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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 🙂

Why are you being so rude to me…I dont know?

Why are you being so rude to me...I dont know I’m learning very quickly about moody teenagers and trying to be tolerant, but I want to jump in a time machine and go forward 10 years because this is hell!
It seems like I cannot do or say anything that is right and any advise or solutions given feels like a lecture to them.

I understand that there are lots of hormones going on, our school had a night for year 7 parents and covered off areas around dealing with this change.

How to cope with teenage children:

  • Don’t buy into schoolyard arguments, the kids will work it out
  • Be a listener and be there but don’t try and solve their problems
  • Be encouraging and be there but let them work things out in there own time

Adults brains apparently have a hormone called THP which has a calming influence, In our teenagers this same THP heightens anxiety – of course it does 🙂 . I keep reminding myself they are going through many new experiences and having to cope with new challenges like: hormonal change, body changes, developing identity, pressure from friends, and a developing sense of independence.

I am sure they don’t like the moods either. I asked her once..

Why are you being so rude to me? She replied “I dont know”?  

So I just left it and I understood she wasn’t meaning to be rude and she didn’t like it either. I could tell she knew it was wrong.

These reminders are my savior, Thank God there are times where she is calm, happy, respectful and loving otherwise I would go completely out of my mind! So I am just trying to roll with it, provide support and stability. Still setting ground rules for respect as I expect her to be respectful to all people. I pick my battles, remain calm and try to redirect the negative behaviour.

A couple of tips in this areas could be:

  • Pick your battles. If your teenager is basically behaving, ignore minor annoyances such as shrugs, raised eyebrows, or bored looks.
  • Sometimes, teens may be inadvertently disrespectful. (Again, their brains are developing.) Calmly ask about their intention — for example, “That comment came out sounding pretty offensive. Did you mean to behave rudely?

I know its a stage that lots of kids go through, she is a beautiful girl and has a kind warm heart. If she is rude and I do discuss it, I make sure I talk about the behaviour not the person. I’m always  trying to affirm her worth as a person even as I explain why her behavior was unacceptable.

Through the next few years (OMG), I’ll always be involved and interested in her everyday life and be interested in her sport and activities. Even during the times when she is unlovable, I will still give hugs, words of praise, little note in her lunch box with words of love often, because they need it and want unconditional love to help them get through it.

I came across this YouTube video and it reminds me that sometimes they DON’T KNOW why they are being rude and we shouldn’t get upset or take it personally.

Will your teen choose to take drugs or alcohol?

Will Your Teen Choose to Take Drugs or AlcoholAt some point during their teenage years, almost all young adults will be given the opportunity to try drugs or alcohol. Some teens will resist the opportunity that is presented to them, whilst others will be unable to give in to temptation: The problem is though, that for children with addictive tendencies, what was intended to be a one off thing could well lead to a lifelong addiction problem. The best course of action, then, is to encourage your teen to always say no: but what makes one teen more likely to be able to resist temptation than others?

Some teens are simply better equipped to stand up to their peers and say no; often those teens with the ability to do this have other healthy coping skills when they are facing times of adversity, such as exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and attending positive sports and social groups such as their school band or other organised groups and societies.

Unfortunately, the drug and alcohol industry is full of successful marketeers who make the idea of taking drugs or drinking alcohol seem glamorous and ‘cool’: many teens are susceptible to these kinds of messages. Drug and alcohol use are still widely shown in movies, in music videos and on TV, which can sadly normalise their use amongst teens, leading teens to make adverse choices.

Exploration is an important part of being an adolescent, but uncontrolled exploration of drugs and alcohol can be very dangerous and potentially life destroying: this is something it is important for parents to attempt to control.

To find out more about the reasons why teens may choose to turn to alcohol and drugs, you can read a full version of this article here.

Thank you to Mel Gale for her guide.

Missing childhood events can impact adult relations

missing childhood events can impact adult relationsFor the last few years my eldest daughter has not spoken to me and I don’t really know why? You do a lot of soul searching and try to piece events together to get some sense of her saying that she “wants to distance herself from you”

She has recently married and you guessed it, I was not invited to the wedding! No walking her down the isle, no spending time with her prior to the wedding reminiscing about life and the wonderful possibilities that lay ahead. No meeting her future husband or her new extended family, just shut out. I did not do anything that deserves this punishment.

My relationship with her I believe was loving but less than satisfactory due to the restraints that were put upon us. When she was only a little child of 2 years, the family court said I could only see her on every second weekend. Making the most of it, we were Melbourne’s biggest tourists. I kept myself available for that weekend. I didn’t seek out career opportunities because it may have had me working away from home, I didn’t take on a girlfriend because I wanted to be completely available to her. Those weekends seemed to come around quickly, it was 52 days out of 365 a year and I cherished every one of them.

I sought counselling in the early days to deal with the grief of missing her and coping with a non supportive mother. They told me “maintain your commitment and don’t argue, just be her knight and shining armour and she will realise you are a good dad and a committed one when she is older”. In the weeks between, I would send her a card or a CD single of what ever was a popular song for that fortnight, there must have been shoe boxes of them if they were kept? but I think the forces were against me from the start!

She very quickly had a step-father and two step sisters, an instant family versus a single dad every second weekend.

Looking back I liken it to getting in the ring with Danny Green, it was never going to go my way.

Separation from your child causes sadness, heartache, regret and shame, not to mention the belief that you’ve failed at one of life’s most important tasks. Never for one moment would I have believed that I would be rejected for no apparent reason or no explanation?

Confused and at a loss to understand why I have been cut out of her life, I went searching online for answers. It seems that instances like this are often rooted in issues that go back to childhood. Issues and feelings that were never dealt with during childhood such as a conflicted divorce which can cause pain and anger that can fester. Then a “triggering incident” occurs later in life, often leading to an argument, and then the child cuts the parent off.

The arguments that can trigger these events can be a little as where to have Christmas dinner? In my case it was over her inability to attend the theater which opened up a can of worms that I was never expecting.

It has been very hard for me to comprehend what I did to push her away, in my mind I chased her and Ive been available all her growing years (every second weekend) until late teens. However there are some critical moments that play a huge role in the ability to connect in the early years that may result in suppressed anger and disappointment.

Answers I have uncovered recently that I wish I had of known earlier. Questions like:

  • Were you there for their school plays?
  • Did you attend parent teacher interviews,
  • Did you help them with their homework?
  • Did you go to their birthday parties?
  • Did you take care of them when they were sick?

Knowing the answers to these questions gives me insight into how my absence could have contributed in her ability to walk away.

I was never avoiding my daughter it was the set of circumstances we were in, I regretted every day that we were apart.

My ex wife and I did not have a co-parenting relationship, I had to constantly fight for fair access even though there was a court order in place. At one point I was denied my agreed access so I headed immediately back to court and had it reinstated.  This went on during the early years which killed any future healthy communication between her mother and I. Attending any joint events I felt like I was not welcome and I didn’t want my daughter to see that.

Regrettably I couldn’t attend her 21st, I was completely torn between going and not going. The anxiety I felt was overwhelming. Lots of old “so called” friends that deserted me like rats leaving a sinking ship were going to be at the party. I had become very distant and removed from that circle of friends due to our divorce. Even my best friend of 25 years sided with his fiance at the time and chose to distance himself from me.  To attend what I perceived to be the “lions den” caused over whelming anxiety, I just couldn’t do it! .

I discuss my feelings in depth with my daughter and I thought she understood my position, maybe not… I cant help but think what is happening now could be part of that unresolved festering anger ?

I know that an apology may not heal all wounds, I did wish back then I had the chance. She refuses to communicate and didn’t return calls or messages after repeated attempts on my part, so I have pulled back. You can’t force someone to love you, at some point you need to come to peace with the fact that you did everything you could to be the best dad that you were allowed to be.

I will be the only father she will ever have.  I hope that one-day when she has children of her own, she will understand the undying bond between a parent and a child and imagines what I went through as a separated dad seeing her sadly only 52 days a year.

Some of my reference material from my online sole searching has been from: The secret side of anger ,  Why adolescence don’t appreciate their parents , How to heal a rift with your adult children

Protecting children is everyone’s business

Report AbuseWhile browsing the web, you come across an image of a child which causes you distress. You believe the child has been sexually abused.

So, how can you report this to police?

You can report online child sexual abuse at www.thinkuknow.org.au by clicking the Report Abuse button. Reports of this nature go directly to our Child Protection Operations team for assessment.

In any situation where a person or child is in immediate danger, call Triple Zero (000).

Protecting children is everyone’s business. This White Balloon Day, think about how you can help to make Australia the safest place in the world for our kids.

Quality and Characteristics of being a good Dad – Word Cloud

Recently we asked our Online friends,  What quality or characteristic do you need to be a good dad? We collated all the responses and produced this word cloud…

What quality or characteristic do you need to be a good dad

A Date with Dad

A date with dadThe power of a “Date with Dad” is all about “being there” and spending time talking with your kids,  it is so profoundly meaningful that we often miss it.  Kids thrive when their dads take the time to be 100% present and are available to them.  A regular, “Date with Dad” with each of your kids separately is a great place to begin intentionally investing in the overall health and well-being of your child.  Date nights, days or even mornings do not have to be complicated. They can be a simply getting an ice-cream and going for a walk or sit in the park and chat.

Remember to Listen, be affectionate and never embarrass them.

If your looking for ideas on something new to do? Below I have listed a few ideas.

  • Choose a nice recipe and pick up the ingredients  at the supermarket and then return home and cook it up together.
  • Have a movie night.  Rent, buy or download a movie that you’ll both enjoy, make popcorn, and get relax on the couch.
  • Go for a bike ride or long walk together.
  • Get coffee/milkshake or hot chocolate at your favorite cafe – just spend time talking to one another.
  • Go swimming at your local pool together then sit afterward and have a relaxing chat.
  • Go to a theme park walk around and get on a couple of rides together.
  • Head to the zoo or museum. Stroll through the exhibits and discuss what you see and learn.
  • Attend a concert and sing out loud – even if you’re more Beethoven than Bon Jovi, is a great stress reliever.
  • Take a sculpting or drawing class together.  Your local council normally have short course.  Your art will give your son or daughter a new window into your personality.
  • Visit a golf driving range, bowling, pool hall,  for some old-fashioned fun and friendly competition.
  • Go to the footy together, even if you don’t stay for the whole game, have a game can be fun.
  • Fill up a picnic basket and head to the botanical gardens for a relaxing lazy lunch. Don’t forget your picnic blanket.
  • Act like tourists in your own neighbourhood.  Go to your major city and take photos, and pretend you’re seeing this place again for the first time.
  • Draw sketches of one another. Even if you can’t draw, you’ll have fun and create a lovely memory. Sign and date them.
  • Visit your nearby paint ball or laser tag facility.
  • Glide around at your nearest ice skating rink.
  • Investigate your local planetarium open hours and tour dates and book in for star gazing.
  • Go indoor rock climbing, this sort of activity is fun but also helps fathers and children to build trust.
  • Volunteer for a worthy cause together. Visit the ill, organize a fundraiser for a non-profit, or work at a shelter. You’ll spend time with each other, but you’ll also make a difference and help others. You can see what volunteer opportunities there are in your city by clicking here.
  • Have a tournament of your choice – Battleship, Monopoly, cards, Playstation, etc.
  • Maybe go for breakfast to a funky new cafe instead of lunch or dinner?
  • Go to the movies and have a milkshake or similar before or afterwards.
  • Take a hot air balloon ride.
  • Watch the sun rise or set from a great location.
  • Get your child to choose a restaurant, give them a price guide i.e. $ cheap. $$ medium, $$$+ expensive, suggest some locations, they can use Urbanspoon to do the research before hand and let you know where you will be having your Date Date.
  • Hire a fishing charter, they usually go rain hail or shine, they will also clean and fillet the fish, just take an esky to bring your catch home and have a cook-up on fish and chips.
  • Accomplish a fun home project together i.e.  Paint their bedroom.  You’ll work as a team and feel a whole new kind of satisfaction when you’re done.
  • Have high tea complete with scones and cucumber sandwiches at a ritzy hotel
  • Get an hour foot massage together at one of the Thai massage centers around town.
  • Write or get printed a few vouchers and have on them – “Date with Dad” voucher, valid for ever and include on each one an idea, outing or activity of what you both could do.  They can then cash them in  each time you plan a date.

Any other ideas you might have we would love to hear and share them with others.

Setting our kids up to make good decisions when they are adults

Setting our kids up to make good decisions when they are adultsWe have all come across a child who seems more mature than their years. In some cases these children have achieved this without much guidance or parenting. But more often than not our children require a level of guidance and parenting to help them become good adults.

The decisions we face as we get older are varied and can be anything from – do I want Toast or Nutri Grain for breakfast? to choosing the right career, a savings plan, a life partner or leaving home to live in another State?

As parents, we see our children’s interactions with others and we see their strengths and weaknesses play-out, it is our role to guide and encourage our children to make decisions and interactions that are the right ones. None of us have completed a parenting course and we also need to have a level of maturity that can enable us to impart the sensible and correct guidance onto our kids.

But given that we do, its important for our kids to understand them-self and the world and how we need to play in it to ensure that we are safe and can navigate it successfully.

We play a huge role in providing that support.

One way of doing this can be helping our kids think out what they want from certain aspects of their life and drawing up a chart with specific goals in mind. Remember to keep them realistic i.e. there is no point in writing down that you want to be a Pastry Chef if your child does not like deserts?

From the list below, you will be able to create a top 3 “want” list of things across many categories of life that you can help your child achieve and move towards. It will also give you some insight into what your child’s interests are and what might inspire and motivate them.

Career
  1. .
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Relationship
  1. .
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Family
  1. .
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Health
  1. .
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Fitness/Sport
  1. .
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Money
  1. .
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  3. .
Car
  1. .
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  3. .
Travel
  1. .
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Hobbies
  1. .
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Volunteering/Charity work
  1. .
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Posessions
  1. .
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  3. .

By helping your child look at their strengths and weaknesses, you will be able to make a fairly realistic list of what they would like to achieve in the next 5, 10, 20 years? Keep the list handy, refer to it, talk about it, discuss what might need to happen to achieve some of them and start planning.

Card Hug – a great way to keep in touch

It is not surprising that Australia Post won the best print advertisement at the Caxton Awards in 2007.  M&C Saatchi Melbourne created the advertisement rightly named “Letter Hug”.  In a previous post we spoke briefly of keeping in touch in between visits by sending a card, for the purpose of this post we should call it the “Card Hug”.  The cards are simply written with loving words that ensure your children know they are top of mind even when you are not there.  It can be a message saying  you have arranged something special for the next time they visit, or you were remembering the last weekend and how much fun you had together.

It could be even letting them know how proud you are of them and to have a great week with their mum and you will see them soon. There are lots of message ideas and anyone from 4 – 74 enjoys receiving cards.  A “card hug” sent fortnightly can be a wonderful reminder and a nice habit to get into.

Let us know if you have had experience with this?