Reflections on Children's Day
World Children's Day is marked on 20th Nov. On this occasion, people from Cork & beyond have sent in their reflections about raising children.
Content warning: abuse, neglect, discrimination
I am a parent; becoming a parent was not an easy decision. I spoke to a wide range of parents and adults on having and not having children.
Every time I learn that a child has died as a result of disease, accident, war, or violence, my heart breaks because all children are my children. I had this intuition and knew it was correct long before I became a mom.
It could be due to how and where I was raised, or it could be due to who I am and who I want to be. In either case, it’s the only way to be.
We’re all responsible for the children around us. The more unconditional love they experience, the more secure and trusting they become as adults.
I am currently grieving for the loss of every child we have lost. I want to embrace every parent who is struggling and coping. You are not alone. Words cannot heal the pain. I wonder if time does either. We live with the pain. Love, though, could make it easy.
So, let us be loving to one another and more loving to the children among us.
Raise your child to never limit themselves.
We are in the midst of a time where kids are raised with social media and AI.
This makes it difficult for kids who grow up in these times to separate reality. It makes it harder to be satisfied, and allows instant gratification to settle in their hearts.
Teach them that they are worth everything and will continue to be.
Teach them to understand that skills and abilities don’t come easy and they can take their time in whatever they want to learn.
Teach them different hobbies so they choose what they like.
Teach them that they don’t have to be good at it they just have to enjoy it.
Teach them to love but not be walked over.
Teach them how to respect and be respected.
Teach them the word ‘no’.
To set boundaries and respect boundaries.
To live a life where what they want to achieve is within reach as long as they try in the first place.
That failure only leads to success as long as they try in the first place.
Teach them that every emotion is valid as long as they don’t hurt themselves or others.
Teach them that they are enough no matter what.
Help them to confide in you.
You are not their ruler but their confidant.
How can you do all this?
By being that yourself.
You are your child’s role model.
Be the success you want your child to have.
Raising children seems hard. I had a childhood where my vulnerability was used against me and I was blamed for ruptures in my care givers relationship. It was abuse.
Sometimes all I wished for was a kind adult to come and show them they were doing things wrong, to show me true love.
But they never came and now I need to learn how to show myself true love, with the help of professionals.
I need to integrate the decades of trauma into my pschye so I don’t continue the generational hurt, grief and fear.
Given my past, this is why I think raising children in big groups of people i.e. in villages is the way to go.
Your village people need not be blood family, preferably they are people who you love and they love you back without power struggles, abuse etc.
It’s a dream that takes a lot of work and a lot of like minded people to agree on the same idea for the benefit of all.
However, I think this work is necessary. I see how exhausted parents in the nuclear family today become. Similar to PhD students, they are expected to do countless hours of work, sacrifice their life for little to no pay just because ‘it’ll all be worth it’.
Modern parents are taken advantage of.
They deserve more money, more support, more encouragement and more love.
Living in a little village is my favourite solution to this conundrum.
I want kids to learn the concept of success.
As a parent, I feel once we teach our kids the right concept of success, we can create a better environment, which will benefit us; our environment, and the beautiful planet Earth.
We have a very narrow, limited, and irrational concept of success.
Success is definitely not money, a position, stronger networking, being skillful, winning a lotto, getting a degree, or owning a house or a brand-new car.
Success is a purposeful life with service to humanity; success is a criterion to distinguish between right and wrong and standing with right; success is a journey to the attainment of a purposeful life, embedded with an understanding of the people and environment we live in.
Success is positive thinking and a belief in acts of kindness.
It’s about keeping the right intentions for a cause—a cause to change and make meaningful impacts.
It is loyalty, sincerity, and conscious efforts to uplift yourself and others.
Success is accepting your imperfections and using them to create a space for yourself and others.
Success is understanding failure; it is success in progress.
It is the courage, which makes you resilient. It makes you comfortable as a human being-soulful attainment.
Success is a balanced and contented life.
Success is the trust that we have in our abilities —it wins hearts of people.
Success is a balance between the physical and spiritual worlds.
Celebrating love with others is among the few forms of success too!
Children should be raised in an environment where they are accepted for who they are, not pushed to be perfect or criticised for making mistakes.
A child grows in an environment where he or she is accepted and celebrated for who they are/can be.
We returned to Ireland in 1989 after a decade abroad in Lebanon and France. This is daughter Muireann’s kindergarten photograph from Paris, from where we had just moved.
When she arrived in her new school in Cork she was surprised at first before she figured out what was ‘different’ here – every child in the class looked like her.
I’d like to think that nowadays there would be nothing unusual here about a classroom of children from a range of backgrounds, kind to one another and accepting one another irrespective of what they look like.
Muireann is in New Zealand now, learning another language – Maori.
Children are not asked to be brought into this world.
Therefore, children have a right to be protected and cared for in every possible way.
I also think that it’s vital for children with additional needs to have access to the supports and resources they need without having to be put on waiting lists and having to wait an extreme amount of time.
It’s tough on the parents but even tougher on the children who need it. It’s for their future.
Also more programmes in the community centres for the adults/parents of children with additional needs to help and support them.