Lettie Belle

Lettie Belle
The world of a designer and Mummy.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Parenting Advice from the 1970s

Yesterday my Mum gave me a book entitled 'Mother's Help' by Susan Dickinson. She borrowed it from the local library in 1982 (shakes head in disbelief), and thought it might have some good advice regarding activities for little ones. After getting over my disappointment that it isn't a recipe book of gin based cocktails, I've had a little look, and it may be my new bible! Since the chucking Gina Ford's rag in the bin incident following Scarlett's birth, I haven't sought out any parenting books, asking people I know for advice instead. This book seems to focus practical advice about throwing parties, building toys and such, but also why children need to dress up and pretend to be someone else, or how they cope with something which is frightening.

 I love the fact that this book was first published in 1972, (and obviously the internet didn't exist then, so less distractions) however, the core way our children play and the importance of story time is a concept which has lasted. I'm looking forward to discovering what the book can teach me. Now that Scarlett has started reception,  I am interacting with a lot more parents. It's hard sometimes to stick to your parenting methods, now that they are starting to go to other people's houses for tea. We all have such different views on food, after school activities, TV and the abilities of our children. I'm fairly relaxed about certain things, but find it nerve racking if a stricter parent comes with their child, as though I may be judged. Funnily enough, the parents I've recently become friends with, or who I've been friends with for years have similar views to me.

I thought I might post extracts every now and then. Aesthetically I love this book as the illustrations are by Shirley Hughes, who wrote the 'Alfie' books. My Mum read these to me when I was little, and we read them with Scarlett now. The illustrations just transport me back to the 1980s, I always thought my Mum looked like Alfie's Mum, I think it was the perm!

The first chapter is Dressing Up and Let's Pretend.

 "The need to absorb experience through the senses
  Children can only learn through 'doing' and they need opportunities to learn through their eyes, noses, ears mouths, skin and muscles. All these memories are made stronger by the emotions that accompany them at the time of learning, such as pleasure, pain, fear, wonder or amusement."

"The need to discover what it feels like to be someone else
At this stage of play children still enjoy colour and texture, but their chief concern is to feel what it is not to be themselves but to be someone else. It seems as though children feel intuitively that if they dress up like a mother, and do the things she does, then they will feel what it is like to be a mother."

I like the way this book looks at play from the point of view of how the child feels, and looks at sensory experience within that

. I think as humans we never lose the need to discover what it feels like to be someone else, but maybe express it subconsciously as adults. Do we put on 'dressing up attire' when we apply make up, or show different sides of our personality at work to home or with friends to strangers. All coping mechanisms for life I guess!

I'm looking forward to reading more. Next time, the chapter 'ElectronicToys', Sub headings include 'Tape recorders', 'Records and record players' and 'Cassettes'. The technology is very different to now, but again, the concerns and views are reflected today. Tune in for the next installment.......