Parenting "Village" — Do You Have One?

I remember when I was little — like, really little, before-the-divorce little — and my parents always told me that any adult/authority figure who was in charge of me was like my parent. So, if I was at a friend’s house, their parents were my parents while I was there and I was to obey them as if my own parents had asked something of me. And if I was at school, all teachers were my parents-at-school, and I was to obey them and listen to them just as I would my own parents. Shoot, even if we were hanging out at the Y, swimming on a summer afternoon, any adult or lifeguard was like my parent there, too.

I remember thinking how I never could get away from parents.

I also remember that if I got into trouble with a parent who was not really my parent, I actually got in trouble twice. The first punishment could be a timeout or even a little spanking from the adult/authority figure I had misbehaved for. And then, when that parent told my parents about my misbehavior, I got punished again.

I remember that misbehaving wasn’t worth all the trouble.


Now I am a parent and I tell my children the same thing. I tell them their teachers are their “parents” at school. I tell them they must behave for their friends’ parents and if they don’t, those parents have authority to pu them in time out or whatever mode of punishment fits their misbehavior. My kids know not to complain about teachers or other kids’ parents to me because I typically will side with the adult in the matter.

But things are different now. When I was a kid, I think most parents held the same view as mine did. Most adults/authority figures didn’t hesitate to correct me when I misbehaved and they sure didn’t hesitate to tell my parents about my misbehavior. These days, though, I don’t feel the same solidarity among parents. As a matter of fact, I believe I know which parents I can expect this from and it’s not a large number. I know that I can bring bad behavior to the attention of the parents of a few of the kids we know and they will be grateful that I addressed it and will also address it.

I’ve been in authoritative volunteer positions and been in the situation where a parent registered displeasure with my reactions and/or disciplinary measures because the child had simply told them that I “didn’t like him/her” so the parent was not happy. I’ve also been in the situation where I have taken corrective action (obviously not knowing whether the parent would be supportive or not) to realize that I cannot expect support from all other parents/adults when their children misbehave. My opinion of what constitutes bad behavior can be vastly different from other parents. Lots of parents say, “That’s just the way kids are!”

This blog I read via HuffPo recently really hits home on all five things this nanny cites as reasons why parenting is in a crisis these days. But #3 is one of the most important, I think, and also one of the hardest things to regain, once it is lost:

3. We’ve lost the village. It used to be that bus drivers, teachers, shopkeepers and other parents had carte blanche to correct an unruly child. They would act as the mum and dad’s eyes and ears when their children were out of sight, and everyone worked towards the same shared interest: raising proper boys and girls. This village was one of support. Now, when someone who is not the child’ parent dares to correct him, the mum and dad get upset. they want their child to appear perfect, and so they often don’t accept teachers’ and others’ reports that he is not. They’ll storm in and have a go at a teacher rather than discipline their child for acting out in class. They feel the need to project a perfect picture to the world and unfortunately, their insecurity is reinforced because many parents do judge one another. If a child is having a tantrum, all eyes turn on the mum disapprovingly. Instead she should be supported, because chances are the tantrum occurred because she’s not giving in to one of her child’s demands. Those observers should instead be saying, “Hey, good work – I know setting limits is hard.”


I really enjoy my time with my nieces and nephews because my siblings — having been raised in a similar manner — will parent my children and allow me to parent theirs. We enforce the same sort of punishments for bad behavior and expect good behavior from all ages of child. Once I understand where parents of my kids’ friends stand on this issue (and that’s not always easy to determine) it makes it easier to monitor those play dates and friendships because I know whether the friends live to the same expectations as mine or not. 
It’s frustrating to see bad behavior that I feel the need to simply shake my head and turn my kids away. I wish I believed that correcting bad behavior would have the intended effect of helping another child grow. But knowing that some parents would simply be angry with me for correcting their child keeps me silent. And if the bad behavior is pervasive enough, I simply urge my children to stay away.
What is your experience? Do you expect other parents and adults in authority to discipline your kids and inform you? Do you feel comfortable disciplining unruly children?

Advertisements

And Then It Was Nothing

The ultrasound was uneventful, in more ways than one.

First of all, as I drove there, I remembered how difficult it was to go see my Doctor last Friday and how I suddenly was overcome and began crying while I was checking in and then cried more as I was walked back to a room to wait.  So, I gave myself a pep talk, of sorts.  I was going back to the same place where I had been when I found out Gregory had passed away.  I told myself, “It’s okay.  It’s just an ultrasound and it’s just a building.  Try to keep it together.”  Rebecca texted me just before I was going in that she was praying for me, and I’m so glad she was.

I went through registration and then, the technician came out to get me…and…it was the same guy who had verified for the girl doing my ultrasound that she was not seeing heart movement.  I just took a deep breath when I saw him and reminded myself that this procedure will be quick, no need to worry about it too much, no tears…

So, it was uneventful initially in the fact that I was able to get out of there with no tears.  I decided I won on that front.

When my doctor called with the results, it was pretty much inconclusive.  There was something they saw that couldn’t be ruled out as a piece of placenta.  But they noted that, “It could be a fibroid.”  Well.  Okay then.  So, based on his confidence that I had indeed passed the placenta very quickly after delivering Gregory, he thought everything was probably fine and the bleeding I experienced was probably within the “normal” range.  He consulted with another doctor and advised that I should take an antibiotic as a precautionary measure and told me that I should expect spontaneous bleeding episodes like the one I had Sunday over the next 10-14 days.  

And I got a return to work date of tomorrow.

Finally, before getting off the phone, he offered me some spiritual healing by recommending that I read Chapter 4 of the Book of Wisdom.  I haven’t done that yet.  But I will.  I had school board meeting last night and then was getting kids in bed, etc.  But I will grab my Bible sometime today and read that.

It’s interesting.  When I packed for the hospital, I took along my Bible and my “Shorter Christian Prayer” book.  Here’s the thing about not being an avid Bible reader, or someone who knows passages by heart, etc:  I may have had my Bible, but I would never have known where to look in the Bible for anything that could help me.  

In that vein, how grateful I am to my doctor!  I haven’t even read it yet, but I know it will help me.  Just the fact that he shares my Catholic faith and seems to have a strong faith life himself has made me feel better.  Truly…another blessing for which I am so very grateful.

I plan to run a few errands today and get myself in the right frame of mind to return to work tomorrow.  I plan to pick up some stationery and a few particular Thank-You cards.  I have many people to thank for their love, kindness, generosity, support and compassion over the past two weeks.

I had a pretty good day emotionally  yesterday even with everything going on.  My children continue to be a source of immense joy for me that help me process and understand Gregory’s role in our family.  My husband continues to be a huge source of strength for me as I wade through this grief.  There are more days coming that will be hard, I know.  One will happen in the next week, when the cemetery sends us information on ordering a marker for Gregory’s grave.  There will be another week anniversary to ponder in just a couple of days.  At some point, I know I will mark the time in months, and then finally in years.  It’s strange, I’ve noticed that sometimes women focus on the due date of their baby as a sort of milestone or marker.  Perhaps I will, too.  I’m not sure.  Right now, March 1st is the day I will always remember my precious Gregory, I think.  But, who knows?  The due date hasn’t approached yet, so I don’t know how I’ll feel then.

Vincent started wanting me again.  A few months back he kind of got a “Daddy Crush” and would only want Craig to hold him or to play with him or comfort him.  In the last week, he has reverted to wanting me more, and that has been very helpful.  Although, as we walked into the daycare today, he insisted I put him down and he walk himself up to the door.  He’s been taking his pants off and putting his socks on.  And, he’s been showing signs of potty-training readiness.  And, it hits me — that he is growing and maturing and will no longer be a “baby” with diapers and such in a fairly short time.  I’m not sure how that is going to hit me.  It’s been so long since we have lived without a baby in the house or on the way.  

Thank you all for the kind words you have sent me through comments, or facebook messages, or texts, or e-mail.  I do want you to know how helpful it has been.  Our family has been lifted up in prayer to heights I have never been aware of before, and I know that is why we are where we are emotionally and physically.  So, thank you for all of your caring and your compassion.  It has helped to bring grace and peace to our lives at a time when those two things have been so necessary.