CHRISTINE M. KNIGHT

An Australian author who provides insight into the human condition.

Author Christine M Knight's Blog

Monday, August 17, 2015

Do socio-political interests obscure what's best for children?

Topic Summary

Perhaps you’ve noticed it in your Facebook or Twitter feeds – those people who always point out the political side of an issue. You might also have noticed that while these social media friends are great at pointing out the flaws from someone else’s point of view, they are suspiciously blind, deaf and dumb about criticism toward their views, even when the same kind of criticism is appropriate.

While we may chalk up this double standard to human nature, the tragedy in this dynamic involves more than mere ignorance; it can include children too. In recent decades, feminists and others seeking to have children without traditional family structure have argued that, with sperm donors and surrogacy, men have become redundant. Similarly, there are lobby groups arguing that women are equally redundant and that all that is needed is a loving parent. Also other lobby groups are promoting the myth that having children is a right.

Discussion
Does anyone have ‘a right to have a child’?

Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement. In the late 20th century and definitely in this century, it has become common practice for lobby groups to claim a desire for something is a right and argue that the two are synonymous when they are not.

No one has a right to have a child, but people have a natural and understandable desire to have children. Historically, the only people who could have children were those couples who were able to procreate. I’m sure readers are aware that not all of those people capable of procreating should have had children. Since the advent of IVF and surrogacy, the number of people capable of having children has increased. People who have to go the extra hard yards involved in 'having'  a child demonstrate a high level of commitment to forming a family. But is that enough?

Is this discussion – what’s sufficient to raise kids – more about the narcissism of adults/would-be parents?

No, it is not automatically about narcissism, but perhaps it is about an unchallenged view that has been handed down over the generations. Remember the saying ‘Children should be seen and not heard’ – that saying encapsulates an adult perspective only - the desire to have a child. That perspective becomes narcissism when adults talk about children as if they are coloring books or mini versions of themselves with identical needs – clones. It ignores any consideration of what a child may want in terms of parents. In the current lobbying by special interest groups, children are lost in the mix. 

The purpose of my dialogue in radio interviews is to bring audience focus to children and their needs.

What is needed to raise children?

Just to be clear, when we’re talking about raising a child we are referring to the conscious decisions involved in bringing a child up rather than a child growing up without adult direction and input.

Raising a child goes beyond the provision of the basics such as love, shelter, food, clothing and education. A focus on the welfare of the child and her/his needs has always been crucial and is even more so  in the 21st century given we live in an increasingly challenging world.

You know that saying ‘It takes a community to raise a child? It’s so true. Whether that community is extended family, friends, supportive neighbours or single parent groups, it doesn’t matter as long as there is tag team approach to support parents as they wrestle with the issues of life and parenting. A tag team approach is important as it provides opportunities for parents to have respite from the daily, at times grinding, stresses of parenting. Respite enables all parents to retain perspective and to recharge emotional and psychological batteries. Respite is crucial to reducing depression in adults and in contributing to healthy emotional growth in children.

It also takes a community to raise a child because adults through their actions and interactions role model the various ways a person can be a woman or a man.  They also model how people respond to the stressors in their lives - successfully and unsuccessfully. Children are discerning. They will often pick the behaviour that they see works. It is really important to talk about reactions to stress and what truly works and what only appears to work at the surface level.

Depending on your parental circumstance, you need to be aware of the stressors that your child may face due to your family structure, and you need to anticipate those stresses and have strategies in place to deal with them before they arise. Forewarned is forearmed. Ideally, you need to lay down the positive ground work that can defuse the impact of such situations before they arise.

There’s extensive research now that shows the variables that impact on children increase as the parental circumstance varies away from the traditional mother and father household. Single parents are a good example of the added stresses and challenges that a child has to navigate as well as the added challenges and pressures that the parent has to face and resolve. Similarly there are lobby groups in 2015 populated by children from same sex partnerships that reveal the challenges that children (irrespective of the child's sexuality) face in such family structures. Those challenges have less to do with the child's relationships with lesbian/gay parents (often reported as harmonious, warm, and caring) and more to do with backlash that the children faced in the brutal world of the playground.

Be aware that the world in which our children live and mix  - at school and socially – is not one governed by political correctness. In the playground, children reflect the unguarded voiced views that parents express in the privacy of their homes. Think back to your own childhood. So the more a family structure varies from the traditional structure, the more challenges the child faces and the greater need for thoughtful adult intervention and support. Parents need to be aware of this and not be deceived by the myth that all they need to do is provide a loving home environment. Of course that is important but in itself it’s not enough. Children are not colouring books in which you impose your own coloured values.

Whether you like it or not, children learn that it takes a woman and a man to create a child. That knowledge sets up an expectation in children that they will have a parent of each gender. There’s extensive research to show that children separated from biological parents for whatever reason often feel driven to connect to and seek them out in adult years. Readers will be aware that even adopted children with fantastic adopted parents want to know their biological parents and often seek to forge some sort of bond with them.

Children also want what they perceive others to have and that they believe they should have. They don't want to be different even when they are in a loving non traditional supportive family structure. I explore this through Dan Mills' and Zoey Blake's subplots in both LIFE SONG and SONG BIRD.

Historically and for generations, there have been plenty of non-traditional family structures for a variety of reasons. For example, children raised by loving aunts or uncles or grandparents. What’s needed to raise healthy children is AWARENESS of the child’s needs from the child’s perspective and a willingness to address them to the child’s satisfaction. Good parenting involves achieving your happiness without it being at the expense of your child's happiness and well-being.

I’ve researched this subject matter extensively before writing LIFE SONG (https://youtu.be/dEioHGbnWiA) and SONG BIRD (https://youtu.be/x-vNrsKCYUY). In a subplot in those novels, this subject is explored from the different children's perspectives and from different family structures. When you read those novels, think about Dan, Zoey, Kate, and Shaun's views on this topic.  Irrespective of the family structure, diverse role models are important as children learn how to interact and function with both genders through observation and experience. Children need to know there isn’t one mold and that diversity is acceptable.

It is absurd to claim, as many lobby groups have, that either gender is redundant. Women and men play important roles in children's lives beyond the role of procreation. Children and teenagers learn about life through observing and modeling the behaviour of  others. Children and teens learn how to interact in a variety of settings and how to form relationships by observing people and seeing the reaction to behaviour. They learn how to form relationships with people from both genders, preferably functional ones, from observing the adults in their world. Children identify what is acceptable or unacceptable, what creates popularity or makes them a target. Research shows that children learn a huge amount about adults in conflict but need to learn more about how to constructively function and form relationships with a diverse range of people as well as how to successfully resolve conflict. 

It’s important that parents remember the perspective of a child when they are dealing with situations that stress the parents. Children absorb parental stress even if the adult thinks it is hidden. Children read you. It’s hard I know, but irrespective of whatever you’re going through, the child’s needs have to be addressed as well especially so when the stress stems from the family structure. The unknown frightens children. It destabilizes them. So too does isolation from parents. Providing comfort to a child who is in conflict with a parent is not taking sides in an argument when that comfort assists the child to reconnect to the parent and resolve conflict.

When those stresses arise from conflict with your child, it is important to remember how you felt when you were a child and in conflict with your parent. Why? It re-frames your perspective and generates compassion. You see the conflict from both perspectives. That compassion can defuse the heat in conflict and get you to healthy resolutions faster.

Parents have so many distractions and demands on them nowadays that it’s easy for them to define their children’s needs from the parent’s perspective and forget that the children’s perspective on what they need from parents and extended family may be very different.

I’m not saying children should be placed at the centre of the parental universe and that parents should be subordinate to it. Such behaviour fosters the growth of narcissism. What is important is the continual effort to find a balance between competing needs and maintaining an ongoing dialogue with children about choices that affect family members and the consequences. The act of considering consequences and dialoguing about them with your children is what matters when raising children. It develops understanding. It role models critical thinking processes. When things don’t work out, it is crucial to openly dialogue about why.

In IN AND OUT OF STEP, my debut novel which is confronting at times, I explore the way parent role models and childhood experiences shape life behaviours and goals. Both Cassie Sleight (the central character ) and Mavis Mill's lives and the choices they make are directly impacted by the role models with far reaching consequences. Consider the dance video and how this subject is embedded in the choreography https://youtu.be/5HdLfeX6d78

So irrespective of family structure, adults who come into contact with children need to be aware that through action and lifestyle we are teaching children about how to function in life. We need to demonstrate a range of positive roles – how to be assertive rather than aggressive, how to be flexible and resilient rather than defeatist or a victim and so on. Importantly, we need to consider, scrutinize, and discuss with them the values actively and passively modeled by the world at large.

Another thing for parents to consider when raising children is the inter-generational transmission of attachment styles. Within the context of this discussion, attachment refers to bonds between parents and children. Research shows that people who received sensitive and well-balanced care as children find it easier to form secure attachments in adulthood. By contrast, people who received insensitive and indifferent parenting in childhood have greater difficulty in forming positive and secure adult relationships.That is not to say the latter can't form positive and secure relationships. They can, but it requires thoughtful behaviour, introspection, and a desire to be a better version of 'self' in all arenas. It is important to avoid the mentality of it never harmed me. It is also important to avoid being a helicopter parent who denies the child opportunities to play, explore, risk take, and experience the world within safe parameters.

Importantly, parents and adults who come into contact with children and teens need to model resilience. Getting back up again after life experiences have knocked you down is as important as providing a loving home environment. Raising strong children is not about wrapping them in cotton wool and isolating them from the world. Rather it is about demonstrating resilience when hardships occur and showing children how we recover from hardship and learn from it. We need to show children that we don't have to be defined by the circumstance that we are born into or that our choices have created, but that we can rise above those circumstances and become  who we were meant to be. This message is central to the plot of  'Life Song' and its sequel 'Song Bird', available through Book Depository, Amazon, Powells, Barnes and Noble, and other major sellers.

How would you categorize the socio-political biases involved in this discussion?

It’s Life viewed through a lobby group’s lens, isn’t it?  It’s a very narrow view driven by lobby groups’ desires rather than anyone’s rights. It is an approach of self-interest. Self-interest can become narcissism and ultimately results in injury to others. 

I have concerns about any lobby group that reduces complex and important issues to a bumper sticker approach to it. That approach denies the perspectives of the multiple interests groups affected by an issue. That denial can result in injury to those groups denied a voice or an advocate. Some elements of those socio-political groups even resort to -ism statements and other derogatory terms to shut down objective discussion.

Does this criticism extend to “modern families,” which include parents from the LGBT community?

Good parenting is not shaped by or determined by anyone’s sexuality. 

I’m not passing a negative judgment on anyone which is what is implied by the word criticism. Rather, I’m initiating a discussion on issues about raising children and good parenting. My message is the same regardless of your audience’s sexuality and family structure.

People in the LGBT community know all too well the challenges and hurt they suffered as they grew up. If anything, their childhood has informed them of issues that may arise due to sexuality that they need to address when raising their own children. Those issues may arise irrespective of their children’s sexuality. Parents from that community need to be prepared to deal with the hurt that may arise as a result of their non traditional family structure. So too do the parents of parents from the LGBT community. Readers may remember Robin Williams' 'Bird Cage' which sensitively explores some of these issues. The hurt goes two ways.

Good parenting is determined by the parents’ commitment and willingness to consider the needs of children and a willingness to weigh up parental and children's needs and seek balance.
As I said before, the more your family structure differs from the traditional model, the more variables are introduced and the more strategies you need when raising your children. Don't make the mistake of parenting by remote control. By that I mean unthinkingly repeating parent and adult behaviours that you observed as a child. Be discerning. Select from the battery of positive strategies and avoid repeating negative parental behaviours that you learned from your parents. When you react unthinkingly in any situation with children, discuss your reaction and the consequences with the children concerned and discuss other ways the situation could have played out.

The key to raising a healthy child is to help your child feel competent and confident as she or he navigates life, its stresses and its challenges. Teach your children resilience by focusing them on the positive things in life when they are dealing with hardship. Provide them strategies to deal with hardship and strife. Be positive that life can get better. Encourage them to be mindful of the way they live life and of the values that underpin the way we live. Foster empathy. Teach them to forgive themselves when they make significant life mistakes, to learn from those mistakes, and to move onto better days. Be involved in your children's lives; you only have them for a short time and that time passes all too quickly.

© Christine M Knight

All of Christine M Knight's novels are available on order through major book stores and online sellers. Her paperback novels RRP: A$24.99 and her eBooks RRP: A$11.99.




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The Month's Posts


LATEST BLOG POSTS

    Sunday, June 25, 2017

    The story behind my song 'The Flame'

    Sunday, June 25, 2017


    'The Flame' features in my novel ‘Song Bird’. In the novel, it is sung by rock legend Rick Brody who serenades Nikki Mills (the central character in the novel). In real life, it was sung by Funnie Williams and Thanapat Yarchartoen (aka Film). I produced the song through Karma Sound Studios in Thailand.

    BACKSTORY TO 'THE FLAME' - The Singer or the Song?

    In ‘Song Bird’ and its prequel 'Life Song', Nikki Mills - the Girl from Oz - is a survivor of domestic violence. Once an innocent, she believed the very convincing serenade of her first significant love. Long before Nikki met Rick, his song 'The Flame' resonated with Nikki.

    Flattered by Rick's interest in her and impressed by 'The Flame', Nikki embarks on a relationship with Brody.  A subplot in the novel explores the ramifications of that decision. Can she help Rick find the heart that his music once had? Does the singer really represent the ideas and values of the songs he sings? Will the relationship with him injury Nikki?

    Readers of this blog may also find the pop rock song 'Masque' and interesting insight into Rick and Nikki's relationship issues.

    I currently have 8 songs on CD Baby and iTunes. You can help me raise the money to produce the rest of my songs by buying one or more of my songs at the very small price of $1.69 per song. They are on sale at CD Baby and  iTunes. Online music streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer promote my music, but I only earn approximately one cent per one hundred streams. 

    Read more

    Sunday, June 25, 2017

    The Story Behind Pop Rock Song 'Masque'

    Sunday, June 25, 2017

    'Masque' is a duet between charismatic rock star, Rick Brody, and singing sensation Nikki Mills (the Girl from Oz). They are fictional characters in my novel, ‘Song Bird’, which is on sale through Amazon, Book Depository, and other online booksellers as are my other novels' 'Life Song' and 'In and Out of Step' - in paperback and eBook formats.

    'Masque' features the vocal talents of Australians, Skye Elisabeth and Nic James. I am the composer and executive producer for all of my music. Although I am a musician, I no longer perform publicly but use talented session musicians.

    I use music as part of my writing process when developing a novel as it allows me to explore character perspectives, challenges, and personal journeys.

    My song ‘Masque’ evolved out of my exploration of Rick and Nikki’s relationship when developing 'Song Bird', the novel . The song helped me better understand rock legend Rick Brody, the impact of being a rock star on Rick's relationship with Nikki, and the core obstacles they faced. Rick Brody is one of four pivotal men in Nikki Mills' life.

    Wider Relevance
    The song has relevance for anyone who feels compelled to be what others expect the person to be rather than being true to self, something that is much easier said than done.

    'Masque' also has relevance for a diverse number of people. For instance, I play many roles: wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, author, musician and so on. I understand how the expectations and demands of others put me under pressure not to let others down. In trying not to short-change others, it was so easy to forget about who I was separate from those roles and what my being real meant.

    The context behind the song 'Masque'
    In ‘Song Bird’, Rick Brody is charismatic rock star who has been living the cliché - sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Like the Tinman from Oz, Rick is injured by his trade. For the Tinman, it was his axe. For Rick Brody, it was his status as a rock star and image of 'bad boy’. He became defined by those roles. Life became a masquerade.

    In both cases, the Timan and Rick become manufactured men in want of heart.  Rick’s preoccupation with living the cliché meant that his music lost its heart and the appeal that had drawn audiences to him as he rose to the pinnacle of the music industry.

    By contrast, Nikki refused to sell out in order to achieve success. She was determined to get to the top on her own terms and to not be treated as a commodity in the industry.

    At the Australian Recording Industry Awards, Rick asked his manager to connect him with Nikki after seeing her perform. Rick claimed his primary interest in Nikki was musical collaboration, but his libido and history of conquests shaped his reason for collaborating with her and definitely shaped the way he interacted with her.

    Although Nikki pretended not to be attracted to Rick, she was flattered that he was ‘interested in her of all people. Unlike his fans, Nikki did not have an urge to flash her breasts, hand over her panties, or suggest a threesome.’  She maintained a mask of cool indifference and stayed work-focused throughout the early stages of their musical relationship. Consequently, Rick viewed Nikki as a challenge. Committed to the long game in winning her, he courted.

    A survivor of domestic violence, Nikki was cautious about the men with whom she mixed.  ‘Song Bird’ explores the ripple effect of her decision to work with Rick. Can she help Rick find the heart that his music once had? Can he become real with her? Will Nikki’s relationship with him injure her?

    You can read more about 'Song Bird' here and on other pages at my website.

    You can help me raise the money to produce the rest of my songs by buying one or more of my songs at the very small price of $1.69 per song. They are on sale at CD Baby and  iTunes. The online music streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer promote my music, but I only earn approximately one cent per one hundred streams. 

    Note: As the novels are set in Australia, I use the British spelling system and language conventions. There are minor differences to the American system.

    Read more

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

    The Story Behind the Country Rock Song 'Sunshine Days'

    Saturday, May 20, 2017

    'Sunshine Days' is the most recent of my songs to be released. It features Rachel Thorne (vocals) and Milo G (performer, arranger and producer). As with all of my music, I am the composer and executive producer. Although I am a musician, I no longer perform publicly but use talented session musicians.

    I use music as part of my writing process when developing a novel as it allows me to explore character perspectives, challenges, and personal journeys.

    'Sunshine Days' is an intimate song of disillusion, longing, and hope that is relevant to world-shaking events that generate fear as well as being a song about personal moments of disillusion, loss, and pain. Although the singer feels oppressed by her current circumstance, she does not seek escape into a fantasy land. She recognizes that life - past and future - had and can have golden moments even though the present is tainted by disillusion, isolation, and the pain associated with loss.  The song is about facing reality and committing to reclaiming what has been lost.

    'Sunshine Days' features in chapter 1 of my novel ’Life Song' and later in its sequel, 'Song Bird'.

    Initially, it is sung by Mavis Mills (aka Nikki Mills – the girl from Oz). My songs 'Life Song' and 'Sunshine Days' provide the backstory for Mavis' choices and the motivation underpinning her narrative journey. She chooses to boldly travel down the road less traveled and is determined not to let trouble get the best of her. Easier said than done though.


    Although music and a career in the music industry function as a portal into a better life for Mavis and her son, Dan, it also adds complexity to Mavis' life as she works to balance her personal needs and the demands she faces as a single parent.

    When 'Sunshine Days' recurs in 'Song Bird', it is sung by Zoey Blake (a secondary character), the illegitimate daughter of Susie Blake and Max Ryan (rock musicians). Susie and Max had a passionate relationship until Susie fell pregnant. While Max supported Susie's right to choose abortion, he opposed her choice to have a baby. As a result, the couple broke up.

    Zoey sings 'Sunshine Days' in her late teens. Having lost the innocence of her childhood and confronted by the knowledge that her biological father did not want her, Zoey struggles with her loss of innocent hope.  In that context, 'Sunshine Days' is a turning point in Zoey's personal journey.

    OVERVIEW OF MY NOVEL ‘LIFE SONG’
    My novel 'Life Song' picks up Mavis' story six years after the end of 'In and Out of Step' in which Mavis was a significant secondary character. 

    There are many harrowing stories of violence against women but a lesser number of stories address how some women rise above the trauma and move on in life. 'Life Song' does the latter.

    A character-driven novel, 'Life Song' explores the choices Mavis Mills makes as she balances competing demands and responsibilities with her desire to find an identity beyond motherhood. A survivor of domestic violence, Mavis discovers unexpectedly that she has a choice: accept her life as it is or try to rise above her circumstance, realize her potential, and make her nearly forgotten dreams become true.

    The novel does not focus on the abuse – that is in the backstory - it traces the ramifications of it as Mavis strives to put her past behind her. The novel's uplifting plot is very much about the woman that Mavis becomes and the influences that shape her rather than being a novel about a ‘chic-musician on the road to fame story’.

    In terms of its appeal, readers agree 'Life Song' is a blend of wry humour and vivid storytelling. The general feedback from readers is that the characters are memorable and inhabit the imagination long after the reading of the novel is finished.

    OVERVIEW OF MY NOVEL ’SONG BIRD’
    In 'Song Bird', Nikki (aka Mavis) has become an international singing sensation - the Girl from Oz. Determined not to be caged by the media circus, she travels down the golden road through a land of glitter and gloss, facing challenges on the way while struggling to leave the demons from her past behind. In ‘Song Bird’, Nikki continues to grow into the woman she wants to be, not the one others expect her to be. She forges ahead with the support of men, not because of them. 

     

    ONLINE SITES WHERE YOU CAN BUY THE SONG
    You can help me raise the money to produce the rest of my songs by buying one or more of my songs at the very small price of $1.69 per song. They are on sale at CD Baby and  iTunes. Online music streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer promote my music, but I only earn about one cent per one hundred plays. 

    Read more

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NEWS

  • 'Garysong' and 'The Real deal' in production

    08-Jul-2017

    Christine has two more songs in production: 'Garysong' and 'The Real Deal'. More updates in the near future...
  • Avastar runs Lauren Scott's interview with Christine M Knight

    23-Jun-2017

    A USA East Coast press syndicate, Avastar Entertainment Network ran Lauren Scott's interview with Christine M Knight recently. Here is the link (http://www.avastar.tv/features/ChristineMKnight1.html)...
  • 'Masque' hits the rock charts

    23-Jun-2017

    Berkshire Media Group recently collated its Rock Chart data for May 2017. Christine's song, 'Masque', hit the #1 position on their charts and held it for May 2017. In Australia, the Internet radio ..

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