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“Everything changes, but nothing changes”

This is the argument against the House that Believes that a New Parenting Model is needed for the 21st Century ….

I am not a biological parent, I have three step children, a sibling, a nephew and I have two parents, still alive. Plus I was a child once upon a time.

Caroline has indeed set out a well designed and supported case on behalf of her team for a new parenting model for the 21st Century.  I would expect no less.  My team will argue the flaws in her proposal.  We believe that it is wrong to dictate how anyone should parent their child when we know so little about the make up of any one family and the environment in which it exists.  We believe that no one size fits all. And we believe that everything changes but nothing changes.

Bev will cite historical evidence on which to rest our case and for my part I plan to contexturalise the argument. Let me first tell you the story of a teenager I know quite well.

In her early teens she was most often found sat with her back to the radiator in the hall, transfixed by a popular transgender story in preference to (in her terms) the stupid homework set by teachers who teach from text books. Or she’d read under the covers late at night to hide the blue light belying the pretence of sleep.

She’ll be on the phone to her ‘bestie’ who lives exactly four doors down the road for hours at a time.  Then, when that bestie got herself a boyfriend, she was distraught, abandoned, she took to listening to music for hours on end, earphones, on mouthing the lyrics to some seriously dodgy (not sure you can call it) music  by some gender-fluid artistic genius.  

When she started hanging out with boys herself they were tattooed, boy-racing idiots complete with sexual urges, drugs and … knives.

In fact, there is this one time when she had a message from one such loser at midnight saying that Armindo had stabbed him.  Frightened, she did tell her Dad about it, Armindo was bestie’s boyfriend.  Dad called the police and forbade her to see that Boyfriend again.  It caused huge friction between the two of them as you might imagine.

The thing is that this story was set 40 years ago in the late 70s.  The girl, of course, was ‘yours truly’. The trans reading material was about a Tom Boy called George from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, the gender fluid musical genius, David Bowie.  The boyfriends, well they were just bad boy experiments.  And yes there were knives … even then. “Everything changes, but nothing changes.”

Kids of all ages test boundaries.  There are things to learn, mistakes to be made, limits to be pushed, independence to be found, and regardless of parental consent kids will find a way to explore.  It is the nature of evolution. 

Biologist Van Valen, contended that populations have to “run” or evolve in order to stay in the same place, or else they go extinct.  The Parent–Offspring conflict arises from differences in optimal fitness of parents and that of their offspring.

Wouldn’t your style of parenting depend on the nature of the child, their physical and mental abilities for their age, the presence of danger, and a myriad of ‘other’ influences?  Any style of leadership (and this is the nature of parenting after all) is dependent on the situation that the parent finds themselves in.

When we spot a parent chastising their child in the supermarket – who is screaming hysterically – what do we think?  We don’t know what has gone on immediately before, nor do we know any of the other circumstances surrounding the situation. Yet we infer using our own experiences and knowledge to label the parenting on the unfolding scenario.

Labelling is a tool that humans use to resolve the impossible complexity of the environments we grapple to perceive. The trouble is … labels change how we perceive people without taking into account the complexity of a given situation.  

If you had to slap a label on your parenting style, what would it be?  There are plenty to choose from, from attachment, to out-sourcing and free range to French ­–­ and now there’s Caroline’s suggestion.  We are not convinced that any one of them works in any given situation unless the circumstances are ‘just’ right.

In conclusion, we dislike the idea of adopting any prescriptive parenting model because when a situation changes we have to adapt our style. Remember that it is the nature of evolution for there to be Parent – Offspring conflict, and therefore, the species will continue to fight whatever is the perceived status quo.

And what’s more nobody, especially not a parent likes being told what to do.

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