Heart to heart with Adele Blair
“My partner and I have decided we do not want to have any children. We plan to tell both of them tonight”.
There are few parents who have survived the challenges of raising children who cannot get a chuckle out of this recent jocular post on Twitter. While numbers vary around the world as to how many of us are called to this role in life, it is likely safe to say that most societies value and expect its members to become parents. It is however, most complicated. Just how to raise the perfect child and deal with the many parenting demands which stare us in the face, regularly have no definitive answer and bring out both the best and worst in us, during our tenure.
One might compare the role of parents, to being a wild card draw for a spontaneous American Idol vocal presentation, with another fledgling singer whom you think should be pretty good. The kicker is that you must do it to gold star winner's circle standards, with the whole world watching, and your newbie duet team totally unrehearsed with a brand new unknown song. I cannot imagine a world class superstar talent like Celine Dion or Justin Bieber that could actually carry this off, without experiencing incredible performance anxiety and massive concerns that they may not be up to the task despite everyone’s belief that they should be.
It is pretty similar with young parents: important job, two inexperienced participants seemingly with some talent to parent, unknown material to work with, high level performance expected by everyone, and anxiety about whether they can measure up to the challenge.
Thinkers have been philosophizing about best parenting strategies since the emergence of homo sapiens when the species began to reproduce its kind, care for them and bring them to maturity, strong, resilient and capable of independently coping with adult life. In our time and culture, opinions, advice and judgement will not be lacking. Sometimes one’s own best parenting decision will be the right one. Other times, despite one’s most concerted efforts to guide and mold one’s offspring, the parent will be wrong. The observable outcomes will the proof of the pudding!
The salient thing is that we try to do our best in parenting the little human beings who by sheer chance alone has become our children. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, ‘Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.’
My education and experience with children began as an 11 year old when my mother delivered an infant at age 47 and needed much assistance in caring for her child. That assistance was ‘me’, big sister Adele. A year later I was babysitting many weeknights and weekends for innumerable neighbours with assorted families, ranging from a single child of ten, to families with five little ones under five! After high school I became an elementary teacher after studying at the Ottawa Teachers College and handled all kinds of children aged 5-16 over 31 years. I studied psychology and sociology in an undergraduate degree and at Carleton University’s School of Social in a post graduate program, many years later. I did a placement at the Ottawa welfare office helping single parent mothers and spent time working for a Children’s Aid Society, and subsequently with the Official Guardian’s Office. I was approved by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services as a Private Adoption Practitioner and counselled and trained adoptive parents for 31 years. I attended parenting courses myself, went to parenting conferences and read a ton of parenting books. Concurrently I adopted and raised three children of my own who have forgiven me my deficiencies, and occasionally seek a bit of wisdom from me dealing with my grandchildren.
That package of education and experience sets me up as a decent resource for young parents who need to check out ideas which address the issues their offspring present. I will be open to a ‘Heart to Heart’ on just about any question regarding children that readers might want to throw at me. I welcome your written queries at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to put ‘Heart to Heart with Adele' in the subject line.
In the meantime, fear not, and ‘Keep On Truckin’! I guarantee that your children will survive you!
I'm looking forward to your questions! Email me at email@example.com and please put Heart to Heart in the subject line. Note that all columns will remain anonymous.