Uv Readers' Group Meeting

Posted at 04:00am on 22nd May 2008

THEME: FAMILY LIFE

Study books: The Family, Jack & Judith Balswick; Bringing Home the Prodigals, and Teenagers, Rob Parsons

Do you remember, any of you, the TV advert of the little girl weighing up the pros and cons of ‘Daddy or chips?’ Well, we had something of a Daddy or chips evening on Wednesday.

A new venue for UV Readers’ Group brought warm appreciation from those who came, better parking and more comfortable seating being two of the features cited. The themed evening on Family, however, clearly had less appeal for some people, compared to the two events running simultaneously, both with the word Chelsea in their title! Numbers were down, and the male of the species – all those fathers and sons of the family – were noticeably missing.

Perhaps fortuitously! Their absence permitted a greater honesty among we women – especially when discussing the issues arising from the following quotes taken from the listed books:

  1. “We have all, at times, made it easier for our prodigals to leave, kept them out of mind when they are gone and, saddest of all, made it harder for them to come home.” Prodigals, Parsons.
  2. “The truth is, it’s not just our teenagers who are learning on the job; we as parents are trying to work out just how to communicate with this person . . .” Teenagers Parsons.
  3. “Choose your battles . . . The key to winning wars is not to plan for last stands . . If we fight every battle, our teenagers will never discover the ones that really do matter to us.” Teenagers, Parsons.
  4. “A person’s identity is formed in the family of origin. In fact, until puberty it is hard to think of ourselves apart from our family.” The Family, Balswick.
  5. “Parents who have the respect of their children have legitimate power (authority) and influence. Parents who do not have the respect of their children often resort to force and coercion (dominance).” The Family, Balswick.

Interestingly, as stories of our own prodigals emerged, plus a lively debate on nature versus nurture and whether parenting skills were inherent or had to be learned, a clear divide appeared between those who were old enough to count smacking as a factor in their upbringing, and those whose youth informed their abbhorence of such practice. Did I detect a certain conceit when we declared that a smack had never done us any harm; that in twenty years time the naughty step might be deemed a humiliation too far; and that some of the children of today are raised – cruelly, in our opinion – believing that the world revolves around them? Or was there an element of smugness about the non-smackers, who would never, ever raise a hand against their offspring, but who have not, yet, had to face the traumas of teenagers with which we older mothers have had to cope?

Not a bit of it! We parted with hugs and an assurance that parenting is not perfect unless it’s divine – and returned home in a warm glow that at least matched, if not surpassed, that of the soccer-watchers and gardeners. Until next time . . .

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