Tag Archives: blogging

Advice to children aged 13

cake 13One of the pleasures of being a child is seeing your parents adapt and change. From silly games when you are young to full-blown sporting competition as you get older. From cuddles to a respectful decorum.

However, many children notice dramatic changes in their parents around 12-14 years after their own birth. What follows is a short guide to interpreting and managing those changes in your parents.

One of the surest signs that an adult has been a parent for around 13 years are flare ups of erratic, moody and dictatorial behaviour. They tend to occur in one of three circumstances:

  • you are enjoying yourself – this apparently becomes difficult for parents of this vintage to bear
  • you are settled comfortably watching TV or playing a game
  • you have been out of the house with friends.

You may also notice parents becoming awkwardly talkative, particularly at times when you’ve a lot on your mind and don’t want to be discussing your day at school or what you would like to do in the Christmas holidays.

You are likely to experience them being picky and very repetitive about trivial matters such as where in your room clothes are kept, or that you should talk to your siblings. It’s evidence of a wider loss of perspective on their part. Pressing issues such as our world becoming polluted; and which group of friends you should walk to school with, frankly, they just wouldn’t understand, let alone be able to engage with.

There’s also a resentfulness creeping into their behaviour. Accompanying you in the car (but not getting out with you) to the cinema, friend’s house and then shopping centre are somehow inconvenient. Your financial entitlement comes with strings attached. This aspect of parents’ behaviour is often most acutely felt when you put some of their possessions – jewelry, make-up, mobile phone – to good use; certainly much better than anything they would have done with those objects.

It’s not easy, but you should try to understand your parent, who is experiencing major life changes. At its root may be their sudden realisation that they are turning into someone they despised 25-30 years ago (their own parents). They may be trying to ‘spread their wings’ – having had a negligible social life for the last decade or more, squashed by their insistence on following you around since you were young. Many parents have simply lost the social skills to make new friends. Physically, they’re having to cope with changes, too. Hair is thinning or greying, or both. Joints are grinding and muscles becoming inelastic.

All of this is normal and you should take none of it personally. Although, that may be difficult if your parents exhibit the following extreme behaviour.

The very worst of it, which some of you will face, is that around this time some parents begin writing – blogging. And they choose to write about you; well that’s their pretext, but of course they’re just projecting the difficult changes in their life onto you. This is a tricky situation for everyone, particularly as they will be going through a pretence of not wanting you to know what they are doing, when really it’s a cry for help. Opinion is divided over the best response, but there are broadly two options:

  1. troll them into silence; or
  2. crank things up a little so they have a good selection of ‘episodes’ about which they can write.
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Filed under individual development, parenting

Out-sourced parenting

fishingThere is an ideal amongst fathers and budding fathers. The ideal is that, as fathers, they will teach their children the ways of the world. They will apply their experience to guiding their off-spring in how to cope with the challenges of life. They will share adventures and achievements.

In days gone by when an agricultural or craft economy predominated that was probably the reality of life in many families. Children would learn their family’s trade; knowledge and technique passed down the generations.

Industrialisation and urbanisation interrupted the pattern and that’s maybe when the idea of the father as primary guide became less of a reality and more of an ideal. It was no longer strictly necessary to the family’s subsistence or prosperity, but was the distinctive contribution of the Dad. And the skills subject to this idealised transfer were anachronistic: hunting, camping, fishing, building, making. Leisure was devoted to one generation helping the other come of age.

Meanwhile, the role of specialists from outside the family expanded. School education became a societal requirement for children up the the age of 10..14..15..16.

And now we’re in the condition of outsourced parenting. As I survey the impressive range of skills my children possess, I see a battery of professionals paid directly, or indirectly through my taxes, who have been their guide, teacher, example. Numeracy, literacy, modern languages and critical thinking at school. Football, tennis and gymnastics at clubs, holiday clubs and development centres staffed by paid and volunteer coaches. Piano, recorder and choir at school and private tuition. Drawing, painting and collage at school and art class. If they had wanted to camp, trek or build bridges across rivers there were cubs, scouts and guides.

I am left as the commissioning agent – sourcing tutors and coaches, checking their performance, paying the subs (or taxes). I do have a crucial role as chauffeur; and a very enjoyable part to play as spectator. But this is far from the ideal of interventionist, child-shaping fatherhood.

I anticipate a challenge from readers: values – I’m ignoring the contribution I make to my children’s upbringing with the values I support and encourage them to adopt.  Maybe – but don’t underestimate the impact of peers on how children view the world. Anyway, that’s not what the ideal of fatherhood is about. It’s practical stuff.

I’ve been mulling over this experience of parenthood as a blog topic for some months, but not really known where it leads me. Then, a couple of weeks ago no.1 son asked if I could show him how to set up a website. I did and we worked together on the appearance and name. He has written his first blog post and we’ve talked about the sort of topics he might cover.

One of the things I’ll be trying to get across to him is that while a blog post needs a beginning and a middle, it sometimes takes a little bit longer to find the right ending.

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Filed under parenting, skills