Navigating “Island” Parenting

By:Mutryce Kennings-Williams

Navigating “Island” Parenting is a submission of insights, quotes, tips and parenting advice that I have gathered over the years as a source of inspiration and as tools to deal with the daily challenges of parenting. This week’s issue: “Hope is a thing with feathers…” The hope is that this submission would cause you to reflect on your parenting skills and also make the journey of parenting a bit easier or brighter.

It’s Easter and I would have loved to write a reminiscent piece about the good old days, the traditions lost and how our children are growing up in an era completely different from the one we knew. I chose not to, how could I reminisce on times of old in such glee when I sense that there are so many parents who are in despair? How could I do this, when I sense that there are so many parents hanging on to their very last thread? How could I do this when I sense that there are so many parents who are hurting deeply? How could I do this when there are parents who are lost and when I sense that there are so many parents who have simply given up the ghost and lost hope?

You only need to turn on the news or log on to Facebook to see the latest carnage. Children brutalizing each other, a wanton disrespect for life, displays of animalistic behaviour and you can’t help but wonder who or what is raising these children. You can’t help but wonder where the parents went wrong. You can’t help but wonder where society went wrong. You can’t help but ask why these happenings are so commonplace in what is supposed to be tranquil, azure Caribbean waters. You can’t help but wonder about the history or environment in which these children are being raised. You can’t help but wonder about the fester that could be brewing in their bellies or souls which would cause them to act out in such a manner. What could it be really? What could it be?

I also can’t help but wonder whether the parents or guardians of these children have had the support or resources that they needed, whether they have tried their best or whether they had just given up hope all together, even before these children had cleared the gate so to speak. I just can’t help but wonder.

I know that there are parents who are observing the happenings and have already given up. One mother told me recently, “I know how he going turn out, look how his father and brothers them turn out, he will come just like them, so I not going waste my breath or strength, let the world take him. The world stronger than me.” When I heard this my heart sank. In a conversation with another mother, when I asked what her dreams or aspirations for her son were, she replied, “I aint have none of that, sometimes no matter how much you try with them, they still go and do they own thing. You can’t give a child a mind, so why bother even try. I feed him, clothe him and send him school, that’s enough. ” Again, my heart sank, and I couldn’t help but think to myself, “no wonder some of these children don’t have a fighting chance.” Their parents have lost all hope. At this juncture I will share the poet Maya Angelou’s thoughts on having hope or believing in children:

Maya Angelou – If children are given the chance to believe

“If children are given the chance to believe they are worth something-if they believe that-they will insist upon it. That is in Rome, Italy, or Rome Arkansas, in Paris France or in Paris Texas. Children don’t have to be born with a silver spoon in their mouths, but if they can be convinced that they’re the best, they become resilient. They themselves will resist any attempts to belittle them. But it is also a bouncing forward, going beyond what the naysayers said, saying, ‘No, it’s not true that I am a nobody. I know that not only is not true but I’m more than you can imagine.”

I am no expert on this matter but I do believe that children who act out or fight, the children who brutalize one another without thought or regard for the repercussions are those who don’t believe that they are worth something. They are those whose parents, guardians, or society have no expectations of or belief in. If they felt that they were worth something they would behave as if they were worth something. They would think that they can be more than they or anyone could imagine, but they don’t believe this because no one has sincerely said this to them. They don’t believe this because even their own parents don’t expect anything good from them and I think that this is a rather sad, sad, sad state that we are in as a society.

Again, I am no expert on this matter I just have my beliefs and opinions but I always say that parents seem to think that they need an arsenal of tools or resources to raise the best children or what society may consider to be successful children, whatever this may be, this is not true. You only need a few simple things. You need to give your children your time. You need to believe in them. You need to respect them. You need to show them love. As I heard my grandmother say to rather a distraught lady once who came to her for advice, “Hold your son firmly to your breast and pray all your love into him. Let the tears show. Tell him how much you love him. Give it your all. Remember the pain you felt bringing him into this world, put that into love so that he knows he is loved, so that he knows he means something to somebody. There is nothing greater than that, for a child to feel he is loved.” Imagine what our society or the world would be like if every child felt like he or she was loved. Just, imagine!

Most importantly as a parent, raising children in today’s world you have to have hope. You have to have hope in your ability to parent and parent well. You have to have hope in your children that they can grow up to be someone of worth. Let me take a moment to share a few lines by the poet Shel Silversteen with you, so that you may share them with your children.

Shel Silverstein “Listen to the mustn’ts, child
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

As a parent, you can’t afford to lose hope. Never ever lose hope. Never lose hope. You can do this. Yes you can. You need to believe that you can do this, you can do this! Never lose hope. It is all that you have got. I will end by sharing a few lines by First Lady Michelle Obama.

US First Lady Michelle Obama – Hope can take on a life of its own

“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”

Hope is a thing with feathers
By Emily Dickenson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me

Quotes on Hope

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. Thich Nhat Hanh

A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. Elbert Hubbard
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. Desmond Tutu

Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers. Robert Ingersoll

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible. Christopher Reeve
When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
Author Unknown

Recommended Reading for Children
Child’s Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa
A Child’s Introduction to Poetry: Listen While You Learn About the Magic Words That Have Moved Mountains, Won Battles, and Made Us Laugh and Cry by Michael Driscoll
Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes Edited by David Roessel , Arnold Rampersad , and Illustrated by Benny Andrews

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