Jan 302015

Separation and divorce can lead to a lot of guilt for parents, it’s not what anyone wants, nobody plans for it. And it’s traumatic, it’s the loss of the future you’d imagined and you don’t yet know what the replacement future looks like. From an adult perspective, our hearts may be breaking not necessarily for the loss of the relationship but for the loss of the family unit. We imagine that our kids feel the same way, but they don’t. Children don’t have that wider deeper perspective that adults have, children live in the here and now and what they […]

Jan 242015
want a copy of my book?

I have totally felt like the suffragette mother in Mary Poppins this week, although I haven’t actually left the house singing ‘Votes for women step in time!’ I haven’t actually left the house much at all in fact. As well as running courses, organising book-readings at book shops and dealing with publicity for my book which is published on Wednesday, I have been on full-alert action stations for the No More Page 3 campaign. NMP3 HQ this week has been like those scenes at Houston Mission Control in my favourite film ‘Apollo 13′ when they find out there’s a problem. […]

Jan 162015

In all my work with parents, the most shocking and upsetting stories I hear are those about teenage boys treating their mothers with contempt, and I am hearing more and more of those stories.  And far too often I hear about physical violence and abuse: pushing, hitting, knocking to the ground, pinning down, grabbing by the throat. The mothers coping with violence from sons are not some breed apart; the ones I know of are intelligent, otherwise confident, funny, thoughtful, ‘normal’. They are not bad mothers, they are not doing things markedly differently to anyone else. They are generally single […]

Jan 092015

Whenever I read about different types of authority, the two extremes are always represented as authoritarian and permissive. I think that’s wrong; being permissive is an ideology, not a kind of authority. The permissive parent allows the child free reign out of a belief in the benefits for the child of total freedom, and this has nothing to do with the kind of authority they exert. Permissive parents are just as likely to resort to an authoritarian approach when they’ve had enough. (It always used to surprise me when I would ask my kids where so-and-so was, referring to a […]

Jan 022015

WordPress kindly sent me my blogging stats for 2014 and I thought I would present the top 5 posts here in my own personal Hit Parade. In case you missed any, you understand, and not because I have a mind so fugged with chocolate over-consumption that there is no chance of me writing a new witty and engaging post until at least half-way through January. These are my Top 5 viewed posts during 2014, and not necessarily my 5 Top Liked posts (this will become clear when we get to number 3) so here we go: 5. Mothers Are Role Models […]

Dec 182014
first world problems

It took me a while to realise that a lot (all) of the problems I used to worry about with my children were not problems at all, they were just..um…life. Is it because our kids these days have all their basic needs met that we feel the need to invent problems to worry about? One day, in the middle of worrying about one of my children, it suddenly hit me that billions of children before her had experienced the same thing and survived it, and that maybe I should stop assuming that she alone was uniquely ill-equipped to deal with […]

Dec 122014
trusting our teenage daughters

My fifteen-year-old daughter went to a party last Saturday night, after which she had a ‘sleepover’ at her friend’s house. She does this so often I’m wondering when she’s going to stop calling it a sleepover and just say she’s crashing at her friend’s. At what age does this crossover in language happen I wonder? My seventeen-year-old son popped in on Sunday afternoon with the dramatic news that he had seen her at dad’s, and she was covered in bruises. ‘I did my big brother stuff Mum’ he said, ‘I asked her if she’d been beaten up but she said […]

Dec 052014
a handy christmas guide

There you go thinking it’s only November, plenty of time yet, and then December starts and it’s always already a week in before you’ve noticed what’s happened. Time for a Christmas blog!   I’ve written a handy guide to Christmas for parents just in time to catch you before the real stress sets in. Based on many years of experience, here are the important points to remember:     Don’t buy your kids too many presents. No, really, DON’T. You can always increase the number later but you can’t decrease Cut corners wherever possible. Do you really need to make […]

Nov 282014
my new parenting book is out!

My new parenting book is out now, it’s called Communicating with Kids and that’s what it’s about, which is ironic really because during the year I spent writing it I barely spoke to mine. They seem to be OK though, I’ve dedicated it to them and apologised in advance for the content. They do feature quite a lot. It’s quite a slim volume but every word counts. It’s all killer no filler. I like economic prose, in fact I’d like to think that I’m the Kazuo Ishiguro of parenting authors. I’ve written this book because I’m fed-up of reading parenting […]

Nov 212014
mothers: best drivers in the world

I passed my driving test when I was eight months pregnant with my fourth child and because of that my examiner didn’t make me do an emergency stop. Which was nice, and sensible, but I had to do the more difficult stuff instead (I liked emergency stops, they were easy, you just had to slam your foot on the brake – like, duh? Who can’t do that?) I then took a Pass Plus test which involved driving at night, on the motorway, and on winding narrow country lanes, in really bad weather (I remember it well, lashing torrential rain, rolling […]

Nov 142014
a language guide for grandparents

Parenting language has changed beyond all recognition over the decades since I was a child. When I say that, I mean I recognise it all, but if my mother had magically lived on another planet in the intervening years and dropped back to Earth right now, she wouldn’t understand half of what we go on about these days. I imagine it’s a common situation for grandparents who have taken their eye off the parenting ball since their own children were little and now find themselves negotiating a minefield of new words, phrases and expressions which they are expected to understand […]

Nov 072014

There are some ways we treat our kids which we wouldn’t like ourselves, I’ve done it, and for some reason I’ve imagined that even though it wouldn’t work for me, it should work for them. It never has. Here are some of those ways I don’t like to be treated, and my honest reactions to them: Insincere flattery: I know you don’t mean it and I just think ‘what do you want?’ Over-praising me: Love a bit of genuine praise, but loads of it and I start to feel uncomfortable and a bit weirded-out. Do you really feel I need […]

Oct 312014
I don't like halloween

‘I’m going out with my friends tonight’ announced my daughter. ‘Trick or Treating?’ I asked. ‘No mum’ she said, rolling her eyes. ‘Ooh’ I said, ‘have you grown out of it?’ ‘Mum I didn’t do it last year’ she said patiently. ‘Oh’ I said, ‘oh yeah, of course, I remember now. I do pay attention, honestly.’ I don’t like Halloween. Or to be more specific, I don’t like trick or treating, we didn’t do that when I was a child, it came over from America at some point and was well-established by the time my kids came along. I think […]

Oct 262014

We live in a culture of improvement – new improved tastes, experiences, products, results – you can’t get away with just leaving something as it is anymore, it will begin to look shabby. The rate of growth of technology in our consumerist culture produces goods and then quickly develops the means of making a better version so that we all have to continually upgrade. Nothing stands still for long anymore; just as you get used to something like, say, Facebook’s latest design, it changes again and it feels like you’ve moved house. Stressful. ‘New improved Mars Bars’ was a con, […]

Oct 192014
the pressure to be nice

It’s hard to believe it now but I used to try and be really nice to my children all the time. They won’t remember. I really did think that’s what you were supposed to do and I can’t believe now that I bought into that stereotype of a good mother and tried to live up to it for so long. The ideals of perfect motherhood get under your skin, they are guilt-inducing without you really being aware of it: failure, stress and resentment are built in. Being nice, polite, reasonable and calm all the time is an act, no-one’s like […]

Oct 122014
teenagers and things that don't work

I’m becoming increasingly aware of things that really should work but don’t. Diets for example, or regularly checking your breasts for lumps, they’re things that don’t work and there’s lots of research and evidence to back that up. But they should work shouldn’t they? They should work so much that even though I know the research, my gut instinct is to disbelieve it. And the reason, I think, is that they are simple answers: solutions which empower us with certainty that we can control things if only we do x, y or z. Simple answers to complex issues – our […]

Oct 052014
body confidence issues

As I look at my daughter, just turned 15, I am so glad I’d become older and wiser before she arrived in the world. I am so glad I had reached the Fuck It stage of body dysmorphia and that I had become Frankly Too Bored With The Whole Subject To Frankly Give A Shit. It had taken a lot of practice to achieve that mindset, a lot of pretending, but I’d come a long way by the time she was born. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if she’d been my first child when I was […]

Sep 282014
my parenting job is done

You use what you’ve got to give your kids an advantage in the world don’t you? And what we’ve got is individual to us, there’s no better or worse, there’s just what we happen to have. I was thinking this as my daughter was looking through the list of opportunities for a week’s work experience given to her by the school. ‘All my friends’ parents are getting them into companies they know Mum, but is it OK if I just do a week in a shop in Lewes?’ ‘Yeah of course’ I said, ‘I don’t know anyone so you’ll have […]

Sep 212014

This week I have mostly enjoyed picking blackberries, it’s something I haven’t done for a long time. Blackberrying is one of those activities I gave up when the kids got too old to want to do it with me. I began to calculate the hours spent versus the value of the goods produced (I’m self-employed, it’s a habit) and realised that, financially, I’d be better off buying my blackberries from Tesco. Except of course I never did because I can’t bring myself to spend money on something you can get for free in the hedgerows. A few blackberry-less years later, […]

Sep 142014
empty nest syndrome

Over the summer, on and off, I was playing a fun little game in my head called What If All The Kids Had Left Home Already, What Would That Be Like? It started in July when I went up to North Wales by myself to visit my mum, I was driving alone on the motorway when it suddenly struck me that this is what it will be like when all the kids have gone. At Oxford Services, where we always stop off, I could sense the ghosts of Holidays Past and the feeling was so painful I decided my next […]

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