Working with children and understanding how they behave has always been something I have really enjoyed - something I was good at and took for granted as fairly straightforward. Until, that is, I had my own children… then it became a whole different story!
Fourteen years into parenting, and with three headstrong, challenging and beautiful daughters to show for it, I feel like maybe I am beginning to get the hang of it all! So much time in those early years, although precious and magical, was lonely, uncertain and really hard work.
Just as I got to grips with one ‘phase’, another one would appear, leaving me constantly exhausted and full of self doubt.
When my children were very small there were endless opportunities to meet other parents with similarly aged children and discuss the everyday challenges we all were facing; teething problems, sleep disturbance and so on.
I am still indebted to the friends who kept me going during those gruelling days - mostly by acknowledging how challenging it all was and making me feel like I wasn't alone.
However, as my children got a bit older and their needs became more emotionally complicated, I found there were far fewer occasions for open discussion with other parents facing similar situations.
When a toddler throws a tantrum in a supermarket, every parent of a toddler within earshot thinks ‘thank goodness other toddlers have tantrums too’
The same is absolutely true of older children and the challenges they pose. That relief of knowing that other people also find it tricky is huge, and from there we can gain the perspective to work out how to manage our own feelings about the situation, in order to come up with the best strategies to help our children.
Having worked in a teaching capacity for over 20 years; as a nursery school teacher, a learning support assistant and a drama teacher, I have always had a strong affinity for working with children.
A number years ago I devised and ran a programme in conjunction with my local primary school to help children build their confidence and self esteem, dealing with challenges such as anger management, secondary school transition and friendship issues. This was very well received and I went on to work individually with some of the children – providing a space for them to discuss some of the aspects of their lives they were finding difficult, and helping them to overcome these.
The same issues came up time and again, and it occured to me that maybe some of the parents of these children would appreciate some support from parents of children with similar challenges. Much as I had felt isolated until I began opening up to other parents, the same turned out to be true of almost everyone I spoke to about it.
So RAISING PARENTS was born. As soon as we speak up, with courage, honesty and vulnerability, about the challenges we are facing, or about ways we cope with these challenges, with like minded people, we are almost always met with support, solidarity and a sense of feeling heard.. which is the best way to parent ourselves, and thus, parent our children.
When I am not running parenting workshops, I work in another area of communication; supporting individuals and companies to engage clearly and effectively using a variety of presentation skills. Click here for the link to my Raising Profiles website. I have worked with Sales Teams, Technical Support Teams, CEOs, Headteachers, Ted Talk Speakers - face to face and on video platforms, in Dublin, London, Belfast, San Francisco and worldwide, to create content which captures their audience, and deliver it confidently and powerfully.