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For Mothers

For Mothers: Peace

Peace can be identified in many ways: inner peace of mind; familial peace and harmony in the home; political peace within and between nations: these are three general concepts of peace.

As mothers, we can sow peace by teaching our families to love and to forgive.

What is love

Love is kindness in action. Love is forgiving wrongs. Love is accepting differences. Love is encouraging unity even in diversity. Love is respecting others and oneself. Love is vital within family and community.

Mother’s opportunity to teach

Mothers sow love in the home by finding peaceful solutions. Mothers sow love through self acceptance and teaching others to forgive themselves and others. Mothers sow love by teaching others to apologise and take responsibility for mistakes. Mothers sow love by loving unconditionally and modelling it for their children.

Mothers share forgiveness

Siblings need to learn to share and to forgive. Mothers can teach this by providing opportunities to share on the one hand, and by respecting children’s needs to have their own property on the other. Mothers encouraging their children to apologise — and to forgive –helps those children to grow in responsibility and kindness.

Mothers role modelling love and forgiveness

Above all, mothers loving and forgiving wrongs models a way of peace and mutual respect, responsibility and cooperation, that will stand our children in good stead in life.

Learning love will help society to be remodelled toward peace and harmony that seems to be slipping away.

Reshaping Society for the better

Love in this increasingly hostile and divided world is a value and way of life that is desirable… and possible. Let’s show our children how to live in love and so gain a world of peace.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Election Results… and Parenting

Election results and parenting

There has just been a general election in the UK. The results have come in and we will have the same government for the foreseeable future, up to 5 years.

But: What on earth do the general election results have to do with parenting?

Running

Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. We have to pick our battles and fight for what we think is right. But sometimes we just have to accept things the way they are.

It applies to the results of an election in a democratic country. It applies to parenting as well.

So… mothering is like running in an election: we win some, we lose some, but we never give up for what we believe in. It’s just that sometimes we don’t get things the way we want them to be. And we love our family (and our nation) whether we manage to get the rest of the household on side or not, in any particular issue.

Likewise we can teach our children the same principle:

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you keep going no matter what, adapting to your circumstances as best you can and doing your best in every circumstance. This is what we model and what we teach our children.

Pick our battles

As parents, we are ultimately the leaders in the household, with the children being the followers. We want to lead well, and want to influence our children in positive ways.

Therefore we have to choose the battles we fight. 

We cannot live the illusion of control by insisting on always having our way, and yet nor can we abdicate our responsibility as a parent by giving in on every issue that arises. So, we need to be wise about the issues we make issues — we need to decide what’s really important… and what is relatively unimportant, so that our children will have their freedom too, to make their own decisions. 

Some things will be in our Manifesto*, other things we need to let our children determine, so they can develop confidence, decision-making skills, and explore their own ideas in order to develop their own boundaries and principles.

Stick to our guns and yet be flexible

I suggest we need to stick to our principles and yet allow flexibility in the things that really don’t matter. That way, everybody wins once in a while, and yet, the things that really matter remain under our jurisdiction for as long as the children are children.

*Manifesto: includes promises, principles and determinations we aim to achieve and do not wish to compromise on because we attach high value and importance to them

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For Mothers

For Mothers: the Power of Laughter

Never underestimate the power of laughter in relationships!

“Laughter is the language of the soul.” Pablo Neruda

Laughter is and always will be the best form of therapy.” Audrey Hepburn

“If you laugh a lot when you get older your wrinkles will be in the right places.” Andrew Mason

“It is cheerful to GOD when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.” Martin Luther King Jr

“A day without laugher is a day wasted.” Charlie Chaplin

Laughter is the best medicine.’ Proverbs 17:22 (loosely)

“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, dreams are forever.” Walt Disney

“The laughter of a child is the light of the home.” African Proverb

Let’s teach our children to laugh… by laughing!

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Today

Today is what matters most

Getting through today. 

Getting lunches today.

Getting homework — and the pupils — to school today.

Getting focus today: on your work, on their schoolwork, on — today.

Enjoying life today.

Enjoying your children today.

Enjoying the little moments of silence today.

Enjoying your blessings… counting them one by one — today.

Focusing on the best you have today.

Focusing on safety today.

Focusing on health today.

Focusing on responsibility today

Focusing on joy today.

Getting through: Enjoying. Focusing. Today.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Father’s Day

Father’s Day 

In the UK, the nation has just celebrated Father’s Day.

Fathers are vital to a child’s well being. Sometimes a father-figures substitutes for the biological parent and is an equal blessing! The the value of a father cannot be denied when we want the best for our children.

Western culture, certainly English-speaking Western culture, likes to highlight the value of the father of the family once a year, just as it does the mother.

Sadly, the nuclear family has been disintegrating over recent decades and so many children lack two parents, one of each sex.

Why fathers are important?

When a child is young, s/he particularly needs the mother for security. Then pre-teen, the father’s role kicks in to nurture the confidence of the child.

I realise this might be controversial for some readers, and for others — where perhaps the father figure is absent — a worry. Suffice to say, there are copious studies which have been done over decades that reiterate the value of mother and father in different ways and at different times in a child’s life. But for efficiency, I’m simply condensing this information to say: before a child reaches the teenage years, a well-established relationship with his/her dad to carry through adolescence enhances a child’s life and growth morally, intellectually, emotionally, socially.

What if there is no father?

No matter our politics, we can’t escape that it takes two to make a baby, a male and a female. (Yes, science tries and to some degree has achieved success in creating life without both parents, but don’t they still need a sperm and an egg?) 

If circumstances don’t allow for a child to grow up in an environment with a father, a paternal figure, a male who will love and encourage the child, can play a vital role in building the emotional health and self esteem for a child. The knock on effect for social and intellectual security and growth will be positive and enriching. And the value to society is recognisable too.

There are male relatives, family friends, teachers and sports / club leaders all who can enrich a child’s life.

Don’t panic

We mustn’t fret if life’s circumstances haven’t provided for a father in a child’s life. But recognising the child’s need for a father is the first step in security for that child a future with its greatest richness.

Mothers are vital

I’d like to conclude this post “For Mothers” by saying, we are vital to our children’s lives. Just because we become less important to aspects of their growth in the later years of childhood doesn’t mean we aren’t important. We are! It’s just that children’s needs morph — just like their shoe size — and we need to be aware of it and ready to encourage fathers in their relationships with their children, to draw nearer when the children draw towards their teens.

Every blessing:)

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Teaching how to share

Sharing

I know so little about sharing. My mother always ensured my sister (my only sibling) and I “each got one”. She meant well I’m sure. She was fair, generous, but therefore I never really learned how to share as a consequence. My mother was an only child. Perhaps she never learned to share either, so couldn’t teach us.

So how am I going to write a post For Mothers: Teaching how to share, if I don’t know how myself?

How to share

I’m going to tell you what I learned from my grandson recently. He’s three. Never underestimate the generosity or wisdom of a child…

My grandson: so keen to share

One day I was taking him back home from a visit with me. He asked for a biscuit for the car. I was a little reluctant because I’d just had the car valeted, but that was less important and so I gave him a biscuit as he got into the car. Next thing I knew, he’d broken it into pieces. One piece was for his brother and other was for him. So concerned to share, he’d not thought to ask for 2 biscuits but was willing to share from all that he had.

That’s a generous spirit!

What I learned about sharing

I must always keep in mind the child’s perspective, and assume s/he has a heart to share.

I hope this was enlightening for you as it was for me!

Every blessing and let’s remember,

“Teach a child in the way he should go and when he grows up he will not depart from it.” (King Solomon, from long, long ago)

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Protection for our children

Do not be anxious!

We need to protect our children. As part of that protection, we need to rise above fear for our children. Why? Because worry, anxiety and stress can cause strife and disagreement, disharmony and discontent. They can destroy the peace and harmony of the home. We must try to avoid it… in order to protect our children, even from ourselves.

I’m guilty

Sometimes I worry for my son. He’s an able, healthy, decent human being. And yet, I worry anyway.

This gets in the way of fun and it gets in the way of his freedom and his learning curve. If I worry, I distract him. Or I persuade him, rather than leave him to his own judgment. 

He won’t learn unless I leave him alone.

Young ones

Of course whether our children are young, or old, we seek to protect them. But the level of protection is relative to their age and capability. And so, the little ones need much more of our direct protection for their physical and emotional well being, than do the older ones.

Love them

Let’s not hound our children, or fret about their decisions. Let’s lead and guide them so that they will learn and grow as they need to. Let’s set boundaries that will protect them on the one hand, and release them to grow on the other. Balance, age appropriate freedoms and boundaries, will help our children to feel loved, nurtured, safe… and free.

Bless them with respect

When we endorse our children’s good decisions and choices, we build them up. When we throw cold water on their ambitions and endeavours, we demoralise them.

Let’s look forward to the future with hope and positive expectation. And let’s show our children we have faith in them. Let us give them safe guidelines and trust in their best, protecting them from harm but allowing them to make their own achievements and even their own mistakes.

That’s what I’m saying to myself as much as to anyone else.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Enjoy

Good morning. 

The day is sunny. Let’s enjoy it!

The time is measured. Let’s use it wisely.

The days are short. Let’s fill them with pleasant memories.

The earth is full. Let’s contribute kindly.

The universe is stirring. Let’s take a look at all we have and be grateful.

My message this morning is simple:

We have one life to live. One life to give to our children. One life to share with others. One life to discover.

Let’s teach our children to look at life this way:

“We have one live so let’s make the best of it, taking the ups and downs as they come and learning to enjoy what and who we can, especially one another.”

Enjoy!

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Receive

Is being a mother easy? Nope! It’s hard work.

It’s hard work to love unconditionally even when you’re exhausted. It’s hard work to balance the needs of each child and other family members. It’s hard to work, rest, play in balance. It’s hard, but it’s worth it!

Accept Help

You might want help from your hubby or from a mother/mother-in-law. You might want to do it on your own to prove you can! But the first step is acknowledging having help in practical ways is understandable, reasonable and when available, a real blessing.

But help may not come in the form or from the source you’d like or expect. 

Receive

Be sure not to miss the opportunity of support when offered. Receive graciously. If it is a source you think unsafe, it’s okay to say “no thank you” but otherwise, we all need to learn to be better at receiving. I sure do!

Accept Support

Whether it is in the form of emotional support — having a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on…. or literally physical — running your child to school or having her/him over night, when offered, do take the support. 

And if support is not forthcoming, you can always ask a trusted friend or relative to help out. Some people won’t offer because they don’t want to interfere, or don’t realise you need a helping hand. But they might be totally keen to help if only you’d ask!

Be Humble

First we need to recognise our humanity, our limitations, our needs. 

Then we need to accept help — even ask for it. That can be scary or humbling. 

I remember the first time I really needed emotional support because I felt quite isolated, sad for being so. When I expressed to a small group of friends I was hurt and frustrated sometimes, the others gathered round me and good acquaintances became life long friends. To them, I’d seemed confident and competent. They hadn’t realised — because I hadn’t shown them — I felt really vulnerable sometimes. And they rallied round.

We can be our own best friend

We can allow others into our world, and discover we are very much loved and supported. That’s being our own best friend.

And when circumstances don’t allow* for a group of friends, we can learn to overcome our obstacles by being thankful for what we have and persevering.

*BUT if ever you are in a situation which is abusive or dangerous, there is The Samaritans and there are other organisations to help. Find them in your area and call them. You are reading this off the internet. Search the internet for local confidential help and you’ll find phone lines where you can start the conversation. Don’t brush it off: You are important. 

Every blessing,

Sarah

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Being Stretched

Mothers Being Stretched

I’m being stretched. It has nothing in particular to do with parenthood but the message to me is clear and it can be very useful to we Mums:

The Message

Sometimes we are tested beyond what is comfortable but we need to persevere -> to go through the s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g -> to grow as people and in our relationships with other people.

There is no situation more important to letting go control than in parenting. The timing is gradual and dependant upon the age and maturity of the child. But let go we must! That process is a significant part of our being stretched as mothers.

Letting Go Control

I wrote last time a bit about control. Personally, I think control is over-rated and over-used, as a concept for parenting. Rather than look upon us as controlling our children, I think we need to shift our attitude and instead, steer and guide them. As children grow, their needs for independence can be encouraged — not by relinquishing our responsibility as parents, but by encouraging the children to make decisions and to learn how to follow-through on them. 

Yes, we need to instil self-discipline in our children and this will sometimes call for us to put up boundaries and ensure the youngsters stay within them. That is not so much about controlling them but is rather more about teaching them self control, self discipline and healthy independence.

At the same time, let’s release our children by letting them make age-relevant decisions and learn the consequences of those decisions. Can we support them rather than rescue them? And in the process, the more self aware we are of our own worries and anxieties, the better we can overcome our fears, enabling our children to thrive as they become more independent, socially responsible and mature.

Mothers Stretching

Eventually, our children will lead their own lives. As mothers, innately, we want them to live enriched, happy lives. Part of this will come as they learn healthy independence from us: not having to fight their way to freedom but having joy in our release of them into their own lives.

Sometimes we might find it hard to let go, to allow our children to explore their independence. What if they make a wrong decision? What if they choose the wrong friendship group? What if they take a risk and get hurt physically or emotionally or academically?

That’s part of the stretching: for them and consequently, for us.

When we allow our children to make age appropriate decisions, they will learn, and grow more as a result.

Who hasn’t learned most through mistakes? Who hasn’t learned most through pain?

So, mothers: being stretched is a sign that we are growing. And when we grow, others around us grow, and than includes our children.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: the most important thing

Love is the most important thing

“Love covers a multitude of sins.” (Bible, 1 Peter 4:8)

“Love conquers all.” (Virgil)

“Perfect love casts out fear.” (Bible, John 10:10)

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” (William Shakespeare)

“All you need is love…. Love is all you need.” (John Lennon)

What is love?

Love is kind. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love puts another before self. 

Love bears all things, endures all things.

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (Bible: 1 Corinthians 13)

Love is

Expressed with acts of kindnesses: hugs, words, patience, steadfast encouragement and yes, discipline.

Mothers love. Trust your love. Trust your dedication. And above all, trust that your child loves you, needs you, and seeks your love — no matter what he or she may say. 

Don’t doubt but just love. Keep loving no matter what. And love yourself in the meantime too.

Hope that’s helpful!

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Teaching about Friendship

What is friendship?

An old adage (at least in Canada where I grew up) goes like this:

“If you want to have a friend, you’ve got to be one.”

I think teaching about friendship to our children is likely something we do instinctively. It’s a valuable and an important area for our children’s growth.

But what is a friend?

I grappled with socialising my child because I wanted him to get on with others but I encouraged depth and quality of friendships rather than breadth and popularity in his relationships.

As far as I make out, a friend is someone who is loyal and dependable, someone who is supportive in your ups and downs and for whom you are supportive toward them in theirs.

A friend helps when you need help, accepts your help when they need yours. 

A friend laughs when you need to laugh and sits with you when you are sad or disappointed.

A friend is reliable, dependable. But also, in friendship, you enjoy one another’s company and perhaps share common interests.

Popularity v solemnity

It’s great to be popular but it’s also important to learn to be on one’s own. Having people around who affirm you is important but learning to be on your own comfortably is also valuable. If we always need others around to affirm us, what happens when we get a job in a far away land or where there are few colleagues? If we always need people to entertain us, what happens when we’re alone?

I believe whole-heartedly, we need to know how to hang out with others and equally, we need to know how to enjoy our own company.

Loyalty and reciprocity

A friend sticks by you (and you stick by him) in times of trouble: illness, grief, celebration….

Misguided loyalty can arise when a friend won’t rat on their buddy when something criminal or dangerous or life-threatening is occurring. On those occasions, a true friend will get help as needed!

Friendship hopes and wants the best for the other person, is not jealous or demeaning, is respectful and encouraging. 

Friendships start from a very early, pre-school age. 

We all need friends. I’m still learning and hope I’ve downloaded what I can to my offspring but am also learning how to learn from the next generation. Once they are adults, our children can, in a unique sort of way, become friends, if we respect each other, admire and encourage each other, and release one another to be the best person they can be.

Those are my thoughts on Friendship. I’d like to know what you make of it. Feedback is always invited:)

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Listening

It’s a skill that is difficult to teach but an important life and relationship skill: Listening.

What is listening?

To hear the words of another person without passing judgement or waiting for your turn to speak demonstrates listening.

To engage with the words and emotions behind the words of another person demonstrates listening.

To hear, consider and respond to the words of another person demonstrates listening.

Hearing and digesting, showing interest and responding: these are the responses that demonstrate listening.

Boring, Funny, Important sharing

Sometimes our children, especially when they are quite small, are repetitive. Sometimes they say something which is so innocent or ignorant — or wise — we laugh. Sometimes, there is drama and anxiety wrapped up in our children’s words, which causes us to cringe. What do we do with our feelings?

Listening is so important for us to do with our children, because they need to share.

Listening is so vital to our children’s growth, because it builds their confidence.

Listening to our children is crucial to our building and holding a good relationship with them, not only now but in the long run.

Listening is hard work

I find I have to remind myself not to interrupt when my offspring decides to share. Sometimes I need to hold my tongue to show respect and interest, because talking is a whole lot easier for me than listening.

But whenever I listen, I learn and am blessed to discover more about my own child. And that is hugely rewarding.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: building self respect

Nowadays, parents are often encouraged to build their children’s self esteem. 

But I think that does more harm than good. I think it’s far more helpful to our children when we build self respect. 

Self esteem and self respect are not the same thing, not at all.

Self esteem

When we praise our children, it builds their confidence. They may glow with pride and self esteem, but so often the praise is empty — built upon giving them a false impression or over estimation of themselves. 

Self esteem is the feeling of pride and superficial confidence in ourselves which is built upon what others have said of us. It is self- centred.

Self respect

Self respect is a sense of personal dignity; it is a recognition of our responsibility we aim to demonstrate in the world. It calls us to consider our place within society.

Self respect is a sense of inner confidence and integrity. It draws us to take ourselves seriously and is largely other-centred, built upon the results of our choices and decisions.

Building self respect within our children

When we respect our children, we encourage the growth of their own self respect. 

Telling children the truth demonstrates respect. Teaching them responsibility and the consequence of our actions — both positively and negatively — helps them to become respectful individuals. Listening to their concerns demonstrates respect. Insisting they be accountable for themselves teaches them self respect. 

Giving them what they want does not show respect, though it can show love, compassion and kindness.

Encouraging self respect

When we respect ourselves it shows our children we take ourselves seriously.

When we respect our children, it shows them we take them seriously.

Of course our expectations are age-relative but taking this into account: right from the start of life, I believe if we respect a child as a gift, a separate entity from us, a person of potential and possibility, we can teach him/her to be grateful,  personably responsible, eager and motivated to achieve what they are able to achieve in society.

A child is a blessing. Teaching this to our children will enable them to thrive with personal dignity and self respect…. and, ultimately, make a positive difference to their world one day.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Honesty is the best Policy

If you want your child to be honest with you, don’t lie to him/her… not even a tiny lie. Honesty is the best policy.

If you want your child to trust you, tell the truth (not necessarily frank, blunt, rude or totally transparent or age-inappropriate, but be honest).

If you want a relationship built upon trust, be honest with your children. In everything, be honest. That’s what I believe.

I’ve never lied to my child

I made a decision when my boy was very young, never to lie to him.

Of course there are things I don’t share. Age appropriateness is important to a child’s well being.

But I remember when my son was heading toward his first Christmas and I thought, ‘I’m not going to encourage Santa Claus stories. I won’t fabricate or lie. I won’t tell him there’s no Father Christmas, but I won’t encourage the story either.’ 

Why not encourage Santa? 

There is a principle in child rearing, “Start the way you want to finish.”

I decided never to lie to my son because one day, when I said to him, “Don’t lie me,” I didn’t want him to come back at me and say I’d lied to him.

I figured if I never lied to him, I would have moral authority over the argument about truthfulness. If I told him the truth, I would be fostering honesty, whereas if I lied even on something like Santa Clause, I wouldn’t be able to say, “I’ve never lied to you” and he could accuse me of hypocrisy.

One day it happened!

And sure enough, that day of accusation came. 

One day, I said I expected him to tell me the truth. He said I’d not always told him the truth. I said I had.

He said, ”What about Santa Claus?”

We talked it through and he realised that, yes indeed, I’d never lied to him about Santa. I had never announced or endorsed Santa. I’d never even given him a present from Santa, but the unlabelled presents he’d assumed were from Santa.

I’m so grateful

My son and I get along very well. I’m so grateful.

I’m sure my son has secrets — He needs to grow independently as he grows in his adulthood. And I give him room, give him his privacy. 

But I’m also convinced, he doesn’t lie to me. I’m so grateful.

I really believe honesty is always the best policy. We need wisdom to ensure what is shared is always healthy, age relevant information. But in our mothering, I encourage us all to be honest with our children.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Love covers a multitude of sins

(1 Peter 4:8)

Our children are so forgiving of us

As parents we do our best for our children. But sometimes we fail. That’s reality.

But our children need us, love us and so they forgive us, accept us. Love covers a multitude of sins (ours!)

We love our children

Though imperfect, we love our children unconditionally. ‘Love covers a multitude of sins.’ Even though children are only learning right from wrong, the older they become, the more they have learned about right and wrong. They tend to want to please us; they also tend to want their own way. So, they make mistakes as we all do. But our love for them continues; love covers a multitude of sins (theirs!). 

My recent realisation

I’m writing this post because recently, I realised I’ve been too critical of my now 19 year old son, who is kind, honest, hard working and independent.

When he was little, I was so eager to train him in responsibility that I was too quick to look at his shortcomings when he was in disagreement with another child. I was so eager to raise him with good values that I was often too quick to judge, suspicious of his intentions…. even got out of the starting blocks! (even before he did anything naughty)

Self reflection

How could I be suspicious of him when, in my own innocence, I was mistrusted as a child? As an adult, I should have known better….

So grateful

And yet, he knows I love him and he expresses his love for me too…. As well, he is quite capable of expressing his displeasure. I respect that and I like the healthy balance.

In the mix of raising him, I seemed to have managed to reveal my love even amidst my too-hasty correction and criticism.

I’m grateful that love covers a multiple of sins. So grateful!

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Is it wise to show your vulnerability?

Vulnerability

Google defines vulnerability as, “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” 

I seems to me to be more negative than I think of vulnerability… “Being exposed” — emotionally and physically I agree with, but rather than it being the possibility of being harmed or attacked, I’d say it is being exposed emotionally or physically, to such a degree as one could be harmed but one chooses to allow themselves to be transparent in spite of the risk of the consequences of exposure.

All that being said, many social and family psychologists could debate whether parents need to appear confident and assured rather than show any vulnerability, for the sake of the security and peace of mind of their children. 

However, I’m asking: For mothers is it wise to show your vulnerability? I think particularly if there are two parents, it might be okay for one to show her vulnerability to a young child at some point. 

Mostly for the security of the child, we parents need to appear to have it all together, so the child doesn’t worry about his safety or the security of the family unit. But sometimes, maybe, the child needs to see more of our humanity as mums… 

Personal story

I once was so tired of my young child’s antics, I finally let him see my frustration through my tears. Yes, I cried a little in front of him which surprised him — I could see in his face that he saw my reaction to him and it caused him to pause and look. At that moment, he saw me. I think because he saw the human frailty in someone he loved, he stopped the naughty behaviour. 

Was it a bad thing I did? I don’t know. Child psychologists might say it was.

It was a sincere, rather than a manipulative demonstration of emotional vulnerability in response to his behaviour. But did it burden him? I don’t think so…. Rather I think it “woke him up” to the reality that I could be frail. 

I don’t think it would have been good if this were a lifestyle choice for my child-rearing. But I think at that particular moment, (I hope) it was alright for him to see my vulnerability — the real affect his behaviour was having upon me was negative; I think his seeing me sad helped him to see the cause and effect of his negative behaviour.

Confidence

Generally, I think our children need to see us exercising self confidence and self control. That is so they can feel safe even if they lack confidence or control over their situations. They are vulnerable, simply by the fact that they are smaller than adults, less experienced and less powerful than we are.

My son as a teen once said to me while I was driving and I kept repeating, “I’m not sure where I’m going..”

“Mom, you have to be confident no matter what, even if you don’t feel you are….” In the context of our situation, it was shortly after my husband’s/his father’s death. He was saying, ‘I need you to show me absolute confidence right now…’ And his frankness did shut me up and get me better focused on the task at hand.

Frankness on both sides is a good building block to a relationship with our children. 

SO the answer is Yes and No…

Sometimes it is right to expose our children to our weakness. Not usually, but sometimes. They need to know they are safe. But sometimes, they need to discover we are not brick walls but open windows… open to what life brings, courageous to deal with it, but also vulnerable to the circumstances they might inflict upon us. 

It’s important for our children to feel safe. But they also need to know that the world — or they — can cause us grief, from time to time. It is never for us to make them feel ashamed or guilty. But they do need to learn their negative behaviour can effect us, especially if they have not yet discovered their behaviour does impact other people’s lives. 

As human beings we are not responsible for how someone receives our personalities, whether they like us or whether they don’t. But we all do need to learn our behaviour and our choices do impact other people. Once we know that, it’s up to us to decide the value of our freedom verses our responsibility toward others in our day to day lives. It’s a basic aspect to socialisation.

Sometimes allowing our children to see our vulnerability will help them in their social development. At some point, our only recourse might be to let them see our weakness when they are exhausting us or frustrating us with their disagreeable behaviour. One way or another, our children need to learn the cause and effect of their behaviour on others and at some point, that may mean we need to let them see us just as we feel in response to them.

Every blessing as we all learn to navigate parenting better and better!

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For Mothers

For Mothers: TIME

On the last blog post, I touched on the issue of Time as an important part of parenting. On this occasion I’d like to focus upon it.

Time

A mother’s time is taken up with work, our partnership with the other parent (or compensating if parenting solo), attention to our children’s direct needs, taking care of our health and that of others’ in the family. 

Feeding, clothing, ensuring child development: physically, educationally, socially, emotionally, spiritually cannot really be delegated, though the brunt of time spent at school or with church-related activities, social “playdates” and heart-to-heart conversations with others does help. But really, you and I know that ultimately, “the buck stops here” which is why I created this blog in the first place.

For Mothers

This space is about you and me, the mum for whom there is no retirement — not really. 

And so we need to be able to balance our time: our attention, our devotion, our awareness, our support for our children, always balancing a giving with a letting go as they grow.

We need time for them, time for others, time for ourselves. 

The best use of our time

Learning to prioritise is key. How do we do that? 

For me, it has always been considering that, in the long run, what is important > is more important than what is urgent. That fits for every compartment of our lives.

Compartment of Parenting

And so, yes the late homework or the fire on the stove needs attention. 

But somehow, we mustn’t drop the ball on the important: consistently leading and guiding our children to their homework (so it isn’t late), to brushing their teeth (so the emergency trip to the dentist doesn’t arise), to respecting others (so the fist fight or the trauma in the school ground doesn’t happen… or they already know how to cope when they see it coming).

“Prevention is worth a pound of Cure”

Giving time and attention to the little things, day by day, keeps, our children emotionally, socially safe and attended to as they navigate nursery and school. Prayer every night builds their spiritual awareness so they don’t have a vacuum that needs filling and gets filled with self harm as a teen. Good eating and hygiene habits ensure life long physical health and strength. 

At the heart of life is our learning to balance our time, focusing on what’s important in the long run.

Long-term vision

Taking the long view, rather than living in crisis management, will give us the ability to live and thrive. This is for ourselves and for the rest of the household.

So I guess the takeaway here is to learn to manage our time: for all us mums to let time be our friend and to allow us to manage our time as a gift, to respect and treasure it, to do the important things consistently, so that our children benefit most from the time we have to give them.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: PLAY

Play is perhaps the most important way of relating to our children.

We know the Hollywood cinematic storyline of the boy who wants to play ball with his dad and his dad never has time… and the fallout from that is stuff of the tale on screen.

We know that play is important because infants do all their learning from play: exploring their world, interacting with their toys is the way they are stimulated.

We know that mothers have so much to undertake in their traditional role as provider and parent, nurturer and bonder with their children. And a part of all of this is play.

I remember in early years being so bored with repetitive play, because it is so repetitive. But my child loved to read the same book, play the same game, over and over again. Boring yes! But his delight made it all worthwhile.

I remember the same game over and again. I remember Chinese checkers, until my son stopped wanting to play because I got better at it. Same for so many games… all good until he grew and I became proper competition (except for Monopoly… he’s still the best in the family at that!)… And yet, we need to let them win and later learn competition.

Interaction during play is important. Conversations during play are important. There is, according to “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, one love language of five which is TIME. Love is spelled TIME for many people once adult…. And for all children up to a point it will be of key importance…. Ironically, then TIME becomes our love language in relation to them as we long for any bit of time with them!:)

Please never underestimate the value of play to our children, as part of giving our time and attention. Yes, they need food, shelter, trainers and schoolbooks (or Ipads or laptops). But most of all, they need our time, and there is no price tag on that.

Every blessing to you as Mum, as we develop our strategies to keep on playing with our children, no matter how young or old they — or we –are. The games may change, but the essential value of them never will.

Sarah

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For Mothers

For Mothers: No, not everything

“Mama I want…”

One of the best lessons we can teach our dear children is

that they can’t have everything they want.

“No, not everything you want Darling.”

If our children learn that, life will be easier for them — less painful, less shocking, more peaceful. When they learn they can’t have everything they want, they learn disappointment, they learn compromise, they learn reality. It’s healthy.

Life is full of rich joy and also disappointment

Although it is important to develop a positive, “can do” attitude, we also need to learn to roll with the punches that life brings. We strive for excellence but in the striving forward, we lose some of the races we run. If we lose every race, we get discouraged and give up. But if we win every one, we get prideful and conceited. Win some/lose some is the reality of life, and learning this helps us to negotiate surprises in life, both good and bad.

What if our child doesn’t learn s/he can’t have everything?

They may find life difficult to cope with if they don’t know life has ups and downs.

They may find themselves behaving “like a bully” to get what they want because they don’t know how to accept “no” for an answer.

They may become deceitful — in order to achieve their ends. Certainly, they will be more selfish if they don’t understand the idea of compromise.

Goal setting: good and not-so-good

People who don’t know they can’t have everything set unachievable goals. Their ‘reach can exceed their grasp’ because they don’t know limitations exist. Ambition is good in order to keep us striving to improve. But it can also be soul destroying if our goals are complete fantasy. Teaching our child to accept “yes” and “no” will help them to navigate their own lives and help them to attain their ambitions with hard work and steadfast faith in themselves.

People need people

The person who has learned s/he will have disappointments from time to time will embrace life, yet will also know a contented life is not based upon achievement but on mutual admiration — one person to another…

Life is full of love when we learn to share, to accede to someone else’s preferences from time to time while still standing up for our own when it is vitally important. 

Life is rich and worth living when we share with others and build relationships based on mutual respect and trust. 

Life if full of rich relationship when we learn compromise, the give-and-take of life.

Disappointment is an valuable experience

Teaching a child that sometimes s/he can’t have what s/he “really wants” can be disappointing, but disappointment lasts for a moment. The lesson of overcoming disappointment and moving over the next hurdle will last a lifetime.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Pamper yourself

We need to look after ourselves… learn to pamper ourselves… so we can be our best for our families.

Self denial is not necessarily a virtue. If we’re flying in a plane and there is turbulence, what are we told to do when the facemarks fall from above our heads? We’re told, put ours on — first.

Self care

As mums, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t have the energy, health, or rest to take care of our families.

Life is a balance, and part of that balance surely includes taking care of ourselves.

On the other hand, self indulgence is equally unhealthy, both for ourselves and our families. So how do we find a balance?

What is pampering?

Occasionally, can we ensure we have time to ourselves?

At least once a day, can we make sure we have a quiet time where we can gather our thoughts, gather our strength, gather our emotions and acknowledge if we’re struggling?

At least once a week, can we ensure we give ourselves a treat: a bubble bath or a longer-than-usual shower; a walk in a quiet spot near our work or home; a sweet dessert or a trip to the cinema (or watch a particularly lovely film broadcast on tv)?

Pampering is devoting attention to ourselves for a specific period of time. It doesn’t have to cost money. It is occasional, not a way of life. It doesn’t have to take a l-o-n-g time or cost a lot of money (or any at all in fact). It does need to be a consistent practice in our schedule to give care: to you!

Then we are refreshed

Mums, we are worth giving kind attention to ourselves. And it makes us better mums, just as a breather gives new life to a long distance runner. 

Let’s give ourselves a little break every now and then, so we can run that hard parenting race we so long to complete well.

Every blessing.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Waiting

Waiting is something we mothers have to do a lot of, right?

Our small children

We wait for our children to finish their food.

We wait for our children to follow us, to finish talking, to do their homework.

We wait for our children to fall asleep at night.

Our teenagers

When our children become teens there is a different sort of waiting…

We wait for our teen to say “thank you.”

We wait for our teen to look at us, to share with us, even to speak to us!

We wait for our teen to get home in the evening.

Our young adults

When they leave home, we wait for our offspring to call us.

We wait for our offspring to visit us.

We wait for our offspring to make their way: with a job, a family, a life of their own.

We wait.

And hope.

And pray.

And so, for mothers, our task is simple: 

Let us learn to wait with grace: patience, hope, dignity and encouragement. Rushing will not change anything and will make the waiting stressful and unpleasant for us all.

Let’s learn to wait, knowing our children want to please, want to grow, want to live just as much as we want it for them. As we wait, they will draw closer, knowing our love, compassion, nurture and hope for them is just as strong as theirs is for themselves.

Living a family life is a joint effort. Let’s do it together and do it the very best way we can: Together.

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Let them run… without helmets

Dear Mothers, Fathers, Governments, 

Please allow our nations’ children to play….

This is a plea

Today around the Western World, children are sanitised to such an extent that playground equipment is limited, sport is limited, on the basis of health and safety.

Councils safeguarding children ban all sorts of play equipment. Helmets must be worn when cycling, skiing, sledging… all in the name of safety.

But where is the fun!?

What are we all so afraid of?

I’m all in favour of protecting our children. Mothers have an innate sense of “seeing the danger” that children don’t have, because they don’t have the experience and they don’t have the inbuilt sense of forward thinking that mothers have.

But in safeguarding physical safety, are we not stunting our children’s growth socially, emotionally, and even physically, as we limit their freedom and their experiences so that they learn to self protect?

May I encourage us all to allow our children to play freely. Can we not find a meadow, find a garden, find a space where there is no traffic, and let them play unhindered?

Every blessing, 

Sarah

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For Mothers

For Mothers: Whose job is it to parent?

Government v Parental Responsibility

I do not believe it is the job of a government to parent children. Parents are called parents because they have children in their care to… parent.

Ensuring a child gets schooling is the parent’s responsibility. Ensuring school is available is the government’s responsibility.

Ensuring a child has clothing, food and shelter is the parent’s responsibility. Ensuring there is work available, or for those who cannot work that there is a source of finance, is the government’s responsibility.

Sage wisdom

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he grows up he will not depart from it.” Proverb.

Healthy habits form early

There is a lot of wisdom in this. Whatever we learn when we are young tends to stick. So, let’s expose our children to wholesome people and wholesome places and wholesome food. That way our children will grow into healthy people emotionally, socially and physically.

Let’s not delegate

It is the parent’s responsibility to provide a secure, wholesome environment. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure safety and security is available throughout society.

It is a parent’s responsibility to love our children. The government cannot possibly love, care and protect children to the degree we can ourselves. 

We must not delegate or relinquish our jobs as parents. Our influence, our hearts, our actions are second to none. We cherish our children. Our children need our love and care. 

It is the parent’s job to parent. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure a safe society where parents and children can thrive. This is my opinion. What is yours?

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For Mothers

For Mothers: on giving advice

What do we do when our children ask for our advice?

I don’t want my child to ask for my advice… because I’m likely to give it. And then what?

If things go pear-shaped, it’s my fault.

If things go well, they’ve not achieved it on their own.

And yet, if they don’t ask advice and things go very badly wrong, we might have been helpful.

The fact of the matter is, our children need help, love, support from us. But they need to work life out for themselves.

And so, if asked, we parents are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

So, here’s my thinking:

Be honest.

Be encouraging.

Be frank.

Set them free.

And then, let go

They don’t have to follow what we say.

They can make their own move: mistake or otherwise.

In the mix, hopefully, they have some sensible peers they can ask advice of as well… Because a generation can make quite a difference, and perceptions change from generation to generation; making our way in life really does include a measure of fitting in with current society.

That’s my thinking. What’s yours?

Every blessing, 

Sarah