I am one of eleven children and for the past few years I have become interested in talking to my mum about what she would have done differently, does she have any regrets and does she ever worry about it? My mum simply said that with hindsight she would have done a few things differently, but they are not regrets, because she knows did her absolute best at all times, and her children were always her priority. I think that is such a wonderful place to be, and even though most of us have left home, she works hard to ensure she spends equal time with all of us.
I have spoken many times in length about the concept of ‘guilt free parenting’ with my sister in law who is from Ghana. She finds that so many people comment on how meticulous she is with her children’s diet, skincare regime and teeth cleaning. She does not fuss over them and they are beautifully content.
In Ghana illness costs money, so was vital that the foods they ate contained maximum vitamins and nutrients. She describes that at the end of each day her mother would check her eyes and comment that she needed to eat ‘more greens’. Her Mum could not afford for her children to be ill, so it was of the utmost importance that she gave them the best immune boosting foods. To me this poses a completely unrelated question: if we did not have the privilege of free health care, how would this affect what we fed our children? I would love to know. With regards to skincare, her children are part English, part Ghanaian which means their skin is prone to a condition called pitiriasis alba. It makes the skin dry and patchy to reveal lighter skin underneath. The only way to combat pitiriasis alba is to moisturise the skin, which she does twice a day with two different creams. In her eyes, if her children ever develop pitiriasis alba and become self conscious about the light patches, how can she feel content that she has done her absolute best to help prevent it? Likewise, how could she feel at ease if her children need a filling and she had been blase about cleaning their teeth or let them eat sugar every day?
I’ve come to the conclusion that parents have completely different ‘guilt zones’ based on their priorities, and in answer to my original question; I think it is possible (mostly) to be a guilt free parent, because we as parents set the expectations. Some parents won’t be guilt free unless their children are given the best education or the nicest clothes or the latest toys or are exposed to nature or do lots of extra activities or eat the best food or see the world…the list goes on, and I think it’s fascinating.