Something to Think About – The R’s of Life – Relations – Survival in a Modern Society 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…..

Relations

In this chapter I am going to explore our relations, not to be confused with relationships; which is a whole different world of complications.

Over the years, I have talked about family issues with friends, colleagues and those I have counselled and I don’t think that I have met anyone who can honestly say they had a completely idyllic childhood. Some in fact felt that they had a dreadful time and were only too glad to leave home. Others remember the good times and put the challenges down to part of life.

Everyone has their own story about those years between birth and heading out into the world and each of us has to come to terms with those years in one way or another.

Certainly, as I have mentioned before, I do not believe in a perfect relationship of any kind. I do think that relationships should be two-sided and that they take a great deal of work to develop and sustain. Unfortunately, our relationship with our parents is largely one-sided until we reach a certain age and learn to communicate. Even then it can be a case of ‘their house, their rules‘. Whilst we might resent this at the time, especially as we move into our teen years, it is actually part of the socialisation process, preparing us to work within different relationship structures as adults. However, some children grow up in a very different environment which is harsh and restrictive. Not all children survive that experience with a balanced view of the world and that is tragic.

The teen years, from my own personal experience, and I suspect a fair number of you, were punctuated with minor conflicts. In a close knit family, most of these issues are resolved, in a large part down to a solid background of love and trust that has been established over the years. But there is no doubt that once a child reaches puberty things change.

I cannot speak for those who have had appalling childhoods and can only sympathise. I can only speak to mine with any authority and pass comment on the experiences of those I have come into contact with. I know that I was very lucky in that I enjoyed nearly all  of the fundamental needs of a growing child such as security, a roof over my head, plenty of food, a good education and health care. I also recognise that most issues that arose, were because I liked to push boundaries, even as a young child.  What  I do appreciate about coming from a healthy family environment is that when the going got tough, there was always at least one member to turn to for help and support. Although not necessarily the case for everyone; for most of us there is an enduring sense of connection that lasts through our lifetimes.

The Relations.

The family group that comprises our relations falls into a number of categories. There is the relationship with our parents, which is a subject that has filled the bank accounts of psychiatrists for the last hundred years or so! Then there is where we stand in the pecking order of our siblings; which can result in interesting relationship dynamics as we grow up.

Also, we have the extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. If you are lucky many will be close enough to be in touch regularly and form an important support system. However, this is an area of family that has changed greatly in the last 50 years as people began to move out from home towns for work, emigrated or through marriage. We also have some variations in the family structure that bring new challenges and interesting developments. For example our definition of family is also dependent on the method of conception.

So let’s start with our parents.

Throughout the evolution of humans, biologically, conception required a male and female to be present. However, since 1978 this has not been essential.  You can now take sperm and an egg and bring them together in a laboratory before an embryo is implanted into a womb. This of course is a wonderful medical advance for those couples who cannot conceive in the normal way.

This procedure also means that the embryo does not have to be implanted in your own womb, as you can employ the services of a surrogate, who will carry your biological foetus to full term and give birth for you. For example in the case of same sex male partnerships where one of the partners will supply the sperm so that children carry the genes of at least one of the parents.

In some cases single women who wish for a child and are not in a relationship can select a suitable sperm donor from a clinic, and after their donated egg is fertilised, have the embryo implanted into their own womb and give birth themselves.

The other option which has brought family together is through adoption although numbers have dropped considerably in the last few years with only around 5,000 a year in the UK and approximately 110,000 in the USA. One of the reasons is that there are now so many other options for couples who are looking to either conceive naturally or assisted either with egg or sperm donation, or surrogacy.

So, what used to be a fairly straightforward process just fifty years ago now has become a great deal more complex.

Is this important or not?

I don’t think that the process of how and why a child is born is actually critical. In the vast majority of cases, the moment a child, who has just been born or adopted, is placed in its mother’s arms a bond is formed which continues to develop over a lifetime. Sometimes that bond is never formed; but that can happen in any of the circumstances that a child comes into the world or family.

There are some who believe that having a child is ‘a right‘. I disagree with that concept. I certainly see it as a child’s ‘right’ to be born into a loving family that can support, feed, educate and provide security for it until it is able to look after itself. I appreciate the fact that in many countries that is not the case and that children are born into extreme poverty. And,  in far too many cases, into incredibly dangerous environments. But that is usually because culturally there has not been a shift in the education of the parents for generations, and many women still do not have a choice in the matter.

We in the western world, in the majority of cases, do have a choice. However, it would still seem that some women will choose to have children despite them not being able to provide for them adequately without external support. I may well be going to cause some controversy with some at this point, because I do not believe that the welfare state was created to enable people to have children deliberately, without the ability to provide for them. It was created to provide for those who through no fault of their own find themselves in dire straits and require help to provide a decent quality of life for themselves and their families.

Tragically it is not just unplanned or planned pregnancies that create single parents. The death of a parent, or contention about custody following a divorce, can also place men and women in a situation where they find themselves as the sole parent. Whilst in many countries there is a welfare state to step in if needed, it is the practical issues that are daunting. Whilst money helps with some of those issues, it does not necessarily provide a sense of security or provide the extra hours needed in the day to look after a baby or young child alone. It does not provide the back up to provide a safe and loving home should there be an emergency, and it was never intended to take the place of an extended family.

This brings up an issue that I feel is going to be an interesting and possibly difficult parenting issue in just a few years. That is when a single mother has chosen to conceive by sperm donation. Whilst the mother might have an extended family on her own side and a support system in place, the child as it grows, will know nothing of its father’s history or in some cases genetic background.

However, in the UK a law was enacted in 2006, and any child conceived through sperm donation can apply at age 16 to find out certain details about their biological father. In 2022 the children born after 1st April 2005, if they have been informed of their method of conception, can request the background and health information about the sperm donor and also the identity of any other children that they might have fathered.  A letter will be sent to the father and any other children and it is their right to refuse contact, but it does open up a huge and possibly devastating situation. Particularly if a child being contacted did not know that he or she was conceived by sperm donation.

As a result of this removal of right to anonymity, there has been a significant drop in the number of sperm donors in the UK concerned that they might well become liable for child support for several offspring. However, it would seem that women are turning to overseas clinics where anonymity is still guaranteed. This means that children who are born from overseas sperm donation will not know of any genetic problems that might have been passed on or that might impact their own children’s health in generations to come.

Parenting

Whatever the method of reproduction, the moment that baby is born, or enters a family, the real job of parenting begins. Bonding between a child and a parent has been the subject of years of intense research and there are hundreds of books on the subject. There are all sorts of complexes and syndromes associated with this critical relationship, and there is no doubt the long-term effects of a breakdown in that bond can be devastating.

It used to be considered very unacceptable to talk about your parents in a derogatory manner. However, many people of my age group, in their 60s, are now sharing their experiences, and it would seem that for many, childhood years were not happy ones.

What this does illustrate to me, is that modern parenting in its various forms, is probably neither better nor worse than it was 40 years ago, when babies were born into what is referred to as a traditional family.

I have not been a parent and that for some time was a cause of sadness. I lost a child late in pregnancy when I was 21 years old and did not find out until I was 39 that there had been more damage than identified at the time, and I could not have more. By that time we were considered too old to adopt and the other options so readily available today were in not common. So consequently I will not attempt to tell anyone how to be a parent.

What I can do though is draw on my experience of being a child and whilst overall that experience was by no means unhappy, I do wish that I had been able to enjoy the following:

Grandparents.

I envied my friends at school who had grand-parents who looked after them from time to time, took them on holiday or for days out at the seaside and gave them their time without the  constraints faced by parents. As I got older, I wished that I could have found out more about the history of our family from those who had lived it, especially as they had all been born in the 1890s. Sadly both my grand-fathers and one grandmother died before I was born and one grandmother and aunt died in a car accident when I was only three.

A father.

I wish my father who was serving in the Royal Navy had been around more when I was a young child. I don’t really remember him from before the age of five when I discovered him bed with my mother one morning and screamed the house down. I had not seen him for two years and he looked nothing like his photograph at the side of my mother’s bed.

I know that I felt safer when he was home, that my mother was happier and therefore more tolerant of our childish behaviour. I realise now as an adult that she was very lonely when he was away for two years at a time. She was effectively a single mother; with no parents of her own nor supportive in-laws. I now appreciate how tough that must have been. Including during the war years when my father was at sea for most of the time from 1940 to 1946. He was obviously on leave from time to time, so my mother had two small children under three years old by the end of the war. He continued to be absent for extended periods of time until I was about seven years old.  I only really understood the impact that had on their relationship, and mine with my mother. when I was very much older.

I missed not having my father there when he was away for long periods of time. He was quite capable of putting the fear of god into us when he was home, and being a bit of a wild child, I was always getting into trouble. But I needed boundaries and I am not sure how I might have developed without his guiding hand in my life.  Luckily, we did get to travel with him on his later overseas postings and I definitely know the difference in atmosphere, security and level of harmony, when there were two parents to share the parenting rather than just one.

Sisters.

I also wish that I had not taken so much for granted the influence my two elder sisters had on my childhood, and the fact, that in many ways they were my surrogate mothers. When they came home from school in Sri Lanka, where we lived from when I was 18 months old for two years, my amah would hand me over to them and everywhere they went, I went too. This must have been very restrictive on them as they were only eleven and twelve at the time. But they taught me to swim, kept me safe in an environment with dangers including snakes and other jungle wildlife, made me smocked dresses and allowed me to tag along after them.

I am glad that my sisters and I can still have fun when we meet up. It is when we are together that you really notice that we look quite similar, sound alike and have the same mannerisms, reinforced by a lifetime of contact. We can say things to each other that you would not say to even a close friend; you can even disagree from time to time without it becoming a major issue. You also have a shared heritage and memories of events that friends cannot share with you. Much of this also applies to friends of mine who were adopted, even down to the characteristics such as speech and mannerisms.

The extended family.

This brings me onto the importance of having an extended family in a child’s life. Life has challenges and even with loving parents and siblings, there are times when we need additional support and a place to go to, a person we trust to speak to and a feeling of belonging to something much bigger and stronger than the world at large. It can make an enormous difference to a child, and its development to be exposed to the influence of an extended family. That influence is not just evident in childhood but also as we develop adult relationships and become parents ourselves.

Apart from the benefits that I mentioned earlier there is no doubt in my mind that a sense of belonging to a ‘clan’ rather than a small family unit, is such an advantage of a child growing up in today’s world. This is even more important for single parents who are struggling to fulfil the role of both parents.

A large percentage of grandparents are now providing childcare so that their sons and daughters can work. The average cost of childcare per week for children under school age in the UK is £125. That is £6,500 per year multiplied by the number of children that you have under 5 years old.  With more and more grandparents stepping in to take over that care, it is obviously  a huge benefit to a young family. There are other things to consider as well. Grandparents who have been entrusted with the care of a child, are likely to have been good parents themselves and they bring this wealth of experience to the equation.

There is no doubt that both mothers and fathers anticipate the arrival of a new baby with great joy. But it has been, and always will be, a very tough job. It is 24 hours a day, seven days a week for at least eighteen years.  However, according to my mother the concern of a parent goes on for the lifetime of the relationship, even when you child is in her 60s!

Our relations, across the board, are connected in so many ways other than our DNA. As we go through life, a family that is close and has a strong bond can make all the difference as we forge our own path. We should not take that for granted and even if we drift apart at times and lose regular contact, it is one of those bonds that is rarely completely broken.

I am not the poster child for family relations or relationships in general, but I do know that I am one of the lucky ones, and that I was given a childhood that provided me with the more than the fundamental needs that every child has a right to. I also recognise that I am the person I am today, in part to those formative years

As I mentioned earlier in the chapter, we all have our own version of what family means to us. Whatever our experiences, there is a physical and genetic link to all those who went before us, and, if we are lucky, there is also a wonderfully sustaining emotional and mental bond.

©Sally Cronin 2019

Images: Pixabay.com

You can find other posts in the Something to Think About series as well as previous chapters of The R’s of Life: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/something-to-think-about/

As always I love to receive your comments and experiences.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord – Posts from Your Archives – Patience is a Virtue – Teaching a child to read by D. Metzke


Welcome to more posts from YOUR archives rather than mine. An opportunity to share blog posts from your early days of blogging or that you feel you would like to share with a new audience.. Mine. You can find details at the end of the post.

Today the last post in the series of archive posts from Deana Metzke, who has shared some parenting tips to encourage children to read and engage more with their books. This week her subject is patience when encouraging younger children to read rather than just enjoy the illustrations in graphic novels.

Patience is a Virtue – Even with Graphic Novels by Deana Metzke

So, my daughter loves graphic novels, I myself have enjoyed quite a few graphic novels this summer, and I’ve already written about how I’m excited my son got into chapter books via Graphic Novels. However, graphic novels and I almost had to come to blows this summer.

My 6 year old son tends to be a visual learner. He loves looking at illustrations to analyze stories, checks out lots of National Geographic Kids books at the library and spends the majority of the time staring at the photos in them. All of this is fine, I recognize and love it.

However, my boy is also sort of a reluctant reader. When we go to the library, he loves picking out books, is all about them on the ride home, and occasionally even for another 30 minutes or so after we get home. He also likes being read to at bedtime. However, when given choices, rarely is reading independently the one he chooses, which is starting to try my patience.

 

After one of our library trips…

The initial joy about his attachment to graphic novels has turned into frustration because he won’t even try to read the words. When he first started reading graphic novels, he had just started kindergarten and hadn’t learned to read yet, so I wasn’t concerned. But now, 1st grade is coming quickly, and he left Kindergarten reading above grade level. So you would think that would inspire and motivate him to try to read the words? Nope. Nada.

“Mom, I can’t read the words!”

“Let me help you, we can read together”

“No, these words are too hard!”

Now the last thing I want to do is make him dislike reading or think its a chore, so I don’t push it, I just walk away dejected. I won’t keep him from reading graphic novels, but I also want him to read the words in the books he has. If he has books that are closer to his “level”, which would be shorter and have fewer words, then it raises the probability that he will actually read and understand them.

On the way home, reading Dog Man. See that stray gray hair there? Yeah, he’s the root of that…

Recently, I have decided that there’s got to be an in-between, some sort of compromise that will make us both happy. What I’ve decided is that I’m going to read the graphic novel to him. Why I haven’t done that sooner, I have no idea. Especially since he already enjoys rereading our bedtime story when its a picture book. Let’s cross our fingers that this plan actually works out.

Graphic novels are wonderful, and a great way to get kids, including mine, reading books. However, I’ve got to practice patience and adjust my bedtime reading with my child so that my reluctant reader doesn’t become a non-reader. Wish me luck!

#RaisingReaders

©D.Metzke 2017

About Deana Metzke

I am a 30-something wife, mom of two, and book lover who is trying her best to raise children who will enjoy reading long after I’m gone. During the day, I am also a Literacy Coach at an elementary school, which strengthens my drive (or adds to my stress) to have my own children be book lovers.

Connect to Deana on her blog and social media.

Blog: https://raisingreaderssite.wordpress.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DMetzke

My thanks to Deana for sharing her blog posts from her archives and I am sure we will be reading more in the future.

I am so delighted that so many bloggers are sharing posts from their archives that deserve another audience.. MINE.. if you are interested in participating just send four links to sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am looking for human interest, informative, entertaining and humour…if you would like to promote your books.. then still email but we will look at doing a FREE promotion instead.

If you would like to share some of your archive posts from when you began blogging, then please send up to four links to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

The R’s of Life – Chapter Four – Relations – Being part of a Clan.


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In this chapter I am going to explore our relations, not to be confused with relationships; which is a whole different world of complications.

Over the years, I have talked about family issues with friends, colleagues and those I have counselled and I don’t think that I have met anyone who can honestly say they had a completely idyllic childhood. Some in fact felt that they had a dreadful time and were only too glad to leave home. Others remember the good times and put the challenges down to part of life.

Everyone has their own story about those years between birth and heading out into the world and each of us has to come to terms with those years in one way or another.

Certainly, as I have mentioned before, I do not believe in a perfect relationship of any kind. I do think that relationships should be two-sided and that they take a great deal of work to develop and sustain. Unfortunately, our relationship with our parents is largely one-sided until we reach a certain age and learn to communicate. Even then it can be a case of ‘their house, their rules‘. Whilst we might resent this at the time, especially as we move into our teen years, it is actually part of the socialisation process preparing us to work within different relationship structures as adults. However, some children grow up in a very different environment which is harsh and restrictive. Not all children survive that experience with a balanced view of the world and that is tragic.

The teen years, from my own personal experience, and I suspect a fair number of you, were punctuated with minor conflicts. In a close knit family, most of these issues are resolved, in a large part down to a solid background of love and trust that has been established over the years. But there is no doubt that once a child reaches puberty things change.

I cannot speak for those who have had appalling childhoods and can only sympathise. I can only speak to mine with any authority and pass comment on the experiences of those I have come into contact with. I know that I was very lucky in that I enjoyed nearly all  of the fundamental needs of a growing child such as security, a roof over my head, plenty of food, a good education and health care. I also recognise that most issues that arose, were because I liked to push boundaries, even as a young child.  What  I do appreciate about coming from a healthy family environment is that when the going got tough, there was always at least one member to turn to for help and support. Although not necessarily the case for everyone; for most of us there is an enduring sense of connection that lasts through our lifetimes.

The Relations.

The family group that comprises our relations falls into a number of categories. There is the relationship with our parents, which is a subject that has filled the bank accounts of psychiatrists for the last hundred years or so! Then there is where we stand in the pecking order of our siblings; which can result in interesting relationship dynamics as we grow up.

Also, we have the extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. If you are lucky many will be close enough to be in touch regularly and form an important support system. However, this is an area of family that has changed greatly in the last 50 years as people began to move out from home towns for work, emigrated or through marriage. We also have some variations in the family structure that bring new challenges and interesting developments. For example our definition of family is also dependent on the method of conception.

So let’s start with our parents.

Throughout the evolution of humans, biologically, conception required a male and female to be present. However, since 1978 this has not been essential.  You can now take sperm and an egg and bring them together in a laboratory before an embryo is implanted into a womb. This of course is a wonderful medical advance for those couples who cannot conceive in the normal way.

This procedure also means that the embryo does not have to be implanted in your own womb, as you can employ the services of a surrogate, who will carry your biological foetus to full term and give birth for you. For example in the case of same sex male partnerships where one of the partners will supply the sperm so that children carry the genes of at least one of the parents.

In some cases single women who wish for a child and are not in a relationship can select a suitable sperm donor from a clinic, and after their donated egg is fertilised, have the embryo implanted into their own womb and give birth themselves.

So, what used to be a fairly straightforward process just fifty years ago now has become a great deal more complex.

Is this important or not?

I don’t think that the process of how and why a child is born is actually critical. In the vast majority of cases, the moment a child, who has just been born or adopted, is placed in its mother’s arms a bond is formed which continues to develop over a lifetime. Sometimes that bond is never formed; but that can happen in any of the circumstances that a child comes into the world or family.

There are some who believe that having a child is ‘a right‘. I disagree with that concept. I certainly see it as a child’s ‘right’ to be born into a loving family that can support, feed, educate and provide security for it until it is able to look after itself. I appreciate the fact that in many countries that is not the case and that children are born into extreme poverty. And,  in far too many cases, into incredibly dangerous environments. But that is usually because culturally there has not been a shift in the education of the parents for generations, and many women still do not have a choice in the matter.

We in the western world, in the majority of cases, do have a choice. However, it would still seem that some women will choose to have children despite them not being able to provide for them adequately without external support. I may well be going to cause some controversy with some at this point, because I do not believe that the welfare state was created to enable people to have children deliberately without the ability to provide for them. It was created to provide for those who through no fault of their own find themselves in dire straits and require help to provide a decent quality of life for themselves and their families.

Tragically it is not just unplanned or planned pregnancies that create single parents. The death of a parent, or contention about custody following a divorce, can also place men and women in a situation where they find themselves as the sole parent. Whilst in many countries there is a welfare state to step in if needed, it is the practical issues that are daunting. Whilst money helps with some of those issues, it does not necessarily provide a sense of security or provide the extra hours needed in the day to look after a baby or young child alone. It does not provide the back up to provide a safe and loving home should there be an emergency, and it was never intended to take the place of an extended family.

This brings up an issue that I feel is going to be an interesting and possibly difficult parenting issue in just a few years. That is when a single mother has chosen to conceive by sperm donation. Whilst the mother might have an extended family on her own side and a support system in place, the child as it grows, will know nothing of its father’s history or in some cases genetic background.

However,  in the UK a law was enacted in 2006, any child conceived through sperm donation can apply at age 16 to find out certain details about their biological father. In 2022 the children born after 1st April 2005, if they have been informed of their method of conception, can request the background and health information about the sperm donor and also the identity of any other children that they might have fathered.  A letter will be sent to the father and any other children and it is their right to refuse contact, but it does open up a huge and possibly devastating situation. Particularly if a child being contacted did not know that he or she was conceived by sperm donation.

As a result of this removal of right to anonymity, there has been a significant drop in the number of sperm donors in the UK concerned that they might well become liable for child support for several offspring. However, it would seem that women are turning to overseas clinics where anonymity is still guaranteed. This means that children who are born from overseas sperm donation will not know of any genetic problems that might have been passed on or that might impact their own children’s health in generations to come.

Parenting

Whatever the method of reproduction, the moment that baby or child is born, or enters a family, the real job of parenting begins. Bonding between a child and a parent has been the subject of years of intense research and there are hundreds of books on the subject. There are all sorts of complexes and syndromes associated with this critical relationship and there is no doubt the long-term effects of a breakdown in that bond can be devastating.

It used to be considered very unacceptable to talk about your parents in a derogatory manner. However, many people of my age group, in their 60s, are now sharing their experiences, and it would seem that for many, childhood years were not happy ones.

What this does illustrate to me, is that modern parenting in its various forms, is probably neither better nor worse than it was 40 years ago, when babies were born into what is referred to as a traditional family.

I have not been a parent and that for some time was a cause of sadness. I lost a child late in pregnancy when I was 21 years old and did not find out until I was 39 that there had been more damage than realised, and I could not have more. At that time we were considered too old to adopt. So consequently I will not attempt to tell anyone how to be a parent.

What I can do though is draw on my experience of being a child and whilst overall that experience was by no means unhappy, I do wish that I had been able to enjoy the following:

Grandparents.

I envied my friends at school who had grand-parents who looked after them from time to time, took them on holiday or for days out at the seaside and gave them their time without the  constraints faced by parents. As I got older, I wished that I could have found out more about the history of our family from those who had lived it, especially as they had all been born in the 1890s. Sadly both my grand-fathers and one grandmother died before I was born and one grandmother and aunt died in a car accident when I was only three.

A father.

I wish my father who was serving in the Royal Navy had been around more when I was a young child. I don’t really remember him from before the age of five when I discovered him bed with my mother one morning and screamed the house down. I had not seen him for two years and he looked nothing like his photograph at the side of my mother’s bed.

I know that I felt safer when he was home, that my mother was happier and therefore more tolerant of our childish behaviour. I realise now as an adult that she was very lonely when he was away for two years at a time. She was effectively a single mother; with no parents of her own nor supportive in-laws. I now appreciate how tough that must have been. Including during the war years when my father was at sea for most of the time from 1940 to 1946. He was obviously on leave from time to time, so my mother had two small children under three years old by the end of the war. He continued to be absent for extended periods of time until I was about seven years old.  I only really understood the impact that had on their relationship and mine with my mother when I was very much older.

I missed not having my father there when he was away for long periods of time. He was quite capable of putting the fear of god into us when he was home and being a bit of a wild child, I was always getting into trouble. But I needed boundaries and I am not sure how I might have developed without his guiding hand in my life.  Luckily, we did get to travel with him on his later overseas postings and I definitely know the difference in atmosphere, security and level of harmony, when there were two parents to share the parenting rather than just one.

Sisters.

I also wish that I had not taken so much for granted the influence my two elder sisters had on my childhood, and the fact, that in many ways they were my surrogate mothers. When they came home from school in Sri Lanka, where we lived from when I was 18 months old for two years, my amah would hand me over to them and everywhere they went, I went too. This must have been very restrictive on them as they were only eleven and twelve at the time. But they taught me to swim, kept me safe in an environment with dangers including snakes and other jungle wildlife, made me smocked dresses and allowed me to tag along after them.

I am glad that my sisters and I can still have fun when we meet up. It is when we are together that you really notice that we look quite similar, sound alike and have the same mannerisms, reinforced by a lifetime of contact. We can say things to each other that you would not say to even a close friend; you can even disagree from time to time without it becoming a major issue. You also have a shared heritage and memories of events that friends cannot share with you. Much of this also applies to friends of mine who were adopted, even down to the characteristics such as speech and mannerisms.

The extended family.

This brings me onto the importance of having an extended family in a child’s life. Life has challenges and even with loving parents and siblings, there are times when we need additional support and a place to go to, a person we trust to speak to and a feeling of belonging to something much bigger and stronger than the world at large. It can make an enormous difference to a child, and its development to be exposed to the influence of an extended family. That influence is not just evident in childhood but also as we develop adult relationships and become parents ourselves.

Apart from the benefits that I mentioned earlier there is no doubt in my mind that a sense of belonging to a ‘clan’ rather than a small family unit, is such an advantage of a child growing up in today’s world. This is even more important for single parents who are struggling to fulfil the role of both parents.

A large percentage of grandparents are now providing childcare so that their sons and daughters can work. The average cost of childcare per week for children under school age in the UK is £125. That is £6,500 per year multiplied by the number of children that you have under 5 years old.  With more and more grandparents stepping in to take over that care, it is obviously  a huge benefit to a young family. There are other things to consider as well. Grandparents who have been entrusted with the care of a child, are likely to have been good parents themselves and they bring this wealth of experience to the equation.

There is no doubt that both mothers and fathers anticipate the arrival of a new baby with great joy. But it has been, and always will be, a very tough job. It is 24 hours a day, seven days a week for at least eighteen years.  However, according to my mother the concern of a parent goes on for the lifetime of the relationship, even when you child is in her 60s!

Our relations, across the board, are connected in so many ways other than our DNA. As we go through life, a family that is close and has a strong bond can make all the difference as we forge our own path. We should not take that for granted and even if we drift apart at times and lose regular contact, it is one of those bonds that is rarely completely broken.

I am not the poster child for family relations or relationships in general, but I do know that I am one of the lucky ones and that I was given a childhood that provided me with the more than the fundamental needs that every child has a right to. I also recognise that I am the person I am today, in part to those formative years

As I mentioned earlier in the chapter, we all have our own version of what family means to us. Whatever our experiences, there is a physical and genetic link to all those who went before us, and, if we are lucky, there is also a wonderfully sustaining emotional and mental bond.

©sallycronin The R’s of Life 2016

Thanks for dropping by today and as always your opinion is valued. Sally

The previous chapters of The R’s of Life can be found here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-rs-of-life-new-book-by-sally-cronin/

 

 

 

 

The Sunday Show – A funny thing happened to author D.G. Kaye


My guest today is Canadian memoir and nonfiction author and blogger D.G. Kaye (D.G.). It is clear that D.G delights both the women she writes for and I suspect the men who sneak a peek with her down to earth and often humorous look at life. There is also a serious side that comes across in D.G’s books and in her blog posts that strips back the layers that are formed in relationships. Those that are good for us and those that are harmful. I will take a closer look at her writing later in the introduction.

D.G was born and raised in Toronto where she still lives and writes about her own life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues. She began keeping a journal as she lived through a turbulent childhood which was lacking in emotional support from her narcissistic mother. This challenging start in life was the inspiration for her first book Conflicted Hearts.

Her second book also charts one of the most challenging times in a woman’s life. Those of us who have enjoyed that ‘time of life’ as it is often referred to seldom see the funny side in the hormonally driven changes in our body. However, D.G manages in Meno-What? A Memoir, to not only share her observations and wisdom about this natural phase in our lives, but to bring humour and tips for survival!

Her third and latest book was featured in the Five Star Treatment, Words We Carry, focuses around women’s self-esteem issues. Most of us tend to have our own unique way of putting ourselves down and D.G talks about how and why we do this and how she recognised and overcame her own issues.

Apart from her books, she has also written articles about life, her opinions on people and events as well as contributing poetry and health articles for a Canadian magazine. She is very interested in natural health care and remedies prompted by her own health issues and that of her family.

One of the very positive aspects of D.G’s writing is that it always leaves you feeling inspired and motivated to be more pro-active with your life in both health and relationship issues.

Here are a couple of quotes that sum up this attitude to life.

“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return; wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

And her favourite saying: “Live. Laugh. Love …and don’t forget to breathe!”

When D.G. is not writing, she’s reading. Her favourite genres of reading are: biographies, memoirs, writing and natural health. She loves to read about people who overcome adversity, victories and redemption and believes we have to keep learning–there is always room for improvement! She loves to cook, travel, and play poker hence her Twitter handle!

The Author

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About the book

A Lifetime of guilt — What does it take to finally break free?

Somehow I believed it was my obligation to try to do the right thing by her because she had given birth to me.

Burdened with constant worry for her father and the guilt caused by her mother’s narcissism, D.G. Kaye had a short childhood. When she moved away from home at age eighteen, she began to grow into herself, overcoming her lack of guidance and her insecurities. Her life experiences became her teachers, and she learned from the mistakes and choices she made along the way, plagued by the guilt she carried for her mother.

Conflicted Hearts is a heartfelt journey of self-discovery and acceptance, an exploration of the quest for solace from emotional guilt.

What a great find! December 19, 2013 By Karen B Format:Kindle Edition

Yesterday I happened to come across this book and I am so glad that I did. It made me laugh, it made me sad, it made me angry but most of all, it made me cheer for D.G. Kaye! She writes with candor and insight, passion and heart. It is an easy comfortable read, much like having a conversation and I couldn’t put the book down until the conversation was over. You can feel the little girl’s worry and confusion, the teenager’s guilt and angst, the sadness and the searching of the young woman and finally the strength of the adult. Ms. Kaye writes about the affects her mother’s actions has had on her entire life and the decisions she has made but she is never mean spirited about it and it makes you love her more.

It is a book that makes you think, reflect, understand and most of all it is a book that shows you that with the right attitude and beliefs, you can forgive and move forward. I loved it!

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“I have been a great critic of myself for most of my life, and I was darned good at it, deflating my own ego without the help of anyone else.”

What do our shopping habits, high-heeled shoes, and big hair have to do with how we perceive ourselves? Do the slights we endured when we were young affect how we choose our relationships now?

D.G. takes us on a journey, unlocking the hurts of the past by identifying situations that hindered her own self-esteem. Her anecdotes and confessions demonstrate how the hurtful events in our lives linger and set the tone for how we value our own self-worth.

Words We Carry is a raw, personal accounting of how the author overcame the demons of low self-esteem with the determination to learn to love herself.

5.0 out of 5.0 by Kindle Customer

D.G. Kaye uses all her feelings of empathy, compassion, and honesty to reveal the power of WORDS that hurt, destroy, and demean. Words that in most cases have been forced upon us, and we never forget their poignant sting or understand the devastating effects they have on our lives and our relationships. You create the reality that has been engrained in your mind whether it’s wrong, unfair, or just plain mean, spiteful, and filled with envy and jealousy. WE ARE THE “WORDS WE CARRY” THROUGH LIFE! Isn’t it time to delve back to the source to first recognize and then change your self-image, self-esteem, and self-worth?

WORDS start piling up at a very young age…long before we understand why such labels are placed upon us by inconsiderate, angry people, usually our families, who lash out at everyone around them in an attempt to make themselves feel better. Who gets hurt? Just about everyone, including themselves. But the delicate psyche of a child, who is born seeking only love and acceptance, is so susceptible to ridicule, negativity, verbal abuse, and degradation. It is rarely a child’s fault that they are bullied, laughed at, used between adults as weapons in grownup games, or called names that stick like glue.

Ms Kaye reaches back to her personal, traumatic early years to release the WORDS that practically destroyed a beautiful, giving, loving personality. In her easy, flowing writing style, where you feel like you’re communing with your best friend…sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes comedic, always strong and resourceful…you get the best she has to give to show how you too can rescript the WORDS that keep you downtrodden and afraid to ask for and receive what you deserve out of life.

Thank you D.G. for this heartfelt, soul-searching book to set us all free from the “Words We Carry” that only inflict pain and suffering. YOU TOO CAN FIGHT BACK AND WIN!

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Meno-What? A Memoir
D.G. adds a touch of humor to a tale about a not-so-humorous time. While bidding farewell to her dearly departing estrogen, D.G. struggles to tame her raging hormones of fire, relentless dryness, flooding and droughts and other unflattering symptoms.
Join D.G. on her meno-journey to slay the dragons of menopause as she tries to hold on to her sanity, memory, hair, and so much more!

Loved it!!! July 21, 2014 By Annie Edmonds Format:Kindle Edition

Let me tell you that this beautiful woman has a way with words. And she will make you laugh as she describes what it’s like to go through menopause. Anyone that can make you laugh while going through menopause is alright in my book.

D.G Kaye writes about trying to keep her sanity while her hormones are raging. This is something most women can relate too. There’s memory loss, hot flashes, dry spells, and even the dreaded hair loss. She writes all this and so much more in a fun and informative way. This book is filled with lots of love and even more laughter.

D.G. tells you how to take life as it comes and she pulls no punches. She’s a Canuck from Canada that writes from the heart. If you know someone who’s just had a hysterectomy buy this book. In fact every woman reaching that menopause age needs a copy..

The Blogger

D.G writes about life and part of our life cycle is of course death. As we get older we begin to lose those close to us and grief is a very natural part of our existence. It becomes tragic when of course those that we lose are young and vital members of our family. Whatever the circumstances we all have our own way of dealing with the grief and D.G covers this particular issue very sympathetically but also in her usual practical manner.

http://dgkayewriter.com/waiting-stolen-hours/

You will also find excellent articles on divorce, anxiety, changes in our perception of the world including how we become less fearless with age and experience. I recommend that you head over and find out more for yourself.

Now time to meet D.G (Debby) in person and talk a little more in depth about some of her life experiences and also her writing.

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Thank you Debby for joining us today and perhaps we could start with the increasingly documented personality trait labelled Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It is only recently that this disorder has become better known as more and more people realise that at some point in their lives they have been subjected to its negative impact. Perhaps you could describe the sort of behaviour that a narcissist would exhibit?

Hello Sally and readers of this wonderful blog. Thank you so much for inviting me to this new series to share my stories here with so many other talented artists and writers.

A narcissist, in laymen’s terms, sees him/herself as the center of existence. They feel as though their appearance and/or words trump everyone else’s. In my mother’s case, she had created a false persona that she had convinced her own self that she was superior. It was her mission to be the most beautiful one in a room, and craved attention so that focus had to be on her at all times.

Everything she talked about was exaggerated to make sure she could captivate her audience with her stories of grandeur. Her wants and needs came first to anyone else’s, including her children’s. She’d go to any lengths to acquire whatever it was she seeked.

Now, some people like to tell lies and paint pretty pictures of themselves for attention, but a true narcissist, as in my mother’s case, actually believes her own stories because she lived in her own ego.

I learned through the years of studying her, that this was a disease, which commonly wasn’t recognized as such. In the last generation, I don’t believe it was prominently diagnosed.

Do we all have some elements of that behaviour and if so what triggers it becoming a full blown disorder?

I don’t believe we all have the elements of becoming a narcissist, but I do believe there can be circumstances or incidents one encounters in life that propel one to becoming narcissistic. I’m no licenced psychologist, but I have to believe it can also be linked to various (undiagnosed) mental disorders, such as depression, which becomes a catalyst to narcissism, used to overcome some troubling issues. I say this because I think that besides my mother’s strife to be the best in show, I sensed a sadness within her that she was trying to conceal, not just to everyone, but also to herself.

She medicated that inner sadness with booze, pills and gambling, intermittently. She came from a poor family, and in a Scarlett O’Hara sort of way, had used her beauty as a weapon to obtain materialistic things in life.

I don’t believe anyone is born a narcissist. I think that it is the situations one lives through, which have a propensity to steer them in that direction as a means to achieve a status to feel better about themselves; and no matter at who’s expense.

It is obvious, as in your case, that a child would feel powerless in that kind of relationship. But is also true that adults of narcissistic parents can still be under the influence of that negativity especially as the parents age. What would be your advice to someone facing that challenge?

I would have to say the statistics show that many adults are still held under the powers of a narcissistic parent. It’s a major feat to become freed from the power that parents hold over us, mainly from their use of guilt as a means to obtain what they demand.

I was petrified to say the word “no” to my mother, my whole life. I danced to her every whim, and there were plenty of them. Children’s psyches are delicate, and grow from what we know and are used to. If we’re obedient, and not defiant children being raised by a narcissist, the odds are we shall remain under their power for the rest of their lives unless we are lucky enough to take a stand to them. For me, it was always unsettling to be around my mother.

We have to find a way for ourselves to live comfortably and deal with that parent (in my case.) It is very unlikely that person will ever change because they don’t believe they are the one with the problem.

I complied with my mother’s demands all my life and it ate away at me like poison, I took her wraths and tantrums because I felt I had to obey. I was the child, no matter what age I was. It took me decades and barrels of courage to get over the feeling that she had entitlement to anything she demanded from me, as a daughter. With a lot of self-therapy and self-analysis, I tried to reason with her to no avail.

I had to learn the hard way that it wasn’t my job, or in my power to fix her. The sickness wouldn’t allow anything positive I had to offer her, register with her. In the end, it was my own self-sanity I had to save, and painfully after so much emotional torment, at 48 years old, I walked away,

Sometimes you have to learn when you can’t fix a broken soul who doesn’t think it needs repairing.

In the UK there are around 120,000 divorces a year which is one of the highest in the European Union. In the US I understand that is around the 2.5 million mark per year. Whatever the figure that is a huge number of men and women and of course millions of children who are faced with this life changing event. What do you believe are the key issues that partners find so difficult to overcome that leads to this very final dissolution of their relationship and family?

Many times people get married for the wrong reasons, varying from anything such as, for material gain, pregnancy, or just settling for a relationship in order not to be alone, just to name a few. Other times, it could be that people marry too young.

Experience shows us that as we grow older, our wants and likes change as we grow. Sometimes people drift into new directions, leaving a partner behind when they no longer share interests. Also, infidelity is a major cause of break-ups, and I believe the promiscuity begins when one isn’t receiving the shared interest, respect, attention or kindness from their partner. They crave acceptance and to be acknowledged or included as a partner in their marriage, and when they stop receiving, they become vulnerable when they meet someone who feeds that need.

What would be your advice to anyone in a relationship who is facing potentially serious issues about some of the communication points they should be discussing with their partners to help prevent a complete breakdown?

We have to communicate our thoughts and feelings to our partners. We have to open our ears and listen back when they express their feelings to us. We should be supporting their work and passions. This must become a two-way street of reciprocation.

If we feel we are giving our all, and we aren’t being paid any mind or consideration for our own thoughts and feelings, this is a good sign we are not in a loving, supportive relationship. This would be the time to seek some outside therapy to salvage a relationship, before it becomes time to sever it.

Back to your writing. What is your next major project and where are you in the process?

I am currently in revisions with my next book (very late with them I might add), about essays on life incidents. In this book, I recall some stories of past years, when life was different, and often simpler. And, of course, there are stories about how the times have changed, and my opinions about how I feel about it.

I’m also writing the sequel to my first book, Conflicted Hearts. I left my first book open to a finish, as my mother was still living at the time of publication. Since that time, she has passed, and I’ve had a lot more realizations and interviews with family members, delving deeper into my mother’s issues, which I didn’t feel was fair to get into while she was alive. I’m hoping to have that book finished and published by summer of 2016.

Now time for the central theme of the Sunday Show interview.. ‘A funny thing happened to me..’

What are the Odds?

I title this situation with the phrase I’ve countlessly repeated many times throughout my life because I’ve often encountered situations in life where the odds were slim of things happening.

Sometimes it wasn’t always a good situation, but in this instance, I lucked out with favourable odds.

When I was twenty-five, I took a leave of absence from my then position as an executive assistant to the general manager of a downtown hotel chain. I had a fantasy that I wanted to fulfil of travelling through the Greek islands. Part of that trip I rented villa on the island of Mykonos for six weeks.

I travelled alone, as I was fiercely independent and had no trouble meeting people and forging friendships.

While I was waiting for three days in Athens for my booked passage over to Mykonos, I had befriended some interesting people staying at my same hotel. One of these people was a lovely Dutch boy, a few years younger than I, who was backpacking through Europe. Another couple I befriended were from Australia, also backpacking and taking on work around Europe to sustain their travels. They were at the same hotel at the same time as I was, all treating themselves to a few days in a nice hotel instead of the usual youth hostels.

When we all parted to go our separate ways, I had given them my address in Mykonos, and invited them to drop by if they were on the island in the coming weeks, and I offered them a room to rent in the villa for a nominal fee. I thought it would be nice for them, and it would also give me some extra pocket money.

Only a few days had gone by in Mykonos, and I had broken my foot getting off a high step on a bus while going into town for some provisions. Now, that situation alone is a story, which you will find in my book Conflicted Hearts, but nonetheless, my foot was broken, and I wasn’t going to another island to have it casted. I saw a doctor who wrapped it tightly in a tensor bandage, gave me crutches, and told me to keep my leg elevated as much as possible. Walking on crutches on the broken cobblestone roads and struggling to get up the small mountain (and down) on the rickety path to the beach was a feat in itself.

 A few days had passed and as I struggled again to get to the beach, and find my rock where I elevated my foot, I laid down my things and began thinking that I should cut my vacation short because it was too hard for me to get around. I was sad and scared about my demise. Tears sprang from eyes in my feelings of defeat. And then moments later, I heard somebody shouting my name.

I was sure it was a call for someone else, as I had yet to make friends with anyone there, except for the jeweller in town who befriended me when I fell off the bus and helped me get to a doctor, then scared the crap out of me. (Again full story in my book.)

I quickly sat up to see where the far away voice was coming from, when I realized God had sent me an angel.

My little Dutch friend had come to visit. He stayed for two weeks. He was so kind and helpful. He prepared meals for me, took me to town and carried my things, and helped me up and down the hilly paths. We shared a great friendship for many years after through letters. And, of course, I never took a dime from him.

Could lightning strike twice? After my Dutch friend left, a mere one day later, the same miracle happened at the beach when my Aussie friends showed up looking for me. They stayed with me for two weeks.

Coincidence? Divine timing? Those who know me well know that I often preach that we meet people; sometimes for reasons, sometimes for a season.

Thank you so much Debby for providing such an important insight into one of the most corrosive relationships that we can find ourselves in and also the strategies that might help us overcome the challenges we face.   Love your story… Coincidence perhaps, but also down to how well liked you were by those you met that they wanted to see you again…

Buy Debby’s books and connect with her… Definitely a ‘must do’.

Links
Author page on – http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/pokercubster
Blog – http://www.dgkayewriter.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/dgkaye
Google – http://www.google.com/+DebbyDGKayeGies
About Me – www.about.me/d.g.kaye.writer

Thank you for stopping by and do please leave your comments and of course please feel free to share by reblogging or clicking on any of the social media buttons…

Next week John W. Howell author of My GRL… joining us from Texas.