‘The ability to do something that frightens one; bravery’ Oxforddictionaries.com
One of my all-time, favourite songs has a chorus line as follows; ” If I sense danger; I’ll dust my heart down and carry on ” Sense of Danger by Presence.
This song has gotten me through so much in the past…
The greatest attribute, in my opinion is courage. Without it, there would be no challenge; no breakthrough and no progress. A lack of courage has led to some of humanity’s darkest periods and an abundance of courage has returned light where there was none.
As a dad, I want the cubs to have the courage to:
- Tell the truth/speak up
- Admit when you’re wrong
- Admit when you’re scared.
I sometimes despair at helicopter parents. Watching them at the play park, following their children around various apparatus, waiting to catch them after the inevitable fall. I also sympathise, as I’ve been there.
I stopped when I recognised that in doing so, we cause a great deal of harm. Courage is learned in climbing trees, rope swings into summer rivers and monkey bars with impossible spans. As kids ourselves, we fell, almost drowned and learned about the importance of momentum and strength. We recognise now, that the reward lies in overcoming those fears.
Lies come from a lack of courage to tell the truth. I watch people lie all the time and it has to be one of the things that affects me the greatest, especially when it’s an obvious lie. More often than not, it takes real courage to tell the truth.
As we mature, what scares us changes. It’s easy to dismiss the fears of a child because we have forgotten our own childhood fears but, the gap in the monkey bars represents a lot. As an adult admitting fear can be liberating.
Limits are for pushing; it’s in our nature. That tree absolutely needs to be climbed and those bars aren’t that far apart. Others have climbed, swum and swung before us; someone was the first…
In a world where young voices are often lost, children should be encouraged to speak up. They need to know that how they feel is important, and that their views should be considered. Shouting them down or scorn will only take their future voice away.
For a child, truth and lies are legitimised at an early age. The parental response to either will decide which they prefer. If a child can ‘get away with’ an untruth, or gain advantage from it, they may be inclined to repeat the behaviour.
I positively reinforce the truth by reducing the consequences when the cubs are straight with me. I’m less tolerant of lies. There are no ‘little lies’ or ‘white lies’, it’s a binary choice.
I try to address their fears rather than ridicule them. It is a delicate act to which I try to apply science and reasoning. I encourage them to tell me what they’re scared of and emote their feelings. Once they do this, I can add a counter argument; a script, that once becomes reinforced, they’ll be able to complete themselves.
Courage takes so many forms in our adult life but as with most values, what is gathered and repeated in the formative years will most likely be who we become.
Positive and negative reinforcement will constantly shape their development; as parents, what we do will often have more of an effect over what we say, as you cannot hide who you are.
I’d like to give you a short preview of my 5 week series on the life skills I’m trying to impart into my cubs.
I’ve thought long and hard about this one and reflected on their upbringing so far. Eldest cub, for the most part was raised in a semi-stable home and relationship, although the signs that her mother and I weren’t going to make it were already there.
Her formative years were moulded by the dual influences of both parents, even though I worked long hours and my partner stayed at home. Bonds were formed and taught values were reinforced in behaviours I showed daily.
The co-parenting paradigm shifts things onto a more challenging footing, and my son is now away from the dual influences of both parents. It’s difficult to know what effect this is having on his development as you have to allow for individuality in behavioural differences. I doubt that it’s as straight forwards as nature or nurture.
This whole piece wasn’t straight-forwards.
Having the cub’s best intentions in mind, I want to give them the best start in life that I possibly could, without overlooking their childhood by extolling vicarious values. I tried to be objective, with a topic that is hugely subjective, and I struggled to get the list down to 5 life skills. It changed numerous times.
My list may differ from that of others and I’d be keen to see how mine measures up, but when I reflect on the times that I might have stumbled in life, these are the skills that got me to my feet again.
Within each of these 5, I will attempt to explain why I think that the skill is vital, from the perspective of both an adult and a child. I will also attempt to explain how I teach this skill and then reinforce it in my own behaviour.
I hope you enjoy my thoughts and as always, I’d love to interact with you and have a discussion.
Happy New Year!
As 2018 draws to a close, I’m moving into reflection mode.
So much has happened since the start of the year; some things I’ve enjoyed sharing, others I’ve kept a little closer to my chest. I like to get things near to completion before I publisice them to the world these days. It’s a response to my prior habit of announcing my intentions too early..
I feel I’ve grown; a lot. I’ve watched my cubs grow too, as I’ve continued to nurture their development the best way that I can.
I’ve matured into the co-parenting role too. On reflection, this wasn’t the easiest of years in that respect. The challenges that I have faced crescendoed to such a frustrating level that I genuinely feared for my health at the start of this month. That’s behind me as thankfully, self-care kicked in.
Bonds of words have been broken, so I’ve drawn a line in the sand. The final straw being Christmas Day. The cubs were blessed with gifts. Not so much with attention. That left me frustrated but determined, that it will not happen again.
For me, the power of relection is to take the opportunity to learn. It isn’t about regret, as life is too beautiful for that. I promise you, if you search hard enough, there is a positive message in every single negative event in your history. It’s your job to recognise and capitalise on it.
I am so blessed that simply focussing on what is in my life is enough to make me smile out loud.
The cubs have their issues, but none are insurmountable. Plans are in place to deal with those.
- Carry on with the plans, unabbaited. They’re progressing nicely, but require concentration and patience.
- Build better relationships based on my values, mutual benefit and reciprocity.
- Focus on my health. Healthy eating, exercixe, good food, fresh air and relaxation.
- Kill procrastination; my greatest foe.
For the cubs
Reflecting, has got me reflecting. What do I want to teach my children? what do I want them to learn?
I narrowed it down to 5 life skills. I’m going to discuss one every week from the 5th January. I hope you enjoy them.
Here’s to 2019 folks; stay true to your dreams!
On this special day I want to thank all of you that read my ramblings, and wish you, your nearest and your dearest, a very Merry Christmas!
For me and the cubs, I’m grateful that our story continues. I buried the hatchet and invited the ex over to stay, giving her the opportunity to wake up with them and open presents.
Peace is restored. Or it will be when she leaves… 😉
Merry Christmas all xx
Tell cubs this;
When showing adults something, the object does not need to touch our retina.
The centenary of armistice is upon us.
I write this 100 years to the day, of the end of the great war. The war to end all wars. From an early age I was brought up to respect the 11th day of the 11th month. It’s importance indelible in my memory as my parents gently introduced me to the futility of the human condition.
I’ve eased the cubs into some sort of recognition of events, sparing them the sheer volume of life lost not just in the great war, but in the following war and subsequent conflicts. There’s so much to unravel in there but there’s no rush.
Eldest, at 8 year’s old has a good understanding. The school has done a good job there. For her part, she took things into her own hands when she began to take on in-depth, self learning about Mary Seacole. She became inspired.
On friday, four of the local schools came together to pay their respects at the principal church in our town. It’s a majestic, ornate building, that I had only ever driven past. It dates back to the time of the civil war and the Reverend delighted the gathered children with a story of how a cannon had been placed atop the church to fire upon a nearby castle. Collective gasps echoed.
He then pointed out that the ceiling was adorned with symbols from the Islamic faith, delighting in his house of worship’s multi-cultural appeal.
The school children were given pride of place in the front pews duly shepherded by respective teachers. They were bursting with energy
Parents were welcomed and as I had the day off, I wouldn’t have dreamed of being anywhere else. Of course, I broke protocol, went over and made sure that she knew I was in attendance, before taking my seat at the back.
A headteacher took the reigns and began proceedings. Calling the schools up one by one, the children paid their respects in different ways.
Cub’s class got up and expressed themselves, to music. With the odd monologue thrown in for good measure. One soliloquy punctuated the passing of a giant poppy and they were done. I was up and applauding; Eldest cub delivered her lines beautifully and projected across the 400 strong audience, wearing and wielding her poppy with pride.
Eldest’s Brownie Pack has been asked to lead a procession from the local church to the war memorial.
The pack, church and memorial are all in the village where we used to live and next door to the cub’s school. We awoke early to make sure they were both properly fed and looking smart.
Daddy made the effort too, with very shiny shoes.
The Brownies had the first two rows; the Scouts on the opposite side. The church, more compact than friday’s affair but full nonetheless. I had my concerns about youngest cub. Whilst he’s lively, he’s also quite well-behaved; but I had concerns about the two minute’s silence.
As it transpired, I did my boy a disservice.
A smartly turned out gentleman behind us, with his equally attired family walked forwards to read the names of local servicemen who had passed in both conflicts. His wife kept hold of twin girls, aged about 5.
As dad began to read, the girls began to giggle. Then chuckle; then laugh aloud. Mum tried her best to quiet them but they were having none of it. Dad pressed on, his disdain etched on his face.
Youngest cub, standing on the pew to oversee proceedings turned to look at them, gave a long stare, before looking at me and shaking his head. Mum ushered the girls out of the church.
A second of judgement rushed into my head, before I remembered where I was and dismissed it.
The moment was upon us. The last post played and as the bugle fell silent, so did the congregation.
Youngest became a statue, to the point that he physically jumped when the bugle broke the silence. I gave him a big hug and kissed his forehead.
We walked the short distance to the local memorial. Youngest couldn’t believe his luck as we got to walk down the middle of the road, hand un-held. We are spoilt by the weather. It’s unseasonably warm and it’s bright. Earlier, the heavens had opened.
Having young children, we took pride of place near the front. We read another short sermon before the last post played again. This time, youngest smiled and nodded at me, showing that he knew what to do.
Giggles breakout. It’s the usual suspects. Their dad is glaring..
The bugle blows on.
Brown Owl had given youngest a crucifix with a poppy on it to place on the memorial. We watch everyone else before taking our turn. We begin well but the sense of occasion begins to get to him. He clings to my leg and buries his head in my thigh.
We press on, to compassionate sighs from the crowd and cameras snapping. He begins to fold, but I steady his had, and we place the crucifix together. A respectful departure from the memorial is nigh on impossible with the level of entanglement but we give it a go.
As the service ends and we depart, several couples say how proud I should be of my children.
I think my face said it all.
Ps, extra stars all round, chocolate and a brief spell in the park showed my appreciation.