Prior to pre-contact with the
Aboriginal population parenting was taught through grooming and
role modelling. It was very simplistic yet so harmonious and the
teachings came from all living forms, from the four legged
creatures to the ones that fly and from our Mother the Earth. They
lived in harmony with their environment.
Parenting was not left to chance in
the Aboriginal community prior to the arrival of the Europeans.
There was a well-defined system in place with customs, values, and
practices which were handed down from generation to generation,
parents and other care-takers nurtured, protected, and guided
Children were taught through role
modelling appropriate behaviour. Different tribes do things
differently, but each tribe have very positive values about
children that helped keep the group strong. Aboriginal people
believe in the circle and children are very much a part of the
circle and respected.
Children were seen as gifts from
the Creator. Due to children arriving from the spirit world,
they possessed a special wisdom that should be listened to.
Children were never talked down to and were treated with upmost
respect and honour.
Children were regarded as sacred
beings and the entire community played an active role in ensuring
the quality care of the child was adhered to. Extended families
played an active role in the child's rearing through helping the
family in any way they could. No one had the sole responsibility
for a child. Grandmothers and aunties kept a watchful eye to make
sure children were treated in a proper way. Children could be
corrected by anyone in the community, so the child care
responsibilities was everyone's job. The entire community was the
Traditional parenting was
characterized by patience and kindness. Relationships were very
important. Parents utilized cradle boards to keep the children
close to them. Name giving ceremonies was the first initiation to
the cultural rituals and rites of passage the child participated in
which were usually done at other ceremonies such as pow-wows.
Children were praised through the Elders words and eyes often
making prophecies about the child's positive future. All children
were breast-fed and weaned only when ready.
All the tribes had special songs
and stories that entertained and soothed the children which taught
about culture and respect.
Storytelling was one of the most
influential ways of teaching the children lessons of life. There
were told many different types of stories such as trickster stories
(coyote story) and legends. Most legends stress that one should not
be greedy, boastful or make fun of others, especially Elders and
children. The legends also encourage older children to watch and
help the younger and weaker children. Legends always taught the
right way of doing things.
Parenting traditionally is harder
because of the experience of the people and the way society is
today.. The expectations are not clear as they once were. The
entire lifestyle has shifted with the influences of the technology
and the complexity of our society. Each person's experience may be
different in the way people choose to parent today. However, the
traditions remain the same despite the changes.