By Sarah Sivright
Last month, All Seasons held one of our Parent Forums. The topic was parenting—what factors affect the way we raise our children. Some relevant influences were outlined; how we ourselves were parented, the prevailing philosophies or trends, the effects of stress, the gender and temperament of our children, etc. The session was informative and lively. But the best part of the morning was the remarkable group of women present. They would probably be surprised to be called remarkable.
When we finished discussing the many factors that influenced our parenting, the conversation turned to more personal issues with children, family, schools, culture—the factors that support parenting and those that make it more difficult.
Listening to these women express their hopes and concerns, their triumphs and defeats, wisdom and eagerness to know more, made me see the courage and vulnerability mothers show to each other when they feel safe. It’s both a tribute to the women present and to the community we’ve all built, that this kind of frank and compassionate conversation could happen.
I heard a lecture recently by a child psychiatrist who was talking about the latest brain research related to early childhood development. He mentioned the current buzzword “grit,” and emphasized how important it is to encourage children to celebrate mistakes, try again, and learn from each attempt. I thought of these All Seasons mothers—and fathers—and how, in our less-than-family-friendly culture, we often judge rather than support parents. We should be encouraging grit in adults, too. We make plenty of mistakes raising children, and it is not often that we hear, “Well, that didn’t work, but you gave it a great effort, and let’s see what else you can try?” In parenting, we have maybe the most difficult challenge we will ever take on, and where are our cheerleaders? Right here! For that morning, those mothers were willing to be open and supportive, laugh with each other, share their hard-won wisdom, and cheer each other on.