Child development is a hot topic these days and we, modern parents, can get nearly all information we want – it’s right at our finger tips.
As a mother of a two-year-old and a four-month-old, I have researched just about every child related topic you could think of. Once, I even searched for the healthy color
of infant poop – baby center has a great visual guide if you are interested.
In our society, all the information you could hope for is readily available. You can find articles on developmental milestones, raising children with special needs, nutrition, and so on. It seems that they have all this parenting thing figured out.
But, think about it: how many children grew up in a non ideal household despite of all the information available?
– Many did, and many still do.
We don’t need to go far to see children growing up without good nutrition, education and care. It happens everyday, right in front of our eyes.
Child development is such an important topic and it shines light to a number of
societal problems we are living with today. One of my favorite references for this topic is the Center on the Developing Child from Harvard University:
“The Center on the Developing Child’s diverse activities align around building an R&D (research and development) platform for science-based innovation, and transforming the policy and practice landscape … We do this because society pays a huge price when children do not reach their potential….”
I would like to bring up one of their main concepts, resilience: the ability to overcome serious hardship. According to their research, “the single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult. “
They also have an interesting point that “children who do well in the face of serious hardship typically have a biological resistance to adversity and strong relationships with the important adults in their family and community.”
Looking at this definition one can see how important the role of a caregiver is. Even though some children are biologically more resilient than others, they still need a stable and committed relationship with an adult.
I can personally relate to this topic as my parents divorced when I was two and our relationship was far from stable. Luckily I did have stable adults that helped me through my adversities. I had role models and I had unconditional love. Still, I faced a lot of anxiety, insecurities and fears growing up. So, I can only imagine how the lives of children that don’t have any kind of support must be.
One memory that comes to my mind is when I was living with my grandparents: My grandpa would never miss a school meeting. He would be there, the only man, among all the mothers. I used to be so embarrassed because I was the only child that did not have a mother. My friends always asked where she was. “Where is your mother?… Why is your old grandpa here?” They would laugh and make fun of me. But today, I couldn’t be prouder of my grandpa. He was always there for me, supporting me in everything I needed with his unconditional love. But, even with all his love, I still had so many issues to work on as an adult.
Along my journey through life, I’ve met so many people that like me did not have the ideal upbringing. People that were insecure and thought that they didn’t have much chance in this competitive world – but, like me, they never gave up. They were resilient, they persevered until they achieved their dreams, their goals.
Some of us had abusive parents with drinking and mental problems, parents that constantly tried to manipulate us emotionally to achieve what they wanted.
Some of us had parents that went to war and came back home as a different person, a stranger that couldn’t fit in.
Some of us had parents that were too busy to care so they gave up money to fill
in the gaps.
Some of us got bruises, some of us felt safer on the streets.
far too many of us carrying different baggage and experiencing hardship growing up.
Although most of us thrived and succeeded, the baggage continued to follow us…
We felt guilty or responsible for our parents mistakes, for their addictions, or for their lack of emotional control. In some ways, they still manipulated us, they still pushed us down.
Roles have inverted. We were now parenting our parents… When did that happened?
Some of us continue to parent our parents, some of us chose to ignore or avoid contact. Each one did what felt right for them. The emotional scares are still there, some choose to expose them, some choose to not.
There is this mixed feeling that you own your parents your life, after all, you wouldn’t be alive if wasn’t for them. On the other hand, you think that “they should had loved and protected
me”, “they should had been a better example” … they should had.. they should had…
Being a parent today, I realize that parents are not the heroes we once thought they were. Parents are humans like
everyone else with good and bad qualities. We all make mistakes, and most of us do what we can for our children. Unfortunately, there are also those that don’t even try: they neglect, they abuse, or they are simply not able (emotionally or physically) to care for their children.
What is important to remember though, is that children are also human beings but they are vulnerable and in need for love and guidance in order to meet their full potential.
My grandpa is the person I loved and respected the most in my life. He couldn’t give me
lots of money, or buy me expensive clothes or toys. What he gave me was love and support. He corrected me when I was wrong, but always in a calm and loving manner. He listened without judging and taught me by example.
If I can provide my children with a fraction of the love and emotional support that my grandpa provided me, I will feel accomplished as a parent.
If you can’t give anything else to your children, give them unconditional love and guidance, they will be grateful to you forever.