Eve Sullivan's blog
Almost every day I read an article on children's issues that completely ignores parents. What is wrong with this picture?
The Economist's otherwise terrific article "Poor children fall behind early in life. Better pre-school education could help (June 25, 2016)
did not mention parents!
Clearly, parents pass on material and educational advantages -- and disadvantages -- to their children. Why do policy makers not recognize that parenting education must be the linchpin for any strategy intended to equalize young people’s opportunity and achievement.
Without programs for parents, the wheels come off children’s developmental ‘wagon’ rather quickly, with disastrous results for individual children and society at large.
This quick word, with profound thanks to Sophia Luthuli in Soweto, South Africa, who nominated me, is to share a link:
It seems that I was the 12,733,144-th person to listen online to this song by David Bowie, who is now, sadly, gone from us. I confess that I did not follow him . . . something about being busy raising children, working and all that . . . during his heyday. I have been reading all the tributes to him, though. What an amazing musician, artist, person!
This song's topic, the inevitable march of time, particularly the progression of generations, has been on my mind.
Becoming a grandparent isn't just one thing. The transition involves changes for grown children as well as for grandparents. On the downhill side of life now, over 70, I find, inevitably, that I need care as much as - - sometimes more than - - I am able to care for others. An awkward shift!
Some people say, "I don't want to be a burden to my children," but I expect to. Isn't that how families work? We care for our children when they are litle and when they are grown they care for us.
Scott Sampson's How to Raise a Wild Child affirms what I have long felt but couldn't explain: All of us, especially kids, need to connect with nature in all sorts of ways, large and small. He lays out the arguments for connecting children with the natural world and gives lots of examples to follow.
I guess the simplest thing to do is to make sure our children and grandchildren have lots of chances to go outside and get dirty! Maybe in this day and age we no longer send them outside alone to play, but we can go out with them. Doctors even write prescriptons for park visits. Do we really need to wait for that?
Bonus! Sampson's book closes with one of my favorite poems, by Ranier Maria Rilke:
I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
Bartletts, or else my search technique, has failed me. The quote I am looking for is, "If the people lead, the leaders will follow," and it came to mind yesterday when Parents Forum board and friends gathered yesterday to mark Respect for Parents Day.
I think we need to begin by respecting ourselves as parents and supporting each other more consistently. Take a look at
Deb Coppins, founder of Our Starting Point, has the right idea: We need to make parenting education a priority, speak up for it and for ourselves. I hope you agree and if you do, I'd like to hear from you. I'd like to hear, too, if you know the origin of the quote!
that economic justice is a problem only for poor people?
that gender equity, along with sexual assault and sex trafficking, are concerns only for women?
that intimate partner violence can be resolved by helping only the victims?
that racial equality is an issue only for people of color?
that mental health and recovery are the province only of people who are mentally ill or addicted?
that criminal justice concerns should be addressed primarily with programs for individuals who are in jail or prison?
And last, why do we think that family wellbeing can best be promoted by helping children?
These pervasive social issues affect everyone. Family wellbeing, and all of these issues in fact, can be addressed in some significant measure by positive supports for parents. As important as targeted programs are for those suffering directly, we need also to step back and do more in the way of prevention.
What's more important, treats or talk? Both are of course and I am a big fan of chatting. I hope to see some of the readers of this (very occasional) blog at Davis Square in Somerville (Mass.) this afternoon between 1pm and 3pm. The address is 250 Elm Street, near the Davis Square RedLine T Station. Come meet Aya Isumi, visiting Parents Forum from Japan, and hear about plans for research on our program.
The donuts will be from Union Square Donuts but the get-together is in Davis Square!
Steven Pinker . . . a quote I read on a Chipotle bag, of all places . . . said, "We will never have a perfect world, but it is not romantic or naive to work toward a better one." I am in Tunis this week for the 50th anniversary conference of the International Federation for Parenting Education (FIEP/IFPE).
My seatmate on the flight from Boston to Paris was an Algerian man. When I asked if he was a dad, he said - with a big smile - "Yes, I am the father of two little girls." Conveniently, I had the Parents Forum "Tools of the Trade" in Arabic, to give him. It was the least I could do, as I had upended a dish of lentils from my dinner tray all over his trousers (and mine). Economy class is a sardine can, no room to move!
Raising children is such a joy and such a job! We need to do more to support parents. I look forward to the conference at the end of this week and to hearing the perspectives of parenting education colleagues from around the world. I trust that our efforts will do more than a little bit to make the world a better place for all our children.
The beginning of my horoscope today - - which ends 'Start small' - - is much more inspirational: 'Travel, connect with old friends and... consider offering a service that is in dire need in your community.'
January looks right in line with this advice. In a week's time I will fly to Tunis to visit a dear friend whom I have not seen in close to ten years, then I will take part in the 50th anniversary of the International Federation for Parenting Education
What service could our communities be in more dire need of than parenting education? The year is off to a good start: I got the laundry done. This morning I'll spend time with two of my grandchildren and this afternoon I will visit my youngest grandnephew. Tomorrow I'll get cracking on our local parenting education initiative. Happy, happy!
We want parents to raise compassionate children . . . http://nyti.ms/1m00bbn . . . right?
The parenting education and support that social services presently offer does not seem to do enough to help enough parents accomplish this goal. I suggest we consider more peer support. Yes, that is what Parents Forum is all about. We need more modeling of what Amy Dickinson 'AskAmy' @askingamy describes as friendship's highest calling: listening without judgment and offering assistance when asked.
Wishing a Happy New Year to family and friends and to strangers as well, the friends I haven't met.