Parenting

A birth mother and a non-birth mother, Alice Ellerby considers her parental role

A birth mother and a non-birth mother, Alice El...

On Children by Kahlil Gibran Your children are not your children.They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.They come through you but not from you,And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts,For they have their own thoughts.You may house their bodies but not their souls,For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you withHis might that His arrows may go swift and far.Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;For even as...

A birth mother and a non-birth mother, Alice Ellerby considers her parental role

On Children by Kahlil Gibran Your children are not your children.They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.They come through you but not from you,And though they...

Why it's important to encourage creative expression

Why it's important to encourage creative expres...

Art is a healthy form of self-expression for everyone, but especially children. Creating art opens unimaginable doors, whether it’s physical art, dancing, singing, writing, drama, film or playing an instrument. Young children have a natural curiosity to explore the world around them and express themselves freely. They enjoy making sense of new experiences and discoveries. Art allows children to utilise their imaginations, learn and process emotions, and receive positive attention from the adults in their lives. Creativity can be a positive outlet in this crazy, upside-down world. All human beings are creative by nature, and children instinctively know this in their hearts. However, as we grow older, we begin to have doubts. We live in a culture with ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of doing things, which discourages our innate creativity. Over time, most of us learn not to colour outside the box. Schools especially have trained us to comply with...

Why it's important to encourage creative expression

Art is a healthy form of self-expression for everyone, but especially children. Creating art opens unimaginable doors, whether it’s physical art, dancing, singing, writing, drama, film or playing an instrument....

The magic and power of baby massage

The magic and power of baby massage

“Do babies really need massaging?” is a question we have been asked, as well as “Do babies need to relax or need help with their stress?” If we approach massage with this adult motivation, it may seem a strange notion to massage an infant, and it’s true that babies do not carry the adult stresses of life like paying the bills or juggling jobs and parenthood. However, they can benefit hugely from as little as 10 minutes of massage daily, because not only is it relaxing, but it also runs far deeper and has long-lasting benefits. Forming a connection and a bond for life Attachment and bonding are an important part of the early relationship between parent and baby, but not all parents get a gush of love or feel an instant bond with their baby. Sometimes it takes a while for the love to grow. There can be a...

The magic and power of baby massage

“Do babies really need massaging?” is a question we have been asked, as well as “Do babies need to relax or need help with their stress?” If we approach massage...

What really creates secure attachment?

What really creates secure attachment?

I’m an attachment theorist, but at times I find myself dismayed by the way our misunderstandings about attachment so often make parents feel inadequate. I’d like to set the record straight about what really creates secure attachment. Attachment theory was developed by John Bowlby when he observed children’s reactions to being separated from their parents during World War II in England. Attachment theory is now supported by an impressive body of academic theory and research, but the basic idea is simple and intuitively obvious. Human babies are born helpless because of their big brains. To survive, they need parents to protect them from harm for many years, and to teach them survival skills. So all humans are born seeking close attachments, and every aspect of their development hinges on those first relationships, usually with their parents. Attachment research, including longitudinal studies, has repeatedly shown what babies require to become securely...

What really creates secure attachment?

I’m an attachment theorist, but at times I find myself dismayed by the way our misunderstandings about attachment so often make parents feel inadequate. I’d like to set the record...

Ways to balance digital media with real life

Ways to balance digital media with real life

As a digital education correspondent, I am around screens a lot. I am also a mum and know the challenges of balancing screen time in our family lives. I wrote The Art of Screen Time to help me and my readers get past the anxiety about children and screens. Here’s a summary of what I learned writing it: enjoy screens; not too much; mostly together. You will be more effective as a parent and have more fun as a family if you drop the guilt and embrace the good that screens have to offer, while balancing media with other priorities. When in doubt, try to use media as a means of connecting. On average, school-aged children today are spending more waking hours per week with electronic media than on any other single activity. That includes school. Adults, meanwhile, are spending most waking hours engaged with electronic media. Excessive exposure to...

Ways to balance digital media with real life

As a digital education correspondent, I am around screens a lot. I am also a mum and know the challenges of balancing screen time in our family lives. I wrote...

Q: I have recently had my second baby and my eldest child is finding the disruption to their life challenging. How can I best support them?

Q: I have recently had my second baby and my el...

A: I’ve been asked to help with sibling relationships many times. It’s an important topic, and one that elicits all sorts of emotions in families. We so look forward to gifting a sibling to our firstborn child – it feels like a good and natural next step in building a family – but just like parenthood itself, the new dynamic we’re creating is an unknown quantity, full of possibilities that can be both positive and negative. Perhaps the human instinct for reproduction – which allows women to mostly put away memories of the pain of childbirth in order to repeat the experience – also prevents us from remembering how difficult our own sibling relationships are or may have been in the early days. Do we gloss over thoughts of sibling rivalry, the jealousy and challenges, to make sure our species survives? Or maybe we just think our children will eventually...

Q: I have recently had my second baby and my eldest child is finding the disruption to their life...

A: I’ve been asked to help with sibling relationships many times. It’s an important topic, and one that elicits all sorts of emotions in families. We so look forward to...

The Story Behind the Cover – Early Spring 2024

The Story Behind the Cover – Early Spring 2024

For the first 6 months after my third baby, Faye, was born, I could muster absolutely no creative motivation. Or at least, no motivation to make art. I would land on the idea of making something for a split second and then immediately feel deflated. I might have worried, but having been through these early days of baby a couple times already, I had the sense it would return. And sure enough, right around 7 months, I started to feel the glow return to my fingers.  Usually, I work quite small. Little snippets, fastidiously pieced together, a complex challenge in a small space. But the creative energy that returned needed something different, something more expansive and fresh, that reflected this bright new life we were nurturing and learning to find space for. I bought a huge sheet of oak ply and had it cut into large rectangles and began to...

The Story Behind the Cover – Early Spring 2024

For the first 6 months after my third baby, Faye, was born, I could muster absolutely no creative motivation. Or at least, no motivation to make art. I would land...

Lou Harvey-Zahra offers simple ideas for nurturing kindness

Lou Harvey-Zahra offers simple ideas for nurtur...

Have you ever pondered that the word ‘valuable’ stems from the word ‘value’? It is worth considering the key family values that are the foundation of our homes, because what we focus on truly does grow. Our family values are valuable for us: they help us to live happy, healthy and connected lives. My children are now 20 and 23 and, looking back at our key family values from toddlerhood to now, there have been three simple things: to be safe, to be healthy and to be kind (to each other and to belongings). Rather than teaching kindness as right and wrong or reinforcing morals, we can model kindness and encourage it through simple everyday family activities in which it will naturally arise. I am really excited to share 10 family values in my new book, The Connected Family Handbook: Nurturing Warmth, Wonder and Kindness in Children. As well as...

Lou Harvey-Zahra offers simple ideas for nurturing kindness

Have you ever pondered that the word ‘valuable’ stems from the word ‘value’? It is worth considering the key family values that are the foundation of our homes, because what...

How to create a consent-based environment around food

How to create a consent-based environment aroun...

Sophie Christophy answers your questions. How can I create a consent-based environment around food and eating, when I want to also ensure that my children eat a healthy balanced diet? I worry that facilitating the children’s wants and preferences is going to mean that they won’t necessarily eat the things that they need to be healthy, and that they are too young to make informed independent choices about their diet and what their body needs. When it comes to food, there are a number of ways in which you can work towards a consent-based way of being together as a family, and away from the traditional patriarchal/dominator type of dynamic. One significant way is to give children agency over the process of eating itself. Eating is an intimate act – we are putting food into our bodies, after all. With that in mind, for children to experience bodily autonomy in...

How to create a consent-based environment around food

Sophie Christophy answers your questions. How can I create a consent-based environment around food and eating, when I want to also ensure that my children eat a healthy balanced diet?...

How to find a balance with weaponry in play

How to find a balance with weaponry in play

Parenting a young child who wants to play with toy guns has been an unexpected challenge for me. My preference is to completely ban all toy weaponry. My partner, who enjoys combat-based stories and games, thinks that is unrealistic. So we walk a tightrope of compromise. When my son was around 3 years old, he asked what a tank was. He had seen a photo of one at a friend’s house and had played with mini army figures. At that time we had no toy weapons in the house, and he didn’t watch films or cartoons that included battles. It saddens me to have to acknowledge that many people feel the need to carry weapons, whether for personal safety or for ideological reasons. So it sometimes feels as if my desire to help, even in the tiniest ways, to create a more peaceful world jars with my son’s interest in...

How to find a balance with weaponry in play

Parenting a young child who wants to play with toy guns has been an unexpected challenge for me. My preference is to completely ban all toy weaponry. My partner, who...