Category Archives: opinion

Unto the third and fourth generation; what are we doing to our children and grandchildren?

In the UK now something like 1 in 10 children are dx with a mental illness of some kind. The problem for what is labeled generation Y, is so great some have suggested it has reached beyond crisis to a state of emergency. The figures are pretty stark even if you take into consideration the shocking over dx and overuse of prescription medication for children.  These are the children of my generation. Those of us born in the early to mid sixties are the first of Generation X coming after the baby boomers, who are now in their late 60s and 70s.

There’s a separate but linked issue with the dx of ADHD and ADD which I might look at later but not in this post.

This confessional article on the way love was ditched in the search for so-called free love in the ’60s, tries to shine a spotlight on why love was ditched. Jermann writes;

My generation made a mess of love. We lost its very meaning to an emotionally appealing ersatz replacement based on a self-congratulatory “I’m okay, you’re okay” mentality, even as the growing debris of dying human relationships proved otherwise.  We have left our children so deep in the muck that they no longer see a sky blue but accept a dull overcast gray as the normal light of day

The comments expand on the article pointing out that it wasn’t just the hippies seeking “free love” who turned away from real love, plenty of otherwise descent respectable folk did the same. I have been surrounded by so many people of about my age who were either abused, neglected or basically ignored by their parents.  Even in families that on the surface looked in tact and functioning I have heard stories of confusion, distant relationships and deep loneliness from the now adult children.

Most of these people (myself included) never saw a baby, and so when we had our own. we were left to struggle and work out by ourselves how to deal with having children of our own.  For so many of my generation the only guide was “I wont do it like my parents.” But as my generation have bought into the idea that what adults want is way more important than what children need, the lovelessness goes on.

Adults have been so stunted they have no idea how to maintain loving relationships with one another, and can’t face the demands of dependant children. Even otherwise good parents will allow their children to behave in self destructive ways simply because they don’t know how to stop them.

There has to be a solution as we face the curse of the grandparents visiting the third and even fourth generation. And there is.

In the cultural desert, hard working and genuinely loving people have set up little oasis of hope. One comment under the article is from a man who teaches Bl. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body to teens. He says they are enthusiastically taking it up. They know they have to shun the sexual example having suffered the results themselves.

The knowledge and willingness of couple,s of many Christian couples – not just Catholics – to embrace an open to life marriage, using NFP when serious reasons require it, is spreading like wild fire.

More and more women in particular are sick of the damage to health, particularly breast cancer, to marriage and the water supply done by contraception and they are turning back to natural methods that respect women’s bodies and the family unit.

There’s a growing number of mothers who are practicing what has been termed “attachment parenting”. Now, the pendulum can, and always does, swing too far the other way. The media doesn’t help. I have rarely seen a TV programme about normal attachment parenting, it’s always the extreme end, with as weird as possible families.

Ignoring the mainstream media, (something I highly recommend), there are plenty of stories out there of families who are finding a better life by conforming to the natural law and especially in treating women as wives and mothers with the respect due their human dignity and role.

The collapse of the Greek economy has strengthened families.

As we would have no internet while on holiday I had downloaded some podcasts to listen to while I made picnics and cleaned the kitchen. One of them was an interview with a man who was well versed in what is happening in Greek politics and economy. He painted a pretty desperate picture as the wealth has almost vanished and more and more people are barely making ends meet. The elderly can’t be cared for by Government systems any more and the health care coverage is seriously compromised by the lack of Government funds.

But in this otherwise bleak picture this observer noted that there are signs that Greek culture is making a come back. Families are pulling together and pooling resources. Elderly parents are living with their adult  children and extended families are living and sharing together. From this he sees some hope for the future of the country.

Families wont have as much “stuff” any more. They will be poorer, and there seems no end in sight for that situation at the moment, but many Greek people are rising to the occasion. They are taking back the rights and responsibilities they had too willingly handed over to bureaucrats and are trying to build things from the family and local community up.

I wonder how things will look once the financial situation improves (presuming it does). Will there be more subsidiarity and less Government for Greece? Could other countries move the same way? Or have our cultures been so broken for so long that we couldn’t do as Greece is doing? Are we too busy, too wrapped up in our own tiny worlds to see what’s beyond the immediate? I hope not. God can make straight with crooked lines, and the history of the Jewish people shows a people who gather together and call on His Name when economic and political matters look likely to crush them. We must surely do the same.

Are Stay at Home Mothers wasting their education or using it to the enth degree?

This article in the Daily Mail was brought to my attention. One of the mothers mentioned is home educating her children. There was a time when such a deeply stupid question would never have been asked, but we have sunk so far from the days when motherhood was regardless as a great calling, a great vocation, that mothers who do not hand their children over to institutions or strangers soon after birth must defend themselves.

There are a number of strange issues with the article, not least the fascinating way the photos have come across. The first two mothers look happy and settled, attached to their children, while the woman in the red dress looks like she doesn’t want to be with her son. She in fact is the one who astonishingly said she is bored “watching Cbeebies all day.” I bet her son is bored too! If someone who is supposed to be highly educated thinks being a parent means sitting in front of the TV all day, what is the definition of “educated” I have to ask?

It’s a sad fact that the culture today has so massively undermined the important role of motherhood, and almost eradicated the role of the father, that this question is asked as though it is a sensible question. It seems to me this is all part of the undermining of the Sacrament of Marriage that began in the early years of the 20th Century.

Mothers and fathers who stay home and don’t put their babies and toddlers into institutional care are trying to ensure their children have a healthy attachment which will mean they have the opportunity to acquire language and then learn it fully; to learn early social skills while being happy and safe and are then in a good position to better cope should they go to school and have better life outcomes in general and especially mental health. Those of us who are doing this with and for our children are not wasting our education, we are using and fulfilling it.

I did face the “But you’ll be wasting all that education and all those skills,” mantra when I began the process of giving up nursing to try and be home more, because my children needed it. I was even shunned. I remember being at the park with the children with my husband when someone who knew us both met us. On learning that I was now a stay home mother he simply ignored me for the rest of the conversation. No eye contact – nothing.

If I can teach my children not to treat other people based on their job prospects (as Jesus actually demanded) but to treat all people with respect, I will have done something good!

Our children are the future of the country we live in. Even from a purely political point of view, well brought up children who are able to hold down a job and show a sense of responsibility has to be worth something to the economy.  The fact that Mrs Thatcher didn’t want to support stay at home mothers is indicative of the astonishing shallowness of thought and economic understanding of politicians.

There has been plenty of written reports from as far back as Victorian times that show the importance for child development of a bonding between babies and their mother and having a mum and dad around for you. Mothers in particular were recognised as having a fundamentally important role in the forming of children so that they could grow healthy as possible and able to attain their potential in adulthood.

Back when I had to work for money, it was very difficult to be there for the children whenever they needed me. It was very difficult to be there when they were ill and I was constantly torn between my responsibilities to my children and the responsibilities at work. I really don’t envy any mother who goes through this – and I would seriously wonder at the conscience of a mother who isn’t pained by these situations.

We really need to fight for a return to the proper respect for mothers, especially those who also care for elderly or vulnerable relatives. Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to support such hard working, solid women, without whom this country would have collapsed a long time ago, is simply a sign of how uneducated she was (and most Oxford grad politicians are no better).

Do our children really need a University degree?

When my son Alex decided he would not go to university there were some raised eyebrows. Some people thought this was simply a ridiculous notion and that all “good” children go to Uni.

Having taught in a University, I remember thinking as I walked those hallowed halls, “God forbid any child of mine ends up here!” If parents knew what went on in these places (mostly at parental expense) they would, or at least should, be appalled.

Then there’s the cost. This blog entry sums up very nicely just why I want my children to be very cautious about Higher Education. It is indeed a matter of justice. It is grossly unjust that jobs with no possible connection, or a very mild connection to academic learning are asking for graduates.

Now that degrees have been made very expensive but actually not very useful. But just as most families are brainwashed into thinking all children must go to school to get an education – and this in the face of the astonishingly poor standards of education they get; they are equally brainwashed into the idea that all children need a degree.

But do they?

Children as blessings and how not to starve the elderly to death.

One morning at Mass I admitted to a friend that I was pregnant with what would prove to be my sixth child. She gave me a hug and at that moment another friend came over and we both told her. She put her arms around me and said, “Well, if you are good at something, you may as well keep doing it.” I think that was the loveliest thing anyone has said to me about the fact we have dared to go beyond the culturally acceptable number of children of 1.4.

The fact is we have had children in the teeth of the massive propaganda campaign against the lives of children. We are told they are eating up the planet’s meagre resources which should be preserved for the Al Gore’s of this planet. We are told that disabled children must be killed before they get the chance to be born. The Malthus myth is alive and well and heavily pushed by the media and it’s darlings.

Then there are the frequent children cost far too much so don’t have too many articles. They are often based on the assumption that there will be a huge chunk of a family’s income spent on “child care”.  This in turn must be a reflection of the isolation of so many families, so that there is no one but a paid stranger to help with the children. Families are broken up and scattered and each person looks after themselves.

When talking to a fellow Home ed mum last night, she told me how surprised she had been at Think Tank to see so many large families. Some mothers, she told me, had even more children than me! lol. She is expecting her fourth and I know this hasn’t been joyful news to some.

I told her that one of the joys of HE for me had been that with six children I was just one of the crowd. Home educators over all do seem to have more children, or if they only have one or two they soon end up borrowing some more from somewhere, either as helping a family or fostering. My friend wondered if we home ed partly because we just like our children.

My friend discussed her sadness of so many mums complaining to her about having to be with their children through the six weeks Summer holidays. One mother I met said quite clearly in front of her child that she didn’t think it was right for schools to expect families to cope over six weeks!!

Bare these astonishing attitudes by adults in mind when I tell you the next demographic doomalist projection is we will have too many old people – which they are calling the grey tsunami.

As the answer to “too many children” has been contraception and abortion and a call for infanticide (Singer’s view which is increasingly mainstream) what will be the remedy for “too many old people”?

It’s not a leap to see that many elderly will fall under the increasing calls of “obligation to die”, prettily wrapped in a right to die rhetoric at the moment and the misuse of the words dignity and mercy.

This may seem to have little to do with home education per sey but the near the surface of every call to ban home education throughout the world, to stamp out the inherent rights of parents and children to the freedom and obligation of education is based primarily on hatred of Christian doctrines on life. I don’t think I have heard or read a single arguement against home education that doesn’t warn against “fundamentalist Christians” keeping their children away from the secular (a)moral doctrine. Even here in the UK, where as far as I can tell there is a sizable non-Christian non-deist group, the “fundamentalist” label gets bandied about.

Recently I have heard that more protestant communities are turning away from contraception and abortion, having seen the devestating effect it has had on their communities. They are beginning to see that following Scripture means being completely pro-life in marriage as well as “politics”. I would be interested to know if many of these families and pastors putting aside contraception and letting God back into their marriage are or will home educate. Especially in America where many school options are very expensive, more children will probably lead to more homeschooling.

Turning away from the culture of death means embracing the culture of life, which logically, it seems to me, means welcoming, not just whatever children God sends, but whatever elderly or disabled relatives He might send as well.

When families take back and embrace the culture of life, we can avoid the pit that yawns in front of us from the utilitarian secularists (pushed by the BBC of course) and no one needs to be killedd.

Mums need help and should not feel guilty for it. Some responses.

There were a couple of responses on the mums need help blog that I thought were pretty worrying. One woman, who presumably is in a comfortable, financially secure situation, with all the help she needs and no seriously ill person to mess things up, insisted that mothers should never have to work because a sensible woman would not marry a man until he could show his ability to provide adequately for a family. Now, I think I get where this view comes from. A man should be working and have a living wage before he can marry However we now live in a situation in the UK and increasingly in the USA  I believe, where having a wage that can support  family is very difficult indeed. Having any job at all is getting harder and harder. Many of the dads I know who have been providing the single income for their families are either now out of work, or facing impending unemployment. One comment on the blog pointed out that her husband had become disabled at work and now she was the bread winner. These things happen.

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Care of the elderly – it requires a pro-life pro-family culture

My oldest, Josh works as a care assistant in a large home for the elderly. I too worked in homes when I was trying to find a way to work and be at home as much as possible.  I also worked with long-term mentally ill elderly people (mainly dementia) in a hospital setting.

I remember back then (1980’s) that those who had family did tend to be visited by them. Not always, some had no family to visit as they had been brought up in care and then moved straight into the psychiatric system. But I do remember families visiting.

By the time I was working in the homes that sprang up everywhere under Mrs Thatcher’s horrendously cruel “Care in the community” money-saving gimmick, things had changed. I was working more and more with people who never saw a visitor from the moment they were admitted. What happened in the 1990’s that made the change so definite? Why were so many nursing  homes springing up to be filled with fairly well elderly people? Why is it that fifteen or more years later, nothing has changed and even the media is making more of a fuss about the lack of care for frail elderly people? There has been occasional flashes of concern for carers who may be so exhausted that they are starting to abuse the old person they are caring for. When investigated it is found that the carer is the only person taking on the full task; that they have no help or support from the rest of the family, largely because they is no more family. 

The roots of this problem go deep into the family, where we now accept that the frail, sick and old must be put away from our sight and that those who care for them should be treated as failures worthy the least possible pay and conditions.

Demographics is the root of this, and the demographics we have are our own fault. There aren’t enough children and grandchildren to care for the elderly. The anti-children culture of the 60’s and 70’s welled into the anti-family anti-life culture we are wading through today. This anti-child attitude did not just manifest itself in the fact that people stopped having children, but in the fact that so many of the children they did have were ignored, neglected and abused. More than one adult child of a resident confessed that they couldn’t bear to be near their own mother because of the deeply unhappy life she had given them, or that she had been practically a stranger to them.  This is a scandal and a tragedy, not just for those wounded individuals, but because it seems so common. On top of this Dr Ray has talked a lot about the ingratitude of children to their parents who have done their very best, sometimes in very difficult circumstaces. In some cases it’s probably a bit of a mixture.

This deep seated “Me first” (called by many the unholy trinity of Me Myself and I) attitude has not lessened with the next generation. A friend of mine told me how her daughter had spoken out about her life at home – and ordinary life with a single mother. One of her fellow students had said, “I wish my mum loved me like that.” It is shocking how little we respect our children, how little they feel respected. But it is hardly surprising when for the last forty years or so we have called children “a burden” and sung the praises of avoiding pregnancy and being able to get rid of those burdens as soon as possible.  Where are all those children who would care and love the elderly? Perhaps they never conceived or were thrown away. Christians are just as deeply sunk in this toxic mess as anyone else.

I really don’t believe that the media answers of throw more money at it, is the answer. We need families to stand together, to make sacrifices for one another and to show love, the real kind, not the sentimental kind. I have no idea how this is possible without God, so we had better turn back and try to do it His way for once.

As it happens thanks to the internet in many ways, the message of Life is getting out there. Many people of my generation who were denied the teachings of the Church in our youth, are finally getting it. America has some terrible problems, but from there, the English-speaking world is finally getting the full authentic teaching of Christ and His apostles and we are able to hand it on to our children. The pro-life movement is a movement of families and they will not deny God a place in giving children, nor in caring for the elderly.

Home education and the parenting of adults.

You may wonder why Home Education is in the title – well, this is part of the education I am trying to give my children. They need to learn how to be parents whether they end up having biological, adopted, spiritual or no children.

There are not many aspects of life that are eternal. Marriage, for example is only “til death do us part.” The two aspects of life that are eternal are the priesthood and parenthood. Of course both of those things are about parenting. Being a parent is eternal, I assume, because God the Father is eternally Father and God the Son is eternally Son.

There seems to be a view even among Christians that being a parent ends at some arbitrary age of the child -16 seems to be the common one. After that the mum and dad can more or less shrug their shoulders and say, there’s nothing more to be done. As with all ideas that swing off badly in one direction there is the opposite bad swing in the other. So people phone in radio programs or talk among their friends about parents and parental in-laws who are too interfering and generally difficult to be around. I think I mentioned that trap in one of my brief thoughts on the order of marriage.

But if we accept that once we are parent then we are always a parent – what does that mean when the children are adults? I have three adult children aged nearly 22, 19 and 17. It is a terribly tough time in our culture to be those ages. They are adults who can make their own decisions, but their options are seriously limited by the economic climate and lack of opportunities. So, they must endure. But it also means they must continue to live at home. How then do we all adjust in the family home so that adult children can be adults, but parents are still parents? In some ways it seems to happen sort of organically. I think anthropologically we are designed to live in extended family situations. It is how so-called primitive people still live. In agriculture based cultures adult children were part of the running of the family lands. There were no “tweens”, “teens” or “emerging adults” back then. There were simply families with children and adults in them.

I assume there was some kind of shared responsibility for task, household and children, that made treating each person according to their needs perhaps somehwat easier.

There has been an unspoken “rule” that all children must be treated equally – meaning “the same”. I am not altogether sure where this idea came from, but it seems rooted in the ‘same-i-ness’ view that has taken over many institutions. By treating all men as equal, we must treat them the same. However, I am sure most parents when asked would acknoweldge that all children are not the same. They have different personalities, differnet needs, different developments. How then, can we treat them the same? Well, we can’t and we shouldn’t.

A few of us mums have talked about this issue  and how we have seen it play out in families.  We all have examples where treating children “the same” may have helped one child but enabled and given tacit permission to another to behave badly. For example; one adult child is struggling seriously with financies because of the current economy. The husband is doing his best to work whenever there is work – but there isn’t always work. Tbey budget sensibily and try to keep above water but it’s a shocklingly expensive country. So dad steps in and pays one of the scary bills.  The other adult child is in full time protected employment with a spouse who also works and loves to shop for stuff – lots of it. Does the parent of these adult children hand over the same money to them; knowing it will be misused?

In another situation a son went to his parents for help. He had the budget and they couldn’t afford to eat. Now, instead of handing over money the parents insisted they made some very stringent cuts to their lifestyle – no car for example. To an observer this looked mean. The parents had the ability to help and it looked at first as though they wouldn’t. However they knew their son very well and knew he needed to take full responsibility for his family before they would help – or he would simply sit back and let them bail and bail. In the end they did bail – but only when it was truly needed and the adult child had learned not to expect a certain standard.

In some cases giving “the same” to adult children would be impossible. My friend comes to her daughter and stays four days a week, travelling quite some distance to do this because her daughter is ill. My friend cares for her grandchildren and helps with household tasks (all made more difficult for her at the moment as she has broken her arm!) She has another daughter and grandchildren there. She couldn’t possibly do the same for her – and that is fine because that daughter doesn’t need the help.

I also know another grandma who spends far more time supporting one child’s family than any of her other children. Why? Becuase they need it.

But then, you might wonder, how do you prevent jeolousy, envy and resentment from the adult-children who are not getting the same attention or financial support?

I am aware that the future needs of my adult children and of course the little ones, could be very different.  My first admonition to them is that they should take care of one another. They are their brothers (and sisters) keepers. Now, don’t get the idea I am just trying to pass off my responsibilites as their mother. I’m not, in fact it is my responsibility to ensure they DO take care of one another. But they also need some discernment in doing so.

I’ll con tinue this later…

The order of marriage. (part I)

Listening to some of the homseschool workshops and to a recent Catholic Answers program I am interested by the reminders given out about the order of marriage.

The order of love in a healthy marriage, we are told, needs to be God first, spouse second and children third – anything else after that. The warning that is put out to us mums is to beware of putting the children first. This is a particular temptation to those of us who home educate- because we are with the children so much more than anyone else (including God).  The warning to fathers was to never put work first- which is a very common dad temptation.

Something not mentioned, but which does come up on a pretty regular basis on Catholic phone ins, is the business of putting the in-laws first. I think anecdotally this tends to be a problem with husbands and their mothers, although husbands with their fathers can also be a huge stumbling block. Less often, but often enough that I think it merits notice is a wife putting her mother or father above her husband and children. This often leads to terrible friction over how the children should be treated. All of these problems get mentioned often in Catholic discussions (Dr Ray Guarendi deals with a lot of this).

The order of marriage as God first, spouse second and children third is something I have heard from many Christian homeschooling mothers. However when the question of the order of marriage came up on Catholic Answers recently, it became apparent that the Church has not put this order in place in her teaching.

Certainly God must come first. Putting other people or things over God breaks the first commandment and will inevitably lead to the other nine getting compromised in some way.

But what about the order of spouse and children? The Church teaches that they come together. This interested me because I have to admit the “rule” that the spouse must come before the children worried me. Like many mothers I have had to deal with a very sick child on more than one occasion.  There was no other option, that I can see, than to put the needs of that child above the needs of everyone else in the family (including, in fact especially my own). The idea that on top of my own really bad health at the time I was supposed to take care of a dangerously sick little child and STILL put my husband’s needs above that strikes me as asking for more than is reasonable.

So I am relieved to see that the Church does not teach this order of marriage. But we must remember always to put God first. Only in this way can we hope to know how to live as a family. We have to know what He says and how He says it – and then we have to do as our Mother commands (at the wedding); “Do whatever He tells you.”

Marriage was elevated to a Sacrament so that in receiving grace from God we could love one another and our children even in the hard times – and we are to bring each other and the children to heaven.

The question then is, how are we to do this? In what way to we keep God first and how do we balance the needs of our spouse and children? Does home educating the children upset or improve that balance? And I think I need to look at that modern problematic business of authority and power – whose is the head of the family?

Next time…

Jamie Oliver’s Dream -Nightmare-school.

We watched the first episode of Jamie Oliver’s Dream School on Channel 4 last night. (I am guessing it will stream on Ch 4 Youttube at some point). The premise is that for 2 months Jamie Oliver will run a small school of 20 disaffected teenagers who have all left school without the GCSEs of life. Various famous people are then called in to teach them.

The mix of students is so obviously “planned” that it’s irritating from the start; There’s the mix of black and white, boys and girls and then the usual token gay person and token posh-kid-dun-badly. It seems that more than one had been excluded from mainstream education and/or had been through a Pupil referral Unit. I haven’t seen any children there who lost out at school because of bullying or identified learning problems – the group are just the “naughty” kids. I can only assume this is because that’s better “viewing”.

Even though all 2o youngsters have failed and been failed at school and that at least two had been in a PRU it was deemed right that all 20 should be in classes together. I couldn’t work out why.

The best lesson was the sailing one where only about 5 went on the boat so it was manageable and there was a definite goal and reason for being there. Brilliant stuff.

Rolf Harris as the art teacher did much better than I was expecting. I got the impression he was in this because he genuinely thought he could offer the children something worth while – and he got some very good results. One or two of those children have talent in that area. I hope he gets the chance to bring more out of them. He was sad at the end of the lesson because he – rightly- pointed out there were two many to get around to.

I think an opportunity to offer something to other children who haven’t been “naughty” has been missed here because of the weird insistence of a massive group. Having said that; when I worked with youngsters like this one thing struck me; those who had a probation officer did better than those who just had a social worker or no one. Crime does pay it seems.

The rest of the program was pretty awful. The famous actor Simon Callow did ok, but I did wonder why he chose such a huge, broad and difficult to read subject as Shakespeare for a starter lesson.

Lord Winston was arrogant, childish and crass. After dissecting a pig sending lots of them off to throw up the poor kids were told THEY were the ones being disrespectful! No – he was. He plainly wanted the session to be “The Shocking Winston Show!” and it was. There was nothing there for the students. Even the rat dissection was mishandled. It came across as a powerful man wanting to stamp on those he saw as useless sub-kids. Sad.

Starkey was no better. I can’t say if he was worse. His blatant rudeness to a boy he deemed “Fat” was truly naff. I did smile though when the “fat-bad” kid talked so maturely and sensibly with his mother about how he had behaved and how he intended to speak properly with Starkey. Of course he didn’t get the chance (yet) because the man refused to do the next lesson. A “nobody important” came to teach jousting which got very little air time – but looked like a good lesson.

I would like to believe that Jamie Oliver’s motives are genuine. However, the school system was designed to fail as many children as possible- read Gatto, Mason, Holt, etc.- and has done so marvellously. Why does Mr. Oliver want to get the youngsters to repeat the broken system but with  clever-celebrities?

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Parenting – you just have to be there.

long time ago when I was still a working (outside the home) mum and trying all sorts of schemes and plans to be a real-at-home-mum, I used to buy those stupid magazines that are supposed to be for “women who juggle” or even more cynically “women who have it all”. I realised fairly quickly that the shoulder padded, high heeled denizens who wrote the articles were not talking to little ol’ shift working nurse and mother -me. I then had a blinding revelation that these women wouldn’t understand my whole ethos over work and motherhood. They liked their high flying careers and were more interested in the stuff their salary provided than in people in their lives. The least of these people were the children. There were a glut of articles from “mothers” who proudly boasted of the fact they actually didn’t love their child, (or if they had pushed the boat out and had two – children). They wrote of how liberating it was for them to acknowledge that they didn’t love, or even particularly like their children.

What was clear in these articles, but I am not convinced the mother’s who wrote them realised this; was that they spent such little time with their not-beloved children, they didn’t know them. They were strangers who received material goods and a place at boarding school from the shoulder-padded ones.

I never bought or read another women’s magazine after that.

It may have been nice to try and convince myself that all those hours of work, were really a good idea and not damaging the family. It would certainly have been less tiring if I hadn’t constantly been trying to find ways to work less hours and still earn enough money to pay the bills; but I knew these articles were essentially lying to tell an awful truth. Parents who don’t spend  lots of time with their children, are not parents at all.

During the really rough time when I was the main breadwinner and worked silly hours (sometimes up to 60 a week) I tried to convince myself that this was good for the family. It wasn’t. Frankly I shouldn’t have done it. Being in debt is nowhere near as bad as not being with the children.

But sometimes families have no choice, and these days as we face another economic pit, I am finding more and more mums and dads in impossible situations.

My friend has to work around home educating her children. They don’t live an extravagant lifestyle, but the bills must be paid. Meanwhile I was talking to a mum yesterday who, like too many, is a married single parent as her husband has to live away from home Monday to Friday while she is bringing up their little girls. They long for a settled contract so that they can live closer together (contracts of 6 months or at most a year are the norm for hum). There isn’t one on the horizon.

Another friend of mine lives away from her husband a few days each week while she cares for her sick daughter (who has CFS) and helps with the grandchildren. She says it works well because her husband supports the care of his daughter. I am quite sure none of these mothers would ever get so much as a paragraph of attention in a glossy, but what they do is massively important not just for their families, but for the rest of us. Apart from anything, they inspire and help keep people like me going when I would rather give up.

If this new Government really wants to undo the damage done to our society, economics and culture, they need to be brave and support families. They need to encourage and enable one parent to stay home with the children until they are adults. If they really want to cut the benefits bill they need to help families take care of one another. In fact let’s be straight here- women are the child rearers and carers in the vast majority of cases; so LET women do the work.

Full time mothers, home educating parents and carers save the taxpayer millions of pounds.

We know from plenty of research that children learn and develop much better if they are with a full time parent (usually mother) and this in turn has to be better for the future development of the country.

The miserable, unsocialised, lonely, medicated unemployable kids leaving school with barely enough language skill to get by are not going to kick start the economy for these politicians to feel good and grab votes.

Enable someone to be home for them. Save money on Nursing Homes by having someone at home to be the carer. There could be genuine encouragement to stop putting our children and elderly relatives in institutions and then I bet even if the money didn’t flood into the country, there would be a stronger community and less poverty overall. 

It’s a dream I know, and I am not so optimistic as to think the disintegration of the extended family can be remedied any time soon (if ever), but plenty of people find an alternative extended family through local networking; through community life. Sadly this is really hard for so many because everyone is out at work all day. Old people and young mothers with their children are abandoned then – and HE families have learned that they have to travel to make networks work.

Just a little encouragement and a lot could change.

A swing away from the Cult of Expert.

Many people of a certain age will speak darkly of the 1960s and the culture of “finding self,” “Doing what feels good to Me,” and just the general Me-Myself -I unholy trinity approach. It was the time of Rogerian therapy with his mantra of “How does it feel for you?” along with Maslow’s “self actualisation.” Many adults who had to grow up in that climate found that while their parents were doing what felt good to them and seeking their self actualisation, that the children’s needs were neglected and they were left to grow up without love, support or guidance. On the worst end of it was rejection and abuse.

Is that why attachment parenting is now the new approach? Is it a reaction to the lack of care so many received in the 60’s and 70’s even into the ’80s? Could it, in some forms be an over-reaction? I don’t know, I’m no expert. But I am curious.

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Did the cult of expert wreck families?

I was pottering around blogs t’other day and I came across THIS SHORT PIECE on child rearing 1928, which I just found heart breaking. I wonder how many mothers were taken in by this appalling advice. I find the piece interesting because it seems to me to be in direct contrast to the work of Charlotte Mason whose last books were written around 1923 just before she died and were especially popular around 1925. Her view of childhood and the love of the mother for the children is just so different to the writing of this Watson bloke. I also believe that G.K. Chesterton and his wife Frances who knew Miss Mason and supported the PNEU schools, had a different view of child care. They were never blessed with children which was a huge sorrow to them. Perhaps it was this heartache that meant the Chestertons had a better understanding of the true value and dignity of a child; tha,t as Miss Mason stated “Children are born persons.”

Perhaps the reason Miss Mason needed to make such a statement was because of the Watsons and their advice on treatment of children that undermined their dignity and personhood, as well as that of the mother. I know that Chesterton’s writing were often in reaction to the things he saw around him in the illogical and unreasonable climate that was growing in the mid war years.

We often get the impression from writing of the between war years that children, especially in middle class families, were shunted off to “nanny” and didn’t get much mum and dad time at all.  I read a long time ago that had Queen Victoria breast fed her children instead of doing the fashionable thing and passing their care to the ‘nanny’ she would never have had to suffer the health problems she did, from pregnancies so close together. 

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The Statue of Responsibility because the bar for ordinary behaviour has dropped too low

Anyone who has read Viktor Frankl’s books will have heard of his idea that the USA needed a Statue of Responsibility to be built on the west coast to put some balance on the Statue of Liberty. (click on picture for link)

He was a brilliant man who even before he went to the concentration camps for the ‘crime’ of being a ‘subhuman Jew’ understood that the meaning of life was rooted in love and hope.

He didn’t mean pink and sparkly love or silly hope he meant the love that involves sacrifice and suffering and the hope that is rooted in reality (an ontological absolute reality- not fluff, smoke and mirrors).

I’ve had a few conversations with people recently that have illustrated real love and trying to offer real hope but when I told my dh about one of these he said the grandmother in question was “extraordinary”. I have to say I disagreed.

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The brave Home Educator

A couple of people recently have suggested that I am brave to home educate. I know other home educators face this; “Brave” label and it irritates them. It doesn’t irritate me. People think I am ‘brave’ because I use a wheelchair (I am not sure what is brave about that but I don’t object if people want to think that way- people will think as they please anyway).  I have been approached by complete strangers while out with the children who are both astonished and one woman was horrified that a wheelchair bound user had children.

Anyway I am brave, it seems, because I have chosen to home educate the children. Well, maybe I am brave 🙂 I allow my 3 yr old to get covered in flour while she …er…helps…her brother with his experiment about how craters are formed on Mercury.  I let the children make more decisions about their life and things they are interested in than I used to which might be brave-though I doubt it.

There are days when I really wish I had sent them all to school and nursery and I had the house quietly to myself. But most days I quite like the business of educating the children. There’s something great about watching a 7yr old throw a lump of dinosaur poo (thank you Shana for the poo) at a pan of flour to see if it will make a good crater. We had finished the chapter on Mercury in his Astronomy book and them there were other things to do.

It is lovely that on a nice day the children will set up their lessons outside or in the pop up tent.

But yes, there are times when I wish it wasn’t so time consuming I could have a load of “me” time like some other mothers I know. But I don’t envy them having to go out and earn their money. (Been there, done the 46-60 hr week too. Never again!).

The mothers and grandmother who said I was brave are not being patronising, although I realise why some HE mums get a bit uptight about it- but they don’t really understand why anyone would really want to home educate.  I am pleased though that despite the appalling media coverage and Government anti-home ed campaign that we have just emerged from, that these mothers and grandmother don’t see HE has a bad idea. They recognise it’s place and the grandmother in particular is fascinated by what we do and how we do it.

Firebird notes that the rent seekers are still waiting in the shadows to produce more trouble for home educators. She asks us if we can DO1Thing4HE then what might that be?

My Thing4HE is that I write this blog. I hope it gives an insight into what my corner of HE looks like and I hope the sidebar of the blog is useful as well as the blog through the bookcase 🙂

I also try to answer anyone’s questions on what we do and why.

I know I might never get some people to understand what happens and why. I know there are those out there who don’t want to know-they just hope there is some kind of financial gain at our expense for them.

I am sure there is more to come for Home Education whoever ends up in Government by the end of May 6th (and no, I still don’t know who I will vote for).

I thought I would finish with this picture of not domestic servitude, but domestic bliss as the oldest and youngest children in our HE group get to know each other.

When there’s a few families working together on this, it seems a lot less brave and a lot more fun.

Where the Catholic Church went wrong.

I haven’t read the MSMs attacks on Catholics and the Church. I don’t see the point as hacks never will understand anything. But fortunately in a techy world there are bloggers, unpaid and unashamed to write the truth. Many Catholic bloggers have looked hard at the abuse scandals that are being regurgitated across the papers and made some excellent analysis.

There’s the abuse in schools and residential children’s homes in Ireland, the sexual abuse scandals across America, UK, Ireland and other places and the, not interesting to the press, abuse of the liturgy to the detriment of the Faith of people struggling to find God in their lives. Lots of people have come up with lots of very good analysis on this; but I have been wondering what is the root of it?

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Frugal Home Education.

There’s a bit of a myth that home education is for wealthy (mainly white) middle class people. Those who come out with the comment always seem to resent the idea for some reason. This is coupled by the entitlement-dependent notion that the Government should be in charge. The same kind of people live with what Douglas Adams called the SEP field (Somebody Else’s Problem) which means someone else should deal with it.

As it happens I don’t know many wealthy home educators. Every family I know are trying to live on one wage for a start so that’s unlikely to make anyone wealthy around this neck o’the woods.

So what about those of us who aren’t wealthy (relative to the UK). How do we home educate? Do we abide by the principle of subsidiarity that I keep harping on about?

Some do. Some don’t. That’s life. The families I work with do and make massive sacrifices to home educate.  We do without and we get into a bit of debt.

For my frugal home ed I begin with a jar. Into the jar I put some of my weekly housekeeping to save for resources I want to buy. It includes saving up for trips out.

We are very blessed to have a car thanks to someone’s kindness. It has been adapted so I can drive it. (I paid for that out of my DLA) and has enough seats for the whole family or to allow me to give a lifts to another family or other HE children who need it.

I keep an eye on what books and resources we need or are going to need and I price watch. I rarely buy anything a full price and usually get a good discount buying second hand or during “special offer” times. If I buy ahead I lend out to other families whose children are older. They give me books and resources their children have used and finished with.

I wish the local library was good-but on the whole it’s naff. If you are fortunate with your library and it’s book ordering service-go there before buying. But be cautious, even in children’s sections there are dodgy books.

What do I mean by dodgy? Well, to begin with there is a lot of what Miss Mason would call twaddle. Books with poor grammar, story lines that encourage rudeness and disrespect for parents and a shocking number of ‘stupid dad’ stories. That’s before you get to the agenda driven books that are often trying to force a rather dark worldview on children. So, tread carefully. Read ahead if you can or get recommendations from people you trust who have.

As I’ve been a mum for over 20 years I have accrued a lot of books, games and toys that are handed on or handed out. If you are just starting out and facing a lot of home ed bills seek out mums like me that have been parenting and home edding for a while. Ask and you might receive- if we have it and are not using it.

Clothes: we pass children’s clothes around the families. We seem to have children all spaced out just right for this! How convenient!

If I need something I ask other families if they have it first. I make sure they know what I have too. Sometimes people who are more mobile than me (and have time) will check out charity shops. I’ve been given some good stuff that way.

I worked as a seller for Usborne books for a while and got nearly £200 of free books thanks to that.

I have been given books, money, science kits, and other stuff and  have given it out.

An expensive investment (even a cheap one) is a computer.  Shop around, get advice, look at reconditioned ones and don’t buy the fancy sort. A bog standard computer will allow you to do most things you want to for study. Time buying it so you know how long it will take to pay it off. If you have a way of just buying one outright that’s better of course. Look for interest free deals as well. But read the small print!

The other way we save is thanks the the Wholesaler Costco card we have. Costco and I am sure Makro and other such places sell a lot of useful consumerables that home edders need such as computer inks, papers, glues, paints, construction paper etc.

If you can’t get such a card try and do a deal to share with someone who does have one. With our families we just tend to share and share about. So I might supply endless amounts of glue and paint but other mums supply glitter bits, printed sheets and food for the shared lunch.

As far as I can see older children and teens cost more to educate. You’ll have to decide how much you can give up or how much debt you can deal with in making decisions about this.  We are paying for Open Uni at the moment and now that Alex has no work there’s the last of his driving lessons.

Driving lessons are a toughie when you are living as frugally as possible. Youngsters do not automatically need to be able to drive or own their own transport. However you may be in a situation (like Alex) where a driving license will massively enhance his getting work placements and work opportunities. Also he’s got almost to the test so it would be a huge waste of his hard earned money and time if we ditched it all now.

This post follows on from my post on SUBSIDIARITY and taking care of our family and community.

Why has the CES agreed to implement sex ed (grooming) into Catholic Schools?

In his letter Ian Dowty suggests that those of us who home educate have not been supportive enough of parents who choose to put their children in school. I have to say I disagree; many of us have been very hands on helping friends whose children remain in school.

One area ALL parents need to stand together on is the shocking Government approach to sex education being forced onto even very young children in our schools. While grooming has been made a crime, apparently it is perfectly fine for the Government to put teachers in a position where they are grooming children as young as 9, attacking their innocence and breaking down natural inhibitions. All this is made worse by the fact the Catholic Church in England and the Catholic Education Service are colluding in it all.

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Casting stones at ‘weird’ families

As I mentioned in my previous post we visited friends near Cardiff for the day. They have friends who also homeschool. I met them once. They have adopted a lovely little girl and are trying to adopt another child at the moment. However despite being good enough to adopt the first time around they are having difficulties this time. Why? Because they homeschool. The social worker, rather oddly said she was concerned that the mother did not want to be apart from her child, wanting to keep her too close. The child is 4 yrs old.

In light of this they are concerned about allowing them a sibling for their daughter. This of course flies in the face of good research based practice. I have been told the research shows that adopted children who are homeschooled actually do much better than their schooled counterparts. I haven’t seen this research, but I assume this is true as research in general on homeschooling shows that those children are better educated and socialised than school children on average.. I was told about the adoption research by another homeschooling mum who is also facing huge problems adopting in the face of social worker antipathy to home education.

There are huge gaps in the training and understanding of social workers working with children and families. Thinking that people are strange because they practice their Christian faith is a hurdle many families have had to get through; but being Catholic (so weird) and a homeschooler (beyond strnage!) is enough to ensure someone I know has been turned down for two children recently. This at a time when there are supposed to be a great shortage of parents willing to adopt.

It’s sad.