Saturday, 10 January 2015

Is your child lonely in school?

My daughter was lonely at school and it broke my heart. She is now 15 but in a time span of over four years from when she was 5 to the age of about of 9 years old she was a lonely little soul at school. They were horrible years and I was reminded of them today when I read this letter in The Guardian. When your child starts school you imagine their years ahead to be filled with being invited to birthdays, sleep overs and Easter bonnet making activities at someone's home. Instead, it didn't quite work out like that. 

For the first two years of her school life we invited all the children in her class over for birthday and Easter parties. In the third year we stopped doing this because I was forced to confront the reality that a self-imposed elite group of mothers had become firm friends and their daughters had followed likewise. This group quickly became the one that dictated their children's friendships and out of school activities. My daughter was excluded. I lose count of the number of times that my daughter would come out of school with a smiling face then cry when we were out of sight because some party invitation had been handed out and she was in the minority group who did not receive one. 

I spoke to the teachers who assured me that she was happy in class and doing well. My daughter wanted more and it was the parents who pulled the strings on that one. You may be wondering whether it was something my daughter did that put them off? The reality is that sometimes there is no fault on the victim's side. Remember the time when you were at school and you were ignored for no apparent reason? If you weren't then you are one of the lucky ones. A whole Hollywood industry has flourished based on the experiences of girls who were treated badly - Carrie, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion and Muriel's Wedding. 

Muriel's Wedding (1994) Poster

The mother who has written in The Guardian today is distraught at seeing her daughter's unhappiness. I don't blame her. The ups and downs of your child's life become your mantle as a mother. You wear their unhappiness especially when they are still dependent on you emotionally. It is heartbreaking that this child (referred to in the letter) does not laugh anymore or joke or sing or be silly. Her childhood is being taken from her by spitefulness. 

I have come across numerous other parents who are witnessing their children going through the same experiences. My advice is to be there for your child and never to belittle their sadness. However, be watchful for signs of your child being bullied. There is a fine line between a child being excluded from child's play and bullying. If it's the latter than take action by forcing the school to step up to their responsibilities. 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Will you do anything different as a mother in 2015?

I am living a mothering conundrum. Towards the end of 2014 I started pondering on how and what aspects of mothering I ought to change to accommodate a teenager who suffers from mood swings and slides along a scale of disliking and loving her mum every few minutes. It was doing my head in and I was looking forward to the distraction of Xmas and New Year. Even an adoring mum can only take so much.

So it began that I started analysing situations, words and gestures to work out in minute detail what the trigger points were for discord and what the tipping points were for unhappiness. I hadn't got very far because preparing for Xmas, as you know, takes up so much time and energy. However, in hindsight it was just as well that I hadn't reached any conclusions or a plan of action because, to my surprise, my teen spent the Xmas and New Year period seeking out my company and praising me whenever an occasion for a slight against mum arose.

As a result I am no wiser in 2015 than I was in 2014. I am going to put my head down and live the mantra 'to go with the flow'. Calm and humour will be my armoury in defusing 'hot headed' situations and we'll see how long I can keep up with that too! Happy New Year to mothers everywhere.

Have you made any mother resolutions yourself?


Friday, 2 January 2015

The first rule of parenting-support your child even if it conflicts with your beliefs




The devout Christian mother of a transgender teenager who took her own life is refusing to acknowledge her child’s gender identity. 
Carla Alcorn, from Cincinnati, Ohio, repeatedly referred to her daughter as a boy in an interview with CNN, saying that "we don’t support that, religiously".
Leelah Alcorn, who was born with the name Joshua, walked in front of an oncoming truck and was crushed to death on Sunday morning.
Leelah Alcorn in a photo she posted on her Tumblr pageLeelah Alcorn in a photo she posted on her Tumblr page
She left behind a suicide note on her Tumblr blog, in which she said she had been forced by parents to undergo conversion therapy, which seeks to change sexual orientation through counselling. The practice has been banned in two states on grounds it is medically unfounded and puts children in danger.
Her mother told CNN: "We don't support that, religiously. But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy."
Following her daughter’s death, Mrs Alcorn wrote a Facebook post, which has since been deleted, in tribute to her "sweet son". Screen shots of the post show that it said: "My sweet 16-year-old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn, went home to heaven this morning, He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thanks you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers."
Carla AlcornCarla Alcorn
The seeming ignorance of her daughter’s situation came despite the fact Leelah had left a message condemning her parents’ behaviour. In a separate post on her blog, posted after the suicide note, Leelah wrote: "Mom and dad: F**k you. You can’t just control other people like that. That’s messed up."
This was accompanied by messages of love towards her siblings.
However, Mrs Alcorn claimed that her daughter was depressed and had never told her how she was really feeling. "He just quit talking about it (being transgender)," she said, adding that she had never heard the name Leelah.
But she did say her daughter had asked her for permission to undergo transition surgery. Mrs Alcorn said she had refused for financial reasons.
She added that she was concerned by the backlash against her and her husband, which had rendered the couple too frightened to hold a memorial service for their child.
A number of vigils are to be held around Cincinnati in memory of Leelah. Meanwhile a Facebook group called Justice for Leelah Alcorn has garnered over 27,000 likes and a change.org petition to have Leelah written on her tombstone has amassed over 65,000 signatures.
Transgender teenager Leelah AlcornTransgender teenager Leelah Alcorn
In her suicide note Alcorn said she had felt "like a girl trapped in a boy’s body" since the age of four and had "cried of happiness" when she first came across the term transgender.
But she said she began to feel hopeless after realising her parents "would never come around" and allow her to transition.
"The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren't treated the way I was, they're treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights," she wrote.
"Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say 'that’s f**ked up' and fix it. Fix society."

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

What to look out for in the Autumn Statement

The Autumn Statement being announced tomorrow, 3 December 2014, should be of interest to women for the following reasons: 

1. Women are the biggest group in society who use public services and cuts to these services affect us all in many ways e.g Sure Start centres, state funded childcare, women's charities providing advice and support to victims of domestic abuse.

2. The UK does not rank in the world's top 20 countries on global gender equality. The UK is at number 26 and falls behind Rwanda and Nicaragua. The ranking was based on criteria such as female labour force participation and wage equality, estimated earned income, educational attainment, health and political empowerment.

3. According to the Fawcett Society , women make up two-thirds of those in low paid work and 1 out of 4 women are now in low paid jobs as opposed to 1 in 7 men; and since 2010 79% of cuts enacted have come from women's pockets.

4. Unison who represents workers in public services has found that over 60% of women who use local leisure centres, parks facilities and open spaces said that services had got worse, and many were worried about their own or their family’s safety when using them. £82m has been cut from children’s centre
budgets in the past three years and 285 children’s centres have merged or closed since 2010. In 2010 there were 2,885 council-funded community centres – now there are only 2,726 – a loss of 159 centres in four years. 13% of funding has been cut from leisure centre budgets. As a result of the cuts, over a third of
women felt more cut off from their community, 28% felt more cut off from finding a job and 12% felt more cut off from their families.As a result of council cuts, a third of women said that they were using services less or had stopped going local altogether, because of rising costs, shorter opening hours and poor facilities. Over one million street lights are now switched off or dimmed for a set period overnight across Great Britain.
85% of women said that too little street lighting would affect how safe they felt at night and 70% said it would affect how often they travelled.

5. According to Gingerbread 39% of single parents are stuck in low pay, 67% of working single parents say that managing their finances is a constant struggle at best and single parents are expected to lose 0.5% of their income by the end of the next Parliament.


The Double Speak of the Modern World

In Western worlds when we speak about boat trips we mean this






In other parts of the world a boat trip means this






In Western worlds food means this 


In other parts of the world it means this 

UN World Food Programme to suspend food aid to 1.7 million Syrian refugees

Syrian children

Wednesday, 19 November 2014