Family Values and Time

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Family Values and Time

Belinda Lee

When did society start to put family values behind those of
progress and being ahead?

Increasingly, what we are witnessing in society is a way of life which chases a notion of being better, being smarter, having more and having done more. When we talk about family being central to the happiness of a child, we are suddenly seeing a societal climate that does not support that belief. 

Last year, I wrote an article about home education and mental health of the child and how school curriculum outlines don’t support the mental well- being of the child. This article is to outline how the system and society no longer support family togetherness or the values that families hold dear, and the effects this has on our children. 

In a recent news segment discussing the effects of school holidays on health and learning capacity, ‘expert’ Professor Tim Olds, was disparaging of the home, saying, “When kids are exposed to the school environment, it is good for them in terms of fitness, fatness and obviously learning. When they are exposed to the home environment, that’s not so good”. 

Steve Biddulph, leading author in child psychology and family management, in his speech at the Resilient Kids Conference 2016 said that the enemy of love, was being in a hurry. It is extremely difficult to show our children that we love them if we hurry them through life. There are many books on slowing down for the sake of our own personal well-being, but something we home educators probably already know, is how love can be nurtured, grown and matured through our slow time together, as a family. 

With increasing pressures to perform better, be better than our peers, be the best and achieve, achieve, achieve, our children and their well-being is being lost. Some believe that our children will be happier if they are better at sports, music, in a school that promotes academic prowess, and eventually in a job that pays so well, they won’t have any worries, supposedly. 

But what if all they need, especially when they are young, is our time. 

When a child enters into the world, all the baby wants is to be right next to their mother. There are several studies that state that “Skin-to-skin contact between mothers and newborns immediately after birth can be used to promote breastfeeding and may give babies a better start in life.” Then there are many articles to suggest that co-sleeping with your newborn, and your children as they grow, is a fantastic idea that promotes family closeness, trust and well-being for the child. 

However, once our children start to grow, they also start to compete, ever so slightly. It starts with a comparison of milestones, when a child starts to sit, crawl, walk, how many words they say etc. If we aren’t careful, we can be sucked into the belief that our children will miss out if we don’t enrol them into the best school, the classes, the lessons, the events, the shows. 

And suddenly, our world becomes serving our children by taking them to all these things, making them wake when they aren’t ready, rushing them through breakfast, getting them dressed, making sure our bags are adequately packed, picking them up from school, rushing them to their lessons, then a quick dinner, before homework needs to be completed, that outfit for bookweek needs to be made, that reader needs to be completed and your record book checked off, to quickly get them to sleep and shut down, only to do it again. 

Don’t get me wrong. I know of some families who send their kids to school who do it amazingly well. These families have found a way to balance school life, and their children’s schedules, (along with their careers) with what a family needs. 

But I am noticing an increase in stress, worry and the ultimate issue of this article, self-regulation, that is not occurring because these children are not getting the adequate time, and down time within their family units. 

When a child wakes from sleep, still with dreams escaping their minds, and they are greeted with a warm, friendly, unrushed cuddle… 

When a child is able to sit with their family, unhurried, to have a breakfast full of morning conversations, watching the cold wet of day being warmed by the natural morning sunrise, noticing the pink in the sky turn blue… 

When a child is able to slowly enjoy a story, be totally absorbed in a story whilst sitting on their parent’s lap, feeling the embrace and love of their parent whilst enjoying the tales of dragons, unicorns and planets together… 

When a child’s emotions are slowly understood, listened to, managed… 

When a child partakes in the hard work of keeping a family’s life going, housework, planning, playing… 

When the child attacks a problem (be it mathematical or performing a handstand) and the family is there to support them and are always present during these times… 

When a child is able to be lost in learning something of interest, supported by the one who loves them the most… 

When family dinners are a time to celebrate the day gone past, slowly… 

When family nights end with movies together, with board games and conversations about the intricate details of what they’ve learnt that day… 

When nights end with stories, with songs, with prayers and with sound sleep, the last sound they hear being their parent’s voice… 

… then a child is secure, full of the knowledge that the world is going to be okay, because their world is full of love from those that mean the most to them, their parents. 

The child grows up with a heart fulfilled, having the confidence to tackle any obstacle that arises as they mature, knowing how it is to regulate themselves, having taken the time to understand themselves. 

Something I take a lot of pride in is the fact that I can actually be around my children. This sounds so strange, until you speak to some parents who say frequently, and in front of their children at times, “I ,cannot wait for the school holidays to end” and a myriad of other things. 

Now granted, when your children are very young, the relentless care you need to bestow upon them can be difficult and require breaks. I’m not at all saying breaks shouldn’t be taken, nor am I saying that your mental health need suffer just so you have more contact with your children. 

But this beautiful, strong balance home education has provided to many families, where the families are always together, learning together, doing life togethe,r has not just benefited the child, but it will in turn, provide society with adults who are able to take care of themselves, are not in desperate need of entertainment or something else to regulate them, and also adults who have a high level of empathy to those around them. These children who are growing up being understood and supported through their essential growing years, will one day be adults who support our society, not take from it, in an effort to climb higher. 

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