"Whatever wages parents have coming into a household today, there is a tendency to give one's growing children too much material stuff and not enough emotional stuff or imaginative things to exercise their bodies and minds.
Following my divorce, being the access dad to two children and the new father to another three (including my step son Matthew), for the next ten years, money was thin on the ground and we all made do with what we had. Our overall circumstances essentially meant greater parent involvement, playing games together, going on regular nature walks to the local woods, strolling along the canal bank, visiting the parks, spending a day on the beach, and making up all manner of stories to tell each other, creating fun from cardboard boxes and even engaging in 'the first to talk or the last to laugh competition.' And whenever I had to work at the weekend, like building a new porch to the front of the house, all the children were given their own bits of work to contribute to the improvement of our home, under our Matthew who was appointed the gang foreman.
There are so many things we did together, 'AND IT DIDN'T COST A PENNY, ONLY TIME!' Whenever my children got a bit too big for their boots and wanted to push out the boat before they had learned the rules of sailing it, I wouldn't forbid them outright, but merely delay the process in the most acceptable way. We lived on a busy road and to keep the children safe, I erected a dry-stone wall all the way around the house boundary. When my son William was chastised for trying to climb it and run away from home, I built it another eighteen inches higher and gave him permission to attempt to scale it again, when he'd grown as high as the wall. Let me tell you, it was very hard talking the entire wall up a level each of his growing years without him noticing the build in progress!
I also recall my son Adam going through a bad patch once so I wanted to do something special for him to buck up his spirits. I asked him what he's like to do and like 9/10 boys, he replied that he'd like to drive a train or a tractor. I couldn't manage the train, but a farmer friend of mine helped out with the tractor, and all it took to make my son's wish come true was for me to ask?
James was my oldest child and in many ways the most sensible one of them all. In many ways, with him being the eldest and most responsible one, without realising it, I probably allowed him to keep the younger ones in check too much, instead of freeing him totally to be 'only a child at all times.' In so much as this, I was guilty of unknowingly repeating my own experience as a child. Having been the eldest of seven children wrongly led me to use the supervision of my oldest child with his younger siblings in a similar manner as my own mother had used me in the chain of command. I'm so sorry son if I placed too much responsibility on your young shoulders too soon in your development and inadvertently deprived you of some of your treasured childhood.
I recall our William, who was always ambitious one. Even from the age of four, he wanted to be a television presenter, so we cut out a cardboard television screen for him, placed him inside it and made him one! We made him stay in the box until he made us laugh before we'd turn him off and set him free.
My daughter, Rebecca, would never keep her shoes on and was forever running around barefoot. Consequently, she was never as happy as when we took her to the seaside.
Indeed, all of the years my children were growing up, I always told them what my mother had told me,'If you want anything from me, Billy, don't be afraid to ask. If I've got it and it doesn't harm you, you can have it, and if I haven't or it does harm, you can't!' When one thinks about it, whether one is child or adult, one cannot feel badly done to if the parent is prepared to give you anything they have!
That is why 'to give' is good and the very best thing of all that any parent can give a child is of yourself; your time, your concern, your love and your trust in their capacity to succeed. How we know if we succeed as parents, is through our children's outcome as adults. So, when we observe their lives being lived in a sensitive, fair-minded, caring, respectful, loving and honest way, with integrity written large through its centre like a stick of rock, we know they think like us and constantly of us.
Never forget that behind every child who grows to believe in themselves was a parent who first believed in them! Also know, that bringing up children is no less a lesson in life for either parent or child. We are all human and will naturally make honest mistakes along the way. I spent the whole of their childhood trying to teach them one thing or another about life and by the time they reached adulthood, they had taught me what life is all about; family and the love of it!" William Forde: October 18th, 2016.