As parents, as foster carers, as residential child care workers, as teachers, as social workers, as nursery carers, as counsellors as any old kind of adult who has a care for her or his community, we have a concern for the way our children are raised. After all most of us love children, particularly our own, don’t we ?
It is easy to forget about love in the maelstrom of conflicting and contesting forces (operated by people who seem to live in a different world from the one we inhabit) doing battle over the way they intend us to bring up our children. And so we are constantly badgered by government ministers, by bodies like that great harbinger of doom the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and by experts called on by radio or television to give background noise about the latest dubious or spurious research study findings. Mostly these research findings – at least the ones reported in the media – conclude that we have failed our children. Even more bizarrely a number suggest our children and their teachers are threatening the very fabric of our nation because our children are failing to compete strongly as future financial commodities. Apparently they are not as educationally advanced as children from North Korea or Shanghai. Without hint of irony we can feel genuinely pleased about the success of the children of South Korea and Shanghai but they live in a community which has a different culture to ours and just as they have found their way of dealing with these things, so should we find ours. As the inheritors of the questionable legacy of “empire” perhaps this is something we in the United Kingdom should already understand. On the other hand it is something of a wonder – given the frequent dire predictions of a decline into innumeracy and illiteracy given over more than five decades by bodies like the OECD – that there are any literate and numerate persons left in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and England.
These matters have no bearing on, and have little to do with, what really matters in our everyday life.
A young man in his early 30s, working hard in a poorly paid job, who is, along with his partner, struggling to hold his family together says, ‘the best thing in my life is when I come home from work and my little girl shouts, “Daddy’s home !”’Surely this tells us about what is dear to us. In so few words a little girl encapsulates a loving relationship. By Nelson Mandela’s measure this Daddy was treating his child well. His soul was good.
Loving relationships were at the core of the work of Clare and Donald Winnicott whose influence on our understanding of childhood and the bringing up of children is a theme, though not an exclusive one, of this issue of the goodenoughcaring Journal. The Winnicotts were a gentle, kind, yet joyful and alive couple but they knew and engaged with the realities of the poor and the troubled. They were generous in their efforts for others and though to their regret they did not have children of their own they helped many parents to bring up their children well enough and helped those who looked after children who could not be with their families.
Our authors in this issue, Luci Ashbourne, Kevin Ball,John Burton, Cynthia Cross, Charles Dickens, John Fallowfield Joel Kanter,Kiaras Gharabaghi, Sara Jane Kirkwood, Bob Royston, Mark Smith, John Stein, Patrick Tomlinson, Jeanne Warren, Charlotte Witheridge and Charles Sharpe through their writing communicate kindness, concern, generosity, determination, emotion and not a little insight about children and childhood. Their different approaches may expose the tensions of these current confused times but their sincerity unites them.