Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Relationships in a Modern World – Part One – Childhood by Sally Cronin

The title for this series came about as I dipped into a Thesaurus to find some words for a poem I was writing. I noticed that a great many words that reflected (see what I mean) key elements in our lives began with the letter ‘R’. In the original series there was an introduction, but I am skipping that to dive straight into what I believe is becoming extinct in many areas of our world and our own lives…


So far I have covered respect, recognition, relations in Previous Chapters, which leads me very conveniently into relationships. In this first part, I am looking at the socialisation of children before and during school that form the basis of their relationship skills in the wider world.

If you were to make a list of your relationships, including close family, extended family, good friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, your boss, your partner, your child etc. And then wrote down the three key relationship interactions you shared, you will probably be surprised at how multi-faceted you are.

Think about it. In essence you are a different person to both the groups of people in your life such as family and close friends, and also to individuals that you meet along the way.

In the last chapter I talked about our relations including our parents, siblings and extended family. Even within that tight knit group, you are either perceived by or behave differently with individuals within it. You are likely to have a different relationship with your mother than with your father, and that too will depend on whether you are male or female. As will your interaction with a sister or brother, grandparents and cousins.

All this is great practice for life in the big wide world, especially when you get to school. Here you will form new relationships with non-family members and also with teachers and those in authority. You suddenly discover that being a cheeky little blighter to your elders from time to time, will not be forgiven so quickly, and yet another adjustment is required to your relationship portfolio.

Early childhood is a time of socialisation with others, and it forms the basis of how we will interact with people for the rest of our lives; it is therefore a vital part of our development.

However, even in our modern age, there are still many thousands of children who do not go through this critical stage in their development.

I was reading some media reports recently that highlighted the fact that some teachers are not just expected to introduce children starting school to reading, writing and arithmetic. Children are starting school at four and five years old, still wearing nappies, unable to manage to eat food with utensils, unable to communicate and showing a distinct lack of life skills needed to develop relationships.

In the last chapter I talked about the changing face of the family in the last thirty years, and the fact that an extended family, provides a very important support system that enables parents to share some of the inherent responsibilities of the role. As we have dispersed further away from our homes in search of jobs, or for other reasons, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters and cousins are no longer part of the socialisation process, leaving a gaping hole in a child’s development. It would seem as well, that in families without that support, and with more than one child under five, there is far less time or perhaps the will, to teach a child some of the fundamental skills they require such as potty training and how to communicate.

Of course it is easier to put a child in a carry cot and perhaps place them in front of the television for hours at a time, but it is not providing them with the ability to communicate with others. This is why when some children reach primary school, their natural reaction is fear and aggression, leading to behavioural problems that may never be resolved. This is nothing new, as even when I started school over sixty years ago, there was a small boy in the class who had clearly not had any previous contact with others, let alone children.

In hindsight, I now understand that he was terrified at suddenly being surrounded by 30 other noisy girls and boys, an adult teacher who clearly expected his attention, and crucially, exclusion in the playground, as he had no idea how to play well without resorting to aggression to get his way.


That was a relatively isolated case at the time, but today it would appear that this disturbing and devastating predicament for a child is on the increase.  I looked at a number of websites who gave different quotes of between 40% to 50% of children are bullied each year. It is difficult to put a definitive figure on the extent of bullying since today it is not just confined to the classroom but online, and there are also estimated numbers of children who don’t report the abuse.

Here is an extract from a report in The Independent that highlights the seriousness of the issue.

One in 10 teenagers bullied at school have attempted to commit suicide, according to research published today. In addition, a further 30 per cent go on to self-harm.

The study, by the anti-bullying pressure group, Ditch The Label, shows that 45 per cent of 13- to 18-year-olds have experienced bullying by the age of 18, with the majority saying the primary reason was their physical appearance. Researchers canvassed 3,600 young people.

Bullying expert Professor Ian Rivers, from Brunel University, said the research showed that we still have got a great deal to do to ensure that our young people are safe in our schools and able to learn in a supportive educational environment.

The survey went on to show that, of those bullied, 61 per cent had been physically attacked and 10 per cent had been sexually assaulted. A total of 83 per cent said what they had gone through had had an impact on their self-esteem.

Incidents of bullying were highest amongst those with a disability, of whom 63 per cent reported being bullied and socially excluded. In addition, one in three said it was as a result of prejudice – homophobia, racism or religious discrimination.

Where does the responsibility lie with regard to the socialisation of children to prevent bullying of others?

Well it certainly should not be when a child is four or five and going to school for the first time. If a child is not able to play and learn in harmony at that point, it will be a huge challenge to reverse their behaviour.

I found this quite interesting and it might give you something to think about.

Steve Biddulph, the favourite number one name in parenting psychology – and bestselling author of Raising Boys – examines how different childcare options are likely to affect you and your child in this rivetting and highly topical book

This topical book tackles a key issue all new parents face. Steve Biddulph looks at childcare choices and the dilemmas that so often arise:
– ‘I want to stay at home with my child but don’t know how I can’
– ‘I don’t know what is better: nursery, creche or childminder’
– ‘if other people look after my child will it affect its development and happiness?’

It examines the two-income ‘slaves to work’ culture in the UK and how in the past ten years, the number of babies and toddlers under three who are spending all day (8am to 6pm) in nurseries has quadrupled. Biddulph urges caution and warns that the hurried and disconnected way that families now live their lives could be damaging to a whole new generation’s mental stability and development.

The book is an eye-opener in terms of child development and provides useful case studies from parents who are stay-at-home and those using all-day or part-time childcare – groups sociologists have named ‘slammers’ and ‘sliders’ respectively.

This 53-year-old author of some of the world’s most popular parenting books – four million sales and counting – is, in his quiet way, angry about the increasing use of day care for babies. He argues that placing children younger than three in nurseries risks damaging their mental health, leaving them aggressive, depressed, antisocial and unable to develop close relationships in later life.

You can find this book and the others on the raising of boys and girls to face a modern world:

You can read a report on the subject backed by experts in the field of child psychology:

This is not to say that I agree with draconian regimentation of a child so rigidly that their innate personality is repressed. But there does need to be boundaries set, that ensure a child becomes accepted rather than rejected by others, and grows and develops safely.

And I also appreciate for some parents, childcare is the only option despite the horrendous costs which almost make it seem counter-productive. As this report on average childcare demonstrates: Money Services

In Britain, the average cost of sending each child under two to nursery is:

£122.46 per week – part time
£232.84 per week – full time

Finding day care for babies and young children is a minefield, and also it must be terrifying handing over your new baby to strangers who will have the care for 8 or 9 hours or longer during the day. A huge wrench, and if it is essential that a baby goes into day care before three years old, then there are a number of sites you can advise you of the best and most cost effective in your area.

For example one of the largest and most established young child education organisations is Montessori and here is a link to their baby and toddler programmes which are considered to be some of the best. They have schools all around the world and it would serve as a benchmark when you are considering other care services in your area.

Link for Childcare options in the UK:

Link for childcare in the US:

The alternative option to baby and toddler care.

There is also a very widely used childcare option, and that is the rapidly increasing role of grandparents and other family members. This can be amazing for a baby or toddler to be looked after within the family and even the UK Government has recognised this:

There is a great site which has a number of helpful articles and also offers advice to grandparents who usually provide this service for free

Regularly looking after the grandchildren? You’re not alone. The amount of childcare grandparents provide for their families has risen sharply over the last decade. Whichever measure you take – number of children looked after by grandparents, hours put in, or value to the economy – the trend is sharply upwards, and grandparents are now estimated to be saving Britain £17 billion in childcare.

This is an oft discussed issue on the Gransnet forums. On the whole, grandparents want to be helpful, and with the rising costs of childcare parents are struggling to make ends meet. But, at a time when life should be slowing down, taking care of young children can be a big – and exhausting – commitment.

If you find yourself in the position of being asked to help out with childcare, here are some important things you should consider.

Head over to read the rest of this article and the pros and cons of taking care of grandchildren:

I would say that from my perspective, if I valued my childhood and wanted to instill the same into my children, coming to some arrangement with my own parents would be an ideal solution, with some way of recompensing them. I am sure that an arrangement that is considerably less that £233 per week per child has to be a good thing for everyone!

Thankfully for the majority of us however, we arrive at school with most of the basic and necessary life skills, and they are built on in the next stage in our development, until we leave school at 16 years old or go on to further education. Not only do we learn to play with others, but we also develop skills that will enable us to enter the work place where we will work as part of teams, be managed and in time manage others.

Next time – Relationships out in the big wide world and things get even more complicated.

You can find the other chapters in the series in this directory… and your feedback is always welcome:

28 thoughts on “Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Relationships in a Modern World – Part One – Childhood by Sally Cronin

  1. What an eye-opener, Sally. I have had a concern about the parents of children now entering school age. I’m not totally convinced they have had the upbringing on which to pattern that of their children. (baby boomer parents) This situation is only going to get worse over time. Super post.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I certainly know that no government has ever supported stay at home mothers ( or fathers ) – money to help with child care costs would be a great help diverted to parents at home who cost neither the state or companies anything. I was worried when our grandchildren all seemed to be headed for nurseries on their first birthdays. ( 3 or 4 days a week. ) Both families chose really good nurseries and the older two seem to have been done no harm at all! Ironically my daughter-in-law had to give up work anyway when the older one went to school – at nursery you can leave them till six o’clock and they get three meals, unlike school! I can see nursery is better than a restricted barren home life and probably better than child minders – it was mostly child minding when mine were at school, some were lovely and caring and others were awful.
    With no family nearby and a husband doing shift work there was no way i could have had a job – thank goodness. I still maintain both parents working is a problem. Children get sick, parents get ill, nursery rings you up at work at the slightest hint of a stomach upset and it doesn’t seem fair to the other workers and the bosses if parents are always having time off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Janet, and I think that a long term strategy would be to pay mums to stay at home, and have a full state pension at the end of it. There is no doubt that some children might be better off in a nursery but it is expensive which means mums are forced into cheaper options that might not be best for a child. I certainly think that between 1-3 they should be looking at new options. These children are our future and I think at the moment we are doing them a disservice in this respect. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A necessary subject which needs to be aired and you have done it very well, Sally…my observations lead me to believe that there are many factors which we probably all agree on. What concerns me greatly is the part social media plays in all this…I am currently watching MKR and have noted a pattern forming over the past few series and that is that some people are chosen for their aggressive and confrontational behaviour…This current series has two young men who have no filters at all on their comments…The older contestants are telling them this…The two hosts are not…I find this need to put a cat among the pidgeons attitude very disturbing…What is being broadcast is nasty…I feel they are probably being encouraged to say what they are saying…I also think it is wrong and will be watching no more…But it will still be happening and I am sure in future series will be the same…Viewers watch and learn and that sort of behaviour is scary…Great post , Sally 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Carol..I agree about the media, pushing the Kardashians as if they are royalty and giving exposure (not that she needs it) to Katie Price. There seem to be so few role models given space, despite there being a great many. Rarely does anyone on tv or films say please or thank you…and I get so angry when they fill their plates high and then walk away.. Someone told me it was fake food, but that does not make any difference since a child looking at it only sees that it is okay to waste food.. You are really setting me off this morning… ♥

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Amen! This is SO important. I often feel that I am preventing bullying and even suicide by helping children develop relationships. Your story of the little boy when you were in school is a classic example of what happens when relationships never materialize. And down the road it only gets worse. Excellent post, Sally!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate that Jennie, with your experience you will have seen the results of lack of socialisation before pre-school… without your guidance, I am sure that many of your children would not have gone on to be as happy and successful in life as they have. I do think that all parents to be should attend mandatory classes before the birth of a child, whatever their circumstance so that it is a happier and less stressful experience for them too. This winging it and hoping for the best is not working for a great many young children. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly! Parents agree that social and emotional is important, BUT they don’t understand why the academics shouldn’t come first. I started my blog as a way to help parents better understand. Thanks so much, Sally!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much, Sally! Your words are not only kind, they’re inspiring. One day an agent will feel that way, and I can put a book into the hands of parents and teachers. 😍

        Liked by 1 person

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