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Thread: Why Tribes can be our kid's best defense.

  1. #1

    Default Why Tribes can be our kid's best defense.

    Villages may have disappeared but community is still alive and well, writes Angela Mollard
    By Angela Mollard
    News Limited Network
    June 30, 2013 12:35PM
    I AM a werewolf. Yes, I know you thought I was an oversharing, highly-opinionated, Sarah Jessica Parker-haired mother of two. But, no, turns out I'm a creature who howls at the moon.

    This week I went into the garden and, literally, screamed into the sky.

    "Get your hands off our kids you big poxy world," I yelled, before realising the moon doesn't have ears but the four-year-old twins next door do.

    I shouted on behalf of the 11-year-old I know who can't sleep because his mates showed him hard porn; I shouted because of the girls I'd seen on Instagram rating each other's prettiness; I shouted at Robin Thicke for his ugly raped lyrics paraded in a groovy tune; at Rihanna for her bare bum and her bath video and her cretinous on-off boyfriend; at the advertisers who think it's OK to screw up my children's childhood and lob it casually into the bin.

    Mostly, though, I shouted because my 12-year-old had just told me she wants to be a kid again; that the stuff swirling in her world is uglier and scarier than she can handle.


    When I'm not masquerading as a werewolf, I'm a problem solver. But none of the options seemed feasible - moving to the country, cancelling the wi-fi, becoming Amish.

    I was still in knots the next day when an actor friend popped over. As I poured her a glass of wine, she swooped on my youngest. "You look like you're just one grin away from doing something seriously naughty," she chuckled. "Tell me," she asked in a faux American accent, "what's going down in your town?"

    I listened: to my nine-year-old animatedly performing the walkovers and one-armed cartwheels that make her bold in the world; to my friend delighting in my child not for how she looks or what she excels at but for what makes her feel most alive.

    And there, in my kitchen, tears streaming down my face, I realised I was looking at the solution: my tribe.



    Because for every insidious influence trying to infiltrate my children's world there's a friend, a grandparent, a cousin, a babysitter, a godparent showing them what it is to be strong or funny or proud. These are my children's real role models, the people bolted on and acting as ballast against everything that washes over our bow.

    Villages no longer raise a child but in some primal part of us we are still each other's tribes. Yes, competitive and helicopter and disengaged parenting have somewhat dented the model but we are still at our best when we have each other's backs. Because it's not self-esteem which gives kids a protective coating against adversity but people who give a damn about them showing that they do.

    Tribes are our secret weapon against the obstacle course of popular culture, social networking and peer pressure. They're there, in solidarity, brandishing spears against the ugly stuff.

    My kids will spend this coming week with their uncle, who works with street kids in India, and their grandparents who love them as surely and solidly as anyone they know.

    There's others: a godmother who bakes brownies with them; an inspiring teacher who drops off armloads of books; a 22-year-old former babysitter and her boyfriend who compete in triathlons together, showing my girls that young love can be healthy and fun. "Come training with us," Jess urges my 12-year-old and I want to hug her.

    "If you ever feel you can't speak to me or your Dad there's always Jess," I tell my kids.

    Leaning on the tribe means accepting we, as parents, are not our children's everything. Others might help identify what human development expert Peter Benson calls their "spark" - the thing a kid loves which brings them joy, direction or purpose. As Plutarch mused, they're "not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled."

    A tip: ask a teenager what book they're reading. Currently they're mad for John Green's The Fault in Our Stars which is brilliant, even if it came with the recommendation - "you have to read it before you die" - as if that might be imminent.

    I'm invested in the girl who grew up next door. She's 18, hungry to be a journalist but freaked when her uni tutor sends her to the roughest of neighbourhoods to find a story. "Be bold and friendly," I text encouragingly. "People just want to be heard."

    I'm honoured to be part of her tribe and grateful when others, unexpectedly, join mine. My youngest sings and is alarmingly enamoured with Taylor Swift's syrupy anthems to teen love.

    One Saturday I collect her from lessons and groan inwardly as Love Story leaks down the hallway - "You'll be the prince and I'll be the princess."

    "Not bad," I hear her teacher say. "But remember hon, you don't need a boy to save you."

    My tribe.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne.
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    I love that article. Awesome

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    The zoo
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    Love it. Thanks for posting

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