If you are a mum, a step-mum, foster-mum, a grandmother, or a mother-figure, I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day. I was certainly spoilt by my beautiful boys, who both made me a present, and my husband even though I’m not his mother (he sent his mum a gift too).

This year I asked my children not to get me anything from the Mother’s Day stall at their school. A time honoured school tradition (who hasn’t spent a dollar at the Mother’s Day stall growing up), it wasn’t something I had initially worried too much about. But, then I volunteered to work on the Mother’s and Father’s Day stalls one year, and I was really unhappy about the hard sell put on kids, the emphasis on buying as much as you possibly could, and the values that they were being taught. This, coupled with my own bugbear about transparency (what are they actually fundraising for?), cemented my decision. But, not without consequences.

One little girl in B1’s class told him he was selfish for not buying anything from the stall for me. He didn’t tell me this, and actually I only found out because I overheard my husband telling my dad about it. Naturally this hurt his feelings. No one wants to be thought of as selfish, and honestly B1 is one of the least selfish people I know. Fortunately, he was able to talk things through with his dad, and when I knew what had happened I reinforced how proud of him I was for his open heart and his generosity. In the end, this situation was a good lesson for both of us.

For him, it was a lesson that people will sometimes make judgements about you without knowing the whole story, and that this can be painful and annoying, but in the end you need to stand by your truth – in his case it was that his mum had told him not to buy anything, but for another child it may have been financially impossible to buy anything.

For me it was a reminder that my stance on things can, and does, affect my children – and so I better be damn sure that I have a good reason for taking the stand I do. In this case I feel comfortable with my decision, and the way my son was able to handle it with our support, but I recognise that it’s never easy for kids to feel like the odd one out.

How do you help your child or student when they’re the odd one out?

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