There was recently a thread on PFFA that degenerated into a bit of a slanging match between people who are parents (primarily mothers) and people who are not terribly enamoured of children and who said so.
Now, by an unfortunate combination of circumstance and life choices, I am not a mother. But I read the discussion on PFFA at one step removed. On the one hand, I like children, and would have dearly loved to have some of my own (I always thought a boy and a girl would be ideal, though someone once suggested that parents should plan to have three, “in case one of them dies”. More on that later — or not.). On the other, though, I am judgemental enough to think bad thoughts about parents who can’t/don’t/won’t present the best of their children to the public. I do know that it’s not as easy as it seems, and am sure that my brother and I embarrassed our mother on several occasions, but I also do know that my parents made it very clear that we were not to be taken anywhere public until we learned how to behave in such a way that we made them proud. My parents didn’t take us to restaurants — beyond the odd Chinese restaurant or two — until we were teenagers; Kentucky Fried Chicken fed us sometimes, by the bucket or the snack, and Burger King and Macdonald’s were for very special occasions indeed, like the end of the school term or somebody else’s birthday.
We didn’t travel on planes until we were old enough to talk and to obey very specific tones of voice, and we didn’t go to adult dinner parties — or adult anything — with them. There were many family gatherings where adults and children mingled, but we were raised to mind every adult who had occasion to speak to us, and my mother had no problem dropping us off to our friends’ birthday parties once we were able to go to the bathroom and speak for ourselves. The understanding was that the adult in charge was in charge of us as well. Heaven help us if we had to be disciplined by that adult; our little worlds would come to an end. As a result, we were pretty self-reliant and, I imagine, quite well-behaved; I don’t remember having to be disciplined by anybody who was not a family member or a teacher.
I say all of that to say this. I find it quite odd, having had that upbringing, when my friends and family bring their children along when we get together as adults. There are times, of course, where children are naturally included — birthday parties and holidays are those sorts of times — but I’m a little puzzled at the current trend of bringing the child(ren) to the dinner party or even (occasionally) the meeting. I suspect I would be a very odd mother by today’s standards; I’d leave my child(ren) elsewhere when I had things to attend to. My mother, who worked all our lives, did the same, and I treasure the breadth of experience that I got from my various minders — my grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and friends, all of whom taught me different ways of being in the world. I would want any child of mine to have the same kind of exposure, so that when he or she made up his or her mind what to be like as a person (because there is some choice in the matter, believe you me) there would be a range of possibilities from which to choose.
And so I found this article, led to me by my husband, to be very interesting indeed.
Sorry, but my children bore me to death!
I’m gonna post it on PFFA and watch the fur fly.