Friday, 5 December 2008

Sensitive Son

One of things I have concerned myself with, since my wife’s death, as a one-parent-family, is providing a balanced upbringing for my boy.

It has worried me that being a male, last time I checked anyway, that I would miss something glaringly obvious, or not provide Max with the proper mothering he deserves.

I did think about what a mother does, as opposed to a father, what tradition dictates if you like.

As I made the decision really quickly to become a full-time hands-on parent, I believe others around me had similar concerns.

There is nothing more thought provoking than the unusual.

And a man raising a baby single-handedly probably falls into that category.

Thinking, observing, and probing others did not really highlight anything clearly.

Some mothers would make it look easy and others would make it look like the most difficult job in the world.

And it is a job, by the way.

All I really discovered was that, the learning curve will never have a higher gradient.

The nurturing part of parenting is constant, providing comfort, safety and love are all important, in my humble opinion.

My belief is that those facets come pretty naturally to me, and I find that balancing them with a firm-hand, less difficult than others I have scrutinized.

But I do remember watching a bit of TV, I think it was even before Samantha was pregnant.

It was quite possibly part of the ‘Child of Our Time’ series, but I cannot be sure.

They did a test with ice cream.

The parent, or parents, would be eating ice cream with their child, then the parent’s spoon was booby-trapped to break.

They were looking for the reaction of the child, if they would provide a solution to their parent’s problem, ignore it or even take advantage of it.

The results they got I suppose are not definite, but for some strange reason have always stuck in my head.

See, the boy from the single-parent-family made no reaction at all, whereas some from the 2.4 families either offered their spoon to their parent, or at the other end of the scale, took their parent’s dessert for themselves.

The programme suggested, or argued, that in the balanced upbringing the children had witnessed parents being nice to one another and had simply learnt to copy that behaviour.

I agree to a point, and accept it is harder for a single person to demonstrate empathy, as there is not always someone there to be compassionate towards.

As my only child, and being the first and only grandchild to two willing sets of elders, there is a huge danger of spoiling him, and him living in a sort of hedonistic toddler world, not really caring about the well-being of those that surround him.

His life is a tad indulgent. He gets treated, not only with regular gifts, but also with peoples’ time and undying attention.

Yet along the way he has become a very sensitive being, one that clearly cares about his friends and family.

While we were out dining on India’s finest, he demonstrating his caring side.

They brought out the food warmers, you know, those silver trays with tea-lights inside, warm enough to keep your food sizzling, if you do not just load it all on to your plate in one go, like me that is.

I explained what they were, and that he must not touch them as they were very hot.

He looked a bit sad and concerned, so I asked him what the matter was.

“I don’t want Ruby (my friends’ 3 year-old daughter) to touch that and burn her fingers.” My mini colossus considerately whispered.

Moments like that really WARM my heart.

And even as I type this, my boy has advised me that he has not eaten all his raisins, as he wanted to leave me a few.

So proud.

Just wish he would apply this same caring nature to the advent calendar chocolates. Share/Save/Bookmark

12 comments:

Penelope said...

Bless that boy!!
I wouldn't worry that as a single parent family, Max isn't seeing compassion around him in the home. It's not like you 2 are alone together 24/7 every day of the year. He is learning from everywhere, home, school, grandparents, not just from you. It seems like you're doing a super fine job :o)

Mama Nabi said...

I agree with Penelope - damn those TV shows that have to box things up neatly. If kids only took cues from their parents, I would be mortified with myself. I used to worry as LN's dad exhibits zero empathy for anyone but himself... but LN is still very empathetic. I must say Max's concern for his little friend AND saving you treats are very impressive, indeed.

Crash Course Widow said...

You know, our kids might be spoiled little hedonists due to the dead-parent/surviving-parent-home-full-time/grandparents-extra-spoiling component to our lives...but I have to hope and believe that our circumstances will also make them more empathetic and sensitive to things in their or other people's lives that make "other" people uncomfortable.

For instance, Anna understands death and what it means a lot better than her cousins. When we had to put our cat to sleep a year ago or when my parents put their elderly dog to sleep this summer, her cousins were quite distressed about it all. But I just explained to Anna what had happened, that they were really sick and/or old and we were helping the animals to die so they wouldn't hurt anymore...and she got it.

I hope that it's not simple wishful thinking that our kids can find something wonderful as a result of our crap situations....

Dan said...

To be honest I don't think anyone is caring and sharing when it comes to advent calendars. I have to wrestle them off my kids every morning to ensure they don't open every single door.

Working mum said...

See? You are doing a grand job! Don't get worried about the type of family your son is growing up in, children from all sorts of families thrive and prosper if there is enough love and moral guidance and you certainly seem to be providing that.

suzi said...

Wow, what an awesome kid!! :)

Hey, I gave you a shout out on my blog because you are that cool. :) Have a great day!

Single Parent Dad said...

Penelope - You are right, they learn from everywhere, and Max has a very rounded environment.

Mama Nabi - Thanks, and like you I agree with her up above.

Crash Course Widow - That is some quality hyper-nation. And I too hope our children benefit from their sorry situations.

Dan - He has been pretty good with the opening a day at a time thing, just wants mine as well. To be expected I suppose.

Working Mum - Cheers for that.

Suzi - Thanks for your comment and the shout-out.

Susanna (A Modern Mother) said...

OK, now I have wet eyes...

It is obvious have it all in control and you two will go far.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Over from the British Parent Bloggers Carnival though I'm sure I've seen you at Dans. Hi. :D

Sounds to me like you're doing a great job.

Just because a child has two parents living together it doesn't mean they will be modelled appropriate behaviours. I think as long as kids get plenty of time to mix and lots of love then they'll learn these skills, which sounds like what you're doing.

Have a fantastic Christmas. :D

Part Mummy Part Me said...

I think that kids learn to be loving by being loved, and you're certainly doing that.

Don't they just love Indian restaurants? El couldn't believe how smart the waiters are and loved all the little rituals like them placing the tea light warmers on the tables and giving you hot towels at the end.

Single Parent Dad said...

Susanna - My apologies and thank you.

Jo Beaufoix - You will have done, the man from t'north bigged me up some time back. Thanks for your kind comments.

Part Mummy Part Me - I hope so. They sure do, even my friends' baby loves going to them.

Iota said...

Came here from the British Bloggers Carnival. I loved this post. It does raise an interesting question - one I'd not thought much about.

There'd be an argument for the opposite conclusion. An only child, or an eldest (and I think my experience bears this out) might be MORE sensitive, because the adoring parents and grandparents have time to teach him to think through the issues. "Imagine what x feels like when you say/do that", and that kind of thing. A second or subsequent child is so busy fighting his own corner, and the parents carefully making sure he gets his share of the treats, that it might be he is less aware of the need to think of others.

Who knows? Maybe it's just a personality thing anyway. But thank you for sharing your story. My guess is that if you are thinking about it this carefully on your child's behalf, then it will come right for him.

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