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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Blog: Di­men­si­ons of pa­rent­hood

Vieraskieliset / In-english
12.9.2019 6.13

Pa­rent­hood is a mul­ti­di­men­si­o­nal task. My own ex­pe­rien­ces of pa­rent­hood have va­ried wi­de­ly, de­pen­ding on fa­mi­ly size and my per­so­nal re­sour­ces. You be­co­me a pa­rent when you hear the first cry of yo­ur first baby and re­main a pa­rent un­til the end of yo­ur life.

My friend Ee­va-Lii­sa Kan­to­la desc­ri­bed pa­rent­hood very well in a poem that I have of­ten used to cong­ra­tu­la­te the pa­rents of a new baby.

Life, you gave me this task,

and I da­red not re­fu­se.

His hair still wet,

his hand fumb­ling in the air.

My task to take this hand

and help him sa­fe­ly find his path.

He is gre­a­ter than me,

this new­born.

The birth of a new baby has been a sour­ce of joy for the sib­lings. When I came home with our eighth baby, one of the ol­der sib­lings said:

– The He­a­ven­ly Fat­her saw that we are such a lo­ve­ly fa­mi­ly, and He wan­ted to give us one more lo­ve­ly baby.

The task of hel­ping a baby find his or her path has inc­lu­ded many things. I re­mem­ber how won­der­ful it was to see my first baby le­arn to turn over and crawl. When that same baby le­arnt walk and run, I so­me­ti­mes wis­hed he could stand still for just a mo­ment. The task of hel­ping again took on new me­a­nings when the child le­arnt to use a scoo­ter and a bike. Each child is a uni­que per­so­na­li­ty and chal­len­ges the pa­rents dif­fe­rent­ly at dif­fe­rent ages.

To sur­vi­ve as a (stay-at-home) pa­rent, one must de­ve­lop rou­ti­nes and re­lax the ru­les. I re­mem­ber how up­set I was about a spil­led glass of milk as a yo­ung mot­her. Sin­ce that time many things have been spil­led and bro­ken, fi­xed and re­pai­red, and so we have sai­led from one day to the next.

Apart from the work done at home as a mot­her, coo­pe­ra­ti­on with the school has been a big part of my life. I star­ted by at­ten­ding pa­rent-te­ac­her mee­tings, which pro­vi­ded a kind of rhythm to my fall-time eve­nings.

I al­most felt I had gai­ned a me­dal for my hard work when the school cook on­ce said to me:

– I re­mem­ber that you drink tea in the eve­ning, not cof­fee.

I have one fun me­mo­ry from the time when I had very many pa­rent-te­ac­her mee­tings to at­tend. I had al­re­a­dy been to the school twice that week and went for a third time. One of the pa­rents of my child’s clas­s­ma­tes sug­ges­ted that we should pre­sent our­sel­ves and say whose pa­rents we were. I could say my name, but I did not re­mem­ber whose mot­her I was to be that par­ti­cu­lar eve­ning.

– Which of our kids are you te­ac­hing this ye­ar, I as­ked the te­ac­her.

The fa­mi­li­ar te­ac­her un­ders­tood my prob­lem and gave me the name I nee­ded.

Cur­rent pa­rent-te­ac­her com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on is most­ly done on­li­ne. The Fin­nish on­li­ne sys­tem is cal­led Wil­ma. Through this sys­tem the cus­to­di­ans of mi­nors fol­low their child­ren’s school work and read the in­for­ma­ti­on pos­ted by their te­ac­hers. At first I was aver­se to the Wil­ma sys­tem, be­cau­se I felt it was ina­de­qu­a­te com­pa­red the na­tu­ral in­te­rac­ti­on I was used to.

Part of the good old pa­rent-te­ac­her coo­pe­ra­ti­on di­sap­pe­a­red in­to the bo­wels of Wil­ma, but the chan­ge was pro­bab­ly ine­vi­tab­le, as both schools and clas­ses grew in size. I gu­ess all te­ac­hers and pa­rents are now best ac­ces­sib­le on­li­ne.

My own role as a pa­rent of school child­ren gra­du­al­ly di­mi­nis­hed, and one mor­ning I no lon­ger had the Wil­ma icon on my phone screen. I had be­co­me a mot­her with no school-aged child­ren.

God gave the fourth com­mand­ment, ad­vi­sing child­ren to res­pect their fat­her and mot­her. Could that com­mand­ment mean that, in or­di­na­ry eve­ry­day life, the pa­rents are dif­fe­rent from their child­ren? The pa­rents and child­ren are not on op­po­si­te si­des, but they have dif­fe­rent tasks and du­ties. Pa­rents need to be pa­rents! I so­me­ti­mes feel that what we call child­ren’s rights tend to over­ri­de the pa­rents’ du­ties.

For ins­tan­ce, it would be good for the pa­rents to dis­cuss with their child­ren the scale and im­por­tan­ce of cer­tain things and the grounds for de­ci­si­on-ma­king. A five-ye­ar-old may to choo­se to wear a pink shirt for day care, but her pa­rents must make sure she has a warm coat for the cold we­at­her. We all make a num­ber of more or less weigh­ty choi­ces dai­ly. We can spare our re­sour­ces for use­ful things if we need not ar­gue about the same small de­tails eve­ry day.

I feel that pa­rent­hood is a de­man­ding, bin­ding and time-con­su­ming duty. Even lo­ve­ly fa­mi­lies re­qui­re a lot of ef­fort and res­pon­sib­le work for the well-being of the fa­mi­ly mem­bers. Yet, I have not da­red to re­fu­se the duty that has al­wa­ys be­gun at the first cry of a new baby. I re­mem­ber how, many ye­ars ago, in a flash of il­lu­mi­na­ti­on, I re­a­li­zed that this life and this fa­mi­ly are our mu­tu­al job. No-one is ob­li­ged to help us.

But it was good that we so­me­ti­mes got vo­lun­ta­ry help when our life was most hec­tic. I al­so knew my mot­her pra­yed for me and my fa­mi­ly. When I told my mot­her there was a baby on the way, she said she would start pra­ying for this new fa­mi­ly mem­ber. That see­med to take part of the bur­den off my shoul­ders.

No­wa­da­ys pe­op­le of­ten speak about mot­hers and fat­hers nee­ding time for them­sel­ves. There are two si­des to this is­sue. The de­mand for per­so­nal free time may de­ri­ve from the sel­fish as­sump­ti­on that child­ren should in no way li­mit their pa­rents’ li­ves. Pe­op­le who feel like this may find a gro­wing fa­mi­ly and the con­se­qu­ent work­lo­ad overw­hel­ming.

On the ot­her hand, ho­we­ver, the wish for per­so­nal time is a he­alt­hy sign of res­pon­sib­le pa­rent­hood. Such mot­hers and fat­hers re­a­li­ze that they can bet­ter ma­na­ge their dai­ly work­lo­ad if they can take a break on­ce in a while. I al­so think that it is a great gift to be ab­le to feel per­so­nal free­dom wit­hin the dai­ly life of one’s fa­mi­ly.

Text: Lii­sa Huus­ko

Trans­la­ti­on: Sirk­ka-Lii­sa Lei­no­nen

You will find the ori­gi­nal Fin­nish blog post here.

20.2.2020

Sa­nat, jot­ka Her­ra on pu­hu­nut, ovat hen­ki ja elä­mä. Joh. 6:63

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