BE­HIND

Parenting - - Hot Tips -

I loved hang­ing out at my mates’ houses when I was a teenager. You could de­mol­ish a whole pack of Tim Tams if they were gen­er­ous and you got a raw in­sight into why your friends were the way they were. When you see some­one’s home en­vi­ron­ment and meet their fam­i­lies, a lot of things just start mak­ing sense. Ev­ery fam­ily has a dif­fer­ent way of set­ting the ta­ble, dif­fer­ent opin­ion on who chooses the chan­nel, and wildly dif­fer­ent rules for back­yard cricket. Here are some of the awe­some ways I saw my mates’ par­ents han­dle their unique home sit­u­a­tions.

Scotty

Scott was my neigh­bour and we got up to lots of mis­chief to­gether when we were young. I had never met some­one as naughty as him be­fore. He wasn’t just get­ting into trou­ble for be­ing dis­rup­tive in class ei­ther – one time he got sus­pended from school for hit­ting an­other stu­dent with a bat. I re­mem­ber when I first met Scott’s fam­ily. He lived with his mum and he had older sis­ters. His mum was an ab­so­lute leg­end rais­ing all these kids on her own. When we were about 10 years old, she wanted to get Scott in­volved in a team at­mos­phere with good role mod­els. Scott hated sports – un­less it was hit­ting peo­ple with bats. Although he wasn’t a sporty guy she found a great al­ter­na­tive. One day she took us both to scouts. Scott loved it so much and he was re­ally good at it. He could tie so many dif­fi­cult knots – even the ‘mon­key fist’. (You should Google it – it's a crazy hard knot.) At scouts he was men­tored by some great lead­ers who helped guide him through some of those tough ado­les­cent years. It re­ally is true that it takes a vil­lage to raise a child. The en­vi­ron­ment at scouts made a huge dif­fer­ence to Scott’s be­hav­iour at school. His mum was a ge­nius for get­ting him con­nected in the com­mu­nity. What I no­ticed is that if you do it all by your­self you can do an okay job, but when you rely on the vil­lage, it makes a hard job that much eas­ier.

Hil­lary

Hil­lary and I were in high school when we first started hang­ing out. She was re­ally pas­sion­ate about Māori stud­ies, ka­pa­haka and she was flu­ent in Te Reo Māori. What re­ally caught me off guard was go­ing to her house and meet­ing her mum for the first time. Hi­lary’s mum is Pakeha. Hi­lary is Māori on her dad’s side, but she didn't get to see him much be­cause he lived in a to­tally dif­fer­ent part of the coun­try. Her mum did an in­cred­i­ble job of sup­port­ing her to learn about her unique cul­tural iden­tity on both sides of the whanau. I no­ticed that Hi­lary had a clear idea of where she was go­ing be­cause she knew where she had come from. She had strong con­nec­tions to her her­itage on both her mum and dad’s sides, even though her par­ents didn’t get on that well. I had a whole lot of re­spect for the way Hi­lary’s mum re­mem­bered the good things about Hil­lary's dad, not just the bad things.

Tim

I first met Tim at pri­mary school. We had a bark war in the play­ground and that sealed our friend­ship. We were good mates, even though he went through a lot of change over the years. When we were young, his step­dad was in­cred­i­bly strict and Tim would sneak around a lot and hide things he thought he would get in trou­ble for.

An­other man moved in with his fam­ily when we were both in in­ter­me­di­ate. The old step­dad was gone and this new guy was the com­plete op­po­site style of par­ent – he had no rules or bound­aries at all. It wasn’t that he didn’t care, be­cause he ob­vi­ously did. I no­ticed that be­cause Tim didn’t have any rules at home, he didn’t obey rules any­where. I re­mem­ber he got into trou­ble with the po­lice for not wear­ing a bike hel­met and couldn’t un­der­stand why he was even in trou­ble.

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