I have been reaching out to Val for Parenting advice the past 4 years now and her philosophy and her work just never fails to get me back on track again.
Parenting Expert Val Mullally gives a call for peace – a call to every parent to take action for a happier, peace-full world.
Do you ever worry about what sort of world your children will have to survive in?
What sort of future will your child have?
It’s scary to have people in control of situations who are not in control of themselves.
It’s time for change. We need to be clearly anti-war. War is not an option.
“The cost of war not only to lives but to minds and imaginations, to the integrity of whole societies, is still unsurpassed.” Rowan Williams
It’s time for us to do differently. It’s time to raise a generation of people who know that all of us need and deserve mutual respect. We all need to learn how to cooperate.
It’s time to raise a generation who will lead well.
It’s our job as parents – and as grandparents – to raise that generation.
“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”
Such an old saying we often don’t stop to think about the power of that statement. You, mothers and fathers, parents are the ones who rock the cradle. And grandparents, we rock the cradle too. This task is so huge and so urgent that every one of us needs to be on board to make peace a reality. You, parents, are the ones who rule the world because you are raising the next generation. You are raising the next generation who will either continue to repeat the same patterns of using aggression as their tool of choice to force their own way, no matter what the consequences, or you can raise a different generation who know how to calm themselves so they can stay in the clear thinking “Green Zone”, and model how to find better, kinder solutions, that take everyone’s needs into account.
We, as parents – and grandparents – need to demonstrate by our own lives that any form of bullying behaviour is NOT OKAY.
Will you choose to set the example in your own home?
“There is a choice in everything, but in the end the choice makes you.”
The choice is yours. The opportunity is here.
We all hope we will be parents who act in a loving way, but, as my colleague Elizabeth Garry Brosnan says,
Always we hope for better, more, greater… but dear friend, hope is not a strategy!
If we want to stop having bullies running the world we need to have a quiet revolution in our homes and schools. We need a clear strategy to raise a generation of children who know how to navigate relationships in a way that is mutually respectful.
We CAN make the difference.
Homes where there is joy, where there is harmony, start with ourselves and with our family interactions.
And we have the potential to raise happier children who will create a happier, more peaceful world.
You are the cradle-rockers!
Decide to be one of the growing numbers of parents who have a strategy for a happier home, for relationships that model cooperation, communication and connection. Let’s rock the world!
One small step in the direction to peace in the world and peace in our families is to be more peace-full in ourselves. Then we will have the inner calm to perceive what’s needed and to respond helpfully, even when things aren’t going smoothly.
When we know how to respond, rather than react, we’ll also be able to model to our children how to move from conflict to connection – a core skill that makes for happier day-to-day living, and is needed at every level of our social, education, business and political interactions.
It’s a starting point to being the cradle-rocker who makes the difference – even when your children are well past the cradle stage!
Let’s call for peace by living it. Let’s BE the difference that makes the difference.
Life is fragile.
Every parent remembers those sleepless nights when your child isn’t well. When you are so tired all you want to do is sleep – but your sick child needs you!
Here is a beautiful reflection from our guest blogger Rebekah Florence. Please share your thoughts in the comments
Ewan the dream sheep’s playing his harp,
Your blue teddy dummy is glowing in the dark.
My hand feels warm on your tiny toes,
I wish I could clear your snuffly nose.
It’s the third time tonight that we’ve heard you cry;
Your voice cuts through the silence and I heave a sigh.
It’s past midnight and the whole village is asleep
As in the creaky rocking chair our vigil we keep.
You cry, I sigh, ask God why? and curse your reflux –
Back arching, fighting, til your tired head to me tucks
And then, rocking together in our unsought midnight diad,
Met somewhere in between our dreams, and feeling deeply tired,
It strikes me how enormously this moment cheers my heart;
As we hold each other in the darkness, not wanting to part.
We would not these sacred chance embraces have collected
If your sleep was as the books on babies told us to expect it.
Shared with permission:
If you want to know why good manners matter for your kids – and what to do about it, then read on because I’m going to share with you a recent “AHA” moment I had about Parenting and raising children with good manners.
My Big “Aha” About Children and Good Manners
In this past week, my mind was mulling over the topic of “Kids and Bad Manners” for this blog, when I posted a Facebook Live about “World Values Day”. Suddenly I saw something I’d never seen before.
Here it is:
If manners was a ladder, many parents have their ladder leaning against the wrong wall. They might be ‘well up’ on the manners ladder – but if it’s against the wrong wall, it’s not going to be any help at all.
# LADDER 1 – leans against the “Ego Wall”
You see, our manners ladder is often leaning against the Ego Wall. Ego is self-centred, so the motivation for good manners is,
“Will people think I am a good parent?”
“Will people think I have a well-mannered child?”
If this is my focus, getting my children to have good matters, means it’s really all about me – not about what my child genuinely needs to thrive and grow to be a caring, compassionate and responsible person. (Confession: I’ve been there and done that, even though I couldn’t have recognised it at the time).
# LADDER 2 – leans against the “Values Wall”.
So here is my “AHA!”
The manners ladder that will genuinely make life smoother and happier, leans against the Values Wall. Manners matter because they help us, as a society, to live by what we cherish.
Integrity, inclusivity, courage, empathy, caring, learning, compassion, courtesy, health, authenticity, respect, kindness, patience, responsibility and gratitude are all building blocks of the Values Wall.
We help an elderly person with their shopping, because of our values.
We give up our seat on the bus for a pregnant woman because of our values.
We chew our food with our mouths closed because of our values.
We say “Please” and “Thank you” because of our values.
What Has This Got To Do With Teaching Our Children Good Manners?
My “AHA” moment was a recognition that when we try to teach our children good manners, if our ladder is leaned against the Ego Wall, we will be trying to impose a behaviour.
Perhaps like me, there have been times when you unthinkingly demeaned your child, in your attempt to impose “correct” behaviour on them.
“Say, ‘Thank you’!”
Often these orders leave our children feeling embarrassed, upset, misunderstood and unhappy because it’s likely that when we said these things, we were not modelling patience, kindness, empathy or caring. We weren’t modelling our values.
And wouldn’t you agree, there is a natural alignment between these values and emotions of well-being like joy, peace and contentment. When our motivation for encouraging good manners is based on our values, rather than our self-centred Parent Ego, we are likely to intuitively find ways to helpfully guide our children.
Here’s my “AHA”:
When we genuinely nurture our child’s sense of values, that will be their compass for respectful and loving relationships throughout their lives.
Before you jump in to correct a child’s manners, pause and check whether you are coming from a place of ego or are you making a values-based intervention, that encourages values like kindness, gratitude and compassion.
Manners isn’t a flippant topic. It’s the foundation of healthy society.
Did my “Aha” moment strike a chord with you? Perhaps it brought back memories of times when “good manners” was inflicted on you, leaving you with sad, unhappy or angry memories. We can’t change the past but we can change the future. Let’s help our children have Values based manners – that will naturally be GOOD for all of us. For practical tips see my blog on the Mykidstime website “7 Simple Ways To Help Your Child Develop Good Manners”.
What question, or what one thought, have you taken from this post? We’d love to hear from you. Add your comment below.
This is the true story of a young mother’s journey through postpartum depression:
Today is World Mental Health Day. On this day last year I was going to work to see people who were struggling with mental illness. I had little personal insight into what it was actually like. Fast forward one year on. I have seen it from the other side. And it is harder and darker and more terrifying than I could ever have imagined. But there is hope and a future to hold on to. This is my story.
I am a psychiatrist. I am trained in ‘what-to-ask-people-who-might-be-depressed’. I have studied lists of symptoms and screening tools and questionnaires. I have even done exams. But in clinical practice I often come up against the fact that people’s actual feelings and real-life experiences aren’t as easy to articulate and as clear-cut as the textbooks would have you believe. I never truly appreciated the depths of the chasm of a depressive illness until I abseiled right into it, scarily quickly and unexpectedly.
It started last November, 2 weeks after my second baby was born. I began to despair. I cried, and cried and cried until my eyes were blurry. I felt sick and I didn’t want to eat. I couldn’t shake the feeling of guilt. I didn’t want my baby anymore. I didn’t want to be a mother anymore.
At the time I remember wondering: what is wrong with me? I am a coper! I haven’t had a difficult pregnancy. My labour was straightforward and my baby is healthy. I wasn’t like this last time. Why do I feel like this now?
It’s because I have two children. It’s because I’m tired. It’s because I have a second-degree tear and the healing is slow. It’s because “Breast is Best” but I’m bottle feeding. It’s because when I sit in the stinging salty bath to wash my sutures the milk that my baby can’t have drips into the water like tears. It’s because I stopped breastfeeding and no matter how much I force myself to carry/wear/be close to my baby, I’m never going to produce the same amount of oxytocin. It’s because I ended up back in hospital 8 days post-partum with severe abdominal pain and I sat in the assessment room surrounded by the “breast is best” posters, silently sobbing, my chest tight because of the milk and the dread and the despair. It’s because it wasn’t meant to be like this; I had decided that this baby will be different, easier, better; there will be no lactose intolerance or reflux or weeping or gnashing of teeth; there will be no trauma and failure to thrive and screaming; there will be no auditory hallucinations secondary to sleep deprivation. It’s because I am genetically predisposed to depression; I’ve seen my strong mum weakened by it, I know her tears and her tablets. It’s because my body is exhausted, my brain is exhausted and my neurotransmitters are depleted. It’s because I am ill. It’s because I have postnatal depression.
Depression; when you feel exhausted and yet unable to “sleep when baby sleeps” like everyone keeps telling you. And when you do snatch some sleep your dreams are vivid and disturbing. You feel hungry and then the thought of eating makes you feel sick. The colour starts to drain from the world around you. You feel anxious and exhausted after attempting to be sociable for 5 minutes in the day. Behind your smile and pleasantries lie a thousand achingly awful thoughts. When you venture out to the supermarket to get nappies it is like being in some sort of weird bad dream world, and you feel panicky and hot and surreal and you just want to run away from it all and crawl into a dark hole and never ever come out. When you see your baby you feel guilty, numb, regretful, inept, a failure. You lock your tears in the toilet so that your 4 year old won’t see them. When you wake up in the morning you cannot face the world and it takes all of your strength just to persuade your aching body to get out of bed. When you hear your baby cry, you want to run away or freeze and you feel useless, rubbish, incapable, hateful. You can’t stop crying and you do not even know why you are crying anyway. Your heart and stomach and brain and soul feel dull and sore and washed out and numb and aching and hopeless all at once. You are overwhelmed with shame and guilt and crippled by it all. You feel alone, in the dark, hopeless, worthless. And you wish there was no baby at all.
If you feel like this, please please hear this: there is hope.
Despite what your brain is telling you, it is NOT because you are a joke, or you are a rubbish mother, or incapable or useless. And your children DO NOT deserve a better mother. And, despite how you feel right now, it WOULD NOT have been better if your baby hadn’t been born at all, or if you were no longer around.
There is hope.
You ARE a good person; you CAN get through this. This too shall pass… but you will need help and support, and it is an illness which needs treating (just like diabetes needs insulin, and high blood pressure needs antihypertensives). Go to your GP, read about it online, tell someone how you feel. You can get better.
It took me 48 hours to pluck up the courage to take my first dose of antidepressants. My head was full of all sorts of lies: “you’re such a fraud”, “you’ve seen depressed people in hospital, you’re not that bad”, “you just need more sleep”, “you’re a rubbish mum, tablets won’t help with that”, “you know how these tablets work – they’ll change your brain chemistry and you’ll not be able to think straight”, “you don’t really need them, give it another few weeks”, “what a joke! You’re supposed to look after depressed people, not be depressed yourself!”. After I took the first dose actually nothing happened. I didn’t get better or worse. And as the weeks went by, nothing dramatic happened, except that my brain gradually stopped lying to me, and I started to feel tiny flickers of love for my children again. I can pinpoint the day when I noticed that I felt better. I could see in glorious technicolour instead of sepia, and I felt love and hope again. It’s taken me nearly a year to feel ‘normal’ again, but I have gained insights into how my patients actually feel that will stay with me forever.
Today is world mental health day. Postpartum depression can happen to any mother. Today we declare that there is absolutely no shame in talking about how we feel, in sharing our pain and fears and exhaustion and guilt. Because 1 in 4 of us knows how it feels.
And because no matter how low we get, there is ALWAYS hope. You are not alone in this.
If you are looking for help in dealing with depression:
Samaritans: 116 123
Thanks to Rebekah Stobart for her courage to share her story and for the beautiful photo, that speaks into the pain and the hope of many mothers in situations like this.
Please share this post if you know anyone who would benefit. What questions does this raise for you?
Is your child starting school or preschool this month? Are you wanting to know how to give your child the emotional support for a smooth start to school? Are you wondering, “Is it okay to stay with my child in the classroom?”
This blog is written by a young mum, sharing the challenges she faced.
When your young child needs you at school – it’s ok to stay!
This is a look back to when my first daughter started preschool …..
It’s a few weeks till my first child starts preschool and my heart quickens every time I think about it. I calm myself, thinking,
“Its’ ok I can stay with her until she settles.”
Then my own thoughts run away with me … “Sh*t, they’ll think I am an awful eejit…I ’ll be mortified….. Will they even let me stay?”
I call the owner of the centre who agrees to let me stay in the room with my 3 year old, but she cautions,
“You’ll only be making it harder for her” by staying with her. Part of me is almost swayed not to stay with my child but a much larger part of me tells me I’m doing the most helpful thing for my child in this situation.
In my naiveté I tell people what I’m planning to do … the comments reel in:
“Who do you think you are thinking you can just stay there?!!”
“Are you going to do that in primary school too?!” (“Yes actually I am!”)
“Tough love that’s what I always say.” (“Really? I didn’t know that love had to be tough”)
The First Morning
Day one comes and we arrive at the preschool. There are some children crying and I feel like running away with my child. I want my child to make this transition without stress so I stay. I meet her teacher who is warm and friendly but quizzically looks at me as if I’m totally bonkers when I explain I want to stay whilst my child needs me.
“Ah this is for Mammy’s sake anyway!” she smiles. (As if I want to be sat here in the middle of twenty 3 year olds!)
I sit in the corner and try to keep my 1 year old as quiet as possible, whilst my older daughter surveys her new surroundings. Over the next few days, I stay for less and less time and I get to a point where I tell her I’m going to the butcher’s shop and she is ok with that. We take another few steps back and then forward again over the next week or two before she settles fully – but we get there. I’ve stayed with my child so that she has had time to adjust to this new environment.
A Second Experience – where my viewpoint isn’t appreciated!
A few months later I decide to try the two girls in a local crèche for two afternoons a week. The manager tells me that they have a week settling-in period, which sounds great! When we arrive I realise that the girls will be going to separate rooms. The carer in the baby room puts out her arms to take my two year old from me, but my little one is having none of it. Her body is rigid, and her fingers dig into my arms, she clings tightly to me. I can’t believe the worker wants me to hand my toddler over to her straight away when she doesn’t even know her!
“Leave her for fifteen minutes, and come back,” I am told. I can’t even imagine how upset she would be if I left her. I try to handle my concern diplomatically but inside I’m screaming,
“Do you really believe I should leave my child with a total stranger in an unfamiliar place and she won’t even know how soon I’ll be back!”
They let me stay with her for a while and then ask me if I will leave. I won’t – not without my daughter unless she’s settled. So when I do leave I take my daughter with me. I call the manager the next day and ask if I can stay in the room with my toddler for the next few days.
“No. I don’t have the staff for that.”
I offer to pay for the settling in time (it’s usually free) but still she tells me that I will have to wait outside. I realise quickly that this creche is not for us.
Is this the norm?
I suspect, these are situations that are replicated all around the country all the time. Why can’t the parent, or the carer who is with the child every day, stay for a little while to settle children in? Mostly, I suspect, because it’s awkward for the school/crèche/ institution. They want the parents out of the picture so that they can get on with their work/ day. It appears understandable – especially if the staff do not believe that the children are genuinely upset. They seem to think the children are “just manipulating” their parents. But at what cost to the child’s well-being is this enforced separation? Surely the needs of the children should be paramount?
Why do we parents hand over our say on this? Other people are not the experts on our children. No one knows our children as we do.
An upset child cannot be reasoned with and cannot hear that you will “be back soon”. A staff worker or teacher should be able to understand that a little lee-way and flexibility with parents will go a long way to making this a positive experience for the child.
Some tips that helped me:
#1 Talk to the care provider beforehand and agree ahead of time on how to meet your child’s needs during this initial stage. You don’t want to be figuring this out over your child’s head on day one.
#2 Get support to help you clarify your thinking ahead of time regarding what’s needed and how you will approach the school regarding their “parent staying” policy. If you don’t have support readily available, find a clear-thinking, sympathetic friend or a counselor or accredited parent coach. You may find to helpful to also check in with this person in the early days of this transition, if the transition isn’t going as easily as you had hoped.
#3 Be cautious who you tell about your intention to stay. It can be very triggering for people – so “keep schtum” unless you are sure that person will genuinely support you in finding the most helpful solution for your child’s benefit. I was amazed at the amount of negative reactions I received. It’s easier to steer the course you want through this period without negative or judgmental comments from others.
#4 Stay out of the way in the class. Sit in the corner and read a book. Your child may not come to you but they will be happy just to know you are there.
#5 As you sense your child is coping in the new situation, you might choose to move a little further away. Maybe sit just outside the door or window when your child is aware you are still there they will be calmer.
#6 Remember what really matters here!! Is this about the convenience of the staff or your child’s happiness and security? It’s the adults who need to give a little and to be flexible – not the three year olds!
Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are taking a firm stand on being with your child so that your child know and experience you will be there for them when they need you the most.
You may want to not risk doing the unpopular thing for yourself but you ‘ll do it for your child!
For more parenting tips regarding starting school see: “Is Your Child Anxious About Starting School?”
What memories or concerns does this parent’s experience raise for you? Please add your comments below.
“As children, my sister and I were so jealous of each other,” said Claire, as we sipped our lattes. “I thought my sister was so much more beautiful than me.”
I raised my eyebrow. In my mind how could my friend not have seen her beauty. Claire has a fair complexion, smooth blond hair and neat features, and she has a radiance that makes me smile just thinking about her.
“My sister had dark curly hair, dark, dark eyes. I thought I looked insipid compared to her. I was so envious of her looks. We fought most of our childhood,” she sighed. “Imagine – all those years we could have had a great sibling relationship. It was only when we got to be adults that we talked it through and discovered we were both envious of each other’s looks.”
So many parents despair because of their children’s constant bickering and fighting. Perhaps you are a parent in that situation too, concerned about the sibling rivalry in your home – perhaps you are wondering how to respond to sibling jealousy.
Three Key Aspects to Counteract Sibling Jealousy
1. Create Opportunity to Listen to How Your Children Are Feeling
To stop the fighting we need to think about what might going on underneath the surface that is causing the turmoil. Like adults, children are influenced by the thoughts they dwell on. They are not likely to respond in a kind, compassionate manner when they are thinking:
“She’s prettier than me.”
“He’s better at sport than me.”
“She’s cleverer than me.”
“Mum and Dad love her more than me.”
“Just because she’s the baby, they let her get away with it.”
Very often when anger surfaces there are feelings of fear or disappointment underneath the blanket of the aggressive behaviour. These emotions are fueled by envious, or jealous thoughts. Until we acknowledge and respond to our children’s feelings and thoughts, we are likely to find ourselves dealing with the fallout of sibling rivalry. The thing is, jealous thoughts are like woodborers – if they are ignored, they slowly erode the fabric of the relationship.
“Jealousy and envy distort the truth of what is essential for satisfaction or genuine happiness in life.”
This quote is from Normile and Alley’s book “Overcoming Envy and Jealousy Therapy”
When sibling rivalry erupts your children need you to help them to restore equilibrium. Focus on creating a safe space where your children can process what’s going on for them. To quote Dr Dan Siegel: “Connection calms.”
2. Help your children to think about what their envy might be telling them
Children often feel frustrated, irritable or fearful because they imagine they are at a disadvantage to the other.
Think about the expression we hear kids use – “I’ll get even!”
This statement says so much – when there is sibling rivalry at least one child is not feeling equal to the other.
Perhaps your child’s envy is tied in more with admiration of his sibling than a feeling of resentment.
We can’t stop the envy, but imagine if we could help our children to take ownership of their envy and to turn this around to be a helpful tool. Have you come across the term “frenvy”? It’s a term to describe “friend envy” – that sometimes we envy the character traits or achievements of the very ones we like. When we listen supportively we can help our children figure out what their envy is really about, and it can spur them on: “If she can do it I can too!” We can help them turn the green-eyed monster into a helpful ally – to be the best they can be.
3. Build your children’s self esteem
When there is strong sibling rivalry it is often connected to low self esteem. A key aspect to easing sibling rivalry is to build your children’s self esteem.
“Jealousy and emptiness are related, not twins, but born of the same emptiness within you.” Normile and Alley
To discover practical ways to boost children’s self esteem see 7 Useful Tips On How to Build Self Esteem In Your Child.
Bringing positive change to levels of self esteem and softening the intensity of sibling rivalry is a long steady haul to healthier, happier relationships. And, as parents, our consistency counts.
What are your thoughts? If you have any questions or comments about sibling envy please post them below.
How To Be An Awesome Parent – 1 Vital Key by Parenting Expert Val Mullally.
Every parent wants to be a ‘good parent’ – but what’s needed?
‘Any area in your life that has inconsistent results is an area where you have not made a decision to be consistent in your actions.’ Jeanine Blackwell
I love this quote. It challenges me in my work as a soulpreneur and coach. But is it true when it comes to effective Parenting? What does it take to be the parent you want to be? If consistency leads to awesome results in the workplace is the same true for parenting? If I am consistent in my actions as a parent will I get consistent results? I’d love to believe it, but when it comes to parenting, whether you are parenting a toddler or parenting a teenager – think again!
As humans, consistency isn’t always a natural way of being. Circumstances change. Family dynamics change. People change. Especially little people. And when change happens there isn’t going to be a consistency in result. There will always be challenges and inconsistencies in raising children. Every child is different, so every parenting experience is different. And as our children move through different developmental stages the experience and the challenges are different. As one mum said, ‘Every time I think I have this parenting thing sorted, my child pulls the rug out from under my feet.’
So – how to be a ‘Good Parent’?
We can judge ourselves that we’re not being ‘good’ parents when things don’t go smoothly, but we need to hold in mind that we’re in the job for the long haul. There will be ups and downs, particularly as we move through times of change. Consistency in our parenting can be really hard.
So does this mean, as parents, we should forget about consistency? No! Consistency matters if we want to be the parents our children need.
Consistency matters – particularly in the things that are so hard to measure:
Patience. Kindness. Awareness. Believing in your child.
Consistency matters particularly in the moments when no-one else is looking:
– those moments when you might be tempted to yell or scream at the kids
– those moments when you might be tempted to use sarcasm
– those moments when you might be tempted to say ‘Whatever!’ rather than do the hard work of conscious parenting
Does that mean you’ll see consistent parenting results? In the short term, probably not! You’ll still ride the roller coaster of everyday parenting, with all its wild ups and downs and unexpected corners. But in the long term, consistency pays off every time. Look around you and notice the families whose children have grown into fabulous young adults. Warm, caring, compassionate, responsible young people invariably have warm, caring, compassionate, responsible parents.
We may have different parenting styles, but consistency always matters. consistency matters as much in the world of parenting as in the world of the entrepeneur.
What three qualities or values do you choose to consistently model to your children? It doesn’t come by chance. It comes from a conscious decision.
So now it’s your turn to challenge your online community. What three values did you choose? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below.
Needing support to be the parent you want to be? Discover more about Parent Coaching.
Whoever you are – where you are – wishing you a wonder-full 2017. Thank you for your support during the year past.
Watch out for Val Mullally’s new Parenting book due for release Spring 2017!