Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gorilla gardening and holidays

My last day of work for 2008 included some gardening. I guess I can't call it gorilla gardening as Otago Polytechnic's Living Campus is all about interacting with and being a part of the natural environment on campus. Even so it was a good feeling of rebellion when planting tomato plants without 'permission' from someone who might manage this environment. Besides they would have died inside with no one to care for them. So if you're passing H block on Forth St, share some of your water bottle with the two tomato plants bordering the H block sign. That way I'll have fresh tomatos when I return in Jan! Would you email me a photo to accompany this post Leigh?

2009 will bring the inaugural Education for Sustainability staff training course (now complete and ready for review/feedback) and Sustainable Practice 1 and 2 and a busy workload for me at 0.3 of a position. The other 0.7 and some is spent busily loving, educating and meeting the needs of my 18 month old. He will be attending pre-school for 3 1/2 hrs twice a week. I'm a anxious about him going into care, but I'm honest about the fact that I am doing it for myself and not because I believe it's the best thing for him. Sure he might enjoy an hour in a different environment with different people, but after that he would be quite happy in the company of the people he knows and loves. I don't believe in forcing him to become independent at 18 months. I believe in meeting his needs and letting him be dependent for as long as he needs to be. This is often not as long as a child whose needs have not fully been met who continues to demand dependence as a reaction to being forced into independence before they are ready.

Just recently Unicef stated that NZ had the highest rate of care for under 5 year olds and this was not necessarily a good thing. Children from a bad home environment benefit from it and children over 3 benefit from small amounts of care. It was clear on the National program interview that a 'normal' child does not benefit from full time or near full time care. Parents can and will justify the use of childcare for their children any way they can. I will not justify the use of childcare for Eli. It is purely selfish. I want to work as well as be a mother. I want my cake and to eat it too. End of story. Anyway this wasn't meant to be the story.

I'm offically on holiday now. Yeepppeee bring on the long summer days in Nelson, Golden Bay and the West coast, biking and rock climbing with friends and spending time with family. Better get on my bike and home to my boys. See you next year. anna :)


David McQuillan said...

Hey Anna,

Re: childcare for young children
All of our children were at least partially in care from an early age, and yes this was definitely to suit the needs of us as the parents dealing with the demands of paying the mortgage, and getting ahead in life. However my observation is that our kids are pretty well adjusted. They haven't been scarred by the experience, in fact in the early years when in a social context with kids who had not been in care it was clear that our kids were often much more socially confident, and less dependent. Sure they pick up bad habits, but if you're worried about this just wait for school :-).

At the end of the day I think the quality of their emotional development comes down to the quality of interaction they receive from their caregivers, whether these are parents or not. We've been lucky that in most cases our kids have had fairly warm, loving caregivers to compliment their homelife. I'm not sure supporting dependence is a good thing. And I say this knowing that it's purely based on my experience, and I have no awareness of the literature to back me up. :-)

Leigh Blackall said...


Anna Hughes said...

I'll have a go at tracking down some literature on letting children be dependent for as long as they choose to be. It would be good to have something to refer to when sharing my beliefs.

A child's character will play a huge part in how they adapt and react to separation from their parents. Who knows how much is nature and how much is nuture? Often childhood trauma (childcare from a young age possibly being one of those trauma's) only manufests itself later in life. This is where we lack any real information on the affects of these trauma's.
Anyway, I know it's not for me or my children and would like to see the NZ government do more to support families in raising their own children. :)

Anna Hughes said...

Literature on dependence and independence in children.

This is from THE DAILY GROOVE ~ by Scott Noelle

":: PREsponsive Parenting ::

Raising a child in harmony with human nature is like driving to a distant city. The road isn't straight, but it'll get you there.

For example, the road to independence as an adult is via dependence as a baby. Going straight to independence is a disaster."

As Scott doesn't really explain what he means by 'disaster' or dependence here is something else.

This is from someone elses blog. So still not ideal, but another opinion along the same lines as mine: See
Here is a dictionary definition of dependence:

dependence - lack of independence or self-sufficiency; the state of relying on or being controlled by someone or something else

Dependence is “me” needing “you” oriented. “You” take of “me” and meet “my” wants and “my” needs. Like that song says, “I want you to want me. I need you to need me. I love you to love me.” The You in dependence can be a person, an organization, or a set of circumstances happening a certain way.

Dependence is a very necessary and healthy state for babies and children, but is considered extremely unhealthy in anyone over 18 years old who doesn’t have a physical disability or a medical condition.

Now think a minute about babies and small children and how they are examples of total dependency. Babies and small children can do little to nothing for themselves. What do babies need? Obviously they need food and shelter and clean diapers. But children in orphanages or abusive homes who are given food, shelter and basic care still wither and die. Why? Because at a deeper level they need some sense of being emotionally safe and cared about.

So the basic internal questions a child needs to have answered are: “Am I safe?” “Am I loved?” and “Am I OK as a person?” If those questions aren’t answered satisfactorily in childhood (which they almost never are, since we live in a fallen world), then the child develops an imprint of, “I’m not safe, I’m not loveable, and I’m not OK as a person.” Because of that imprint, he or she may spend a lifetime looking to people, organizations, or a certain set of conditions as external confirmations of safety, loveableness, and OKness. People whose internal childhood questions weren’t answered satisfactorily will still continue to act like babies even as adults, and will look outside themselves for validations of their security and self-worth.

Another worthwile link is Jean Leidloff's site Although their is nothing inparticular on 'dependency' her ideas are very much around meeting the needs of your babies/children. One example is breastfeeding for as long as a child wishes - for food or comfort. The world average age of weaning (child lead) is 4-5 years! Anyway, that's all I have to offer. Look forward to more opinions. Cheers. Anna :)