May Bailey can definitely be quite tough,opinionated and vindictive but does that mean she’s not a good parent?

In the very first episode of Wind at my Back, we see some of May Bailey’s (Shirley Douglas) most unappealing qualities. Without hesitation or remorse, May takes Honey’s children from her in the wake of their father’s tragic death. May refuses to let the children live with Honey until she gets a job and is able to properly care for them. At the time, May firmly believed she was better equipped to be a parent to the children than Honey.  Her methods may have been extreme and clouded by grief and anger but in some ways she was right. Honey was in a bad place both emotionally and financially and being a good parent under those conditions is extremely difficult.

May does not accept any nonsense and she certainly doesn’t pull any punches. During one of her first dinners with her two Grandsons, she tells them, “You shouldn’t take your stay here for granted. You better remember how lucky you both are to be living here rather than in a slum or an orphanage and respect the hand that feeds you.”

May-cres-for-Hub_webBut is May inherently mean and vindictive or simply a firm believer in “tough love”? Despite many struggles, May managed to build a successful business, raise her children and keep her family strong; and she didn’t do it by being a “softie”. May’s ideas about parenting are quite different than Honey’s or her own daughter Grace’s, but their life experiences are also quite different. May has survived by being tough and fearless and that is how she approaches motherhood as well; but she also has a soft side although she seldom shows it.

At the end of the episode Four Walls and a Roof, May is actually very tender and caring to Hub after he badly injures his leg. She only has kind, soothing words to say to him as she calmly dresses his wounds. Later, when Hub and Fat prepare to leave May to visit their mother, Fat asks May if she is going to kiss him goodbye. “No,” May answers. And though the response may have been harsh, we can see a flicker of hesitation in her eyes and a promise that underlying warmth does exist.

May Bailey is definitely a tough lady but in many ways that is what made her successful and earned the respect of her family and community. Who knows, perhaps using some of May Bailey’s “tough love” in our own lives will help us do the same.

Do you think of May Bailey is a good parent? Feel free to write your comments below.

All of your favourite Wind at my Back episodes are available on DVD at shopatsullivan.com.

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