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Parenting | Your newly confident five-year-old

people-70979_1280It is amazing to look back after your child’s first year in school and see how they have grown in confidence. However, along with this new found confidence comes a good dose of cheekiness. They have truly found their voice and will no longer conform. Now, when you ask them to tidy their room you may get a very clear, “No, I am busy!”. When you ask them not to strangle their younger sibling they reply, “They hit me first!”.

You might be relieved that they are getting school holidays, presuming that it is the influence of bold children in school that has turned them into somewhat of a naughty terror. However, it may not be fair to blame the influence of other children; your five-year-old has had ten months of daily mingling with the world and they have realised that they can do things for themselves. Every day they have been encouraged to sort things out for themselves in the classroom and in the yard. They have watched and they have learned. They have discovered they can survive without their parents with them all the time. They are strong, they have skills and, for sure, have their voices that we hear loud and clear at home.

Children should have the safety of home to say no, to test the boundaries and to stand up for themselves. As parents our role is to help them understand the rules of play, of negotiation and respect for others, including their parents.

Here are some tips to help you get started over the summer months:

  1. Welcome your child’s new found confidence. Tell them how great it is to hear them voice their thoughts.
  2. Talk with them about how they can say what they are thinking in a respectful way.
  3. Help them to figure out ways of dealing with anger that doesn’t inflict hurt on others.
  4. Ask them what rules they think should be in place in the house. Get them to help you write down some house rules that all the family can stick to.
  5. Talk with them about how confidence is a good thing, how we all need to say no at times and how this has created positive change in the world. Maybe you can think of some local heroes or ones from fiction or history to help children see how this is a talent they are developing and one they should use wisely.
  6. Talk with children about negotiation. We don’t always want to do what we are asked to do, and neither do they, so encourage them to negotiate with you to reach agreements.
  7. Help your child to understand that families and community, just like in the classroom, need co-operation. If we can all agree to do something, even if we don’t particularly like doing it, then we can move onto something more enjoyable.
  8. Stay calm when your child shouts demands at you. If you get into a shouting match with them they will win because you will feel guilty later. Tell them, in a calm voice, that you need to move away until they are ready to talk. Acknowledge that they are angry or upset, or whatever emotion it is you detect. Never ignore their emotions. When they calm down, thank them for doing that and start over. No sulking!
  9. Every time your child uses their talents, tell them how great it is to be developing these skills. Our job is to sand off the rough edges of these skills. Support and encourage them. You want strong and vibrant children.
  10. Look after yourself. Give yourself some break time so that you will have the patience to parent. This way you can support your child to gain control of all these skills and talents that are emerging.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Parenting | Your teenager’s summer of freedom

youth-570881_1280This summer a whole new set of parents will experience, for the first time, their young teens at home and off school for three whole months. Teens will be so excited, but many parents may be questioning the logic of the Department of Education and their annual three month holiday for teenagers. They are still very young so they have to be monitored and cared for but how can you do this for three months and hold down a job?

Here are ’10 ways to’ support you and your teen to have an enjoyable summer:

  1. Firstly, do not panic. You have worked hard preparing your child for life. This freedom is the first real test of how responsible they can be. It may be absolutely necessary to leave them at home for part of the day while you get to work. Talk with them about keeping safe without causing fear. When they are at home go over safety rules with them. Make sure they answer their phone and check in with you. Ask them to call you if they are going out or if anyone comes over. This way at least you are aware of what is happening.
  2. It is all about demonstrating responsible behaviour. Once you see them act in this way it will support you to move forward. If they cannot be trusted alone, you will need to look at childcare options for them. They will not like having to go to a minder but if they are not capable of being home alone for a period of time you have no choice for now. Let them moan that you are being over protective and don’t trust them, that is to be expected.
  3. Aside from childminding options, check in with their friends’ parents. There are likely to be some parents at home at times. If you arrange teen dates, it could work well for everyone. Parents rather young people hang out in small groups. Talk directly to the parents yourself about any plans.
  4. Talk with relatives and see if they can go on holidays to anyone for a few days, here and there. It is good for them to get to know cousins and other relatives a little better. It would also give them some added independence to do this without you. I am sure you can return the favour at some stage.
  5. Encourage your teen to make a plan of action for the summer. What do they enjoy? Can they participate in sports, join a book club or some hobby group? Three months would be great opportunity for them to really pursue an activity they enjoy when they have time to do it. It would get them up and out of the house and keep them busy and motivated.
  6. Allow your teens to rest. Try to accept that teens are different to adults. They like to sleep late in the day, watch TV, listen to music, spend all day on their phone and sit in their pyjamas until dinner time. They can’t get a job yet so they have the luxury for a very short period in their life to enjoy doing nothing. Once they maintain the boundaries and the rules of the home they are not harming anyone. Of course they should also help with household chores as usual. Allow them dictate a little what they would like to do.
  7. Talk with them about what is appropriate for them to do and where they can hang out. Think about allowing them to travel on the bus alone, if you have not done so yet. It is scary to allow your child such freedom but unless you give them responsibilities you cannot expect them to learn. You prepare them for life by adding responsibilities layer by layer. You also get braver each day as you see them cope and make positive choices.
  8. It is not a good idea at this age to give teens the responsibility of looking after younger children. Be cautious and know that teens do not always have the patience and tolerance required to manage younger children. It may be a step too far to leave them home alone together. It may be better to look at other options around caring for younger children.
  9. Take time out with your teen this summer if you can. Get to know them as young people heading quickly towards adulthood. In a few years they will most likely have jobs and busier social lives, and parents will be far from important in their lives. Enjoy your last few summers with them.
  10. Try to think back to when you were their age. Don’t nag them and worry that their brains will freeze up over the summer with the lack of use. They will most likely be fine.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Events | Social Group Summer Outings

toddler-1312760_1280run-1321278_1280child-1363927_1280

Are you a lone parent who would like the opportunity to meet other people parenting alone or sharing parenting after separation? Would you like your children to interact with others of the same age? Then join us this summer on any of our Social Group Summer Outings for a fun and affordable day out for your family. See below for more details.

  1. Airfield Estate & Pet Farm UPDATE: This outing is now booked out.

When: Thursday 17th of August

Meet at: Airfield, Overend Way, Dundrum, Dublin 14

Time: Meet at entrance @11am sharp

Cost: €5 per adult/parent

 

  1. Dublin Zoo UPDATE: This outing is now booked out.

When: Thursday 24th of August

Meet at: Dublin Zoo

Time: Meet at Group Entrance Gate @ 11am sharp

Cost: €5 per person

Children 3 years and under are Free

 

How to book

To join us, email Margareth Petroli or call 01 662 9212. Mention the outing you would like to attend, provide your name and contact number and the names and ages of your children.

These social group outings are open to anyone who is parenting alone, and One Family subsidises costs so that they are free or low-cost for families attending. As capacity is limited, places will first be allocated to current clients of One Family if demand is very high. Please note, if you are not currently a client of One Family, you will be asked to complete a registration form.

Visit One Family on Facebook for updates on each event.

 

Parenting | How to guide your teen in a part-time job

man-439040_1280Getting a job as a teenager is like taking on an extra subject, one that cannot be taught in school. Real learning about the world, and the people in it, can come from getting a job. If teens are working with the public they will learn to listen to and respect strangers. They learn that they cannot say what they want or they may be sacked. A part-time job will teach your teen to be self-motivated. When they go to college or into the world of work they will know how to cope. The teen years are the time to start training them to use time wisely. They must start deciding how best to use their time for study, work and socialising. It can all fit.

Here are ’10 ways to’ guide your teen in a job:

  1. Usually after Junior Cert the time for a part-time job has arrived. There is something out there for every teen.
  2. Support them to find the right job for them.
  3. Your teen must commit to and be responsible for the job they take on. Mum or Dad cannot pick up the pieces when they do not show up for work. A note into the boss will not be permitted.
  4. If your teen cannot make it into work they should call to explain their absence themselves or they have to organise someone else to cover the shift. They have to acknowledge they are letting others down.
  5. Parents should never get involved in workplace issues.
  6. When issues do arise, support your teen to talk it out. Help them to explore options around resolving workplace issues. They will learn so much about life and grow with great confidence from doing this.
  7. If they struggle to manage a part-time job, along with other activities and social time, then perhaps their energy levels need to be looked at. You will have some work to do with them around capacity building.
  8. You may think they will be sacked the very first week but encourage them to learn from any mistakes and to keep going.
  9. During the school term, it is possible to study and to work and try not to pretend they can’t. The highest achievers out there are usually the busiest of people.
  10. Believe in your teen and they will believe in their own abilities. It is not about earning at the end of the day (although that has its charm), it is about learning survival skills and gaining self awareness.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Parenting | Parenting an adult child who won’t grow up

reading-1142801_1920What should you do if you have an adult child who thinks that they are all grown up but keeps lapsing into childish behaviours? It can be difficult to know what the issue is. If you treat them like a child does this encourage them to behave like one? Or, do they fall into the safety net of childhood because they are not ready to take the leap into full adulthood. When your child turns 18 they no longer require hands-on care. You need to empower them to grow up. Examine your behaviour. Are you enabling them to act like a child? As a parent your ultimate goal is to support your child to grow up and become a responsible adult.

Here are ’10 ways to’ support an adult child who lives with you to mature into a responsible adult:

  1. Firstly, ask yourself are you too involved in your adult child’s life. Are you still calling them in the mornings? Are you still doing all the cooking? Are you still asking them to tidy up? Are you still telling them what to do? Are you commenting on what they watch? Are you commenting on their friends or relationships? Are you commenting on what they wear? If you answered yes to most of these then I would suggest that you are too involved in your adult child’s life.
  2. If your adult child needs to continue to live with you, past the age of 18, then it is important to put some ground rules in place. To some extent you can treat your adult child like a roommate now and not like your child. Agree some principles of sharing a home – keep them simple – base them around respect and love.
  3. Paying rent is crucial, even if it is only a small amount. Agree on the use of space. Agree on the use of materials in the home, such as TV, computers and the washing machine. Agree on a roster of cooking and buying groceries.
  4. If you are parenting a younger child and have an adult child living with you it is really important to have an environment of harmony for the child. Try not to allow your relationship with your adult child impact negatively on your younger child. You are the only one who can protect their environment.
  5. Younger siblings usually hugely admire their older adult siblings. Living with them can help them develop close, long lasting and meaningful relationships. If you can have a positive relationship with your adult child your younger child will benefit too.
  6. Ask them to respect the needs of their younger siblings but do not expect your adult child to be a parent to their siblings. Of course they will look out for them and spend time with them but they will not be interested in babysitting, school pickups and homework. This is your role as a parent. Often we expect too much parenting support from our young adult children.
  7. If you feel you and your adult child are at the battle gates all the time, try to sit with them and tell them how much you love them. Talk about the fun things you did when they were little. Talk about what they are doing now and what their plans are. Talk with them about how you would like to support them in the next few years to reach their goals.
  8. Tell your adult child if you need some support from them. Talk to them like an adult, stop talking to them like a child. Think it out and communicate in a clear and direct way. No threats! You cannot discipline them.
  9. Make a date with your adult child every other week and check in with them. Do not expect that they will check in with you each day. Trust that they are doing okay. You can text them whenever you want but sending a text should not mean you have to get one back. Respect their privacy and ask them to respect yours.
  10. Be honest if it is not working and set a timeline for them to move out. Move into a new chapter of parenting. Let go. It is not about control. It is about loving and being there for each other.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212

Parenting | Talking to Grandparents about Childminding

window-932760_640Many parents have relied upon grandparents’ support to raise their children, both now and in the past. Their help can relieve pressure in many cases. However, in some cases it can also increase the pressure. Parents can feel gratitude to grandparents for their time and efforts but if they cannot speak honestly with them, for fear of upsetting them and losing their valuable help, this can lead to challenging relationships between parents and grandparents. With childcare options so few, due to costs, parents need grandparents more than ever.

What can parents and grandparents do to support each other in the care of children? Here are ’10 ways to’ ensure happy, positive relationships between parents, grandparents and children:

  1. The first step in this relationship is to establish it in a business-like way. Keep it a little different to when you call to visit grandparents. Agree the days and times.
  1. Raise the issue of money. Do not assume that grandparents will care for children for free. They may not want to be paid but they may not want to be out of pocket either.
  2. Agree on what children are allowed to eat. Will you provide meals and snacks or will you give money for the cost of the food?
  3. Respect the days and times you agree upon. Do not be late. You would not be late for a minder outside of the family so show the same regard for grandparents.
  4. Grandparents have other things to do. When extra days come up look for other options. Do not expect grandparents to step in all of the time.
  5. Reward grandparents as much as you can: have them over for dinner; take them places; sit with them when you know they need company; remember birthdays and key dates; buy them a cake or flowers when they least expect it. People like to feel valued, just because they are family doesn’t mean you don’t need to thank them.
  6. Talk with grandparents about behaviour. At times grandparents can be too strict and at times too lenient. Talk with them about what you do. Help them to plan for challenging days. Sit the children down with the grandparents and talk openly about what will happen when there are behavioural challenges. Do not leave grandparents to work it out alone and then complain about how they do it. Support them.
  7. Grandparents often give sweet treats and this is fine occasionally but when they are in the role of childminder they will need to provide healthy food. Talk with them about how it will affect the children’s energy for school, for homework, for play, for sleep. Grandparents want what is best for children as much as you do. Help them put rewards in place that are simple and easy to follow. Help children to know that, on the days grandparents are in charge, they do not get the same treats as on visits with grandparents.
  8. Grandparents will need days off. Ask them to give you notice so you can find alternative childcare options. Talk about holidays in advance and work out your own leave around grandparents’ own plans.
  9. It takes a lot of people to raise a child. It is very important to make friends and to get to know other parents in order to build up a network. The only way to work and parent is to have a variety of options around childcare. There will be times it will cost more when the key people cannot help out, but this is the joy of parenting. Children will grow-up and one day childcare will no longer be an issue.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212

 

Parenting | What to do when your child won’t listen

listenMany parents say that their child will just not listen to them but the first question to be explored is how well do you listen to your child? As parents we are role models for our children so exploring your style of listening is key to supporting your child going forward.

Here are some tips to support improvement in listening skills in your home and as a result improving behaviour and communication.

  1. Reflect on how you listen to your child. When your child is talking to you do you stop, look them in the eye and listen carefully to what they have to say? Or do you continue with what you are doing?
  2. When you are telling your child something are you inclined to shout in to them from another room or up the stairs? Or do you go to them, stand near them, look them in the eye and talk to them, ensuring they know you are talking to them?
  3. Are you inclined to clarify with your child what they heard you say? For example: Jack, can you tell me what I have asked you to do before dinner? Children often only hear part of what we say.
  4. How do you speak with your child, do you start with threats or with a positive statement? For example: Joe I need you to tidy away some toys before dinner or if you don’t tidy up now you are getting no dinner! Children like positive energy and work more effectively with us if we can keep things fun. Help them achieve rather than focusing on threats and failure.
  5. If you are talking to more than one child at a time be very specific who you are talking with. Stop what you are doing and go and ask that one child to come to you and talk with them. Although it may seem time consuming to stop and talk with them in the long run it will be much faster.
  6. Have a meeting with your children about listening to each other. Play some games with them where you all take turns to listen really nicely to each other and ask questions of each other. Then play a game whereby you don’t listen to each other. Talk about what that feels like for everyone. Children as young as three should be able to participate in this activity. Then as a family talk about some house rules around listening. It is good to instil some good principles in your family that they can bring forward through life.
  7. Reward children and yourself for listening and communicating well with each other. If you have a rule that you have to lift your head and look at a person when they talk with you. That is really respectful. Thank the person for being so nice to you. That is a reward in itself. How often do we thank each other for being nice?
  8. Take time to talk. If your child is over two years old ask them to wait at times to talk with you if you are in the middle of something. Always, always go back to them and ask them to tell you what they had wanted to talk to you about. Never leave it and think they will have forgotten. If children are younger they cannot wait so you have to just stop and listen and make time for this.
  9. Be careful that you model good listening skills to your child if you expect them to listen well to you:
  • Stop and make eye contact.
  • Listen openly to what they are saying.
  • Clarify what you hear them say.
  • Ask open ended questions.
  • Do not jump in with your own story – this is their space to talk and your space to listen.
  • Thank them for telling you.
  • Move on with your activities when they have finished or when you feel it is appropriate.

10. Have a time each day when you turn off phones and televisions and make time to talk and listen. When children feel heard they are more likely to listen to others.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Parenting | 10 Ways to Settle Back into the School Routine

back to school Settling back into the school routine can be very challenging. When you are parenting school age children, the best way to make a plan is to do it together with your children. Whether is it September or another time of the year, here are some tips to support you.

  1. Call a family meeting. If you have not tried this before try not be skeptical as it can be very effective. By bringing the whole family together you are making a statement – This is our family and our issue to resolve together, which is a really good principle to parent by. If you need extra advice on how to do this, read our ’10 ways to’ run a family meeting
  2. When you have all the family in one place then make your statement – School is back on, how can we ensure a good term ahead for everyone?
  3. Ask each person to say what they need in the next term. You should expect various responses, from ‘no nagging’, to ‘not wanting homework’ to needing ‘time out with friends’. This is normal, take note of all suggestions.
  4. Once you have a list of what everyone needs, then you can start to explore if and how these needs can be met.
  5. If you have older children, maybe they can offer to help meet the needs of younger children. Such as supporting them with homework.
  6. Be sure to name your needs and be reasonable. Try to keep them very specific, e.g. “I need to know homework is done every day. “I need everyone in bed at a reasonable time.” “I need everyone to take a level of responsibility around getting ready for school in the mornings.”
  7. Agree what each person can do for themselves. “Everyone has their own alarm clock.” “Everyone makes their own sandwiches, once they are over about 7 years old. Your job is to provide the food, agree what needs to be available, but you do not have to be responsible for filling the boxes.
  8. Once you have agreed on the key principles of what everyone needs to do, allow some space and variation in how each person achieves them. If you have older children and teenagers try not to schedule every minute for them. Allow them choose when homework will be done. It is their homework. Allow them some choice around free time after school before homework starts. Allow them to choose when they eat. You can prepare dinner, but is it reasonable to expect everyone to eat at the same time? You can also agree on family time and when you schedule some time together as a family.
  9. If we try to control everything our children do, we are just setting ourselves up for failure – along with exhaustion! As parents, it is important we remember that our role is to prepare children for life. Allowing them to make choices and have some control is part of this process. If your child is never allowed to plan their own time and make reasonable choices, how will they learn? How will you know what they are capable of?
  10. Look after yourself well. In order to parent our children effectively, we must learn to parent ourselves. Take time out for you. Be creative in how you can get this time. You will have thought of many of your own needs during this process and your children are not responsible for meeting them. You need to find ways to meet them yourself. In this way you will have the patience and energy to listen, understand and engage in positive ways with your children.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to manage Homework With Primary School Children 

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic Monday 7 September from 11am-12pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.

Parenting a young adult

Parenting | 10 Ways to Parent a Young Adult

Parenting a Young AdultMoving from constant active parenting when our children are young to the parenting of a young adult can be difficult. Raising our children dominates our lives for so long that it can be tough to know what to do with ourselves once they grow up and begin to explore their independence and build lives of their own.

This week in our ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, we share some ideas to support you to define and embrace your role as the parent of a young adult.

  1. Space; allow your young adult their own space. Accept that they may not want or need to see or call you as often. Let them know you will always be there for them, check in with them, and then move on and start to enjoy your own time.
  2. Try not to always question what they are doing with their life even if you feel they could make different choices at times.
  3. Listen to their plans and ideas, and support them as best you can. Hear what they are saying and smile.
  4. Allow them to make their own choices and to learn from the mistakes they make along the way, knowing that you are always there for them.
  5. If they still live with you, respect them as young adults in the home. Agree boundaries together but try not to control them by imposing rules.
  6. Try not to judge your child; they may drink or stay out all night at some time, is this often simply a part of being young and not having too many responsibilities.
  7. They might seem to you to spend their money foolishly but once they are not looking for a hand out, and meet any responsibilities they do have, be happy for them. For most of us, there’s a short enough window in life when we can enjoy what money we have before our financial responsibilities grow.
  8. Spend time with them and know them as an adult, watch how they are in the world and in their community. Let them go freely into the world.
  9. Make plans for your own life separate to being a parent. For many of us, our lives are consumed with raising our children and we might find that our own personal dreams are put aside. Take steps now around planning and achieving your dreams.
  10. Enjoy them; enjoy their energy and enthusiasm for life. It may seem like only yesterday that your child was a baby and now you see them grown, forging ahead and making their own way in life. They have the tools to do this. You have succeeded. Your roles may change but you will always be their parent. Take pride in seeing what they have become.

This article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.

Awkward Questions

Parenting | 10 Ways to Deal with Those Awkward Questions

Awkward QuestionsChildren are so inquisitive. They love information. They ask constant questions as their minds are continuously processing everything they see and hear in the world around them. Children come to their parents all the time to clarify the things they don’t really understand. As parents, we want to help our children learn and understand yet sometimes when they ask an ‘awkward question’ it is tempting to gloss over it (and maybe run for the hills and hope when we get back they will have forgotten!).

There are so many issues that parents can find difficult to discuss with their children. Depending on our own experiences and beliefs, how ‘awkward’ a question is for us as individuals can vary hugely. For many parents, those awkward questions may include: “Where do babies come from? What is sex? What is gay? Why does he have two mammies? Why don’t I have a mammy? Why don’t I have a daddy? What is homeless?” By not answering awkward questions and telling children they are ‘too young’ to know such things, we are making taboos of so many subjects that are normal in our society. Children will learn quickly not to ask us anymore, and then they will in time find other sources – perhaps unreliable sources – to answer their questions. A question will not go away until your child is satisfied with the answer they find.

This week in our ’10 Ways to’ parenting tips series, we explore some strategies that as parents we can put in place to support us in answering those awkward questions that our children send our way.

  1. Don’t try to fob a child off by changing the subject or saying they are too young. If they are old enough to ask, they are old enough to get some information.
  2. Be honest in an age appropriate way. This does not mean you wait until they are teens to tell them things (when you may be even more embarrassed). Give children little bits of information to match what they can understand as they develop. Plant the seeds and build the tree over time with them.
  3. At times a question may upset you yet this is no reason to not answer it. You may have to explain to your child that this question makes you a little sad but that you will talk with them about it. A parent absent from your child’s life is often very difficult to talk about and many parents worry that their child will feel the rejection they themselves may have experienced, but remember that children have a different relationship with and perception of an absent person in their life. They will not feel the same as you. Here we explore ways to explain an absent parent.
  4. Be factual and try not to make the information about any subject into a fairy tale. Educate your child about families and all the diverse families in our society.
  5. If you make any issue into a taboo when children are young, they will be less inclined to talk openly with you when they are older. Try to have an open relationship with your child from the first days. Once they start talking to you, start talking and sharing with them. Remember that even though it may seem a long time away now, you don’t know what choices your child will make as they grow up and you don’t want them to think that you may be unsupportive of them in the future.
  6. Just because you explain once, that probably won’t mean that you’re off the hook. Children take pieces from each and every conversation. Some bits they recall and other bits get left behind. They will ask you again so try to be patient and answer them again. Maybe you can add in additional age appropriate detail the next time.
  7. There are many excellent books out there to support parents in talking with children about almost every topic. Perhaps you can get some books in the library and introduce them during story time. Plant the seeds of knowledge and allow your child to process the information and to know they can come back to you when they need to ask more questions.
  8. If your child has wrong information or understanding, such as about who their dad is or if they have the same parents as their sibling, then correct them from the first error. With many families we work with, children are growing up with step-parents having previously had a relationship as a baby with their other biological parent who separated from the family and they may have forgotten this. Try to keep the information clear, show them photos if you have them, be open and honest or you will only create more awkward situations in the future which can lead to your child losing trust in you. Always try to build your relationship based on trust.
  9. At times your child’s other parent might object to you answering these awkward questions. Try to talk with them and help them to understand why it is important to answer your child’s questions honestly. Once you are sharing age appropriate information, then you need not worry.
  10. Seek support from service providers such as One Family if you would you like support in talking with your child about challenging situations. Once you start to talk openly with your child and believe that you are the right person to help them understand the very complex world we live in, then it will become easier for you.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to Support Your Child’s Sex Education, 10 Ways to Explain An Absent Parent or 10 Ways to Talk To Your Child About ‘Where Do I Come From’.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.