Friday, 17 April 2015

The Judgemental Parent

When I was a young younger Mum people often used to comment on how laid back I was and that nothing the kids did ever seemed to phase me. Some people loved that about me and others found it annoying. It irritated me if someone made a snide comment about the way I raised my children and it would baffle me why they would be concerned. I didn't look at them and criticise the way they were parenting, so why look at me. What business is it of theirs?

Compared with a lot of my friends I guess I was considered a bit of a soft touch. I would be the mum down the street that had all the kids in for dinner or for water fights, sometimes so many kids that you would be forgiven for assuming I was running a creche. I'd let my kids roll in the mud, climb trees, be loud, be silly and be outrageous. We had ropes tied from the tree that would swing us into a giant paddling pool and they had wild bouncy castle birthday parties at home.  I let them be kids and learn to make their own decisions with a feeling of freedom attached to them. We are not a perfect family, but we are happy and isn't that what life is all about? Isn't feeling happy our main goal in life? If so, we achieved it with how we were doing things.

Judgemental parents are my pet hate. I don't really get it.It doesn't affect me so much these days as my four are grown, my eldest three kids are in their twenties and my youngest is fifteen, so I escape a lot of the judgements. But I do get the odd person who might scoff about my Daughters home schooling and it drives me barmy. I don't like the school their child attends but do I tell them that? No, of course not because that school works for them, their child is happy and doing well in school. My child studies better at home and is happy. It is as simple as that.

Generally judgements come from people who have no experience of your life or what has shaped you as a parent. They usually never look at themselves or ever perceive that they might not be so perfect themselves or simply the decisions that they make as a parent works for them, but it might not work for me and visa versa. The need to judge another says more about them than it does me, usually they are insecure about themselves and feel threatened by people who they assume are having an easier time. 

I was raised in quite a strict, religious home. I had a wonderful childhood and my Mum was the absolute best. We had lots of adventures and we were allowed to run free and be 'real' kids, but when I reached my teenage years she was a tad 'old school' and I was made guided to take routes that I didn't agree with. For example, my longed for art degree wasn't taken seriously and I was told "art would get me nowhere in life" so I wasn't allowed to take art as one of my options at school, I was forced to attend a church that I didn't believe in and I wasn't allowed to have the same freedom that my peers were granted. Don't get me wrong, I'm really not complaining, because I did have a very happy home life and I know my Mum loved me to bits, but as I reached my teens I longed to have my very strong opinions valued. 

Some may see mum's parenting decisions as 'discipline', but as a strong willed teen I saw it as control and a rejection of who I was. The result was a very angry, wild, rebellious teenager who run away from home and fell off the rails for a little while. It could have ended very badly had I not met my now Hubby.

Then I became a parent myself, and it suddenly dawned on me that parenting is bloody hard work and making decisions about what you think is best for your child, and your family is no easy task. I realised that Mum come from a different generation to me, and her generation sometimes did struggle to connect with us wild eighties kids. She made me attend church with the hope of raising a daughter with morals and values, and she really did think that a living could not be made from 'art'. Every choice she made for me was because she loved me and wanted the best for me. Some of those decisions were right and some were wrong. Now as I look back, I'm glad she made me go to the church that I hated so much, because while I was there I built, strong life long friendships with people I love and If she had allowed me to take the artist route that I craved, I would never have rebelled and met my soul mate. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, that we all make certain parenting choices  because of who we are and where we come from. My hubby was badly beaten by his father and suffered a lot of verbal abuse as a child which made him into the wonderfully soft, loving dad that he has always been our with kids. So, next time you spot that parent who you think is a little too soft on their kids, remember that everyone has a story to tell, a past that makes them who they are, and there are often reasons behind parenting choices that you might not know about. Who the hell are we to judge anyone? Live and let live is my motto.

Have you ever been on the end of judgemental parenting observations, or have you found yourself doing it?

Thursday, 16 April 2015

North Devon - The Streets of Appledore

Appledore is a charming fishing village situated in North Devon, smack bang in between Bideford and Westward Ho! It is a tiny village that sits on a hillside overlooking the Torridge estuary and believe me when I say it is a truly gorgeous place to visit. The tiny, winding back streets are great for exploring, it's small Pockets full of colour will have you curious at every twist and turn. Pretty alleyways and cobbled stairways invite you to delve in deeper and deeper.

Follow the teeny roads until you find Irsha street, it is particularly pretty and even boasts a miniature pink house named 'The Dolls House' which is wedged in between two cottages. The kids love it and yearn to take a peek inside. Keep walking and you will stumble across The Beaver Inn, stop here for a pint and some real Devonshire home cooking and take in the stunning panoramic estuary views. Not to be missed. Be sure to visit St Mary's Church, it sits in the Quay and is lovely spot to wander around the grounds. If you climb the grassy stairway you will find a bench with amazing views across the estuary.

Appledore is a very special place, I urge you to spend a day here if you are down that way or even better rent a cottage with a sea view in Irsha Street. An experience you will never forget.

Time Travellers

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