The UN proclaimed the first of June as Parents’ Day;
“To appreciate all parents in all parts of the world for their selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship“.
We celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day, but did you know that there is such a thing as Global Parents’ Day?
Throughout our lives we go through different stages of appreciation towards our parents – from being completely dependent on and devoted to them when we’re babies, to (usually) having a turbulent relationship with them when we’re in our teens, to creating a bond of respect and love when we’re adults.
Being a parent takes its toll. We hear it said so many times:
“when you become a parent you’ll never be worry-free again.”
The love a parent has for their child is limitless and unconditional, which, by definition, is the meaning of love. However, nobody is an island and children often grow up in a circle of many “parental figures” like, for example, their grandparents, who often play a huge role in their upbringing.
However, in today’s modern society, we also have another figure who is becoming more and more present: the stepparent. Divorce and remarriage is much more common now than ever before, which leads to the emergence of more and more blended families.
“It takes a Village to raise a child”
We’ve all heard this saying, but do we really understand what it means? It seems that nowadays, this is more and more accurate as the ‘norm’ for families changes. Today feels like the perfect day to show appreciation for all of our parents and parental figures!
“It Takes a Village”
“It takes a village to raise a child” – African proverb
This saying is in fact an African proverb, as many African cultures believe that parenting is something that should be shared among the entire family. This includes not only the parents, but everybody that’s involved in the child’s life.
Back when our parents and grandparents were children, their family lives probably looked quite different. Families tended to be much bigger and lived closer together, plus villages were much more of a community than they are today. This closeness was a huge comfort for many families, and an incredible help. Having other family members involved in bringing your children up is not only super beneficial for their social skills, it’s an enormous help for the parents too. Having aunts, uncles, even cousins helping out when you need it is worth more than gold. Author Katharine Hill, a former solicitor specializing in family law and the Director of ‘Care for the Family’ charity in the UK, stresses how important it is that a child is indeed raised by a village.
She explains the following: “In our society, over the last fifty years, family life has changed immensely. Geographical distance, family breakdown, multiple caring responsibilities, and the long-hours culture have all contributed to there being less connectedness between extended families. Isolation and loneliness are increasingly the hallmarks of our society – not just for the elderly, but for many younger people as well. Half a century ago, if a young mum had a baby who wouldn’t sleep, if a newly-married couple had the row of the century, or a child needed advice with a school project, there would most likely have been a grandparent, an uncle, an aunt or a cousin just down the road who would be able to give much-needed reassurance, advice and support. But today many are parenting without family or even friends nearby, and we are the poorer for it.”
“Half a century ago, if a young mum had a baby who wouldn’t sleep, if a newly-married couple had the row of a century, or a child needed advice with a school project, there would most likely have been a grandparent, an uncle, an aunt or a cousin just down the road who would be able to give much-needed reassurance, advice and support” Katharine Hill “If You Forget Everything Else – Remember This”
She continues by explaining that if you don’t have any extended family, or live very far away from them, you can look for friends or people in your community. Or sometimes, you’re provided with a “bonus family” that at first might seem quite daunting but can be as much of a blessing as blood relatives are.
Blended or Bonus families
A blended family- two families forming one- can be a true blessing for all involved
Even though divorce rates are decreasing in the US, it’s only natural that people still get divorced and remarry or find a new life partner. Often, when people remarry they have children from a previous relationship, and by coming together create a new “bonus” (or blended) family.
This also means that those children will have a third or fourth “parental” figure in their lives, especially when they’re still young. Sometimes, this can be difficult to adjust to, and can lead to feelings of jealousy and hostility between the biological parents and the stepparents who are now in their children’s lives.
However, when families can learn to coexist in harmony there are a lot of benefits. And not only for the children – also for the parents. Take a look at the video below. It’s a perfect example of how beneficial blended families can be – for everyone involved!
In a way, these blended families are substituting the “village” our parents and grandparents had, back when their extended families were more involved in their upbringing. Either way, parents are giving their children a wonderful gift: more people to love, more people to care for, more joy and support during the rough times. And we can all use a little bit more of that.
Parents are the anchor of families
Grandparents are often parental figures to their grandchildren
Life can be difficult, and sometimes might not work out the way you thought it would, but having extra people to love is a blessing and a silver lining to what can be a sad and difficult situation. So how can we give thanks to all of our parental figures without stepping on anyone’s toes or hurting people’s feelings?
How can we give thanks?
It doesn’t matter if your parental figure is your biological mother or father, your stepparent or even a grandparent who you see as a parental figure. All of these people deserve our love and thanks.
We have looked for ideas on how to say thanks for all the selflessness and dedication our parents or “villages” give without asking for anything in return. It is clear that their dedication is definitely not given on the basis of material gifts, because what could you possibly find that represents the kind of love they feel for us? Even when we ourselves are all grown-up and with children of our own?
Laura Trice M.D explains how important it is that we hear “thank you” from our loved ones. These words are powerful – we don’t call them “the magic words” for nothing! Dr Laura Trice explains that people won’t say that they’d like to receive thanks for something they’ve done, and when it comes to our parents or stepparents they certainly don’t love us just so that we can thank them for it! That’s what makes it even more powerful when we do take the time to thank them.
So, remember to say thank you and really mean it. Take them into your arms, go spend time together. There will come a day when they’ll need you more than you’ll need them. It’s the circle of life, so make sure they know how much they mean to you. We think that today of all days is the perfect day to do so!
Hill, Katharine. 2015. If you forget everything else ISBN: 978-1-910012-25-3