These days, we live in a time-poor society. Maybe it is the culture we create, where success is measured in terms of speed or quantity. There does not seem to be time for the things that matter, such as raising children.
I am a strong believer that if one does not have the time, passion or commitment for parenting, then one should not be a parent. An emotionally-startved child grows into a broken adult who goes on to damage others. Providing food and shelter for 18 years is simply not enough.
Making a child is only a fraction of the whole picture. A much larger portion comes from raising the children we have made. That, I strongly believe, is not a job for schools or paid helps. And children do need raising properly; the need the time investment that goes beyond providing them with shelter and food. They need to learn the basics skills as well as how to be decent human beings. As I write frequently, there are many shits out there in the world wearing smart business suits, driving expensive (secondhand) cars and living in grand (mortgaged) houses, but scratch beneath the surface and you get a steaming pile of excrement. I think parents play a large part firstly in teaching children sound values and common decency, and most importantly, it takes time and effort for these foundations to sink in. There is no rushing parenting.
I was saddened to read in The Sunday Times that schools have begun teaching boys how to shave and getting John Lewis’s department store in to teach girls how to choose bras of the right size. Traditionally, it used to be the father and the mother teaching their children these things but now, the parents have no time. Deputy head of Oakham School Sarah Gomm, says that these lessons from teachers and shop assistants brought in to school help ‘to fill the gap that parents in traditional family scenarios used to fill’.
I have always argued it is not the actual quantity of time itself that is lacking. It is the mindset. Once upon a time, I brought up three small children without any help whilst I was at University. It was a struggle but we managed to find precious moments in between my lectures and term time to make our children feel that they matter, that they are the most important people in the world to us. We never hurried them. The rest of the world can wait.
Today, I have been busy in the kitchen and also closing up two houses for the summer, but nonetheless, all comes to a stop when my daughter comes home from school for us all to sit down, have dinner on our balcony and a long chat. I strongly believe there is always time for raising children – we just have to make our choices. Our house can be messy, it doesn’t matter. Dinner doesn’t have to be elaborate – we just had burgers today because I was busy. After all, what our children want most from us is our presence, not presents.