Common Parenting Mistakes – The Interfering Parent

Before you read on, please know that all parents are amazing and all parents (with the very odd exception) do the job to the best of their abilities. At least that is what I have to tell myself every now and again!

Our parenting style will be a unique blend of our personality type, our upbringing and social factors; along with the personality of our little darlings. what could ever go wrong??

I have inserted a parenting mantra for you to repeat as often as you need to, it helps to say it in the mirror, or better still, video yourself saying it and play when needed!

Mantra of the Good Parent

“I am a good parent

I love {insert name of offspring} and {insert name of offspring} loves me

I want the best for {insert name of offspring} and I am capable of giving my very best

I respect myself

I respect {insert name of child offspring}

I accept our relationship is always changing

And this can be for the better

I am a good parent”

Now, you have prepared yourself to read on, parenting mistakes are almost always examples of parents overdoing a skill. In my field of work, there are no true mistakes, we talk about using a skill a little too much…

Today, we discuss the Interfering Parent

The Interfering Parent

“Leave me alone” is an all too often comment splurted or spat at us by our lovely offspring.

The interfering parent wants to know exactly what their child is doing every hour of the day. Who are they friends with? Who have they fallen out with? What are their teachers saying? These parents have to be involved with everything their child is doing.

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The scariest comment I hear from young adults is “Me and Mom (or Dad) are literally the same person” Queue vomit gesture!

Is this you? What are you creating / suppressing in your child? Please be honest here…ok I’ll help you out

  • you are disabling the growth of autonomy (the sense of self)
  • you are creating a co-dependant relationship which will end badly – FOR YOU!
  • you could be encouraging your child to lie to you
  • you are disabling them from the best way of learning – making mistakes!
  • you are disabling their growth of resilience
  • you are using your own personal time badly when you could be having fun!

There are just a few to be going along with

Now, if you need to, repeat the Good Parent Mantra! Ok, deep breaths here.

As I mentioned earlier. If you are inclined to this style of parenting, it helps for you to realise which of the abundance of skills that you have, you are over-using. And here is the good news…

The Skill of Caring

Yes! you’re overdoing possibly the most precious parenting skill of all. You’ve fallen into a funk and it’s time to get out for the sake of both of you.

How?

First of all, take some time to think about what you get from interfering…from now on we’re going to say over-caring.

You may want to think about your own childhood. Were things similar? Maybe if they were, think about how you felt and how you would have preferred things to be. How did you find you were helped/hindered by this?

Were things totally different? Were your parents distant or absent?

You need to understand that you are “getting” something from over-caring. It is satisfying something within you which means that your over-use of skills is starting to have the negative effect of becoming all about you and not your child. This is the opposite of what you want.

So now it’s time to really dig deep and ask yourself what you get from “over-caring”?

Does it make you feel Safe? Loved? Wanted? Needed?

Obviously, this answer will be different for everyone so once you have identified what you get from over-caring, you can look at other areas of your life where you might get some level of satisfaction.

So, I challenge you to a social experiment! Try backing off from your precious offspring in one or two areas for a week.

Keep a journal and note down what you did differently and how things changed if at all.

The way in which your child re-acts could help you to realise what they are needing more of and, more importantly, what you can give less of. It may also make you face up to what you need more of and how you can give that to yourself.

If you like what you see here, please hit the “follow” button, leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

You can also see what I’m up to on Twitter and Facebook

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Happy Holidays???

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Well, that’s it now! School is officially out for the summer as the amazing Alice cooper once said – apologies for the ear bug!!

As a school counsellor, my work does not always end when school ends. Increasingly, I find myself working with children who are making the scary transition from Primary School to High School and are, frankly, terrified!

You’re 10 or 11 years old. You’ve made it through your first school experience. You’ve made friends. You’ve established yourself as a big fish in a little pond…

Suddenly, you’re a very little fish in a very, very big pond! Despite your physical size, you are now very strictly at the bottom of the pile! Yikes!

In all fairness to you brilliant parents out there, you are probably more afraid than your little angels of what they are about to go through. After all, you’ve been there! You’ve been jostled along the corridor by giants with floppy hair and braces, or, you’ve been asked “what are you staring at?” by prickly girls whilst they try and hide their nails from teacher.

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In this, the first of a series of helping hacks for parents and their Year 6’s, I want to focus on you as a parent.

Here are some do’s

And. More importantly, some don’ts

Separate!

We all do this…

“When I was at school, this happened”… “When I was at school that happened”

“My Mum told me to do this”… “My Dad told me to do that”

You get the picture?

First of all, that was probably anywhere between 10 and 20 years ago and we all know (because our kids are always telling us!) how out of touch we are and how things have moved on and changed over the last few years in terms of social media mostly.

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You need to make a separation between yourself and your child. They are not you and you are not them.

You still have the precious and short-lived power of knowing your child better than they know themselves. Please use this superpower wisely.

Think about your child. As much as you probably want him or her to be a perfect mini me of you or your partner, they are not! And thank you to the Human Race, we are all different! This means that we all react differently. If you get this bit right, you could be on your way to being a slightly above average embarrassing parent!

Observe!

Take some time to observe how your child typically reacts to new things at home. Do they take a while to get their head around something or are they straight in at the deep end?

Does your child use anger or humour to help them through difficulty? Or do they retreat and want to be alone?

Believe it or not, their personality type will already be forming and, try as you might to impose your way of doing things on them, it will not work!

This is where your superpower of knowing your child will come into use. Please match it with a drastically under-used superpower which is to NOT use your own experience to dictate next steps.

Action!

Once you have the magic ingredients which are that you have truly managed to separate your own childhood from your child and you have carefully considered how they react to change, you are ready to weave your magic.

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Ok, it’s not quite as dramatic and certainly not as easy as that!

  1. Start by opening up a conversation with your child. This is best done over an activity which (if you’re really imaginative!!) could be linked to the topic of starting High School.

In any event, it’s much easier to get information out of children and young adults whilst they are engaging in an activity (trust me! And my 98 broken pens!!)

  1. You may even want to ask in the third person or ask about one of their friends and how they are feeling. The key here is to help them to open up about how they feel without judgement.

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TRY AND FIX THIS FOR THEM!!!!!

YOU ARE EITHER DIS-ABLING THEIR OWN SOLUTION-MAKING SKILLS OR AT RISK OF BECOMING TOO DEPENDENT ON THEIR WEAKNESSES

For more information, see my forthcoming blog on parenting mistakes

  1. Ensure that your child feels listened to, ask them if they want to write down some words or draw some pictures to show how they feel

Remember that this may bring out some negative behaviour as your child will be feeling anxious so be a little bit lenient. A good sentence may be… “I know you’re upset / angry / sad, but it’s not helpful if you throw things or shout at me. I understand so let’s talk some more about what is making you so upset / angry / sad”

  1. Once you have finished speaking to your child (try and keep discussions to little and often rather than a mammoth 30 minute interrogation), tell them that you have heard them and that you will talk again.

Walk Away!

Obviously not permanently, that’s just irresponsible! :-0

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Leave the conversation there. This may be the hardest part for you as a parent but you have 6 weeks to work this through. You can’t solve it, your child (with your support) will come through it stronger and more resilient.

And here’s the magical bit… most of that strength and resilience will come from knowing they can talk to you without judgement any time they need to.

Try this out and please let me know now you get on!

Look out for more in this series for parents and children and not forgetting you wonderful young adults out there! There will also be some handy titbits for you coming soon.

If you like what you see here, please hit the “follow” button, leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

You can also see what I’m up to on Twitter and Facebook

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Abuse -the soft signs

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Abuse – what is it and how do we deal with it?

Anyone who has been watching the news this week may have heard the term “Coercive Control”

Coercive Control falls under new legislation which makes it illegal for your partner to abuse you using softer tactics than physical abuse.

The new behaviours which are covered by the law are…

When your partner

  1. Shares indecent images of you
  2. Restricts or denies your access to money
  3. Stops you seeing family and friends
  4. Scares you
  5. Threatens to reveal private things about you
  6. Places tracking devices on your phone
  7. Puts you down
  8. Acts with extreme jealousy
  9. Forces you to obey their rules
  10. Controls what you wear
  11. Makes you do things you don’t want to do

On their own and even if we think of just a few of these things, we may dismiss them as nothing to worry about or we may make excuses for our partner saying that they have issues which means they are a bit controlling but it’s fine we can handle it.

The thing to remember about this type of behaviour is that it is the same as bullying. All bullies need a victim and once they have found the victim, they steadily increase their control over them. The relationship falls into a pattern and before we know it, things have gone too far.

Figures show that 9 out of 10 women who were murdered last year were murdered by someone they knew. A shocking 85% of women were killed in their own homes.

Of course, domestic abuse does not only affect women in heterosexual relationships, it affects men and women in any type of relationship and can devastate lives.

In my job as a counsellor working with young adults, I often come across behaviours which fall into the above categories. I feel it is important to look at how people arrive in these relationships.

It’s easy and nice to have someone care so much about you that they want to do things for you, they may even defend sharing images of you on social media by saying you are beautiful or hunky and they want everyone to see that. But this is not OK!

I am not an expert in this field so if you are reading this and you are in the least bit worried about yourself or someone you know, PLEASE visit the Domestic Abuse Hotline for help and information for victims or for friends and families of victims.

PARENTS – Don’t think this only happens to adults!!!! Please talk to your young adults and help them to understand the definitions of abuse as early as possible so that they can recognise these behaviours sooner. Check out this powerful video…

https://www.nda.services/control

Also, if you are putting up with an abusive relationship because of your children, you are putting yourself and them in danger.

There is help out there, it only needs to be a click away

If you like what you see here, please hit the “follow” button, leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

You can also see what I’m up to on Twitter and Facebook

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Gee – A real life story – Part 2

Following the success of the first part of Gee’s Story, I feel honoured to share her next chapter with you. It’s almost impossible to sum up in a relatively short blog post, the trials and triumphs of Gee and many others like her but i’ll give it a try.

Please also look out for another inspiring story coming soon – Chantelle’s Story

Year 11

Year 11 for Gee started out in much the same vain as she had ended Year 10. She was sulky and complained about her awful summer break. She was glad to be back at school.

There were still problems for Gee in school and she was dodging lessons and shouting at teachers who were trying to get her back into them. Patience for Gee was wearing thin and, with GCSE’s looming, I knew that her chances of exclusion were high.

I decided to work through a timeline with Gee. This is a method I use often with young people as it can help them in many ways to make sense of events in their lives and can also help with less talkative students. For more information see my article on timelines.

Gee’s timeline revealed that she had lived in Basingstoke and Devon for her early years and moved to the Midlands around the age of 8. Her early childhood had, it seemed, been largely uneventful.

The last two years, however, had been too traumatically eventful. The extend of which I would not discover for another two years. As it was, what she revealed explained a lot.

At age 13, Gee’s parents had started to have a lot of problems and they had to move to a new house. At the same time, Gee was visiting her Nan in a care home regularly and her granddad collapsed and was ill in hospital.

Just before Gee’s 14th birthday, she was told that her Dad was, in fact, not her Dad and that she had a different Dad to her two younger brothers with whom she was living.

From her 14th birthday onward, things seemed to spiral. Gee’s Nan died and Gee wrote and read a poem at her funeral, a big step for any 14 year old.

Her Mother and Step-father split which resulted in a court case for custody of her two younger brothers.

Finally, the icing on the cake, Gee was being bullied at her previous school and moved to this school; her last chance.

In the space of 10 minutes working through the timeline, it was easy to see why Gee was a mess.

There had to be something inside of her, something that had grown within her in those early happy years that was inside waiting to fight back and break through the blackness that now resided in her mind.

I felt Gee’s sense of hopelessness as she told me that she had discovered that her biological father had been abusive towards her Mother, due to his own awful childhood. “That’s my Dad…am I like him?” she asked.

Her Mother had told her during an argument in a crazy moment of anger that she was indeed just like him.

I had a vision of a desperate child, helpless and suffocating as giant shovels of dirt were falling over her head. With each shovel, she was disappearing, and I knew it wouldn’t take many more to lose her altogether.

Then something happened…

Gee told me that her Mother had left the area and had told her and her brothers that she didn’t want any contact for a while. Surprisingly, rather than the final shovel for Gee, this was to prove to be the hand that she needed at the time to pull her up.

As sad as it was for Gee to have lost contact with her Mother, it took away a lot of the emotional angst that she felt, and she had to help her Step-father who was struggling to work and provide for them all. I felt this gave her some focus when she needed it.

Within a couple of weeks, I saw what I always knew was inside of Gee. She was a strong, kind girl; committed to making things right for her family, whatever form that took. A light had been ignited inside of her and she shocked everyone with her determination.

Gee announced that she was going to pass her GCSE’s! A naturally clever girl, she had missed so much work that this was a tall order. She had been predicted D’s in most subjects. Gee also announced that she wanted to stay on in 6th Form as school was the only place she felt safe and happy.

We looked on, helpless spectators, willing her through it. Teachers stepped up and gave her extra help, even those she had told to “Fuck off” seemed to have been placed under her spell.

The time came for Gee’s GCSE’s, she got through every single one. She continued to see me until the school broke up in July. Then came the anxious wait…

If you like what you see, please follow me here on wordpress or twitter or Facebook

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Gee – A Real life story

I feel blessed to be able to do a job I love and to have met and continue to meet the super heroes that share part of their journey with me. The icing on the cake for me is that a few of these amazing individuals have agreed to share their stories with me.

I’ll be chronicling their stories in short bursts but will also make their full stories available on this site to devour and enjoy.

I hope that these stories will help teenagers who are in crisis but also educators and parents who want a chance to delve into the lives of young adults.

I am in a unique position to see a person as they really are. No pretence, no fear of disappointment, “no holds barred”.

I’ll also be following up the stories with information and help and advice for those who may be able to identify with some of the stories.

A quick disclaimer here… the following stories have been written with the knowledge and permission of the young people concerned. Names and some details have been changed to protect their identities and to maintain confidentiality for them and their families.

For my first Story, I’d like you to meet Gee.

What can I say about Gee… She’s smart, funny, awfully hard on herself, crazy, creative, strong, independent. She literally crawled and clawed her way through school and is now studying at University! Gee wanted me to tell her story as an inspiration to others and also as therapy for herself. She’s excited to see herself through the eyes of another.

Without further ado, please meet Gee.

Gee’s Story

Introduction

Gee first “stropped” into my life around 4 years ago when she was on the verge of exclusion for her behaviour. A miserable Year 10, teachers and support staff had tried everything to get Gee to engage. I noticed very quickly that a lot of the staff liked Gee and wanted her to succeed. After a couple of meetings with her, I understood why.

Gee had a quiet determination about her. She was stubborn, barely spoke, constantly ducked out of lessons and didn’t seem to care what happened to her. Looking into her conker-brown eyes which were framed by endless black lashes, I saw a deep soul. It would be 3 years before I really knew more about Gee’s problems or before I would come to know the real “her”. I’m not sure, even now, if I or anyone else has, or will ever really know her.

Of course, this immediately became interesting to me and I wanted to help her reach her full potential.

Our first few sessions were quiet. Gee spoke exceedingly quietly and would cover her mouth making it even more difficult for me to hear her.

“No one understands” would become a stock phrase of Gee’s.

“Help me to understand” would become a stock phrase of mine.

We plodded through the last few weeks of year 10, I tried all the tricks in my toolkit to help Gee to open up, but I never gave up on her, and she never gave up on me. I was always honest with her and as time went on, I felt a maternal affection for her which I sensed was lacking in her life.

Gee’s relationship with her mother was strained. She had never known or met her father who was abusive towards her mother. Gee had two older brothers who had grown up and left the family home and two younger brothers who were the product of her mother’s relationship with Gee’s Step Father. The relationship had broken down and Gee’s Step Father took on a flat nearby, so he could still see his kids. To Gee’s disbelief, this included her.

Finally, things came to a head with Gee and her mother. Her mother threw her out of the home following a bitter row. Gee had nowhere to go and her Step father took her in. Gee’s mother would not speak to or have any interaction with her 15 year old daughter. The only person she had in the World was her Step father.

As Year 10 came to a close, I had little hope for Gee making it through Year 11. We agreed we would work together when she returned to school in September. That was when our journey really began.

If you feel that you can identify with Gee’s story so far, check out my tips for anxiety  and a look at what causes anxiety. Also what to look for when teenagers are unhappy.

Look out for my blog covering hints and tips for parents who are separating, coming soon.

Alternatively, check out some articles of interest here

Attachment “disorder”

Personalities and how they affect us

Mindfulness

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