Category Archives: Articles

Mean looking female teacher with class rules written on blackborad

“My Teacher is So Mean!”

“I have a 9 year old daughter whose first day of 3rd grade was today and it appears we have “the mean teacher”. I’m thinking of going to see the principal, the teacher, and maybe trying to get her moved into another class. But what can I do if that doesn’t work? Only 179 more days to go. Ugh.”

Sound familiar? It can be agonising trying to work out how to help our child through tough times with their teachers. In situations like this we need to be our children’s advocate. And we also need to keep our focus on building and repairing relationships – with the school and the teacher, and with our children. Around issues to do with school, there are things we can, and things we cannot control. And the place we have real power and influence is in our relationship with our children. Continue reading

Upset teen girl sits, head hidden, blocking us out.

A Little Bit of Special Time Goes a Long Way

It’s easy to put off Special Time.  After all, family life is busy, and in some ways gets oddly busier when we have older children.   But Special Time it brings rich benefits when we do it.  Most importantly it builds emotional safety.

Even when it is “pretty basic”, as this mother puts it, Special Time refreshes and renews our children’s sense of our confidence in and for them, and reassures them of our love for them.  This is what our children need in order to begin offloading the emotional backpacks they are carrying around.  As they get older, those backpacks are more tightly buckled down that they used to be.  Our children learn to “suck it up” and hold it in for fear of social death if they let their feelings show.

So after Special Time, this mother finds her 11 year old daughter’s grumpy mood dissolves, and out rolls a big upset.  It can be hard to know whether to go or stay when our children tell us to go away.  At least sometimes, however, it’s worth staying, and listening it out… Continue reading

Tween using mobile phone/cell phone to text. Photo by Carlssa Rogers, https://flic.kr/p/9qQCYc

When she must have a phone…

Sometimes, holding a limit on something – so long as we are pretty sure the limit is reasonable –  can open up a whole lot of feelings about other things. This is as true of our pre-adolescent and adolescent children as is is of our younger children. In fact, as young people internalise the message that they shouldn’t show their feelings, a well-held limit can provide just the opening. Here’s how it worked for one mother and her daughter: Continue reading

Six Steps for Staying Close to Pre-Teens and Older Children

Mum and Boy, smiling at camera, huggingWe parents want to stay close to our young people!

We parents want to stay close to our young people as they get older.  And they want us to stay close to them too, even though it doesn’t always feel like they do!  But how do we do that? Continue reading

What would growing up look like if being little was respected?

Children playing on roundabout wheel.I’ve just spent the weekend with my daughter, who is 12 and my nephew, who is 9.  It surprised me to see the changes that have happened for her since they last hung out together. Temperamentally well suited, they have both got lively imaginations, and in the past have played happily together for hours, engaged in imaginative role play (mostly, when he is around, with Lego).

Continue reading

Mother’s Day: You are Enough

Mother and baby look into each other's eyes

Mother’s Day is upon us again, and our families either struggle or rejoice in the business of celebrating us.  It’s a sweet ritual, once you get past the fact that it can look like just another opportunity to sell us something.

But I’ve been thinking about our challenge, as mothers, to rejoice in ourselves.  To be pleased with ourselves.  Really.  Deeply.  Without criticism or recrimination.  To know that we are enough.

I remember going into our Local Government Chambers to hire an infant baby carrier for the car (what a wonderful service, given that we only need the thing for a few months).  My baby was still in my belly, soon to arrive.  I was fresh to parenting, unharried, excited.  Beside me was a mother returning the carrier that she had been using.  She had a toddler in tow, and a baby – maybe nine months old, in a stroller.

She looked tired and harassed.  Her attention was not on her children, but on interacting with the Customer Service Person.  But I noticed her younger child.  He had his gaze fixed firmly on her.  And the look on his face told me that she was the centre of his universe.  Simply, without anxiety, to him she was everything.  His look said “Isn’t it wonMother and child, eating together, and enjoying one another.derful?  You are my Sun and my Moon!”

He was adoring, but more.  For better or worse, she was his, they were connected.  He knew that his mother was “enough”.  She was busy, and I guess she knew, at some level, how important she was to him.  But I doubt she stopped very often to really absorb it.

And if she did, I bet there was part of her that would not feel worthy.

Continue reading

Talking To Children About Violent and Shocking Events

Non Muslim Mum and Daughter in solidarity.

Recently, we visited a local mosque, and put scarves on in solidarity. My daughter told the reporter “We are here to be together as one big family group.”

“Together” is the watchword for dealing with news of violence or death. “What can we do together, as a family, to remember those who died, and offer our caring?” is a healing question.

Patty Wipfler, Hand in Hand Parenting

 

 

 

In the last few days, we confronted the news of yet another dreadful act carried out against people who were just going about their daily life.  We face the tragedy and sadness of it: we may have family and friends who are directly affected in large or small ways; our hearts go out to the people directly affected, and the police and emergency services employees who put themselves on the line to deal with the situation, and to the communities who are touched by these events and the backlash which will inevitably follow.

We may worry about how safe we really are, so far away, but similarly vulnerable.   Even if we manage to avoid becoming pre-occupied with events as they unfold, it will in any case play out over weeks on our television screens, radios and newsfeeds.

As adults, we can put these events into a bigger context. We know that people can and will band together to pull through. Our children don’t always have such a big picture and it makes it hard for them to make sense of what they are seeing and hearing. Continue reading

When Bad Things Happen in the World

Quote from Martin Luther King "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hatred, only love can do that."

Image thanks to Good Housekeeping

 

“Together” is the watchword for dealing with news of violence or death. “What can we do together, as a family, to remember those who died, and offer our caring?” is a healing question.

Patty Wipfler, Hand in Hand Parenting

 

 

I don’t tend to listen to or watch the news, but sometime on Saturday a couple of weeks ago it filtered through that something dreadful had happened somewhere in the world.

On Sunday, I woke knowing that it was serious, and that I would need some time to talk about how it makes me feel – how lucky am I, how easily it could happen in the city where I live, that my sense of safety in the world is dented.  The horror of imagining what it must be like to have been caught in the middle of it, the senseless waste and carnage, the anguish, shock.

I deliberately did not allow myself to listen to details about the event:  I’m pretty sure that I do not need to know.  I get the gist.  Things in the world are not good.

However, my mind was pulled to it all day.  In the evening, I met with a group of people and we took a short time, in pairs, just to listen in turn to one another about these events.  We cried about how shocking it was, we talked through the details of what we had seen on the news, we feared for our safety, we worried for our children.  Then, we went on with what we had planned to meet for.

It would have made no sense to keep going over the top of the feelings. And taking time to pay attention to, and feel, the feelings does not mean that there is not thinking to be done, and work, to fix things.  But the flood of feelings that comes up at a time like this can easily overwhelm us, drag us down and away from the thing we planned to do, and the things we could do to make the world a better place.

Continue reading

Who is Starting School?

An old school, built in 1890

An Old School Building by Madeleine Winter

 

If summer is drawing to a close (as it is in the Northern Hemisphere) you may be starting to think about the start of school.  Or here in Australia, you might be preparing for your child to start school in the New Year. For some, it is a return to something known and understood. But for those of us beginning school for the first time, it’s a big deal. And I mean for the big people as well as the little ones.

Who’s Starting School?

Often, as we prepare our families for the start of school, our attention is on the children.   Will they be upset when I have to leave? Will they make friends? Will they know what they need to know?   Will they learn well?

However, I’d like to start with the focus on us parents. I have not met many parents whose children are starting school who feel entirely calm and relaxed about it. For many of us, school brings up a lot of feelings. After all, we spent a lot of years there. Some of it was good, but some of it was hard. Most of us have not had a chance to talk much about those experiences. And some of us would rather not. Continue reading

Helping Your Angry Pre-Teen

More on the topic of Pre-Teens.  If you have Pre-Teen children, you will know that things start to change.  Special Time can be a great tool for parents and children to stay connected through times of change, including times when we don’t feel we really understand each other.

Special Time – a dedicated period of time where we put aside our pre-occupations and concerns, pay full attention to our child, and delight in them – begins to change as your children’s interests change.  But the magic that it works still applies:  it builds emotional safety into our relationship with our children at a particularly important time.

And when we do this, children will start to show us their upsets.  By the time they are 8, 9 10, some of those upsets will be about us, and much will be about what it has been like being a young person for 10 years or so, in a world that does not treat young people with much respect.

We need to listen warmly at these times, giving our children all the attention we can muster.  Inevitably, the upsets will tend to be scrappier and less direct than using the process with younger children.  When they were little we could being them onto our lap and hold them as they sobbed out their sorrows, but now they are more “defended” and their sorrows have hardened into anger, and we are working hard just to keep our foot in the door, before it slams (literally and metaphorically!).

But every bit of warm, non-judgemental hanging-in-there with our Pre-Teens makes a difference.  They notice EVERYTHING we do, and it all still matters to them.

Here’s a great article by Hand in Hand  Founder, Patty Wipfler, on just what is going on for our Pre-Teen children, and for us:

http://www.handinhandparenting.org/article/helping-angry-preteens/