Small stay calm and content

Guest Post – Ten Tips On How To Be A Great Dad

Small stay calm and content
Small stay calm and content

A guest post for father’s day:

Cat Williams is a relationship counsellor who qualified with the renowned UK charity, Relate, in 2007. She is also a British army wife and mother of two.  ‘Stay Calm and Content’ is her newly released book.  It was suggested by her clients and explains the ‘secret’ behind staying calm and content, no matter what life throws at you.  It is available via her site or on Amazon.

I don’t often take guest posts, but Cat and I have chatted on twitter and our blogs for a bit, and as I write ‘for mums’ rather than Dads, I thought that her post was a great idea.  I’d like to also mention a post over at Spencer’s about the furor about TV Dad’s putting real life Dads in a bad light.  I so agree with what he wrote, but didn’t write it because I’m a mum!

So over to Cat …..

 

Tricky For Dads

As a relationship counsellor I have come across many couples who, as well as struggling in their couple relationship, are also struggling in their relationship with their children.  It is often fathers in particular who find it difficult to build a close relationship with their children, or who find that relationship difficult to maintain as their children grow up.

Here are my thoughts and ‘tips’ on what it means to be a great Dad, and to build a great relationship.

 

Feeling Listened To

The main thing to remember is that children of any age (and their parents) want to feel listened to, understood, respected, and loved.  The key word here is feel, we might know we love our children, but if they don’t feel it then that love is almost pointless from their point of view.

(update from Lisa: Check out this post on how to make them feel listened to)

A good dad realises the great power and influence he has over his child’s self-esteem (a combination of self-confidence and self-worth), and that his child also influences how he feels about himself as a father.

(Update from Lisa: Check out this post on how to get your kids to do what you need them to do)

“fear makes strangers of people who should be friends” – Shirley MacLaine

If we (whether adult or child) feel unloved, disrespected, or not good enough in some way, then this is a threat to our well-being, and therefore our brain triggers our physiological ‘fight or flight’ response.  Our heart beats faster, we feel twitchy, or our stomach feels unsettled, and we describe this as feeling ‘negative emotions’ such as anger, annoyance, stress or fear.

If we are unaware that threats to our self-esteem cause our negative emotions, then we will also be unaware that our subsequent actions are attempts to protect or repair our self-esteem. We feel defensive and we do what makes ourselves feel better in some way; maybe criticise or judge each other and end up arguing, or stop speaking to one another, and then both think “I don’t know how it got like this, why can’t we get along?”

‘Tell me how a person judges his or her self-esteem and I will tell you how that person operates at work, in love, in sex, in parenting, in every important aspect of existence – and how high he or she is likely to rise. The reputation you have with yourself – your self-esteem – is the single most important factor for a fulfilling life.’ – Nathanial Branden

Children are usually fully aware of their parent’s expectations, and whether they are considered ‘good enough’.  Many of us go through life feeling in the shadow of an ambitious father or mother; or aiming to live up to our parents’ investment of hope, time, and money.  We usually have a natural desire to please our parents, if we can, and it may bring us happiness to achieve what they want for us, but what if we realise one-day that we cannot achieve our parents’ expectations, or that we want something different?

 

Ten Top Tips

 

The big hairy northern one
What is Daddy wearing?

1) Your Expectations

Look at where your expectations for your child come from; your parents, friends, ‘society’?  How do you define ‘happy’ and ‘successful’?  Why do you define them that way?

2) Ask them 

Ask your child how they define happy and successful, and whether they are achieving what they would like for themselves.

3) Accept them as they are 

Help your child with their self-esteem and self-belief by accepting them as they are; asking for and listening carefully to their feelings and opinions; and encouraging them to find their own way of achieving their goals.

4) Your Own Self-Esteem

Set a good example by working on your own self-esteem; make time for things which will help you to feel confident and positive about yourself as a parent e.g. exercise, time with loved ones, enjoying a hobby etc.

5) Quality Time 

Make it a priority to find positive ways to spend time with your son or daughter, doing something they, or you both, enjoy.

6) Their Friends 

Show your child that you accept and value their friends, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, children, etc by being open-minded and getting to know these people as individuals. Even if you don’t like your child’s friends, for example, there is a reason why your child does; these friends will be helping your child’s self esteem in some way.

7) Cut The Criticism 

Give encouragement and praise to yourself, and others, rather than being critical.  We all behave in ways which make sense to us as individuals at the time, this doesn’t justify ‘negative’ behaviour, but it does explain it. It has been said that ‘children need love most when they deserve it least’, and this is true, showing understanding and giving encouragement is much more effective than being critical.

Praise is like sunshine to the human spirit;  we cannot flower and grow without it – Jess Lair.

8) Show them your love 

Tell and show your children, partner and family that you love them. This is the most likely way that you will receive the same in return.  Find out from www.5lovelanguages.com what makes each of you feel most loved, and then act on it.

(Update from Lisa: here is a post about the 5 languages of love)

9) Mentoring 

Be a role model: speak daily about your thoughts, fears, frustrations, and weaknesses.  Demonstrating the self-confidence to speak openly about your own feelings, to apologise for your mistakes, and to listen to the feelings of others, even if they are different from yours, will help to build understanding, respect, love, and a positive relationship.

“How sad that man would base an entire civilization on the principle of paternity, upon legal ownership and presumed responsibility for children, and then never really get to know their sons and daughters very well” – Phyllis Chesler.

10) HAVE FUN!

Don’t forget to have fun!  Most of us parents are probably too serious a lot of the time.  Try to see the world through the eyes of your children, everything can feel new, interesting and fun if we approach it the right way, take every opportunity to try new things, laugh, giggle, and find the joy in every day life, even when it seems an up hill struggle.

 

What do you think about Cat’s tips?

Have you read my post on ‘How to be a good mum‘?  It takes a slightly different tack.

 

 

Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner: When the Mum is supporting the family.

Agony Aunt for MumsSo many people I know have been affected by redundancy like us.

It is now a FACT OF LIFE and something that no one should be ashamed of (easier said than done).

This guest post is from a lovely blogging friend of mine Muddling Mummy.  I’m sure many Mums who are having to work at the moment feel the pressure, especially when they are the only income.  Maybe this is how many Dads feel too?

I’m going to put some ideas to help her out at the bottom, but I would love you to include your tips too or stories to show her that she’s not on her own.

 

Redundancy – 11 months on

This isn’t a post I thought I would ever write – both of us had assumed that, even though the jobs market is super grim, that he would find another job – he had a few leads, people were making positive noises and all in all it didn’t look too bad really

Roll life on another 6 months and it doesn’t look terribly rosy – whilst we can talk a good talk in front of family and friends there isn’t another job on the horizon and we are looking at going into another year with this hanging over us

People are interested in what is happening with him – they say how well he looks, ask after what’s he is up to and worry about how he is coping about this whole thing.  Nobody ever asks me if I am ok, nobody ever notices the pressure that this situation has created for me

We are lucky that I kept on working after the girls arrived – partly because I wanted to carry on with my career, partly because we knew that two of us working in the same, vulnerable industry meant that having two earners gave us flexibility and the chance that we’d have at least one income if things got sticky.   My income is ok, we can manage ok on it but we are seriously considering that I move back to a full time contract – the hard won 80% seems like too great a luxury at this stage and the money would definitely come in handy

I’m also having to face head on that it is my career now that needs to be pushed ahead – I’m having to have difficult conversations about promotion and starting to have to really push onto the career ladder.  I don’t mind, in fact a small part of me relishes the chance, but I do regret that I am being forced into doing something that I am not quite ready for.

Again, nobody has mentioned that they notice that I am working longer and harder and that I am the breadwinner keeping my family together – I feel as if I get zero credit for this and all the stick from not fitting in with the largely stay-at-home mummy group at my daughter’s school.

All of this is made harder by my husband not having really picked up terribly much on the home front.  Following Lisa’s tips for helping to deal with redundancy we spent a few evenings in the first grim week writing down ideas for things he could do in this unexpected break – we have tried to view this time as a sabbatical and a chance for him to spend time doing fun things.  Again I am beginning to feel that whilst he has had an extended period of doing what he wants to, I find myself still picking up a lot of things on the home front and having to work harder – I can feel resentment starting to bubble up and his blank lack of understanding of the small, boring things that make up running a household doesn’t help

I honestly don’t know how to fix things – I feel as if we are on different sides of a widening chasm and I don’t know how to build bridges across – another part of me is upset that it has to be me that notices that things aren’t right and that has to fix this.  That has to fix this on top of everything else.

Who knows how long we could go on like this – the job market looks worse not better than a year ago – I can see a future where I have to embrace being the sole earner, I have to really work at my career and I will be the one supporting the family but I’m not sure I can see a world where my husband changes his spots and starts supporting me emotionally and practically through that.  That expectation gap worries me because I can see it slowly pulling us further apart

I just wish that someone, anyone acknowledged that this is hard for me too and gave me some credit for all I have done and am doing – it sounds selfish, it probably is but the bottom line is I don’t think we can carry on like this and I don’t want to be another statistic of a marriage that failed when a job fell away

 

My Answer

Oh honey I know you were worried that you were being too self-centred.  No of course I don’t think that.  I just think that you are feeling unappreciated and stressed.

I’m so glad that you contacted me, it’s time to do something about this, because the resentment is bad news for your health and relationships.  Sorting it out now before it all goes pear shaped is a good plan.

BUT, because I love you, I’m going to give you some tough love.

You need to stop being so blinking competent!  You need to stop giving the impression that you can handle everything.  I know you talk more honestly on your blog, but I’m less convinced about how ‘honest’ your mask is in real life?

I’m a good example of what happens when you ‘keep on keeping on’ and I promise you, you don’t want my Fibromyalgia as an eye opener to how much you need to take care of yourself more.

I wonder how many men feel like this all the time?

I bet loads of other women are feeling exactly like you at the moment; forced by the recession, debt, bills, divorce or redundancy in their other half to work more than they want to.  You are not alone.

The good news is that we had exactly the same problem with the length of time before a job came along the first time that the Big Hairy Northern One was made redundant.  This time round the search for a new job was a lot quicker, but that was down to a couple of things:

1) Our previous experience of how long it can take, so how important it was to get over the wallowing stage more quickly

2) The Hairy one’s openness to new ideas landing him a fabulous 4 day pw contract that is giving that ‘time out’ option at the same time as providing for the family.

So the ideas I have for you are to help you:

1) Reduce the resentment so that you can talk openly with hubby

2) Get the ball rolling on the job front.

To reduce your resentment:

Is it possible to have romance and kids?

1) Write 50 (that’s FIFTY!) reasons why there is some kind of benefit, silver lining, upside or something you are getting from the fact that you are the only earner and may potentially have to go back to work full-time. (Go deep, each time you find a benefit then ask yourself ‘and because of that I get’ or ‘and that means that’).

2) If you get too excited about working full time, then write 50 downsides to the fact that you are having to work, I want you balanced, not one way or the other.

3) Think long and hard (maybe chat with a mate too) before considering giving up your part-time status.  It will be difficult to get back.  If you are considering a 3rd child I would be very wary to give this up.  Easier to cut back on spends and have a tight budget, than to give this up.  At the same point in time having a career is important to you, and if you decide this is your opportunity to have an ‘excuse’ to go back to work full-time with a focus on your ambition, then go for it.

Chat with hubby:

1) Write a list of the things that you would like help with around the house or with the family.  Facts work with men, so keep it as factual as possible.  Avoid all statements like ‘You have done xxx or You have not done xxx’.

2) Tell hubby that you really need a chat about how things are going and ask him when and where he would like it within the next week.  (Go out for coffee or somewhere else, not at home if possible).

3) Explain that you are overwhelmed, and how you feel.  Not using the word ‘You’ in the conversation, i.e. not loaded at him for putting you in this position, just sharing whats going on with you.

4) The plan is that he listens, and you can then share your list of what he can do to help.

5) Then you guys come up with a plan of action of something that he does every day to progress the job search: contacting people, updating CV’s, thinking out of the box about options etc.

Next Chat with hubby:

Book to then have a weekly chat with him once a week in an evening, to see how things are going, how you are feeling and how he is progressing.

If at this point he doesn’t pull his socks up, then it’s time to get the frying pan out.  No, I’m joking!

But it is time to do an ‘intervention’ and explain to him that he needs to get his act together and get a job.  Sometimes being ‘nice’ doesn’t help people.  Sometimes they need to be told sort their act out.  Even if he is suffering for depression or lack of confidence, that’s understandable, but he needs to DO SOMETHING about it.

After Christmas

If there is no increase in support, and no change in his behaviour, then find a local relationship counsellor (I would pick someone with experience in CBT too and go private rather than wait for Relate).

I am not a fan of counselling, but it has it’s place.  One thing is that it gives a safe place for you guys to talk about how you are both feeling, and the other is that it can help people HEAR things that they don’t hear when their other half says it.  It won’t cost lots, probably only £30-£50 per session.

Tell me and we’ll come up with another plan!

But hopefully you’ll be all sorted and much happier by then!

 

Readers Ideas/Stories

Anyone else with a similar story to share or ideas for MuddlingAlong Mummy, we’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Dealing with online negativity

Top Tips For Dealing With Twitter Terriers, Facebook Furies and Blog Bummers

IDealing with online negativity‘m not here today.

I’m over on the BritMums Blog with my summary about dealing with online negativity or bullying.

Go check it out, because it has a full description of the summary that I skipped over at the end of the panel with my Top Tips for dealing with these miserable people online:

 1) Twitter terriers that won’t let go of an issue

2) Facebook furies who make a volcano out of a molehill

3) Blog bummers who will bring down anyone’s day:

 

I was really chuffed to be asked to be on the panel at a discussion den for Britmums Live 2012 on dealing with Online negativity, because it’s a worrying subject for Mums and bloggers, and I was teamed with a great panel.

My tips were about the daily shenanigans that goes on in twittersville, facebook world and on our blogs, rather than trolls or haters.  They’ll work in real life too, although those miseries do tend to keep quiet face to face!

 

 

#BlogItForBabies and Predictions for Mummy Blogging in the UK for 2012

I’m sorry, I haven’t been here for a few days.

‘Where’ve you been?’ you might ask?

Well I was over at Nickie’s place on the fabulous IAmTypecast blog discussing my predictions for the UK Mummy Blogging Community for 2012.  I didn’t post it here as I know many of my lovely readers are not bloggers.  But you might want to take a look, as some of the lessons to be learnt by bloggers in this coming year also work for other groups of people.

I love the Mummy Blogging community, and I think it has great potential.  But what I pointed out is that in order to grow and survive it will need to mature and change.  I feel these changes coming on now, and hope that the bloggers embrace them with open arms.  If they don’t then it could mean the stifling of a great movement, as I have seen in other communities before.  Change always creates a bit of chaos, so there is bound to be upheaval, but it’ll settle down.

I described 5 potential directions for the current bloggers and there are some great comments from people discussing them.

Now obviously, some will move around from one to another, and there will be new bloggers coming along in future years.  However, I do think that there are going to be distinct ‘attitudes’ that bloggers will adopt.  Lets see, we’ll know in the next 6-12 months if I’m right!

I do actually have loads of tips for blogging or running your own small business.  Do you guys want me to pop them on this blog?  Let me know if you’re interested; otherwise I’ll just do more guest posts instead.

 

For the rest of the week I was supporting a blogging campaign which shows all the best of the innovative, far thinking and growth potential that I talked about in my guest post.

The mighty Mammasaurus who runs the blogging site ‘Love All Blogs’ is travelling around the UK this week for the #BlogItForBabies campaign to raise awareness of Save The Children Fund’s ‘Build It For Babies’ campaign.

Here is the official blurb:  Blog it for Babies hope to raise money for selected equipment for a delivery room in a healthcare clinic in Bangladesh. We would love for a  campaign started by parents who are lucky enough to be able to take their babies and children to their GP’s when they are ill to be able to save the lives of little ones in Bangladesh who sadly do not have the same chance.

 

If you would like to donate a pound, all you have to do is text XVRL71 £1 to 70070

 

On Mammasaurus’s arrival in St Albans the whirlwind that is Actually Mummy had arranged a tent, with stalls from fab companies (apart from the 2 companies who refused to pay up at the end of the day despite the price being agreed, getting free links from great websites and blogs, and all the free tips available, let alone the chance to get involved in the activities – sorry had to be said!).

There was an hours lesson with ‘The Rock Choir‘, free blogging/SEO/Social Media tips from top UK mummy bloggers, and we finished with my son Curly Headed Boy teaching how to dance to Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby, Baby’, check out our moves here (the little one is Little Dimples):

 

Those crazy bloggers finished the day with naked ironing; they’ll do anything to raise money for charity!

 

 

Now you know why I love the Mummy Blogging Community!  There are some amazing women in there and I’m proud to know them.

 

My breast mates guest post

I’m not here!

I’m very excited to say I’ve done my first ever guest post over at Aly’s ‘Plus 2.4’ blog for her ‘Breast Mates’ posts. The reason why I like her posts is because they show how amazingly different the experience is for everyone, and don’t push the ‘everything else is wrong’ attitude which some breastfeeders can.

So check out my post here and the rest of the posts here.