The whole ‘helicopter parenting’ thing

There are books, talks and countless newspaper articles berating modern day parents for their helicopter style (always hovering, never allowing children to just be or take risks).

Here’s why I think this whole media obsession with helicopter parents is completely unhelpful.

  1. If it exists, it’s surely only an upper middle class problem, hardly representative of ‘most of us’. If you have time to, as one news article claimed ‘hang out at your kids school at lunch time to make sure they are doing okay’, you obviously don’t work or have a range of other commitments that the middle and working class parents I know need to juggle like a top class circus act. Most parents in my world struggle to pay the endless bills, find time to vacuum or get themselves a haircut (got a haircut myself this week for the first time this year, bonus!). Being present 24/7 in your child’s life is just not an option, especially if you have more than one.
  2. The term diminishes the great advances in parenting. Anyone using the term ‘helicopter parent’ has just declared they have no faith in current parents and their offspring. As a commentator on a recent article said, ‘What about all the helicopter therapists hovering over parents, telling them they are doing it wrong.’ Well played sir, well played. This generation understands more about the brain, emotions and the interplay between nature and nurture. Give us some credit, we must be doing something right.
  3. It sets people apart from each other – You’re wrong, I’m right. You are different and I don’t like it. None of these things are ever helpful. It takes a village to raise a child, if you’re looking at someone else with disdain instead of ‘how can I help?’ we all suffer. Recently, on a local facebook noticeboard, a father complained about a woman who had told off his wife when her autistic son was making too much noise in a shop. With all the criticism she receives, that day, it broke her. Thinking that one generation is better than another, or one way of being is the only way, leads to this sort of public shaming. This news article about a US mum trying to explain her autistic son to strangers (Should she even have to? We should all be caring with each other) has led to some awful responses. Unnecessary http://www.aol.com/article/2015/07/20/mothers-autistic-child-sticker-causes-intense-backlash/21211389/
  4. Is it the parents or society wrapping kids in cotton wool. Safety standards are high. Laws and policies are consistently being updated to ensure kids are ‘safe’. I wonder if we think about the consequences of this. When The Age reported that kids are no longer allowed alone in cars at all, the interviewee said ‘Parents will need to take their children into the petrol station to pay for the petrol, or fill up when they aren’t in the car.’ Is it reasonable to drag children across a concourse where cars are traveling around, as a safer option then leaving them in the car? Is it reasonable to ask parents to reconsider every aspect of daily life to comply with the latest safety ideas? It’s not the parents creating these rules.
  5. It sells books, but does it help kids? There are still so many challenges in families/parenting. Abuse, poverty, divorce, trauma and illiteracy. Are we coping with these issues well enough that we can look away, to complain about the small percentage of upper middle class parents who care too much? All the articles, books and emphasis on the ‘helicopter parents’ divert our attention from the real issues. There are serious issues for families today. Some kids are really struggling. I don’t want to focus on trivialities anymore, I want to make sure we aren’t leaving any kids behind. I don’t think we are doing too well at that. Here’s the Dropping off the Edge report 2015 that highlights it http://www.dote.org.au/

Let’s celebrate that we are parents, in an enlightened era. Let’s support and help each other, with opens hearts and minds. Let’s get through this craziness together. Let’s not freak out if we are standing too close, not close enough, not doing this, doing too much of that. We are all doing are best.

Yes, you still need a newsletter

I just opened up one of the monthly enews I receive from an industry body,  to scroll through for any important bits of info I might need, as I do every month.

One news story stopped me in my tracks. It went something like this…

‘We will not be producing these emails any longer. Please friend our facebook page for the latest.’

Whoa Nelly! Hold those horses a little. There’s a couple of issues here:

  1. You don’t ‘friend’ a facebook page anymore. You like it. Sometimes the news from that page shows up in your personal news feed, mostly it doesn’t. Pages aren’t you friends so facebook does not prioritise your content over a person’s friend.
  2. Facebook is a business. It therefore has to make money. It does that by encouraging pages to spend advertising dollars with them to make sure more people are seeing the page’s posts. If you are happy to pay more to have your news seen, facebook is the way to go.
  3. Enews platforms are generally free or low cost.
  4. Facebook changes it’s algorithms all the time. If you are using that as your only communication medium, you will need to be completely on top of these changes to know how to adjust your posting strategy.
  5. Once you have a subscriber, you know they are engaged with you. They want to hear from you, they potentially want to buy from you. In other words, they are yours to lose.
  6. You want to move people from interested to keen to purchaser…enews makes that process easier and cheaper.

Basically, you need to have a list, keep building your list, and keep supplying quality content to your list to grow your fans into avid supporters.

Please don’t abandon a platform if you think it’s not performing. Send it to me first! I’d be happy to have a look at your enews stats and provide some recommendations.

I recently updated the layout of an enewsletter for a client and moved the click through rates from 2.7% to 9.8%. There are tweaks you can do that will improve the results you are getting. If someone has signed up for your enews, they want to hear from you!

My Creating Extraordinary Enews package includes:
– your news over time analysis
– up to 10 recommendations for improvement
Normally $250, but mention my blog and receive it for only $95. Book it in.

Or ask me about producing your enews for you. I know they can be time consuming, but they are worth it.

39 things I’ve learned

It’s true, I’m about to turn 39. With my 38th birthday becoming quite a turning point, I have great expectations… and trepidation about this one.

Last year, my grandmother’s long battle with cancer ended on my birthday. In a moment that’s hard to put into words, she sought my permission to die. If ever I felt that I was taking on the role of matriarch, coming into my own as a woman, this was it. I stroked her hair as if she was my daughter and told her that her work here was done and she could move on whenever she needed.

And it didn’t get easier from there. I was challenged in many ways, on every front, I questioned many of my decisions and rearranged much of my life, exhausting! So, with another birthday rolling around, I thought I’d reflect on everything my 39 years has taught me. Here it is, for whoever may be interested:

 

  1. Eat the cake. My grandmother watched what she ate. She refused desserts. She had bowel cancer and said to me, ‘I should have just eaten the cake.’ Yep, sometimes you just should.
  2. Small moments make a life. It’s the small moments – the walks through the bush, finding interesting rocks and leaves, watching water flow and finding a mother duck and her ducklings that can make the best day.
  3. People look for easy answers. They will ignore nuance, make tenuous connections and think they understand when they really don’t. Fight the ignorance with loving action.
  4. Your gut knows. Whenever I have ignored a niggly feeling about a client, they turn out to be too demanding, when I’ve thought something was wrong with the kids despite everyone tells me it’ll be fine, I’m right.
  5. People will kick you when you are down. They don’t mean to, it’s what happens when you are vulnerable. Get up and dust yourself off.
  6. By the same token, you show your character when people need you the most. See other people’s perspective and try to work with that.
  7. There is ancient wisdom – in our elderly, in philosophers before us. Checkout Rumi or Marcus Aurelius. Others have worked this stuff out before us, we are not pioneers!
  8. Music is splendid solace – pain, grief, regret, joy, all expressed.
  9. Having kids is like living life in 3D from 2D, you understand yourself and your family from a whole new perspective. Nothing will ever be the same again.
  10. Risk is so important
  11. Kindness is everything
  12. You will be asked to stretch in ways you didn’t know you could survive. You do survive.
  13. Living is a dance of opposites. If you have loved, you will grieve. Do it anyway.
  14. Your world expands in every way as you get older – your emotions, your skills, your opportunities, your courage
  15. The only person you can control is you. The only thing you can control is your reaction.
  16. ‘Self-help’ is so full of contradictions as to be unhelpful. An open heart is your guide.
  17. People with definite opinions aren’t using all of their brains.
  18. One of the biggest battles I have faced is the battle with bitterness. But the world is full of hopelessness and cruelty, you must fight against letting it in.
  19. My family is the most important thing to me. Being clear on my values has helped guide my decisions.
  20. Difference makes life interesting. Even apples come in different varieties.
  21. You can be hurt, angry, jealous, sad. It’s all good. It’s telling you something. You just can’t live there.
  22. You are more beautiful than you think
  23. External beauty is so overrated.
  24. Marriage is a tough gig. You need someone who compliments your craziness. Then you have to work at it every single day. Having someone who makes you laugh is pretty much essential.
  25. Be careful who you get advice from. Most criticism says more about the person delivering it than it does about you.
  26. ‘Work’ is a collection of skills and interests. Find the purpose that makes it part of who you are, not just your job.
  27. If it isn’t working, move on. This ‘don’t give up’ mantra is torture for those not listening to their intuition.
  28. The Buddhists are on to something when they say nothing is permanent. I’ve had nowhere to live, now I have a house. I’ve had success and failure, been rich* and poor*. It adds to the tapestry of you, but it isn’t you. (*relatively, I’ve never owned a private jet and I’ve never needed to get a meal from a garbage bin…so far).
  29. You might not have gotten what you needed when you were younger – enough love, etc. It’s okay. You can be different.
  30. Life is an opportunity to get good at something, lots of things. Keep learning, keep making mistakes, keep exploring.
  31. What would nature do? I love the saying, a tree doesn’t wonder if the other trees think it’s tall enough or has green enough leaves. It just grows as its own beautiful self.
  32. There is nothing wrong with you.
  33. Sometimes you just need to dance.
  34. Criticism is easy.
  35. Somethings/people/ideas are worth digging in your heels for. Be clear, stand firm. Tell people what you require of them.
  36. You will be underestimated. Go for it anyway.
  37. Money – it’s tough to live without it. Breaking out of poverty needs to be seriously applauded. Like, gold medal style applauded.
  38. Quiet is necessary.
  39. We don’t know anything. We are all just trying our best here. Nobody knows more, is more than anyone else.

What wisdom have you picked up over the years?

Involve me…

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. – Benjamin Franklin

The other day I watched as my son excitedly jumped into a rocky section of the Yarra River on the outskirts of Melbourne. He rolled up his pants and waded in. He had a mission, there was a rocky outcrop nearby that he wanted to get to. The river was fast flowing and deep in parts. I knew he’d make it.

I have seen my son’s amazing sense of space and his body control over his eight year life. He knew the 10 or so km journey to his grandparents house by age 4. He shows me on google maps where his school is and takes me via the streets to nearby places he’s found. The kid has some real talents that aren’t specifically taught in the classroom – but the classroom, and his real life experiences, support and encourage these talents.

So the question for me, as a parent, as a communicator and educator is – how can we support and enhance this learning to ensure every kid feels that awesome feeling of discovery and accomplishment?

It’s really about making learning accessible to everyone, no matter what their strengths.

And the research backs it up: Providing students with multiple ways to access content improves learning (Hattie, 2011).

Dr Howard Gardner, responsible for the development of the multiple intelligences theory recently told the Washington Post:

Teach important materials in several ways, not just one (e.g. through stories, works of art, diagrams, role play). In this way you can reach students who learn in different ways. Also, by presenting materials in various ways, you convey what it means to understand something well.

So that’s why the Lore Makers is here. My business partner, a teacher, and I have taken our interest in cultural heritage, which provides great context for who we are and helps us understand each other, with a plan to create learning experiences that access and support all of our intelligences.

As we start this exciting journey, we’d love to have you come along on the journey with us. You can sign up to our enews and we’ll send you some info on how you can create memories. Or first events kick off in February (so if you’re feeling inclined, you can like our facebook page to keep in the loop).

Oh, and my son did make it to the outcrop, and can back again through the river a different way he’d plotted out. With slightly wet pants and a confident smile that he’d done just as he’d planned and had a great story to tell.

DSC_0417

 

Grace changes everything

I decided to grab some petrol on the way home from work one night recently.

It had been a long day. I had the flu, our hot water heater had a meltdown and the emergency plumber had created a dent in bank account. It didn’t stop there, my daughter had an accident with some boiling water and had been in hospital a few days before getting patched up. Wound management was still ongoing. So, a lot on my mind. And then I got petrol, and went to pay for it.

My card was declined. No money in my account. I had no idea how much was in there and had no cash. What could I do? I gave the operator my license and said I would be back soon. I’d race home and grab some emergency cash.

He started filling out the forms and I had an idea that maybe my husband was around and had some money. Could I call him I asked the operator? Sure.

I went back to the car to grab my phone and there was a lady in a four wheel drive waiting behind me. She shouted at me as I neared that I’d taken my time.

I moved my car out of the way for her, parking to wait for cash to arrive, so thankful that someone had the cash! She yelled at me again as she went in to pay for her petrol. And glared at me from her as car as she drove away, her two young children in the back.

Maybe she was having the worst day of her life. Maybe more things were going on for her and someone taking an extra five minutes at the petrol station was the final straw. I don’t know.

But I started thinking about grace. The ability we have to be respectful and courteous, and not just to other people but ourselves as well. I don’t know her circumstances and I can’t judge her. But to ourselves. The ability to take a moment, to let things be, to respect ourselves and how we show up in the world.

I know it’s a huge battle. I’ve really been fighting the urge to punch people with no concern or respect right in the face myself!! But then I’m not being kind to me. I’m not keeping a centre that’s balanced. I’m being thrown around by everything that’s throwing me around. And that’s not good for me, or anyone around me.

So here’s to being more graceful. To keeping our balance even when it’s tough, and helping everyone else to do the same.

Now I’m off for a nice meal with my family, cuddling my kids and telling them I love them.

Need a head start on the new year?

Yes, it’s nearly here – 2016. Has this year just completely flow by or what?

But, before we say goodbye to 2015, it’s a great time to reflect on what else we could be doing to better engage with our audiences next year – a tweak here, a new program there. Where to start?!

Here. I am offering a free opportunity to find 3 new activities your business/event/activity could do for your audience. All you need to do is send me links to all your online channels (you know, your website, social media etc) and I will scope it out!

Offer ends at the end of November so get in quick! Email roberta@ifstrategy.com.au

3free

Aside

A thank you

What a tough few weeks. Parenting, life even, is a tough gig. Navigating your way through roadblocks, big decisions, drama and getting it all done is exhausting, and the answers are not even close to clear. There might not even be any ‘answers’.

I am not the sort who asks for help, it’s not my thing. So, what then, do I do when life throws me some challenges I am completely unprepared for?

I have been so blessed to find some truly amazing people who have assisted me in ways I cannot possibility thank them enough for. I didn’t need to ask, they saw my distress and mustered me about with the determination I lacked and the clarity I needed.

Truly, I have an amazing bunch of fantastic souls in my world. Not just close friends but others have really wanted to help. I am learning that it is just as important for the helpers to give their assistance, as it is for me to receive it. Yep, it’s taken awhile, but I’ve got the message.

Thank you to everyone who’s been there for me the past few weeks, from a friendly smile to a considerate ear. Appreciated, beyond belief.