It's a blessing, it's a life-changing experience, it is human evolution (in heart and in mind), but these days in Greece, parenting is in crisis. Traditionally, family has always been a precious value in Greece. Family bonds and ties have always been tight in my country, with love, nurturing and care being high in priorities. But these days, in the midst of an economic, political and social crisis, parenthood (and mostly motherhood) has become a struggle, a constant fight for survival.
It is the pressure of the economic crisis itself, it is the pressure from unemployment and it is also the often barbaric oppression on employees from companies and executives driven exclusively from economic values. A few days ago, I received an email from a pregnant mother in Athens, who was forced by her boss to face the dilemma of either abortion or unemployment. The moral and legal issues involved are obvious. But governmental care for families has been put down the row in priorities. Institutions and social agencies (disempowered themselves) are too slow to react.
No matter how encouraging and promising, it is sad to observe that parental care in Greece lies solely in the hands of citizens and volunteers, of mother groups and parent activists, on human networks that took over the responsibility to act for the protection of parents' and children's rights. It has become our own personal responsibility to protect family values, to create time for our families and a secure base for our children under the hardships of an invisible war.
Parents' groups, citizens' initiatives, non-profit organizations and volunteers in Greece are forming real-life and secure social networks with the aim to help parents and families. They have taken over the responsibility to work for the promotion of breastfeeding, for the women's right to choose and experience the birth they want, to be protected from the hospitalization of pregnancy and birth, in a country where two out of three births are (most often unnecessary) cesareans.
We are all parents who live in Greece. We are left alone to fight an undeclared war, not only on childhood but also on family values and on our personal well being. We live our everyday lives with all the frustration, the disappointment and the resentment these scary times bring. But, at the same time, we begin to look to one another for help. We make conscious efforts to face the reality through the eyes of our children, through their need for a future of promise and of opportunity.
We've made the conscious decision to reconnect with our dreams to stay intact. We are all embattled, to save the relationships within the family. We are all in arms (although not armed with knowledge) and determined to work for what's best for our children, whichever the circumstances. Mothers and fathers who cannot even afford the luxury to choose what kind of parents they want to be. Unemployed parents or purely paid but forced to work overtime, parents who rarely have the chance (not to mention the clear mind and light heart) to really talk and relate with their children.
Empowering parents, offering knowledge and support, is a life task to overtake selflessly, if we want to move from drift sand and troubled waters to the solid and secure ground of the relationship. Parents in Greece need all the encouragement they can get. They need simplicity, they need protection from all kind of economic and political terror and they need ordinary moments just to be with their children. Now more than ever, they need a village to raise their kids. A village that they re-create, from scratch.
Lambrini Stamati, Athens Greece
Lambrini is a Simplicity Parenting Counselor (www.goneisapla.gr) and the editor of the online parents' magazine 'To Photodentro' (meaning 'Tree of Light') (www.photodentro.gr). She works with parents and families towards their personal development and empowerment, offering information & knowledge.