Chapter 22 » 22.67

Parents and children

The needs of children

I am a product of multi-faceted parenting. I can boast about five parents and numerous other individuals and institutions that shaped me throughout my childhood and adolescence. As an adult approaching thirty I am only just beginning to recognise the riches of my experience, the pain and the joys. I long to talk to and read of others who have not been products of a nuclear family. We need to develop ways of supporting each other towards an understanding and acceptance of a chaotic family history…

My time with my foster parents provided me with a crucial stability and predictability into which each of my parents descended periodically to take me out or to take me on holiday. I was very confused as to who were my real parents, at one point being convinced that my foster family were, and these visitors were imposters. I cannot look back on that time as happy. I increasingly recognise and remember that I was a very unhappy child full of powerful feelings of needs which I felt I could not express for fear of losing what security I did have. These feelings are only now beginning to surface in consciously identifiable ways.

So on to boarding school, which very much became my parent… I wonder if some of the teachers there realised the full power of their ‘parenting’ and shaping me as an individual. There the Quaker philosophies planted themselves firmly into my personality as guiding lights. I was led into Quaker activities such as workcamps and the Leaveners. These became a vital part of my parenting as I began to feel part of an extended family, with a coherence, loving acceptance and creativity that met many of my still undefined but strongly felt needs…

I recognise that my experiences are not unique, although the specific combination may be. What I want to do is to allow myself all the feelings and thoughts that I may have repressed, both negative and positive, so that I may celebrate and mourn my lack and my experience of parenting.

Caroline Jones, 1994

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