In Finland every other mother seems to suffer from mom-guilt.
They feel they don't do enough for their children.
That they are not there enough, don't give them right kind of attention, and don’t spend the precious time being educational/fun/loving/understanding/strict/caring/exemplary/inspiring/creative enough.
Either they feel that they are spoiling the child or not giving them enough love.
The food they give to their children isn't nutritive/green/chemical and colorant free/wholesome/homemade/tasty/natural enough.
There is a huge worry about the safety and it is taken care till extreme.
Everything is made baby proof, child proof and life proof.
All the risks are being avoided to the most possible degree.
The children who grow up are called individualists, egocentric and selfish too often.
People claim that the youth concentrate on their own pleasure, there is a sense of entitlement.
Young people feel that they are entitled to have everything and shouldn't be made to work for it.
There is an ever growing drug problem and alcoholism, people living from the government, without work or real aspirations.
Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it.
The Revised Standard Version
The marriages don't last and divorce is more and more common.
And the mothers know this.
And we feel it so hard, we carry the guilt, try to educate our children to be successful and happy, to make it, in the life.
In Amazonian Kichwa culture, here in Ecuador, children need to learn to take care of themselves and their siblings, as soon as possible.
Sometimes that means from two, three or four years on, or even earlier.
Babies are left alone for long stretches of time, little children are left home with chicha (at radio all beverage that ferments in just one day here in the heat) and little else.
The sermon of your life in tough times ministers to people more powerfully than the most eloquent speaker.
If they wish to eat they need to start a fire, cut and peel with large kitchen knives and tend hot food all by themselves, while taking care of the younger siblings.
School aged children, from four years on, are left at home during the whole week while parents go to tend their farms, many times returning only for the weekend.
Deaths and disability from burnings, falling, choking, poisoning, drowning and other home accidents are sadly all too common.
Traditional child rearing techniques among Amazonian Kichwas include spanking with nettles and putting chili pepper in the eyes so the child will be able "to see the wisdom".
The girls grow up to be responsible from the early age on.
They take care of the house, the food and their younger siblings.
When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.
Abraham Joshua Heschel
They cook and clean and make sure, the best they can, that everyone is well, alive and attending to the school.
And then at fourteen, sometimes earlier, they fall in love, and have their first child at sixteen, sometimes earlier.
The boys play games, climb to trees, swim in the rivers, play football and do their best in school, if they are so inclined.
Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."
The New King James Version
In their teens they fall in love, usually get married with the girl when she gets pregnant, but sometimes they skip that part.
The young newlyweds either divorce really fast or keep having children while the wife takes care of the home, and the husband, not so much.
Not all Kichwa men are irresponsible but having casual relationships with other women is quite common, and not really that bad, as long as the wife does not find out.
May you grow to be as beautiful as God meant you to be when He thought of you first.
Alcoholism and domestic violence are sadly too common also.
The women see their husbands as priority.
First to eat is the man, first to get new clothes, first to have fun and enjoy.
He is the one who decides the life for everyone else.
Children are dear but lost so easily that it's better to have many.
And they need to show their usefulness, not just expect to be fed, clothed and given an education.
To follow Jesus doesn't remove us from the stuff of life. It is not resolution. It is tension and journey.
I do not miss Finland or the children swearing to their teachers and talking back to their parents, ruling the family lives with their whims.
I do not want to embrace Ecuador completely either.
There are wonderful things in both and things that are so sad that they break my heart.
I know that I am just a human, just like any other mother, and I can only do my best, just like you.
I know that I have mistaken many times and I don't even always do the best I could.
I know my errors and carry the guilt in my heart.
But I also know that every day is new, and there is another opportunity to make it all better and show my son how much I love him.
Another chance to guide him to be the man I wish him to be.
Another opening for teach him the right way, to show him the path where I want to lead him, so he can walk it on his own when he's an adult.
Another potential day, to get closer to God and what He meant us to be.
This is so sad and must be heart-breaking to see day after day. You really draw a contrast between the practises of Finland vs. Ecuador.ReplyDelete
I think both practices are heart-breaking, the developed world's model and the developing world's model. And we need to find ways to change.Delete
Honestly, much that you have described about family life there in E. sounds VERY much like the rest of the "developed" world. I believe many of the things you've shared that some would think are horrible (like the young having responsibility beyond their years (supposedly)). Anyway. I guess that's part of my parenting philosophy, though. I believe children are FAR more capeable than our "modern" world would have us believe. I also believe that extending the years of no responsibilities beyond, say, 3 years old is unwise and leads to exactly the problems you referenced from your home country. jmo, of course.ReplyDelete
I agree with you, Tori, it is important to give children responsabilities. Like I say in the post, there are good and bad things in both parenting models. What is sad here in Ecuador, is that children are abandoned without their parents for so much time. In Finland it's sad that they are so smothered that they cannot learn to be responsable and be truly themselves.Delete
In my opinion the important thing is the balance. Children should be responsable, but they should not be left alone for the week, to tend themselves, feed themselves and look out for themselves. It is not healthy and it is way too dangerous.
But they should not be served and made feel that they are entitled to have anything and everything, without lifting even a finger, just their voice.
Finding that balance is the hard thing. That is why I started with developed countries problems. The situation is not perfect and there is something very wrong with the way children are raised, and we need to asses that and change. But we should not idealize the situation in developing countries either. The ones who grow up are survivors and scarred for life in most cases.
It sounds like you've witnessed both sides of extremity in these cases and are taking the best lessons from both of them in order to raise your son. I especially loved this sentence: "Another opening for teach him the right way, to show him the path where I want to lead him, so he can walk it on his own when he's an adult." Cheers to that, and to make as many opportunities for our children that make sense, give them a basis for being wonderful people.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Kristi. That is what I try to do, everyday :)Delete
That is very crazy to have the children left alone, and the man get everything... It seems that is it sad the way they live, but they seem to have adapted this way and see no way out.ReplyDelete
It is changing every day, Robert. This is a product of 50 years of cultural change and challenge. Kichwa people here in the Amazon have had only those 50 years to adapt to the modern world and all that it offers. The changes in their culture have been huge and they struggle to keep their traditional values, and at the same time they want what is atractive in the modern society. Sadly the atractive parts aren't always best for them, like alcohol for instance.Delete
Thanks for providing me some perspective.ReplyDelete
Thank you for the information about Ecuador. I really didn't know much about traditions and culture responsibility. Other latino countries also have the female children from a young age learn to do things for themselves. so that when they grow up they do not have to rely on a man. I hate to think about all those YOUNG children taking care of YOUNGER babies. scary and sad at the same time.ReplyDelete
Kichwas aren't latinos, Kathryn. They are an indigenous nationality here in Ecuador and their culture is very different from the surrounding latino main culture. It is much more similar to what you are saying.Delete
You definitely see Finland and even U.S. kids in a different light. So much struggle in Ecuador. I have read about the young age that girls have babies there. Its sad, but I also see its so hard to get out of that life style. Its an endless cycle. But I see you have so much love in your heart for the people of Ecuador.ReplyDelete
Teen bregnancy is more of a rule here than the exception, Heather. There is a lot of struggle and having children young and marrying young is part of Kichwa culture. But there is a cultural shift going on with the change in their lifestyle. I hope it will bring positive changes with it.Delete
This is such a unique post and a great reminder of the contradictions that our world live in. It is a shame that there are still children around the world going through this. Thank you!ReplyDelete
This made me want to cry. "Deaths and disability from burnings, falling, choking, poisoning, drowning and other home accidents are sadly all too common."ReplyDelete
It is a tough enviroment, Chasity, and, sad to say, not all of the children make it. It is good to have a caring and generous heart like yours. The good thing is that there are changes happening and people are starting to apreciate their children. The most important thing is to educate women and get them to have children later on.Delete
Wow those are some major differences. I wish kids in privileged areas knew how hard other kids have it.ReplyDelete
How sad. Children need to be kids. It breaks my hear when I hear a child forced to grow up when they are only 3 years old.ReplyDelete
I can see the heart break in both, and the beauty too. I am not sure I could embrace the cultural norm of leaving my children unattended. I'm a nervous wreck if they're off in another room and I can't see them. ;) My SIL dated a man who was born and raised in Helsinki, and she doted on him even when he was grown. :) I dote on my grown children too, when I see them, which isn't often enough since they both live in different states now. :)ReplyDelete
This is very interesting. I have a fascination with other cultures and particularly in the Nordic countries. It seems like such a different place from the US. It sounds like the sweet spot is right between the two cultures - not too overprotective, but not too underprotective either. I think I was kind of in the middle - a little overprotective, but I always made my children do lots of chores, be responsible for their own schoolwork, and be a respectful and helpful part of the family. But it seems like I do spend a lot of time driving them around to places and I spend a lot of money on camps and other activities for them to do. Sometimes I really take the time to point out to him that I have spent a big chunk of time waiting for him to finish practice, or that I've spent money on things he wanted when I could have used it for bills or other things that I would have liked for myself.ReplyDelete
I think there is balance. It is hard for me to compare with US because I have never been there. But in the last years the parents, and legislation, have become more and more overprotective.Delete
And people are spending more time in driving their children around to their after school practices and activities. And also spending more money in their children. It's not everyone, but it is an on-going trend.
A very interesting portrait Joanna. Quite frightening though, the life of children without much time to enjoy childhood.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Philippa. And it's true, it's sad and frightening. It's a tough situation because people need to eat and their farms are further in the jungle, far away from towns and villages. Meanwhile they want their children to have an education but that means staying in the village where the school is, without the parents. And taking care of your life, the house, and your younger siblings.Delete
My parents used to do the same, look after their siblings from a very early age and they have a hard time understanding why my sister and I are so protective to our daughters and don't let them be more mature. Truth is, we only have 1 child, unlike my parents that used to have 5 and 10 other siblings, they don't have siblings to learn from or look after, someone else has to do the job and that's us, mothersReplyDelete
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I think we need to find a balance, Petro. I wouldn't want my son to have to take care of himself like his father had to. He washed his own clothes since he was six, went to the city to study at twelve and two years later started taking care of his younger siblings while he was studying. He cooked for them, washed their clothes and cleaned the house. And they saw their parents only on weekends and holidays when they went to the town to visit them.Delete
It's a hard life and I wouldn't want my son go through the same thing.
On the other hand, I do want him to learn to be responsable and independant, according to his age. And sometimes that is very difficult because he is the only child and he's used to be the center of the attention.
This is so sad, you just gave me a does of humble pie. We are spoiled her in the US, thank you for sharing your story and your country.ReplyDelete
Thank you! And I'm glad you can see the good in your own country.Delete
What an interesting contrast. It's always interesting to see how cultures are different.ReplyDelete
Thank you, CatherineDelete