It’s difficult to judge whether my parents got it right, but I know for sure that they did the best they could. Just like today, there were trends on how to parent that many swore by. Everyone has a different story to tell about how they were brought up.

I acknowledge that the parenting that I received was not unusual for the time in which I was brought up in. Did it influence the way I parent, or the person I am today, or what I do? I believe so.

My sister Naomi and I were born three years apart. Nay says it’s three and a half, and she’s right, but I like to think it’s closer to three because it means more to me. Let me try to explain why. Nay and I are the two younger children of four. There is quite a large gap between me and my older brother and sister, and Nay and I were always known as “the girls” and I hated it. Nay’s perception of this title may be a little different than mine, so bear with me Nay. You can write your own version of events, this one’s mine. I say this with a little sarcasm, as being “the girls” was not a pleasurable experience for me. Being the older sister of the second set of children of our family meant that I was not the baby and I was not the responsible oldest. I didn’t really have a distinct role to play in the family dynamics other than to play the role that Nay wanted to emulate—in my actions, my hobbies and my clothes. It wasn’t her fault, it’s just the way things were. But I hated her all the same.

I have had my fair share of family dysfunction, as have most people I know. I don’t know of many who have come out of childhood totally unscathed. It’s all relative, I’m sure, and I’m not making light of dysfunctional families or childhoods.

We were children of the sixties and seventies, of a father who although lived through the Second World War in Europe, managed to survive without experiencing a ghetto or a concentration camp and a mother who was third generation Jewish Australian who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Northcote. They were an odd couple from completely different backgrounds but they did all they could to provide us with the best education and life that Melbourne had to offer.

Life changed dramatically for us in 1977. With little consultation or discussion we moved to Israel. This decision pretty much sums up what life was like for us “girls”. Like most children of our time, it wasn’t our job to have a say in how life was played out, we were just expected to go along without questioning. My childhood relationship with my parents was a classic 70’s parent and child relationship. We weren’t consulted, we just did.

Nay and I have six children between us ranging from 26-14 years- one son and two daughters each. Nay had the same sex children as I did and in the same order! I can safely say that we have both done things pretty differently to our parents. Times have changed as we are all aware. Dr. Spock gave way to What to expect when you’re expecting, which was a nice way of saying that you’ll have no clue what you’re doing until one day, you just know. Nay and I sadly lost our mother many years ago. I was fortunate to have her when my first two children were born and gleaned some insight, but Nay was not so fortunate. We parent differently, but we seem to impart the same messages to our kids. We’re not perfect, but we’ve tried to play integral roles in their lives. We’ve both tried very consciously to be present.

This is our motivation for the journey that we have embarked upon with our workshop called AwoMen and Halo Productions. We have initiated these projects to give mothers and daughters opportunities to connect.

In today’s frantic technological world, being present in our child’s life is becoming more and more difficult. I am often shocked to see families seemingly brunching together where no one communicates with one another. It seems to be completely normal for couples to be out at a cafe with their young child where the child is entertained with headphones and I Pad. Is this today’s idea of being present?  In our day we took our kids to the park and “played” cafes on the equipment using tan bark as pretend teas and cakes.

Halo Productions is an organisation whose focus is having mothers and daughters together in one space for a designated time, where topical issues are discussed and workshopped. AwoMEN is the first in these workshops where mothers and daughters of different faiths come to share their coming of age experiences in their religions with the audience. The workshop that follows the discussion analyses contemporary girl psychology and its progression into women’s psychology. All this in an aptly named women’s only work hub “one roof” in City road in Southbank.

Our first Interfaith coming of age evening a couple of weeks ago was a huge success. The intimate crowd that attended were excited to be a part of this evolving idea of open discussions of interfaith and mother and daughter issues.

We hope to expand this concept to mothers and sons, fathers and sons and fathers and daughters to be completely present together without distraction.

As a young girl I resented that my sister and I were branded as “the girls”, but in hindsight, there may have been a grander plan forming for us. Nay and I are certainly in tune with one another, dedicated and passionate educators who both feel that we have a message that being present, really present is the cornerstone and foundation for good family relationships to grow and prosper. We hope to play a role in helping other families create a similar connection.

The next event will be held in the next month or so and details will be advertised on our and on our Facebook page: Halo Productions



Article by Author/s
Lani Brayer
Lani Brayer is a Melbourne educator who does work for various organisations who strive to eradicate prejudice and discrimination. She aims to educate people to be upstanders rather than bystanders even with the smallest of actions.

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