I out of school and began homeschooling. When I was 15, she had my brother, and then she had two more after him. We spent a large part of our days watching her manage the house and care for the babies, and plenty of that care just naturally fell into our open hands. When my dad fell sick and was hospitalized, Nina and I were 18 and 17 with jobs outside the house. It was soon very clear that Mom was needed at the hospital, so Nina and I quit our jobs and began rotating care for the boys and the house, because that's what you do in a family. By the time everyone was home again, Nina and I were seasoned pros! 

We eventually married and had kids of our own, and it came as no shock that babies don't sleep, houses don't clean themselves, bosses don't like moms and managing a family is pretty thankless work. We were very fortunate to be apprenticed for so many years in a home that was clearly turning out good kids. When people tell me now that I seem to just be so in control, I don't think it's really that I have it "under control," so much, but that young children, homemaking and family logistics are something that I've done for far longer than Lucy's lifespan. 

But what about my peers? How do you learn what it takes when you have no example? We teach our little boys to throw a ball by tossing it over and over. We teach our kids to tie their shoes by giving them a jump rope and hours of our time. So why aren't we giving them babies to show them how to lovingly and carefully tend a life? 

Is it possible that this problem goes so much deeper than what's on the surface? Are teenage boys killing children with guns because they have no basis for appreciating the value of a life? Would teens be less likely to have sex if they had the opportunity to see their mother 38 weeks pregnant and sleep training an 8-month-old? Would teens be less likely to commit suicide or use illicit drugs if they had a tiny sibling emulating them constantly? I really don't know. It seems kind of likely that exposure to babies and children during those tumultuous adolescent and teen years would have a steadying effect of some kind, but maybe that's the romantic in me. [I agree 1000%. How could it not have a steadying effect, or impact on their future decision making? Seems logical to me too. Maybe it's the romantics in us. xoxo, Husband]

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