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When I was 11, I was living in Holland with my mum. Neither of us spoke Dutch and we didn't have any family there, or any social network to speak of except for three friends. My mum was doing a great job of looking after me and helping me to settle in, right up to the point when she badly sprained her ankle and could not walk.

We didn't have much food in the house, no money. She couldn't put her weight on her foot at all to go anywhere or do anything. So we came up with a plan of sorts together.

First I went to the bank with her passport and my passport and a letter with her signature explaining the situation. Since I did not speak any Dutch I asked if there was anyone who spoke French or English, then explained the situation again and they were kind enough to let me draw some money so that I could buy food and medicines. I came back with provisions and essentially held down the fort until my aunt arrived from England to take over.

I've always been able to think fast and see ways out of most situations. But I don't think I would have dealt with that situation nearly as well if I hadn't been trained in the art of independence and problem solving and finding my way around by my mother for many years prior.

I've always thought that resilience is my greatest strength, and it cannot be created without adversity. I am buoyant in my core, but I've also been well served in having my confidence in my ability to navigate the world and think my way out of problematic situations supported and trained and reinforced from an early age.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
chiller
Nov. 11th, 2011 10:57 pm (UTC)
Richard Branson's mother would famously dump him out of the family car a few miles from home at a very young age and tell him to find his own way, and he turned out OK (and always did find his way).

My upbringing was the reverse - I was never permitted to go anywhere or go into shops etc, which suited me just fine because I didn't want to. As a result when I went to live with my mother at 11 and had to suddenly negotiate a bus to Golders Green, then a train to Edgware, then a coach to school every day (and a more complex journey back), I was essentially in a constant state of astounding stress. I don't think that's entirely due to my upbringing (though god knows it didn't help), because I'm the sort of person who doesn't "see" where they are - I get overwhelmed by sensory detail and can't see the big picture of where I am, so I can be standing in front of the cinema looking for a cinema - because THIS cinema doesn't look like my idea of "what a cinema looks like", I can't see it. *rolls eyes at self*

I am with you on this though - unless you have a child who, like me, is baffled by the world, yes, get them out there and get them thinking on their feet, to a (safe) degree. I think it's a good idea. It always astounds me when people send their children off to college without teaching them to cook anything, for instance. Aren't independence and capability the greatest gifts a parent can give their child?
rmc28
Nov. 12th, 2011 06:09 pm (UTC)
Aren't independence and capability the greatest gifts a parent can give their child?

Well, I think so. I think of our jobs as parents as teaching and supporting and then gradually getting out of the way - until we reach the point where we aren't needed at all. The relationships starts full of dependence and slowly you turn it into capability.

For example the continuum that runs from pregnancy to feeding a baby to a self-feeding child to a child that can cook a meal, to a person that can earn their own means of buying food to cook.
cherade9
Nov. 12th, 2011 02:08 am (UTC)
Everything you've said on free range parenting is precisely the kind of thing we're doing with Adam. It's a wee bit scary letting him go explore the world, but he's so happy and turning out to be a wonderful human being. I'm very lucky to be his Mum.
trinity_gal
Nov. 24th, 2011 11:17 am (UTC)
I can imagine how terryfying it's to talk to grown-up strangers as child...it can be greatest gift - the confidence to deal with strangers and be assertive when they are disagreeable. Have you noticed how many peopl were goaded into dispensing with their cash because they were too nice and didnt want conflict?
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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