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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-06-28 07:29:43

parenting_feat irishtatler

parenting_feat irishtatler

GGtheAUMILET Guilt. It’s part of
the modern-day
parent’s armoury
of emotions,
sitting uneasily
between love,
patience and understanding. It’s
that niggling feeling that you
should be putting in more time
with your kids than you are. It’s
that unsettling sense that you’re
not managing your work-life
balance as well as you should.
It’s that upsetting hunch that
there’s something you could be
doing better, and then there’s the
constant comparison with other
people’s standards.
We all have friends who seem
to have it all sewn up: spotless
houses, well-behaved kids, fresh
baked goods on play dates,
and a social media feed packed
with shots that look like they’re
straight from the pages of a
Boden catalogue.
As ridiculous as it sounds,
most parents are prone to self-
doubt and making comparisons,
with working parents suffering
the worst guilt of all. In a 2013
survey, commissioned by Ribena
Plus, 42 per cent of respondents
worried that they weren’t being
a good enough parent during
the week. Averaging just 30
minutes of quality time with
their children after a busy day at
work, this compares with more
than three hours a day they spent
commuting, cooking and doing
the housework.
A further 37 per cent of those
surveyed admitted struggling
with switching off from work
mode once they got home.
Technology is one of the reasons
many of us find our lives so busy,
as we allow email, phone calls
and social media to infringe on
our family time. Few of us are
ever separated from our handsets,
and increasingly allow them to
draw our attention from the task
at hand. How many times have
you listened to your child tell a
story while keeping eye contact
with your phone screen the

Worried that you’re not spending enough time with your
children? Think everyone else is doing a better job at
parenting than you are? You’re not alone, writes

Jillian Bolger, and guilt isn’t as bad as you think.


“For most of us a moderate MAKE
amount of guilt is actually IT COUNT
a sign of love, our strong
attachment and commitment 7 free ways to reconnect
with your kids...
to do the best we can”
whole time or sat down to help with they have raised their children. “For
homework whilst absent-mindedly most of us a moderate amount of 1NIGHT AT HOME
scanning your Twitter feed? guilt is actually a sign of love, our rom Snap! to Jenga, playing as a family
strong attachment and commitment
This modern malaise prevents us to do the best we can to raise healthy Fis a fun, bonding experience and far
switching off fully and giving our children. As in all things, too much
full attention to our kids, but it’s not or too little can create a serious more rewarding than watching TV. Children
the only reason so many of us feel problem for both parent and child. learn the importance of sportsmanship when
we could be doing better as parents. The trick is to know we have it and playing with adults too.
According to Child Psychologist why and more importantly, how it
Dr Claire Halsey, “There is no-one drives our choices and actions in 2 BAKE WITH YOUR CHILDREN
as tough on their own parenting our role as parent.” Even if you fear you’ll never be Nigella.
skills as a parent.” Canadian Kids of all ages enjoy the mess, the creating
psychotherapist and bestselling Guilt focuses on the past, giving and the pride of eating something yummy
author Alyson Schafer agrees, us the sensation, rightly or wrongly, they have made themselves, under
arguing that guilt isn’t necessary that we have fallen short of our your guidance.
a terrible thing. “When we have own standards. Rather than ignore
feelings of guilt, it’s an indicator to the feeling, we can take it and 3 LET THEM DRESS UP
ourselves that says ‘I have a moral turn it into something positive by And put on a show for you. From singing
code of conduct that I expect myself asking ourselves if we can improve to drama, poetry to dancing, nothing makes
to live by in order to be a good on things the next time around. a child feel more special than your undivided
parent.’” Sometimes we’ll know that we attention.
can (maybe we over-reacted when
This code isn’t necessarily dishing out a punishment); other 4HEAD TO THE MUSEUM OR
achievable, or realistic, but it allows times it should become clear that ART GALLERY
us to set standards that we can our guilt is related to situations
aspire to, and, when we fall short, out of our control (we’re probably All our national museums have family activity
we’re quick to criticise ourselves for working because we have to, not booklets with interesting trails for kids and
failing. Often our parenting code is because we choose to spend time each puts on family events throughout the
informed by our own experiences as away from our kids). year too. Entrance is free.
children, with many of us borrowing
standards from how we’ve been When the guilt pangs kick in it’s 5 CAMP INDOORS
raised, and holding ourselves up to important to remember that we are Kids love when parents play silly, and
our own parents. Family therapist, neither bad parents nor Super Mums, nothing pleases them more than a green light
Ann Smith, rarely meets a parent we are simply human. The fact that to turn their bunks, the dining table or sofas
who denies having guilt about how we stop to scrutinise ourselves into a tent. Supply countless blankets, get
shows that we are committed, caring down on your knees and help construct their
JUST parents who simply want the best playhouse. Allow yourself time to hang out
SAY NO for our children. For that we are there afterwards, eating snacks together and
to be applauded, but before we get playing in their new world.
We may have convinced carried away, let’s heed the words of
ourselves that we’re time-poor, top American family psychologist, 6 GO ON A NATURAL TREASURE
but a simple adjustment, like Dr Kevin Leman. HUNT
managing our tech time should
allow us increase quality time Leman warns that guilt is Dress them in wellies and rain gear (no
with our kids. On weeknights responsible for most of the bad need to wait for the summer to enjoy the
decisions we make, indulging outdoors) and let them loose in the forest or
enforce a self-imposed tech our kids excessively and creating on a beach. Create a treasure list beforehand
moratorium until after their a Gimme Generation of ‘me, and let them tick off things like a shiny leaf,
bedtime, with weekend house me, me’ children. “Kids are held smooth stone or pretty shell as they find them.
rules stipulating that you stay accountable less and less and have
offline for as long as you’re the fewer responsibilities in the family,” 7 GRAB A BALL AND PLAY ON
he observes. “Fewer children today THE STREET
adult in charge. consider others before themselves
because they've never been taught Donkey is great for all ages. Sevens, against
to think that way.” a wall, is fun for older kids, as is offering
yourself up as goalie for footie target practice.
Be patient, stop looking at your phone, and
allow yourself to enjoy the games as much as
your child will.


DTAhUe dGepHendTaEntR

Roisin Ingle explores her own relationship with her mother along
with other Irish daughters in the thought-provoking

new book, The Daughterhood.

T hree years ago when I walked into Natasha A bit like a crisps and cheese day. And yet, I take this life-
Fennell’s office and she told me her idea for a enhancing relationship for granted: I am dependent on my
book about daughters and their mothers, I was mother materially. If I lose my ATM card, which happens too
intrigued. As she spoke, my thoughts sloped frequently, or too many bills come in at the wrong time and I
guiltily off to my own relationship with my need a dig out, my mother is there. I pay her back, eventually,
mother. Was I a good-enough daughter? Did I but I know that I shouldn’t be relying on her in this way. I
take her for granted? Should I be more loving, more giving, am dependent on her emotionally, too. Take the other night. I
less needy? (No, yes and yes, yes, yes.) The book Natasha was feeling a bit fragile after a long day at work. I took a call
had in mind was one about daughters in their 30s, 40s and from a well-meaning friend who started to suggest gently that
beyond making the most of the time we have left with the most I might need to take time for some exercise. He wasn’t wrong.
important, and in some cases the most frustrating, woman in I DO need to take some time for exercise. But at the moment
our lives. When she finished explaining, she asked if I would I haven’t got the time or I find it difficult to make the time. So
help her write it. “Never mind writing it,” I remember saying. this well-meaning person’s comments riled me. After I put the
“I need to read this book.” phone down, all my struggles with being fitter and healthier,
OUR BOOK, THE DAUGHTERHOOD, IS AN EXPLORATION mostly so I can run around after my children and not pretend I
of the good, the bad and the guilty lurking at the heart of every don’t have swimming togs just so I can get out of going to the
daughter’s relationship with her mother. It’s a reminder that pool, came bubbling up.
as we grow older, if we are still fortunate enough to have our
mothers, the time we have left with them is dwindling. I love I knew the only person I really wanted to talk to about it, the
my mother. I do not want to contemplate her dying. But, one only person who would really understand why I felt so bad was
day we are going to be attending the mother of all funerals. my mother. So, instead of dealing with my hurt and confusion
How can we make the most of the time we have left with and frustration on my own, like a grown up, I rang my mother
our mothers? Improve the parts of the relationship that need and spewed it all out down the phone. I howled out my pain, I
improving? And crucially, how do we accept the parts of that wailed, I talked for 20 minutes, hardly drew breath, and all the
relationship we can never change? Our book is based on a time my mother was there saying, “I know, I know”. And she
series of meetings we set up with a carefully selected group did know. Otherwise her ‘I knows’ would have irritated me. I
of daughters. Once a month we basically sat around eating, knew she knew. And that knowing was like a balm across my
drinking and blathering about our mothers – a surprisingly heart, a salve for my soul. Eventually, I calmed down. I had
enjoyable way to spend an evening as it turned out. We gave been heard. I had been understood. I had been loved back to
each of the women of The Daughterhood a name to describe some kind of equilibrium by the only person in the world who
their mother-daughter scenario: the Dedicated Daughter, the
Becoming-My-Mother Daughter, the Busy Daughter and the “How can we improve the
Reluctant Daughter. I was the Dependent Daughter. Let me parts of the relationship
explain. that need improving and
accept the parts that we
My mother Ann is in the top four people on this planet I can never change?”
enjoy spending time with. The others are my twin six-year-
old daughters and their father. Life just feels better with my
mother around. I make a point of including her in everything
we do, not because I am a dutiful daughter but because I want
her there with me. My mother improves every social occasion.


“It was about learning to depend on
the other person who has the power
to love me back to sanity – myself ”

could have done it: my mother. But is she the only person? No. says he has donated his eyes to science and I think that means
Through The Daughterhood meetings I began to realise that another man will be walking around with Daddy’s eyes and I
my ‘motherwork’ was about learning to depend on the other wonder will they still have his twinkle.
person who has the power to love me back to sanity – myself.
I’M SIX OR I AM SEVEN AND MY MOTHER IS THE CENTRE My mother is my superhero. Her youngest child was one and
of my world. I don’t really know my father. Although he is there her eldest 16 when my father died. She is English and came
in the armchair, shouting at the horses on the television. Or he over to Ireland in the 1960s after marrying and meeting my
is at the door, a stranger with a beard, a brown paper bag full of father there. She had no other family in Ireland except us. I
sweets in his hand. I haven’t seen him in a while and, with the will never stop being grateful for the fact that she raised me
new facial hair like Captain Birdseye from the fish finger ad, I to care about the things she cared about – books and culture
don’t recognise him as my father. I reach back through the years and being curious about people. That she didn’t fall apart.
and I try to remember his touch or his smell but there’s nothing. That she managed the widow’s pension and the social welfare
I can see a twinkle in his blue eyes, payments and was able to give us the building blocks for a
though. And I can hear him singing, good life. Before Daddy died she’d bought the entire set of the
“Tura lura lura.” Hush now, don’t you
cry. Daddy is sick, you see. He has Encyclopaedia Britannica – the Google
schizophrenia, but I don’t know what of the day – purchased on the never-
that means at six or seven. I just know never from a door-to-door salesman and
he is not with us the way my friends’ which we consulted on everything from
dads are. He is there but he’s not quiz questions to school projects. When
there. A ghost in the house. With eight Daddy died one thing that happened was
children, my mother is keeping the the encyclopaedias were paid off because
show on the road. And I know about of some kind of insurance clause. His gift
the butter vouchers and the charity to us.
from the nuns but I never feel poor.
I feel lucky. I am snuggled up with SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY,
my mother on the sofa and there’s a WHEN WE GROW UP, away from our
smoky smell from the briquettes and mothers, the mother–daughter dynamic
Blake’s 7 is on the telly, and I am the is supposed to change. Where once it was
luckiest girl in the world. That is my a child-and-adult scenario, the daughter
mother’s gift to me. should eventually emerge as an adult and
the mother-daughter relationship should,
One day, when I’m eight, my father, as a natural consequence, achieve a more
who has been promising to do this for equal footing. This hasn’t happened for
quite a while now, kills himself. He me yet. When I close my eyes and think
takes a blue rope and he goes outside to of my mother, I don’t see her as a woman
our back garden and he puts it around in her own right, with needs and hopes
his neck and he ties it to the tree and and dreams. I’m not proud of this but
he hangs himself. We don’t have a what I think is: my mother is there to
phone, so when my mother finds him mind me, to look after me, to keep me
in the morning she runs next door to Mrs Smith’s house and she safe. She is there to keep the wolves from
bangs on the door until they wake up. The Smiths have a phone. the door and the monsters from under
It’s in a specially-built cubicle just beside their front door. The my bed. She is there to rescue me from
phone was such an important and glamorous item then that it dragons and save me from myself. Until I started really looking
had its own little house. My mother picks up the heavy black at our relationship, I hadn’t realised this to be the truth. But
handset and dials 999 and the ambulance comes as quick as it membership of The Daughterhood raised my consciousness
can but it’s already too late. The thick blue rope is on a counter about the longest relationship of my life. Most importantly,
near the back door. The house fills with people. Daddy’s dead. it revealed the work I have to do to in order to make this
I’m floating above the scene. I float out of the house because relationship as good as it can be. You see one day I will be at
I’m going to school. The house is confusing to me now. I float the mother of all funerals. I don’t want to have any regrets.
around for days. I float into Miss Roddy’s who doesn’t charge
me for my usual brown paper bag of Fruit Salads. I float into This is a condensed extract taken from The Daughterhood by
the funeral home, where Daddy is in the coffin and my mother Natasha Fennell and Roisin Ingle (€16), published by Simon &
Schuster and available from bookshops nationwide. For details
see the or on Twitter

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