I have just returned from a lovely holiday in Zakynthos – a Greek island – with my family. As well as the beautiful scenery, crystal clear water and great food, one of the pleasures of the trip was the kindness of the local people. From our landlady to those working in restaurants and from the boat captain to those selling on market stalls, they were all incredibly polite, friendly and helpful – even when you said you couldn’t buy their boat trip ticket/ souvenir/ homemade olive oil! This positive way of being and relating to other people is deeply ingrained in their culture – passed down from generation to generation.
It made me think about culture and its effect on children. Even as babies we are picking it up – imprinting as ducks do. First of all, it’s the influence of family and friends and then the wider community. Every time we have an encounter we are learning about relationships- even more so in the first three years when the brain is growing so quickly. Are British children getting enough interactions and are they the right kind?
So many things get in the way of one-to-one interactions between babies and adults – screens, busy pace of life, high ratios in nurseries, decreased leisure time etc. If we could put as much effort into our relationships as we do into our work lives and our online lives, it would enrich our lives in a non-monetary way, especially those of our children. After all our experiences in the first three years of life have a huge impact on our futures – mentally, physically and emotionally. Greece may have economic issues right now but their society is rich socially and emotionally with strong values and an emphasis on relationships. And when you consider the long term positive outcomes those things will have on future generations, who’s to say it’s not more important?