Little Thoughts

The Shame of Fish Fingers

Sad, but true, as well as Little Green Tree work today, I will work my way through a list of jobs that will include glamorous and delightful tasks like washing, ironing, bed changing, hoovering… You get the idea! I find that a sense of organisation helps me to feel better – tidy mind an’ all that. But it hasn’t always been like that.

I can honestly say that until our youngest was about 18 months, I had a pile of ironing hiding somewhere – generally, it was completed on a need – to – wear basis. It wasn’t ideal and while there were times I found it frustrating, the ages and stages of our little brood at the time meant that there wasn’t always the time to get everything cleared up and so, we adapted and it was absolutely fine. We all survived, much to my own surprise as much a son to anyone’s else’s, and we relaxed into that more ‘whenever’ kind of mindset! No one left the house naked (well, rarely anyway 😉) and regardless of the less than regimented home ‘routine’, we were none the worse of it.

Now though, I have to confess, being more organised is part of my sanity. And, our family circumstances allow me to achieve this – most of the time at least.

But, whether it’s been those times when my to do list has been buried under the hidden ironing pile, or when it’s all been neatly ticked off, a few things never changed: we have always cared for our children; we have always aimed to meet their needs and provide for them; and, while we have been far from ‘perfect’ parents, whatever that even is, we have loved them unconditionally, without question and with our every heartbeat.

This week, there has been much talk about the ‘article’ that sought to tear some mummies apart. Who don’t seem to ‘measure up’. Maybe you prepare everything that passes your child’s lips from scratch, gathering your own organic produce to do so. Or maybe, like a lot of us, the contents of your freezer has, at times, taken on a kind of heroic status. I can’t help but think, if the worst thing anyone ever did to their child was feed them fish fingers, wouldn’t this world be a very different place for some children? If there was fundraising for the NSPCFF (National Society Protecting Children from Fish Fingers) rather than the NSPCC, I reckon our concerns about child welfare would be very different.

We are so incredibly quick to pass judgement on others and sometimes, we are so focused only on what we see – or think we see –  right in front of us, that we don’t look at the bigger picture which that one snapshot is part of.

There is a lot of negative talk regarding social media and how dangerous it is and, in the interests of full disclosure, I have to hold my hands up and admit my own contribution to this at times. But, here’s what I’ve realised recently: social media itself isn’t the problem. It’s how we deal with it in our own lives and, how we use it.

I am sure there are moments when even the most severe critics have seen social media used for good. Or, when they’ve smiled at or been encouraged by something they’ve seen or read. When people are kind.

But then there are those ‘other’ moments. The ones when people have been hurt and upset, when nasty comments have been made and in an instant, words on a screen become weapons used to hurt and maim the one at whom they are aimed – even if they’ve never met the victim face to face.

When those wounds are inflicted, when the comments are made, the throwaway statements put out there for the world to see, the momentary response that can never be erased, what then, are we doing to our children? Are we telling them that it’s ok to attack and upset those you disagree with? That you have a right to voice your opinion, whatever that opinion, via whatever medium you choose, that words are there to be used and we all have a right to exercise free speech? That if we have something to say, then we should just say it? Regardless of the consequences.

There’s just one issue with this philosophy: someday, you or your children may well be on the receiving end of someone else’s ‘weapons’ of free speech. And when it’s your own wounds or those of a loved one that you’re tending, the healing process is much more painful.

I don’t believe there are two people on the planet who share exactly the same views on everything, nor two parents who do ‘parenting’ in exactly the same way. But, I do believe, very strongly, that those of us who truly love our children will want, wherever and whenever possible, to protect them from anything that would hurt or harm them. While so much in life divides us, the desire to protect those we love unites. So, instead of worrying about what frozen food they’ve been fed, let’s feed them with love, understanding and empathy. Let’s help them to understand that even though we won’t agree with others all the time, we don’t have to be cruel to each other. Perhaps Ronan Keating had the right idea; maybe there are times when the very best thing to say is ‘nothing at all’.


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