Archive for September, 2009

Emotions

Friday, September 25th, 2009

The next chapter (of happy children) is about emotions.

Its about helping kids understand the 4 basic emotions, anger, fear, sadness, happiness.

The idea is to name them with words, for both me and M. Instead of physical displays, like temper tantrums, or me yelling, we learn to talk about anger. ‘I am getting angry’. It seems important to role model discussing your emotions.

My brother G, seems to do a good job of this. I have scene him tell his son, that he is upsetting him. He uses a slightly gruff voice, by the book says that is fine. This way the kids understand a reasonable approach to communicating anger. Instead of acting out on it, they can put words to it.

Throughout, you must remember not to put the kids down, as discussed in the first chapter.

One fascinating idea was for toddlers (like M), is to use a wall chart of faces with different emotions, and get her to point to the emotion she is feeling. What an awesome idea. I will try to implement this in November (when we have sufficient time to get away from the park).

I have been discussing with my own counselling the lack of fear of feel. I think I simply don’t understand what it means to be scared.

I am getting better at anger, the anger management course helped with that (which I should spend more time to complete). But the book re-iterated you need anger in your life.

The book also said sadness and crying is important. I know I often encouraged E to cry. His mum often took the common line ‘dont cry like a girl’ – which the books says is pretty bad.

Kids abuse emotions to get parents to react, so watch out for:
– tantrums – which are misuse of anger
– sulking – misuse of sadness
– shyness – misuse of something …. basically get them to atleast say hello to people.

Listening to Kids

Friday, September 25th, 2009

The next chapter (in happy children) was about active listening.

I’ll have to admit, this is somewhat new to me.

I think perhaps my counsellor (R) once touched on this. But I didn’t understand.

Its about not only listening ‘yes dear, your upset about school’. Its about really getting behind the issue, firstly understanding the emotion, and not trying to solve the issue.

This is sort of covered in ‘mens are mars’ book.

But this chapter is clear in its depiction of how easy it is to be patronising or lecturing.

It also had an awesome idea about teaching your kids to solve their own issues. That will help M mature more, than me providing the answer.

It was also bring us closer together. Active listening will have the side effect of being the ‘go-to-person’ for M. If she feels that I will understand and comfort, as opposed to solve, it more likely she will bring more tricky things to me. This is a real opportunity for me, to gain real trust with M at an early age, to better help us both through her teenage years (where I think the trust is harder to earn, more sorely needed).

I want active listening to be one of my pillars as a father.

What kids really want

Friday, September 25th, 2009

The next chapter in the book (The secret of happy children) was about spending time with your kids.

It talked about when kids are playing up, they are looking for attention.

Even when they are doing things they know are wrong, being scowled is better than being ignored.

I have known this for a long time, the best thing you can spend on kids is your time.

It talked a lot about physical contact and love, and being sincere. All this rang true.

What did alarm me was a graph that said at about 12 kids will pull back from the physical contact …. ouch. This sort of reminds me of my relationship with my youngest brother, he loved cuddles when he was little, but at some stage he found it smothering (I think it was more like 10 though).

I immediately thought M has through 2 of 12 years of this stage, 16% of being a little kid. I felt a small amount of anger against the mother minimising my time over the last 14 months with M. But I quickly separated those feeling, and understand that its about my ex’s mental health surrounding anxiety, and it cant be helped.

It talked about doing things together. I had already worked this one out also. I am keen to find hobbies with both can enjoy. I have recently copied some music to my ipod shuffle, and we (M & I) listen to it at lunch in the park. Its my music (and not the wiggles), so I am a little more interested, and I feel that is a good thing. M sits there, eating, swaying to the music, its ssssooo cute. I caught a small amount on video this week.

my family

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

There is 2 of us , me and M (my daughter, a few weeks from being 2).

It took me a while to come to that realisation, until I changed the private health cover. To a single parent family. Yep, I am a single parent. I thought that was only for young unmarried mothers, nope, its for 30 something separated greiving fathers too.

Nothing can take away M from me, not my ex, not the courts. M has a right to live with me, and I have a responsiblity to care for M.

Its likely to be the most important relationship for the rest of my life. So I am going to do a damned good job of it.

It was only recently I realised that, no matter what, I will never loose my daughter, our relationship. It’s really up to me not to fuck it up. Its not like dating someone, its not even like marrying someone – they all might go away, leave you, discard you. My my daughter is for life, she is for keeps.

I only see her for 2 x 2hrs per week. She is on my mind for a lot more than that. The legal side of things is a part of that, but only a small part. A big part is remembering the small fun things we do together, how much I love her. What we are going to do next. What things I want to teach her. How different she is to E at the same age.

My mind is always racing ahead, 5 years, 10 years. I want to learn now, make a strong foundation, make the world a safe place for my daughter.I want her to grow up emotionally secure inside. I want to be the rock for her. I want to be her best friend. I want to communicate with her, and not talk down to her. I want to give her strong foundations and values, and let her make her own decisions. I will support every decision, no matter how bad, or how much I disagree. I want to always be on her side. The communication and closeness is the most important long term goal, if I support her decisions, we have no real reason to cut each other off.

I am her father all the time, even when I am not with her. I am her father.

I love you M.

The secret of Happy Children – Steve Biddulph

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

This is a newer book, from the author of ‘raising boys’. That interestingly, my ex banned me from reading ‘raising boys’. Probably as she didn’t agree on the chapter on masterbation (which I would assume there would be on any parent boys book).

I have only read the first chapter so far, and its powerful stuff.

Its about brain washing your kids. It talks about the wrong way, like ‘your an idiot !’ – this demeans kids, lowers their self esteem. They believe their parents. The right way, is positive encouragement, that is realistic and honest – ‘wow – you are getting very strong’.

These ideas seem natural to me. I can’t remember anytime I put down my step son E (now 5, that I lived with for 3 years). His mother, put him down every day, more often when the mother was upset and frustrated, or angry with me (which was always).

I can remember some powerful messages from my parents, but I cant for the life of me, think of even one put down. Perhaps I was lucky to escape if from my parents.

The books talks about lots of it is passed from your parents. And it more often occurs when emotions and tempers are high.

I can remember my ex contstantly threatening E, ‘if you don’t finish your breakfast, you won’t go to school’ (meaning pre school). She never ever, carried out even 1 threat to my memory. She often swore at him. Calling him an idiot. Basically every bad thing in the book, my ex did it.

Now, I am not saying I am a saint. Perhaps its because I was older. Perhaps because my parents didn’t do it to me. Perhaps it was my maternal grandmother’s influence, she always saw the silver lining, and that has been powerful influence on my life. But I gave all the positive enforcement to E I could, like:

– ‘smart idea’

– ‘ was that your idea E ? good idea’

– ‘does anyone have any good ideas how to fix xxxx ?’

– ‘ that was a good idea E. where did that come from ?’ … answers in my brain … ‘wow you must have a smart brain’

– I helped him throw. Kick the soccer ball. I always gave him a good word and a cuddle, after such excersize.

– ‘good throw, you have very strong arms’

The worst I remember from the ex was:

– ‘fuck off’ – shoves E out of the bathroom ‘just leave me alone’

– E slumps on the ground crying whilst playing in a park, we are separated, and I have come to dinner. ‘get off the grounds, stop crying you girl’

– at the restaurant that same evening : ‘if you dont stop crying, and eat your dinner, I’ll take you back to B (natural father), and I’ll leave you there, and I wont come back’

She has kicked this poor kid from pillar to post, and she doesn’t even know it.

I was the best thing in his life. Positive, reasurring, calm, confident. I hope to get back to help him. But its unlikely I can help much, even if I do get time, it was be so small, as to have no chance to counteract the evil that the mother does. I can only hope his natural father does a better job.

The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

I fired my lawyers last week.

They were costing money, and they were too conservative.

I decided that the money could probably be better spent on the kids somehow, like education, holidays, or a house deposit.

I have read lots of case law, read the legislation, and family law just isn’t that complex (IMHO).

The second brush with the lawyers actually yielded some results.

The first was over a contravention, the mother stopped contact for illness of M, claiming she had gastro. Last time this occured the GP said the child was bright and happy and could have attended. Again the GP said the child was bright. I am pretty sure there is 2 breaches of the orders, but this blog is only going to contain light coverage of legal issues. I am basically not taking the breach to court as such so as not to aggravate the mother needlessly. I am likely to draft up the papers, and keep them handy.

The second brush, I was asking for non-adversarial ideas. We came up with the name of a reputed counsellor that specializes in  separation, co parenting.  They even do mediation. So I think we might have struck gold. So I am more than thrilled, that we might have a way forward.