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Dinner conversations with Dad

Ever sat around the dinner table and wondered what questions you could ask your dad to really find out more about him?
Remember all families have been through good and bad times. There were many years before you were born that your Dad had a life probably very different to the life we all have today. Find out, you might be pleasantly suprised.

Experience, Knowledge and History

Through it all there is a wealth of experience, knowledge and history that can be explored with pre-thought crafted questions to get the conversation started. Good questions can be fun and they can also help create bonds and show that there is something larger that themselves.

Below are questions that could be written/printed onto cards and taken to your next family dinner, or even on your next zoom call if you don’t catch up for dinners? Its a good idea to pre-warn your dad so that they can weave their answers to demonstrate that they have travelled a road that has had pebbles and rocks but in the end it worked out through good decision making to show the younger generation listening that you have resilience and come through it well or at least ok.

Table Questions:

  1. How many houses have you lived in over you life so far?
  2. What do you remember about those houses you lived in as a child? Which one did you like the best and why?
  3. How did you cope without internet? What do you love about having internet today?
  4. Has there been a family member who has been a good life coach? and why?
  5. What was your favourite book, TV show, Movie when you were my age?
  6. Tell me about a family reunion or family party that you remember attending when you were a child?
  7. Was there a favourite story that your grandfather or grandmother told you as a child? Tell us
  8. What was the most embarrassing thing that your mum or Dad did to you?
  9. What were the best memories you had as a child on holidays?
  10. Did you parents ever loose their jobs? What happened? How did they start over?
  11. What did your grandparents do with you that you loved?
  12. How are you different than your parents? What did they do that you didn’t enjoy?
  13. If you could go back to a period of time in your childhood, when would that be?
  14. How did you parents change after they retired?
  15. If there was anything you could know about our family history or a relative that has died? what would you want to know?
  16. What was the hardest thing you went through as a child and how died you cope with it?
  17. Which family relative did you like the most and why?
  18. Has anything ever happened in the family that took a while to come to terms with?
  19. What career job would you have liked to do but never did?
  20. What hobbies did you have as a child? Which one did you out more time into?
  21. What Primary and Secondary schools did you go to? When did you finish school and why?

Making dinner party memories is easier than you thought, try some more questions here: 40 more dinner table questions

If you’re still lucky enough to have your Grandfather or Grandmother in your life, the answers to their question may be very different to those of your Dads.

Why don’t you write them out onto cards and bring them along to your next dinner and learn a little more about your dad or grandad? Share your experience below, we would love to hear how it went. Did you learn something you never knew? Something insightful or suprising?

The first night…

Do you remember the first night after separation or divorce when your child stayed over with you?

You can do it You've got thisI was a little nervous, I just had to step up , plan and ensure it all worked. I very quickly got in the swing of things and it worked out well. The rest is history!

Some of the initial scary thoughts that ran through my head were catering for breakfast, lunch and dinners every day, planning activities and going to the toilet whilst we were out?  This all was now all up to me, no sharing any more, just me.  I felt I grew up quickly because my desire to care for my child outweighed the hard work that I knew lay ahead of me.  I’m not sure but I think it was a mix of perspiration and desperation that got me through, I got used to planning and preparing then we were off and running.

I can’t help but think some mothers would experience the same scary thoughts, for many Dads like me, we could never talk about that, too busy hating each other.

There is definitely something empowering and rewarding when you know you have managed your access days well.  You get better at everything, you start to get a repertoire of recipes, you know what size clothes and shoes they wear.  You know their taste in music, books and movies, you share laughter together and one on one time, you understand morning routines and of course all the hissy fits that goes with it.  The sense of owning that space feels good even if it is only every second weekend.

You little girl can always bury her head in your shoulder if you go to the mens toilets.When we were out and about, and it came time to take her to the toilet or maybe I needed to go? she came with me and simply buried her face into my shoulder when we walked through the mens to the cubical, Always a good time to try and get them to go too, even if they don’t feel like it. When she was big enough to go on her own, I would stand near the door of the female toilets and didn’t move until she came out.  The wheel chair access toilets are gold!!

? I remember we were at the swimming centre one day when I walked into what I thought was the mens change room and proceeded to help my daughter change into her bathers, when a women in a towel came out of the showers ? For a few seconds I really thought she was the one in the wrong change room. Then she said “I think you are in the wrong room” I apologised and left, honest mistake but laugh every time I think about it.

Do you have experiences that you can share?

Are you All in or do you Chip in

30 years ago it was common place in a heterosexual relationship for the female to do all the housework, cooking and parenting of the children. The male was responsible for earning money and mowing the lawns.

Often the male also took on the role of disciplinarian and that is why many baby-boomer men lacked connection to their fathers and even resented them.

Things have changed “thankfully” it’s no longer about what is the male or female role, it’s about partnership and working together so each person equally shares the load for running the family.

Listening to many mums, they still feel the inequality of parenting and household duties and in some cases are over-whelmed by it, causing tension within the relationship.

Some dads say they are busy working, sometimes travelling away and they think that chipping in is ok?  I’m always amazed and feel sorry for these dads as they don’t realise how much they miss out on.  Are these dads tired, lazy or do they have their fathers’ DNA engrained in them? probably a bit of all it?  I think could be a learned habit from their upbringing!

I remember my partner said to me once “Show me a man that is ‘All In’ around the house and I’ll show you a man that is having sex…an interesting thought ? is it true guys?

When I was a single dad and sharing responsibility of my daughter 50/50, I experienced first hand everything required to run a functional home.  I combined work and nurtured all the needs of my child all at the same time, it’s not easy but the benefits out-way the hard work.  It’s constant, often starting as soon as the kids open their eyes (and sometimes before).

Being organised, having a system and routine helps to reduce the stress in running a functional home.  The less you have to think about when and what needs doing the easier it will be to juggle kids, home and work.  No one succeeds if you don’t give it your best effort, make it something that you want to master.  Master the shopping, master the cooking, master the cleaning, master the nurturing of your child.  It can be all done with little stress if you give into it and never be wishing you were somewhere else or out with your mates.

Having a partner and sharing the household jobs and parenting is much easier than having to do it all by yourself.  Don’t make your partner feel like a single parent. Be an ‘All In’ dad and make life great for all of you.  The rewards are fantastic and you will have a much happier relationship and family life will be more relaxing.

Relationship benefits from being an All In dad.

  • love
  • more sex
  • more fun
  • feel valued
  • productive
  • reduced stress
  • less arguments
  • higher self esteem
  • a sense of purpose
  • emotional support
  • feeling appreciated
  • time with each other
  • time for your hobbies
  • better communication
  • better shared experiences
  • feeling confident and secure
  • become a better version of yourself
  • Feel part of the whole family and something bigger

How many Dads are All In or do you Chip In – answer the quiz below…

Would your son or daughter know how to land a Airbus A380?

NO?…Your right! because know one has shown them how too and they would crash for sure.

Its the same as your child handling new situations in life as they get older.
If they are not told how best to handle and cope with situations, they’ll probably crash.
There are many disappointments through-out life from not getting that job, breaking up in a relationship, not having the money or falling out of friendship.

One of the best things a parent can do is to talk about these things when the time is right and be a good listener.

Just leaving them to work it out or to cope from their own experiences is not helping your child build resilience or to cope and move past the upset…and we know it will past, so take the time when those moments arrive and sit down and talk it through.

Some advice I could give would be to sit down and workshop healthy solutions to problems, make sure that your child understands that they won’t be able to fix every problem straight away, and that’s ok.

Because problems generally don’t get solved immediately, there will be some stress going on so its important to talk about how to relieve the stress whilst things are working out, don’t forget to mention they always do but they might not be able to see it at right away.

When talking about coping with stressful or sad situations, try and align it to what normally your child would do in better times and that could be…watch a favourite movie, swimming, exercise, listening to music or self guided meditation, reading, drawing, talking the dog or recommend and help them do something that makes them happy, this can help relieve stress, sadness or upset.

It is super helpful that your child discuss’s their problem with someone they trust. You are their parent and a significant person in their life but depending on their age i.e. teenagers, they might not want to share it all with you so get them together with a person they would trust like a friend, family member or even a counsellor, they can all be very helpful.

A couple of things to remember:

When your child is sad, it’s a perfectly normal emotion and everyone feels sad sometimes. The difference between depression and feeling sad is that depression will hang around and sadness will disappear.

There are so many reasons people can feel sad:

  • You have had an argument with someone
  • You’re feeling isolated
  • You had a bad day at work
  • Someone said something nasty to you
  • Your relationship has ended
  • You didn’t get that job interview
  • You failed on a test
  • Parents have decided to separate

There are professional services that can be there if that is a better situation for your child, such as:

  • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800 for 5 to 25 year olds.
  • Lifeline – 131114 for all ages
  • ReachOut – 
  • Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
  • 1800respect – 1800 737 732

If anyone is in danger call 000 immediately, it’s better to keep safe than be sorry you didn’t act earlier.


How to recognize and prevent domestic violence happening in your family

All reports are telling us that one of the impacts of COVID-19 because of the population needing to stay at home is causing an increase in Domestic Violence. Firstly: If you feel unsafe or are concerned for someone’s safety please call 000 or one of the Domestic Violence Support services below.

These are exceptional circumstances and it does not excuse aggressive behavior or any type of behavior that could constitute domestic violence.

Are you working from home and feel like you’re trapped and don’t have any relief or time to yourself? You’re easily annoyed at your partner &/or kids?
Remember no-one signed up for your BS! Take accountability and go for a regular walk to get some air, exercise and if you need some space.

During these times there are many professional services you can talk to, like: Online counsellors, 24/7 phone support and even chat services. Google them and connect to a service now! If you a man, a good initial support service to approach would be men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491 and if your a women a good initial support service to approach would be 1800 Respect National Helpline: 1800 737 732

You might even have lost your job and feeling sad and lost, these feelings are normal, remember you are human. If you don’t know how you’re going to pay the bills like rent, the mortgage, school fees or food. The best thing you can do is act quickly. Sign up to a MyGov account and register for Centerlink. Talk to your rental agents, your bank and the school they will all be very supportive during these times.

Emergency relief organisations provide immediate financial and/or material support to people in financial crisis. The type of assistance offered by each organisation varies, so log onto the Department of Social Services Emergency Relief website and find the support service closest to you.

Its especially time to be kind, supportive and tolerant of each other but it is very important to recognize the signs of domestic violence.

This is what typically a cycle of Domestic Violence looks like:

  1. Stand-over phase (intimidation)
  3. Remorse Phase (Justification)
  4. Pursuit Phase (Promises)
  5. Honeymoon Phase (Behaves like the perfect partner)
  6. Build-up Phase (Increasing tension again)

Domestic Violence is not just hitting, other categories are:

  • Social
    • Isolating family or friends
    • Jealousy, accusing of affairs
    • Controlling appearance
    • Needing total attention
    • Smashing or removing mobile
    • Monitoring phone calls, internet or messages
    • Preventing social or employment opportunities
    • Denigrating family or friends
    • Murder
    • Strangling or suffocating
    • Throwing objects
    • Punching, hitting, slapping
    • Reckless driving
    • Use of weapons
    • Hair pulling, spitting
    • Locked Inside or Outside
    • Damage to possessions
    • Cruelty to pets
    • Forced substance abuse
    • Withholding access to medical help
    • Over or under medicate
    • Trivialization of medical conditions
    • Taunting someone in a vulnerable state
    • Insults and put-downs
    • Silent treatment
    • Name calling
    • Sarcasm
    • Fault finding
    • Lies
    • Public Humiliation
    • Threats
    • Dominating conversation
    • Yelling, shouting
    • Whispering
    • Being indiscreet
    • Always correcting
    • Excessive phone calls or text messages, emails or letters
    • Driving past work or house
    • Reading or taking mail
    • Turning up at places where victim frequents
    • Threat to suicide
    • Emotional blackmail
    • Self -esteem erosion
    • Criticizing appearance or body shape
    • Undermining character
    • scaring
    • Implying mental illness
    • Spreading rumors
    • Private humiliation
    • Denying education
    • Jekyll and Hyde mood
    • Minimizing or dismissing feelings
    • Mind games
    • Rape
    • Rationing or denial of sex
    • Sex on their conditions
    • Denying choice of contraception
    • Beliefs and practices around female circumcision
    • Enforcing sexual practices they are not comfortable with
    • Pornography
    • Sex in-front of children
    • Bestiality
    • Forced abortion
    • Risky behavior
    • Total control of finances
    • Restricting earning
    • Rationing or placing conditions on money
    • Drinking, gambling
    • Control of shopping expenditure
    • Concealing assets
    • Unable to buy new clothes
    • Forcing to take out loans on credit cards
    • Denying choices
    • Demanding you take on their beliefs
    • Using beliefs to justify behavior
    • Not allowing negotiation in children’s spiritual education

Let’s not forget the effects to children who are living in the home of domestic violence.

There are many effects that have been documented of emotional and behavioural problems in children exposed to domestic violence, these include:

  1. Low Self Esteem
  2. Poor conflict resolutions
  3. Repressed feelings of anger, fear, guilt and confusion
  4. Adjustment problems, fewer interests, fewer social activities
  5. Unwillingness to invite friends home
  6. Increased levels of anxiety
  7. Clinginess
  8. Adolescent boys abusing girls
  9. Excessive cruelty to animals
  10. Stress-related physical ailments, headaches, stomach aches, ulcers, bed-wetting
  11. Eating problems – decreased or increased apitite
  12. Sleeping problems including nightmares
  13. Hair pulling, nail biting
  14. Fear of making mistakes
  15. Fear of being touches
  16. Aggression, temper tantrums
  17. Increased internalized problems, such as depression, withdrawal, isolation, loneliness
  18. Decreased cognitive abilities
  19. Poor school performance, difficult to do homework or study
  20. Restlessness
  21. Decreased empathy
  22. Suicidal thoughts
  23. Lower rating in social competence (especially in boys)
  24. Inability to form stable adult relationships
  25. Higher risks of alcohol – drug abuse and juvenile delinquency

There is every reason in the world to get yourself help and stop domestic violent behaviour, seek out help immediately. Don’t fool yourself, every negative action erodes both your partner, children, family relationships and your quality of life.

Family and domestic violence support services:

  1. 1800 Respect National Helpline: 1800 737 732
  2. Women’s Crisis Line (NSW): 1800 811 811
  3. Safe Steps Crisis Line (Vic): 1800 015 188
  4. Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491
  5. Lifeline (24-hour Crisis Line): 131 114
  6. Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277

Your gut feeling can save your life

We often think of our daughters as being more vulnerable with their personal safety than sons and I think it is true and the safer way to think. We need to educate our daughters, mothers, sisters, grand daughters nieces and friends that there are ways to keep you safe and that is to trust your gut or intuition.

Your intuition is an internal mechanism that should be trusted. Humans are the only species on earth that second guesses it. Animals if they sense danger run away but humans often for the sake of being nice or not offending a stranger may accept an offer or an invitation that can cost their life.

Oprah Winfrey has produced a podcast titled “Best life lessons” interviewing women (victims of not trusting there gut) and police talking about how some women knew something was wrong when they were approached by a male who was acting nice and polite (grooming) prior to attacking them. They knew something was wrong, something felt off! they felt fear, their gut was telling no! I don’t know why but something is not right – that’s your intuition talking to you.

Yet they allowed this person to help them, carry something for them, walk with them to their car, into their space, guide them, get close to them, all for the sake of not offending or being rude. They have been brought up to be polite and nice to people and believe that these sorts of bad things don’t happen to them?

But unfortunately, it can not be guaranteed it wont happen? it does and it might if they don’t trust their gut or that voice inside their head saying something’s not right.

One of the biggest problems is that perpetrators of violence generally do not commit these crimes in view of the public or in areas they can been seen, so they try to take (convince) their victim to move to a second location, NEVER GO TO THE SECOND LOCATION! …NEVER GO TO THE SECOND LOCATION!

Listen and Share Oprah’s podcast with friends, Oprah explains it so much better than me, here it is: Opera Winfrey Podcast on life saving advice.

What do daughters want from their dads?

Have you (dad) ever thought you’d like to change the ways things are? You know it’s never too late! We can go through life knowing that things could be different but for some reason we don’t say “yes” to change.

Maybe its because saying yes can cause embarrassment, awkwardness or highlight the fact that you were wrong?
If you haven’t been spending time with your daughter because life has got busy or they’ve become teenagers and are more independent, or they have grown into a women and your feel you cant hug, cuddle and wrestle with them like you used too, or even you feel they’re getting older now and you’ve become less important in their life? You are so wrong!

Dads, nothing has changed, they still and always will want your Attention, Affection and Affirmation.

Its super important that you always stay connected or reconnect for both of you. Your daughter wants you to acknowledge they’re maturing and growing up. If your daughter is going through her teenage years, she wants you around to help her navigate those important years whilst your continuing to build on the connection you have always had.

Its been very well documents over the years from researchers, physiologists and experts that fathers play a key role in their daughter development. Some of those things that dads provide daughters are:

– Build their confidence
– Convincing them they can do anything
– Have a voice and be counted (on any topic)
– Encouraging improvement through learning
– Role model on equality
– Make them feel secure
– A male perspective on things
– Strength and gentleness at the same time

Daughters WANT their dads to be a part of their lives even if sometimes they don’t show it. There was a study done where daughters were asked what could dads do to improve their relationship and how their dad could help them. They said…

– Be there more
– Put the phone away and don’t just focus on the solution
– When you’re home be mentally present
– Focus on me when I’m talking to you and be genuinely interested
– Spend more time with me
– More time talking together
– Eat dinner with us more often
– Spend more time with us and less time working
– Hangout with me
– Play with me
– Go camping with me
– Do activities with me
– Support me more by doing more things with me
– Go for a walk with me
– Be available on weekend s to play cards or puzzles or board games
– Take me places we would both like
– Maybe we could do the Kokoda trail together
– Go away somewhere special for the weekend just the two of us

Everything the daughters requested boiled down to dads spending more time with them. Your girls may not ask you for more time, with the fear that you might say no, or they feel your too busy? So be proactive and nurture your relationship with your daughter, create memories that build the bonds that can last a lifetime.

Some ideas and narrative have come from Madonna King, Author of the book – Fathers and Daughters. I would also like to acknowledge Darren Lewis from Fathering Adventures for his inspiration, education and knowledge on how to thrive in your relationships and not just survive with your children.

How can dads build unbreakable connections with their daughters

It starts with intentional efforts, doing and being their for your daughter without asking for anything in return. If you clean up after her, scrub her bathroom, change and make her bed, take her or pick her up from friends, cook for her every day, all of this is done for love and not expecting anything in return. Lets say, everything you do is a gift not a transaction.

Daughters need 3 things from you

  1. Attention
  2. Affirmation
  3. Affection

Is spending time with her even if its laying on the couch and doing nothing, its the time. Its you being around and available both mentally and physically. If you can get out and about all the better.

Is emotional support or encouragement, your daughter wants to hear it from you. She wants to hear that you are proud of her, love her and that you think she is capable of anything if she puts her mind to it.

Are cuddles and kisses and even the wrestle on the rug. Putting your hand on her shoulder or arm when you’re speaking talking to her. Be tactile with her, you might think she doesn’t like it or she says “don’t touch me dad” so yes stop, but just the gesture of you reaching out is enough for her to know you are there.

I’ve heard some dads stop cuddling their daughter when they get to teenage year because there daughters are starting to get boobs and they feel its awkward. Its the worst time to step back, step in and be as you have always been, just carry on being normal as if she was 8.

Do you remember when they were in primary school, you were their night and shining armour and now in their teens there more interested in their friends, snapchat and hanging out in their room than spending  time with you. It can take us by surprise and we’re very confused for a while. We feel ignored, our opinions are wanted anymore and shut out of a part of her life that we were once their rock. Its so different than only 2 years earlier? but very normal and don’t take it personally.

Just be their, allow them space, think of things to do that show them attention, affirmation and affection.
I have heard that once the teenage storm has passed around 16, 17 or even 18, they will want to reconnect again. It important that we have maintained our calm and presence throughout the earlier years. I’m a advocate for dad and daughter date nights, going out for a pizza and spending regular short times if you cant manage the long times together. If you are lucky enough to be able to get a weekend away or even a week. Plan that too. I started when my daughter was young around 8 and went to fiji for a week, now we try for a weekend or week every year and its like normal. We get uninterrupted time together away from phones and all the things that can get in the way of us spending quality time together.

When you get that special time alone, ask your daughter these things:

  • How do you think I’m doing as a dad?
  • Is there something that you feel I do well?
  • What would you like me to stop doing?

Just listen, no excuses, take her answers on-board and thank her for her honesty and act on the things you can do better at.

Enjoy your time, it fly’s past, 10 years can go past in the blink of an eye , so spend it well with her.

I know that some dads have both arms tired behind there back when it comes to seeing their kids after divorce, their ex wife doesn’t value fatherhood and makes it very difficult to access what is rightfully their child too. Using the kids as punishment for a relationship that went bad, regardless of who’s fault it was. Trust me I have been there! and my heart goes out to them. Just do the best you can and sometimes that might be enough and you can reconnect when the child has more of a voice.

What you say before your child walks out the door could save a life

We have all been there, our child (son or daughter) walks out to go off to a party or a club and we say ” have a good time” or “don’t do anything I wouldn’t do” or “take care” or “be careful”.

That’s it? I really do feel we need to spell out what exactly that means, to keep our children and their friends safe.

What we should say – to sons:

  • Make sure you protect girls that are with you and don’t allow anyone to bully them or take advantage of them
  • Make sure you treat all girls with respect and never go along with anything that you know is wrong
  • When you are out drinking with friends and you see a girl that is drunk or vulnerable, you be responsible and ensure she is safe and no
    one touches her in an indecent way. If they do, gather your friends (for support) and say something to make it stop and take her to safety
  • Don’t be frightened to say NO, if you feel whats happening is wrong!
  • Don’t take indecent photos of friends
  • Call 000 if you feel someone needs more help than what you can give.
  • Call me anytime night or day and I will come and pick you and your friends up

What we should say – to daughters:

  • Make sure you stick together and look out for each other
  • Do not allow boys to speak to you or your girlfriends with disrespectful language
  • It perfectly ok to say NO!
  • Don’t leave a girlfriend behind with a group of boys, everyone leaves together
  • Choose boys who you know and trust to get you home safely
  • Never leave your drink unattended when you go to the bathroom, get a good friend to mind it or take it with you
  • If you see a girl that is getting drunk make sure she has friends around her if not, tell her friends
  • Don’t take indecent photos of friends
  • Call me anytime night or day and I will come and pick you and your friends up
  • Call 000 if you feel someone needs more help than what you can give

If your kids walk out and you have had a discussion around safety for them and their friends, they are far better off and safer for it.

The secret for an argument free zone

I always wondered when the debating of simple tasks and requests would start or unnecessary attitude, i can tell you its around 10-12 then buckle up at 13+.
Prior to that, they are beautiful pliable sweethearts that allow you to guide them, take them and pick them up from anywhere and they follow instruction without question (their still beautiful).

Now is chalk and cheese, its another stage that will pass and we will eventually move on… but boy, it can be frustrating, stressful, challenging and hair pulling crazy (if I had any) during those years. I have experienced lying straight to my face over the simplest things, not taking responsibility for actions like loosing keys, public transport cards and keeping their room tidy. We know that teenagers go through a growing up phase and test their weight and Independence with parents.

They do this knowing that the worst thing that will happen is they get a verbal telling off or loose there phone privileges for a day, all pretty soft punishment and i imagine in their mind not enough to curve the behavior?

I think when kids start questioning parents they are trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong because they are starting to become a little more knowledgeable in the world. Although very annoying and frustrating for us parents, its important to remember to keep our composure (don’t fight rudeness with rudeness or yelling with yelling), remind them of the boundaries and politeness they need to show other people and don’t bite back.

I would always keep on carrying out consequences such as reduced time for TV, Loose mobile phone/iPad usage, Early to bed and let them know this will happen if it continues so there are no surprises when it does.

A tip for a argument free zone, is, I do not expect 100% good behavior during these years (it’s about your expectation). I accept 80%, so during these years they can have their own room 20% messier than normal (nowhere else) 20% more attitude without being disrespectful, 20% more moody and they can have that in the quiet of their own bedroom. It takes the pressure off everyone because I feel if we are looking for perfection you will not find it anywhere and it will cause ongoing arguing, so just give them a little slack.

I was told once that everything we do for our children should be a gift. We should not expect anything in return! i.e. we should not expect good behavior because we cook, wash and clean for them. If you expect this then don’t do it. Do these things for them out of love.

Its always a great idea to explain what is acceptable and its a discussion you will not only have once...When your beautiful child says ? Get off my back! or Shut up!? they have often heard it said on their favorite TV shows or possibly from the friends they’re hanging around with.  So be clear about what is and isn’t okay. Tell them, it’s fine to say that she’s angry or tired, for instance, or that she doesn’t feel like talking at the moment. But name-calling, yelling, or telling you to go away is unacceptable.

So there is no need to throw the towel in, its important that your kids know that you will always be in the game regardless of their behavior. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it will arrive sometime around 18+. Our kids feel the freedom they have been craving. They are getting into full or part-time work, going to Uni, getting their license and feel what its like to have more independence. So turning human again at 18 plus is not to far away for some but for others it feels like a million years 🙂

Its important you don’t let the outburst episodes eat into you, remember its a phases and a time that will pass so don’t buy into the terrible behavior. Roll with it, respond calmly and be kind to yourself even if others aren’t being kind to you. Self-care is critical during these year, treat yourself, find peaceful time away from the kids, talk to a counsellor. Do what ever it take to stay in the game without dissolving your relationship with your child because its not personal, its very normal and happening across millions of homes.

Its a stage like all others stages of growing up and they are completely aware of it too (It’s not easy for them either). Love them unconditionally and be as tolerant as possible, the stage will pass.

xox when they need rescuing

I recently read an article about having an TEXT word if your children are ever in a spot they feel that they can’t get out off and need “rescuing”.

The article was very good but the plan they were using was called the X Plan. The idea was to send an “X” if they needed an out to a situation they found themselves him.

The issue with an X is that if I got this during the night I would just think my daughter was sending me a kiss. I wouldn’t jump out of bed, and head to rescue her, I would probably just send back a “x”.

The idea behind this methodology is to keep your children safe if they feel they are out of their depth or find themselves in a spot they can’t get out of.

I spoke to my daughter about these situations you could find yourself in, such as:

  • Being with a group of boys that you feel are not respecting you or your girlfriends
  • Being offered drugs and the people you are with are not accepting no
  • People you are with are drinking more than you feel comfortable with
  • The boy you are with wants to have sex and he is not accepting no
  • You’re in a aggressive situation and feel you cant leave on your own
  • Have found yourself with strangers and you feel uncomfortable with them for any reason
  • You feel trapped and find it difficult to get way from any harmful situation

I also discussed to be assertive and confident with your decisions but if that is not working then you need to send me a sms with XOX (a little like SOS). This is a safe-plan and using some letters that she would not normally use. I get all the x’s but never a xox, so we decided that was a good sms. You work out the best sms code that work for you too 🙂

If and when I received an sms, I would call the her phone immediately and say…

Hi, Something has happened with a family member and I need to come and get you. I will tell you more about it when you are in the car. Where are you, I am on my way.

If the location is not the location I was expecting her to be, I am happy for her to tell me as little or as much as she wants to. I am just happy that she is away from a situation she believed was harmful.

Managing depression whilst studying

Depression gets a bad rap for a lot of things, which to be fair is pretty reasonable because living with depression is pretty shit. Especially when it comes to exam time, and everyone seems to be bragging about how much study they’ve done, and you can’t even get the energy to make a study plan. This can be ten times worse for repeat exams, as everyone is out enjoying the summer, and you’re at home just staring at your laptop and praying for motivation to fall from somewhere.

Depression plays havoc with your concentration levels, affecting your focus, memory and the ability to sit still and pay attention to something for more than 5 minutes. Or at least, that’s how I find it. Sometimes I get bursts of motivation and I can bring myself to study for a decent half hour, but even then it isn’t easy. Making revision plans doesn’t work, trying to avoid distractions is just a ridiculous suggestion and time is pretty hard to manage because depression is hard to manage, and it doesn’t always abide by time schedules or deadlines.

I used to be really good at studying, I love learning and since I’ve become affected by depression, the thing I’ve struggled with most is not being able to study. I feel lazy, and ungrateful, and despite how hard I worked to get into college in the first place, I feel like by not being able to study, I’m wasting my college place, and all the money that has been spent on it. Depression affects your ability to enjoy the things you used to love doing, so it’s blatantly obvious that it’ll do even more to the things that you know you have to do, but you might not enjoy. Due to this, I don’t enjoy a lot of stuff that I used to do, so when I find things I like, I tend to do them instead of studying. Procrastination is a massive part of my life, and I have wasted so many hours watching Geordie Shore and H2O: Just Add Water, instead of sitting down and going over notes.

I’m repeating exams that I failed because I was in a rough enough place when I took them, and I just didn’t have the spare energy to study, and now I’m back in the same situation. I think there’s a massive amount of pressure on people to go to university and graduate with a decent degree, and when people fail exams, the typical response is “Get your head down, and cop on”. It’s hard for people to understand living with depression if they have never had to, and so some people don’t get how difficult it can be for people with mental illnesses to actually “get their head down”. Studying is hard for most people, and exams are a rough time for everyone, so with added pressure, it’s ten times worse.

Sometimes I wish I could just be accepted into next year without having to study, because I love my degree, and I wouldn’t be able to afford repeating the year. I know I’m not the only one struggling, and I would love it if we were all a bit more honest on social media. It’s natural for us all to compare what we see on Facebook, where people show off their best sides, but every once in a while it would be nice to see some honesty, especially when it comes to things that most of us will deal with. I’m very open about my struggles with anxiety, but sometimes I’m almost embarrassed to talk about my depression, which is ridiculous.

It’s healthy to talk, and many people in Australia suffer from depression, so you won’t be the only one talking.

We have some of the highest suicide rates in the world. The conversation has been repeated so many times, and we made some incredible strides fighting against the mental health cuts in the budget this year, but we need to do more. As difficult as it is, I think we need to talk more about our feelings. It’s even harder for guys to talk about their feelings because of the ridiculous stereotypes surrounding masculinity and emotions. Suicide rates in young men between ages 18 and 24 is 3 times higher than females. Having depression, or other mental health problems are not something to be ashamed of. If you don’t have any mental health problems, that doesn’t make you any less entitled to speak up if you’re having a bad day. It can sometimes be totally isolating, and you deserve to have someone to talk to.

There are many supports for mental health problems in universities, so if you’re struggling with your repeat exams, or any exams at all, don’t be afraid to message your welfare officer and see what help you can avail of. Don’t suffer in silence during exams, and even if you can’t study, you can try to make things a little bit easier on yourself. You deserve it!

Thank you to Rebekah Humphries for her article 🙂