Last week I had the following conversation with a friend.
Friend: Are you coming on the coach-trip to Blackpool?
Me: No. I didn’t fancy it with Arch. He hates being strapped in a seat. Making him sit still for three hours there and three hours back is something I’d rather avoid.
Friend: You should just tell him he has to sit still. That’s what I do with my little granddaughter. I could take her on a coach journey anywhere.
Me: So? Ebony is Ebony and Arch is Arch. That’s the difference.
An all too familiar conversation
How many times, in the five years since Arch has been born, have I had a variation on that conversation? (“My child does this. Your doesn’t. Therefore you should change your parenting.”)
The assumption underlying it is that children are pretty much the same so they’ll all respond in a similar way to similar treatment.
Adults are different – why shouldn’t children be?
But where does that assumption come from? It’s certainly not true of adults.
Some adults needs to sleep for eight hours a night, others thrive on four. Some adults are at their best in a creative environment when they can make it up as they go along, other prefer to operate where there are clear rules and procedures. Some adults enjoy getting up early on a cold winter’s morning to run around a rugby pitch (they do honestly), others prefer to sit in bed and watch a film in Italian for the sheer sensuality of the words.
I’m sorry. This is so obvious I’ve embarrassed myself writing it down.
My question is this: If we accept this is true for adults, why should it be any different for children?
The role of parenting
Do I think that parenting has any bearing on the way a child behaves? Yes.
Would children behave in a similar way in the they were all brought up the same? Definitely not – and thank God for that.
You know what they say about criticism and moccasins? How much more true is it of parents and their gloriously varied offspring?