Last weekend I was away visiting some friends in the South of France. While we were talking about how hard it can be to raise kids, we realized that whatever we do, we’ll always have to face criticism, whether it is from family members, friends with kids or other parents around. People have an idea about everything. And when it comes to parenting or motherhood, they think that they must share what they think about this or that. Without even being asked to do so.
When it happens, we tend to feel like we are the worst mums ever. We’re not doing things the way we should do them. Others seem to know better. It’s very easy to get depressed, to cry and go straight to the first doctor we know to empty our hearts full of negativity and stress.
What if the others weren’t wrong, just different?
We all have our ideas on how we wish to raise our kids, what values we wish to pass on to them, on how well it feels for us to deliver a specific message. There are no rules, except the ones everybody knows, that say we have to take care of our kids and respect their needs, respect who they are and help them grow. The way we do it belongs to us. And most of the time we do the best we can with what we have, what we have been taught, what we have learnt on the way – what we feel inside our hearts.
In France nowadays we hear a lot about attachment parenting (éducation bienveillante). The idea is brilliant. But in reality, it’s not THAT easy to put into place. For some parents it’s fine and it works perfectly with their kids, for others it does not fit in their world. They can try for hours and days, without seeing any results. Does this mean they are bad parents? Does this mean others have the right to judge them and put a red sticker on their faces?
I don’t think so.
At the end of the day, we want the same thing: to raise happy, healthy and confident children. In order to do so, I think we ought to help each other and accept that one approach is not better than another one. When asked, we can share our ideas. When not, why create more mess in the head of parents who already feel overwhelmed by the task at hand?
How do you welcome negative criticism about the way you are raising your kids?
This is an original post for World Moms Network written by Marie Kleber in France.
The day I gave birth to my son, HJ, is a day I’ll never forget. Induction nightmare? Check. Post baby snuggles? Check. September 3rd birth date? Check.
Little did I know at the time how much my son’s birthday would impact his development and education but flash forward to 2013 and here I sit, faced with the first of many educational concerns.
Living in Paris meant that on September 4th, 2012, my son formally entered the French education system. At just three years old, he was invited to attend nursery school, or maternelle, which comprises the first three years of schooling. Due to his inability to speak French, my son was invited to attend school four mornings per week from 8:30 a.m. until 11:40 a.m. As he began to thrive in school, his teacher gently suggested that I begin leaving him for one full-day per week after the holiday break in December. By late-January, he was attending school all day until 4:15 p.m., eating French catered lunch in the cantine (cafeteria), enjoying rest time, and thriving.
Combining his easy going attitude and tall stature (95% percentile for height), most parents thought my son was one of the older kids in the class. In order to start school in September, children must turn three by December 31st, and with a September 3rd birthday, my son was one of the younger students. When I would share this with the parents, they’d say, “Wow, but he is so tall!”
Our plans for HJ’s education were that he would be in French school until we moved home, and at that point he’d transition into kindergarten at the local school. When our contract ended sooner than expected, I began the joyous task of figuring out what options we had to continue HJ’s formal education, and the results were shocking.
HJ misses the US cut-off for kindergarten by two days. This means that he has to wait until he is six to enter kindergarten! I neatly placed that reality aside and instead focused on what education he could receive now, at four years old.
My choices floored me.
Option A) the public school offers a “lottery” for kids ages 3-4 for preschool, and the schedule only allows kids to get one of three spots: two mornings from 8-11, three mornings, four afternoons, or five mornings. And all this for the staggering price of more than $6,000.
Option B) the local Montessori school, which has no openings until September of 2014, and again runs mornings only. Did I mention that they also refused to reveal the actual cost of the program?
And finally, Option C) a local Catholic school that offers five all-day classes for around $7,000.
So what’s the big deal?!
Children in France have access to all-day education beginning at age three for FREE, with master’s degree trained teachers. While every school isn’t as amazing as the one my son attends, the French may be on to something. For two working parents, morning-only, formal education settings are an inconvenience, and for single-income families, shelling out over $6,000 for a few hours a day may be too much.
All around the United States, parents are struggling with making hard financial decisions and I wonder if it seems fair that we have to do so when it comes to our children’s educations?
For us, having HJ evaluated and exploring how he measures up to his peers is one solution. How he falls in the range of social and emotional intelligence will give us a window into how he may fair in kindergarten and will be necessary if we plan on fighting the school district for a spot in kindergarten if it seems logical and appropriate for our son.
The second option is to just ride the wave and instead allow our six year old to join his peers, perhaps giving him a leg up on his classmates. Then I question, “Will he be bored?” “Too big?” At this point I’m just not sure which choice is best for our little guy but it did get my wheels moving, wondering about the significant differences in how each country approaches education. What is it like for children in Germany, or Canada? Do parents struggle with similar issues in Sydney, Australia?
So please, World Moms Blog readers, share your location/country’s educational process! When does school begin? When did your children start school? Anything you wish you could change about your child’s educational experiences?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from Jacki, mother of one now living in XXX but formerly blogging from Paris, France.