Good parenting in the midst of financial crisis… Can it be?

Somehow this summer, the historic summer of 2015 (what will be among the studying highlights for university entry exams in 50 years’ time, according to this humorous – tragicomic, if you sit down and think about it – tweet I read lately) found me with a 7-month baby in arms.

Just when I thought I was looking at a carefree two-month period with plenty of trips and swimming at sea, since, thanks to my vocation as a primary school teacher, I’m currently on leave, I’m starting to realize that the account of my summer so far (July 4) is 3 trips to the sea and about 50 Euro-group meetings…!! Not to mention the referendum coming up tomorrow…! I will not tell you that I’m troubled about my vote because I’m not; I have made my decision and will implement it tomorrow. But I’m not going to talk about this decision and what led me to it.

What I want to focus on and the reason I’m writing today is what troubles me most as a teacher and a mother. And that’s what comes AFTER. What’s really going to happen after all this politico-socio-financial mess? Next week, when balance is restored, whatever that means, whatever we call it… Then, with crisis well settled in and having an obviously difficult present to face, what should our behavior be? We all agree that we want to raise and school self-sufficient children, happy children. This happiness, however, derives and is inspired from the attitude we, as parents, we, as teachers, maintain, in our everyday lives as well as when dealing with difficult situations. Therefore, I am pondering on the fact that, despite currently experiencing intense emotions (such as anger, frustration, sadness, angst), we ought to positively inspire our offspring so that, on one hand, they themselves are able to deal with critical situations and, on the other hand, they are not psychologically traumatized by our faulty reactions.

But what is the correct attitude? There are many pedagogical and psychological approaches regarding how we can be positive role models for our children in difficult times. For me, the most important thing is just to be there. To be close to them – not as a mere presence but in essence. When we are with them, we should take care to be as focused as possible to the activities we share with them. This stance helps the child feel secure and loved through the attention they receive. When we are not “there”, the child – even the baby – will be the first to sense it and quite often will assume responsibility for this negligence, believing that their presence is not pleasant enough, that they cannot inspire love in us, etc.

It is also important to tell our child how we feel and to explain why. We can, in other words, based on the child’s age and comprehending abilities, explain to them that we are feeling troubled, sad, maybe even a bit angry with everything that is happening in our country. Should they ask for details, we can tell them what’s happening using very simple words; however, we should always present a positive and hopeful prospect instead of relating a dead-end situation. In doing so, we achieve two very positive results. First, we’ll make the child feel we’re taking them into account and value them by exposing them to the problem. Also, by maintaining a positive stance in the face of adversity, we are teaching them to become a dynamic and optimistic person.

Finally, we should take care not to directly clash with other people within our environment; instead we should face disagreements with creative dialogue – not heated discussions. We have an opinion, which we should express but without reaching extremes. It is of vital importance to help anyone in need of support within our immediate environment – whether that need is material or psychological. I hope I don’t have to explain all the reasons such a stance will have a positive effect on our offspring.

So I advocate physical presence, talk and lots of love to our little ones. Especially this summer, when even the weather seems to be against us, let’s react dynamically and with a positive attitude.

 

Evangelia Kouroupi

Primary School Teacher

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