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If I Had a Choice, I Would Choose to Be Born in Ireland

None of us ask to be born, and as parents we have a duty, once we bring children into the world to ensure, that as far as humanly possible, we make their lives enjoyable, rewarding, structured and educational, until such times as they are capable of doing so for themselves.
We aim to turn out well rounded, capable, responsible, confident young people, with the skills to go out into the world, and make their mark, in whatever way they want to.
Even when they have left us, we still provide a cushion, a soft landing for any mishaps; a shoulder to cry on for misplaced love that goes badly wrong, unrequited passion, opportunities missed, financial troubles.
And we guide if we are able, and if they let us.
But otherwise, we listen, nod wisely, and let them go again, to keep learning from their own mistakes.
We would love them to have our knowledge, our experience, and never get hurt, never have to learn the hard way, never feel pain.
But without these lessons, they will always be children, and never have the tools and wisdom to pass to their own children.
When we were young, we had no car.
Mobile phones were seen on Star Trek, and only freaks parents were divorced.
How times change.
In the UK, where I was born and brought up, the pressure to go to work, to earn, to pay the bills was enormous, but that was the culture of the day, and we all strive to succeed, or you went on the dole.
In moving to Southern Ireland, the cultural difference is enormous, for such a small country, so close to the UK.
Here, opportunities to succeed abound, and even though when we moved here, we had IR£800, and no jobs, we have worked throughout, bought a house and built a business providing self-catering holiday accommodation, on a small scale.
Yes, hard work has been a huge factor.
But I don't think we would have achieved anything like what we have, if we hadn't have lived here in Ireland.
Peoples expectations are that they will succeed, and so they do.
When I asked my daughter if she thought that she might live in the UK when she is older, she asked me why would she want to do that, when she lives in such a fantastic place - and she wasn't being sarcastic (very common with 12 year olds) And she's right.
She 's lucky to have been brought up here.
Even as a small child, she appreciated the views from our windows, the house where we live, the school that she loved, the friends and the sense of community where she knows most people, and they know her.
We will never move away, not unless a disaster (or an opportunity) of gigantic proportions comes our way, and unless we had lived elsewhere, we probably could not appreciate what we have achieved here, so maybe I'm glad it worked out that way.
But I'm also very glad my children were born and brought up here, and that we have some chance of turning out the well rounded, balanced young people that we, as parents, can be proud of.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that wouldn't have happened somewhere else, as much of what our children learn comes from us.
But how often have we heard people say "Oh, they got in with a bad crowd" or "they just got led astray".
The influences of friends, peer pressure, and the culture of a young community have a massive effect on a young mind, not all of it good.
Here in Ireland, kids can be kids.
They are "brand aware", but its not the be all and end all as it is in some cities and towns in the UK and other places.
Kids on the whole are treated more as adults here, and are able to speak up without being frowned upon, and encouraged to participate in everything from sports to the local school play.
The atmosphere is more relaxed, and although there is work stress and financial constraints, they are not at the same level as are experienced elsewhere.
I hope my kids stay in Ireland, but if they're like me, they'll travel and see a bit of the world.
There is nothing like travel to broaden the mind.
I hope that they'll make sensible choices (you've seen Banged Up Abroad!) and keep themselves safe and out of harms way.
Would that we were there to look out for them.
And hopefully, they'll come back to Ireland, even more well-rounded, capable, responsible and confident, and choose to have their own children born in Ireland.

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