Our Children Are Exposed To Cyberbullying.

Children must climb over obstacles to develop into the wondeful individuals that they are.
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”  — Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

We all know or at the very least are aware of the dangers that smart phones pose to our children, it may seem easier just to ban them but that’s not a practical solution. They are not under our direct supervision every hour of every day. Thus they have lots of opportunities to get online, so it is up to us to navigate our loved ones and teach them how to use and be safe online, but most importantly build a relationship with our children to communicate with us should they have any negative experiences. This gives us, the parent the platform to assist and help them deal with any online bullying they may experience.

There are no decisive laws in existence that directly relate to online bullying and remember we are discussing children so it is worth keeping in mind they are minors. Cyberbullying is not just limited to children who have a reputation for behaving badly, and it has become a lot more common than what we think for various different reasons, such as peer pressure, jealousy, boredom, trying to be cool, judgmental and lack of parental involvement as things at home are difficult, like a marriage break up. So why is it happening? It can be a form of entertainment, a method to inject drama, power and sometimes the bully just does not see they are doing anything wrong and view it as a harmless joke. But what is consistent is the bully has a sense of invincibility because it is hard to get caught compared to the traditional bullying that was carried out on the school yard and in public view.

This modern day epidemic is not just a western world crisis it exists worldwide. It is growing in the U.S, Europe and India to name just a few countries. While our children are happy to chat on WhatsApp, Messenger, Snap Chat and post pictures on Instagram, we need to make them aware there also exists a dark side to social media. Unlike the old fashioned bullying where it ended once you got home, technology now brings it with the victim 24/7. It is scary knowing our children can be threatened, intimidated and picked on nonstop.

What is cyberbullying? It is when children use online technology to hurt other children. Essentially they are using the internet to hurt, embarrass and harass other children. This is done on purpose and typically ongoing. It can be carried out by a single person or a group of individuals posting hurtful things.

We must nurture our children and give them the opportunity to be a child.
“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.”  — Stacia Tauscher, dancer and artist

It is essential to point out that not all online arguments are cyberbullying. Kids will have conflicts with other kids online, whether it is teasing, jesting or just joking. Children tease because it can spark off a fun way to provoke a reaction in someone else, and they may want to give as good as they got while being teased themselves. Teasing can reinforce a relationship by showing closeness and affection with another child. While teasing can be used to strengthen a relationship, it can also be used to alienate, criticise, and embarrass another person, which may diminish the relationship. The affectionate interaction of teasing can turn confrontational when the child being teased is distressed by the teasing.

So how old are our children when they begin to go online? Children as young as three have access to the internet and most of our children spend more time socially online than we do! Television still remains the media of choice among young children, with kids aged 5 to 8 spending around 64 minutes watching television each day, a number which is even higher in the 2 to 4 year old age group. About 88% of teenagers have access to the internet from various different tools. As smartphone access has become more prevalent, a growing share of teens now report using the internet on a near-constant basis. Some 45% of teens say they use the internet “almost constantly,” a figure that has nearly doubled from the 24% who said this in the 2014-2015 survey. Another 44% say they go online several times a day, meaning roughly nine-in-ten teens go online at least multiple times per day.

So, how do we as parents prevent cyberbullying? We must educate our young ones and prepare them for life online. Explain what exactly cyberbullying is and discuss with them what to do if he or she experiences cyberbullying. Keep all lines of communication open and teach our children respect for others online. What can we control? Monitor or kids usage of technology, educate ourselves of what devices, apps and technology our kids are using. If your budget allow it, use a contract for your Childs phone. This way you can see and manage your Childs technology use.

Let Dad’s Be Nurtures Too!

I was brought up to treat women as equals without exception. As soon as I had children of my own I wanted to be completely involved and I did everything possible apart from breastfeeding. Both my children weren’t interested in breastfeeding so I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to spring into action early and do my fair share of bottle feeding and my ex was able to get some much needed rest. This included during the night, after all they were my miracles too and I cannot put into words the absolute love and devotion I had and still have for my daughters. 

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

My ex wife and I never intended our marriage fail along with our plans, dreams and aspirations. But it did blow up in our faces and like many others before us we became an unwanted statistic. Ironically we were really prepared to cope, possibly because we knew we were heading for the edge of the cliff and when we did go over we had talked things through in all matters to do with our children so when I left the house we all knew what was happening and had involved the girls in the conversation, at least the bits they could understand.

From the moment my girls departed the womb I was going to be the best Dad in the world. When a relationship ends and you have children it means you have to be Dad and Mum when the kids are with you. This meant my mission was to be an absolute amazing Dad and do my very best at being a Mum when I had to be. I know I will never be a Mum but be there emotionally. An example would be being really worried my daughter might have her period during school hours so I bought a little pencil case and got some pads, wipes and knickers, a kind of start up kit. Thankfully this did not happen and the accessories were never used.

One of the things that really annoyed me was most of the women I knew thought I woulds not  be able to cope, this will be an epic fail and even some women were willing me to fail, waiting for the gaps to appear and me to loose total control. In truth I hadn’t time to fail. My kids were having their own little trauma’s, like not enough milk left for their cereal, a friend not talking to them, having too much homework, starting secondary school or just the usual sibling arguing.

Of course I made mistakes but was quick to learn any decision I made affected everything, but I was determined to hold everything together including myself even when it takes my girls a lifetime to get out the door or just out of bed in the morning. I also remind myself frequently I am not perfect and I am sure I do things that irritate my girls, most for the right reasons! I am also aware the girls will try to play us off each other and it is so important not to talk their Mum down even if I agreed with what was being said. She is Mum and like me adjusting to life as a single parent 50% of the time. Our marriage may have broken down but my respect has not and I would like to think she feels the same.

The year was 2081, and everyone was finally equal.
Kurt Vonnegut

I worked for three years in Childcare as a General Manager of two leading and large facilities. It is unusual to find a male within this industry and I was expecting some negative feedback. In the largest unit parents, children and colleagues embraced my addition and contribution but in the other one not so much. Mum’s had real concerns which automatically led to dad’s having concerns which in turn led to an email being sent to the proprietor which the content shocked me. My gender was attacked and it was assumed all men were not capable of being in a position of responsibility to look after the safety and wellbeing of children. I can safely say this is the only time I was left speechless and hurt. It took me one year to win all of the parents, ironically the children took to me immediately and to this day I see them sometimes out and about and always get a warm welcome. This was the best job I ever had and feel privileged to have worked amongst such a great group.

Naturally enough when my marriage ended I was responsible for organising playdates for my girls with their friends some mum’s were cautious. Again, I felt my role as a parent was questioned. I would never presume to mandate to a parent who should care for their child. But, it was obvious the only matter of fact that was being questioned was my gender and not my capabilities as a parent. It is not a competition as to which gender makes the better parent as each gender is different and brings something unique to the table. Internationals woman’s day was last weekend and I celebrate that and want my daughters to be the best they can. But surely all things being equal Dad’s deserve the respect of being capable of caring for children especially when they put themselves out there? Or am I tainting all women with the same brush and I should just put it down to ignorance and prejudice? Lets look at the bigger picture;

Prejudice, light in the end, new day, new beginning, Children

Would you want your child cared for a jew or a catholic, an Asian or a Europen? It is very hard when it looks like that and if it did such views would be challenged as they perpetuate prejudice. No more than the opinion that a man is less qualified than a woman to care for a child.

A major contributing factor to the thought process here and no doubt it is a very uncomfortable one for some women to acknowledge is the subtle inference that a male is more likely to pose risk of abuse. Without a doubt tis is disgusting and vile but a fact, there is a greater risk of abuse occurring at the hand of someone in a child’s family or social circle. We, as parents are hardwired to protect our kids and will always do everything in our power to protect our children, that’s our job and God we love our children.

As parents, like within the childcare industry whose workers undergo extreme vetting to ensure our children are protected and there are safeguards put in place like how and when a male interacts with children and from what age. What I am trying to say is do not unfairly view every male as a predator. Men can and do provide an equal measure of care and nurturing like women. We are as good role models as women for children. You must agree that young children should not be conditioned to a view that nurturing and care are only elements that a woman can provide. Is this not like saying only men make good Engineers and Soliders? I want my daughters to have the opportunity to pursue whatever career they wish and I know women make fantastic Engineers and Soliders and believe it, Men are more than capable of looking after children and making a great parent.

Unfortunately single Dad’s will remain to be scrutinised and receive strange looks from the Mum’s and as my children’s social circle widens I am sure, because I am a single Dad they will think twice and even three times before making their decision whether to trust me to care for their child during a play date with my daughter. I don’t expect you to make a hasty decision but please don’t make that decision purely based on the fact that I am a male.

My Dog and My Family!

“Dogs never bite me. Just Humans” – Marilyn Monroe

My dog is called Murf, a golden Labrador I adopted two years ago. She was used for breeding and when she was of no use to the owner she was dumped on the side of a road with a prolapsed uterus at the age of 4. Murf and I bonded immediately and when I took her home my two girls instantly fell in love. We were the perfect fit. Murf is a true part of the family and a constant reminder of what life is about.

Murf has helped teach my daughters and reminded me of some valuable life lessons, like trust, compassion, patience, responsibility and respect. But watching my children with Murf, she benefits too. Lots of cuddling and Murf is always included in their activities whether its just watching tv or a high energy play when we are out for a walk.

I have always been around pets, both dogs and cats. Although I am a dog type of guy. Comparing these two family pets is a bit like Pepsi and Coke you favour one or the other. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet. This is up from 56 percent of U.S. households in 1988. There are roughly 70 Million pet-owning households across Europe (excluding Russia), who own at least one pet animal. This calculation includes 25% Cats and 26% Dogs.

Some of the more obvious benefits of having Murf is my children do learn about responsibility, trust, compassion, respect, self-esteem, loyalty, motivation, empathy, and last but not least stress relief. Nothing like finally getting to sit down and Murf waddles over and rests her chin on my lap with her big brown eyes looking up at me. 

Looking back at all the dogs I have had they have taught me a great deal about what its like to be a dog and how they have different personalities, essentially I think of them and treat them as individuals. As a single parent it can get very lonely, especially when the girls go back to their Mum’s. Having Murf and her wagging tail to come home to is a great antidote to loneliness and an even better companion when chilling out in the evening in front of the tv. I make a huge effort to make the most of our time together and both of us benefit greatly from the exercise. I’m not sure whether Murf enjoys the house when the girls are here or not and I will never know. My daughters are with me every Monday, Tuesday and every second Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I swear Murf knows when they are coming and the excitement and welcoming they receive is awesome to see. I can hear her during the night trodding into each room checking on the girls and me and then thud down the stairs to keep guard of the house. 

Because Murf had such an awful existence before she came to live with my family she has a few health issues, nothing life threatening! So visiting a Veterinary Surgeon was something we were going to do a couple of times a year. What happened next was such amazing luck. Murf and I stumbled into Bushypark Vets and meet Maeve and her team of absolutely wonderful people. Open the door and walk into another world, a magical one! Its very hard to put into words to give you a sense of what I mean. It is something like you feel in your soul and see with your eyes. These people have dedicated their lives to animals and when you are inside the surgery they make you feel part of the team. It is very much like being in an episode of ER. 

The one thing the girls and I agree on; is Murf is the best dog EVER. Somedays when we get home and are exhausted and fall onto the sofa, Murf will walk backwards and forwards under us until she gets a pet then move her head onto your lap so you don’t have to move a muscle to stroke her.

It is so important and fun to eat together as a family.

Murf relaxing after International Friday.

My favourite room in the house is the kitchen, it’s where we as a family can be imaginative, creative and share our experiences of the day or plan tomorrow. It’s the room where I have most of my memories. Some of my funniest ones are “International Friday” this is where each week one of us gets to choose the family meal. A lot of research goes into this and it does become competitive as we all try to out do each others meal. However you have to be mindful as we all have very different tastes so the dish must suit all. Tuesday is the day you have to present what you have chosen and detail the ingredients that must be purchased. When possible we will all go out to buy the ingredients, however this happens rarely! We all are involved in the cooking, including the dog who manages to lie in the middle of my very small kitchen and supervise whilst hoovering up anything that may end up on the floor.

There never seems to be arguments and we all pull together as a team each of us contributing and working in unity. I hope this creates lots of memories for my girls and maybe in years to come they may try it with their family. My big confession is I let them relax and do whatever they want after the meal thus let them off the clean up.

Family dinner is important. In todays world it would be so much easier to forget about this meal, we are juggling jobs, children and after-school activities to name a few. We are constantly on the move, thus feeling the need to eat on the run. At the turn of the last century dinner time was 90 minutes, now it is just over 10! Meal time is the only time when all family members are in one place together. Let’s face it some family members view dinner time as a burden and a chore at the end of the day.

In the last couple of decades the frequency of family dinners has dramatically declined by a whopping 33 percent. An American poll found that 62 percent of parents with children under 18 wish they had family dinners more often! The European Unions mission has set out to achieve universal access to affordable, balanced, healthy food to all through intersectoral policies of Health 2020.

Just because things have changed, does not mean the value of meals has weakened. Interestingly enough, according to research at Columbia University, children and teenagers who at least have a family meal three or more times a week are less likely to be overweight, more likely to eat healthy food, do better in school, less likely to engage in risk taking ie drugs, alcohol and sexual activity. They also tend to form better relationships with their parents.

“More frequent family dinners are related to fewer emotional and behavioural problems, greater emotional well-being, more trusting and helpful behaviours towards others and higher life satisfaction.” Journal of Adolescent Health, April 2012.

We are what we eat and it is imperative we start to take responsibility as parents. But it must be more than just in the home where we educate, schools must get on board, our governments, we need cultural change. As a rehabilitated smoker and one that enjoyed a packet a day to not smoking it is proof that when we all come together and promote the dangers of something we can create change. I am not advocating removing peoples freedom of choice but encouraging that we have the information to make the right choices for our family without bias marketing used by modern day food companies. Case in point Activia yogurt said it had “special bacterial ingredients.”

In 2050 we will need to feed two billion more people. Our choice of food we decide to eat is already becoming very important and these choices will have consequences for our planet. In short a diet based around meat and dairy will take a grater toll on the worlds resources then one that is centred on unrefined grains, nuts, fruit, and vegetables.

As today is Friday and my youngest chose the meal which is chilli con carne, which also happens to be one of her favourites! I always enjoy the girls handling onions as inevitably swimming goggles appear on my little ones face to avoid onion tears. Every time it makes me laugh but she does have the last laugh as the rest of us are suffering with tears streaming from our eyes, even the dog vacates the kitchen till it is safe to return!

Finding Myself. Part 2

I have never got to grips with understanding who I am, what makes me the person I am today. I can safely say my children gave me the greatest gift. I am a Dad. Without that I really do not know what would have happened to me. I certainly do not think I would be roaming around the earth being me. Now my daughters can’t take all the credit I am blessed to have four people in my life that I can talk to without judgement being made and can always call them for council. All in all these people, these incredible people have helped me find my identity.

As a young man I was involved in sport and these activities helped me make goals. Unfortunately in life it is not always possible to achieve these goals but for me I have always struggled to have a balanced approach in realising why they were not attained. Time and time again I would fall back to being self-critical and become consumed with negativity so much so until all my motivation was drained. It has taken me five decades to get to know myself and know what I needed to do to change. This process has opened my eyes and let me approach myself in a more positive way. I suppose my life to date has been a journey to find self-acceptance. 

I was a casualty of the financial crash in 2008 and lost everything, the absolute feeling of failure is so intense and with that there were are a cue of people shouting at me in anger backing up what I already thought of myself. Things were said to me that have never left my conscious and the sorrow of letting down some really good people financially I will never get over. During this time I was truly alone and there was no God that was free to help me. This I had to work through myself.

My marriage quickly fell apart during this time as truths surfaced and we parted our ways, not before agreeing terms of the custody of both of our wonderful daughters. Common sense between both parents prevailed and only the best for our children was our focal points and goal.

All of these factors helped cement the negative perception of myself that already existed. I was defeated and every mistake or obstacle that came my way was proof of my shortcomings. Being a Dad kept me grounded and the desire to be the best Dad was my only motivation. Everything else I was able to park and all the negativity around me I fought. Perhaps this was the beginning of me learning to value myself or at the very least prioritising. My family and I were my motivation and goal.

I am beginning to learn to concentrate on who I am and not what I do. The negative noise in my head is slowly being drowned out. I don’t think of myself in that negative way anymore and those people that have judged me on may failures are entitled to, the only difference now is I won’t let them pull me down. Time to swim and stop sinking. My biggest lesson was to cease looking at my accomplishments either negatively or positively to validate my worthiness. My children and my four friends have guided me to validating my achievements by looking within myself and to my relationships with them as a monitor of my life achievements. Essentially this is my space to get my self-acceptance back.

Being fifty has been a wonderful gift and I have a quiver filled of experience and life to reflect on. This as given me a greater sense of well-being and a true meaning of the direction of my path/journey in life. I feel good about myself and want to nurture it and become the best Dad and friend to the people that matter to me in life and that I love.

I am not naive, life will throw lots more challenges at me. To deal with these I have made some life changes. I enjoy swimming and get huge head space when in the water and the added bonus is I am fit. I try to swim a minimum of 3 kilometres twice a week and sometimes three times a week. I have a goal this summer and when I achieve it I will share with you. I have always been a social person, now I am a little more guarded and protective of myself so only let my hair down in the company of my four friends. The power of positive relationships cannot be underestimated and this supports me emotionally and practically. I hope I am as good a friend to them as they are to me. I enjoy our very different personalities, opinions and sometimes beliefs and especially their honesty.

My goal for 2020 is to take setbacks as momentary problems and not as proof of my shortcomings and failures. I hope you are well and my experiences, shortcomings, failures, inadequacies, fight, strength and the want to be the best Dad and friend helps you understand you are not alone and you can be the person you are without prejudice and with ambiguity.


Finding Myself. Part 1

I have always considered bullying as something that takes place in the school playground amongst children who are just being mean to one another. When recently I was accused of being a bully I withdrew myself and gave it some serious thought and dedicated a lot of my free time looking back at my childhood. Apart from the usual sibling arguments and the tactics deployed to resolve them by children which are still being used today, my childhood was no different to anyone else’s. I didn’t stop there I got in contact with friends I grew up and asked had I ever been unkind intentionally? It was nice to learn I was normal and well thought of amongst my friends from zero to eleven years old. I didn’t ask anyone after the age of eleven as I went off to boarding school and my time with my family was limited from that day forth.

But this reflection got me thinking and digging deeper for answers in an effort to find out who I am and my role within this time period.

Within the family unit which is very complex and full of very different personalities there is sometimes one family member who can feel excluded for various different reasons. To them this experience/emotion can cause a real distress. They feel left out, unwanted and not loved and believe their contributions are worthless to the family. As a child this can go easily unnoticed and become perceived to others as a personal trait.

Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and people including families can look to a family member for the mistakes, wrongdoings or their faults especially for reasons of convenience. Essentially this individual is being made a scapegoat. ‘Scapegoat’ was first introduced in the Bible, a goat sent into the wilderness after the Jewish chief priest had symbolically laid the sins of the people upon it. In most instances they are completely unaware of what they are doing and would absolutely deny it if they were confronted with this accusation. 

This behaviour perhaps is how families hide problems they cannot face, as we get older it must be a method of hiding problems, disappointment or resentment towards that family member for a misgiving or a sin. It certainly serves as an effective weapon to attack someone who is vulnerable at that time. The reality is this family member becomes responsible for everything that is wrong in the family. It serves a good purpose to vent their own frustrations, aggression and at worst hatred.

For a child to deal with this, well I can’t imagine and am not qualified to make a comment. As for an adult dealing with this, one would think they are equipped with the skill set to deal and cope with it. Of course this a problem, this causes the person to withdraw, makes them anxious and can lead to depression. It cannot be underestimated, the fear and self hatred this person will come to feel. Of course they will believe what they are told and will accept all of the blame and finger pointing at them despite the fact that most of it is untrue or at the very least completely their fault. Therapy, I found is a very good start to understanding the problem and if that doesn’t work then the only thing left is to walk away and severe all ties. This decision is by no means easy to arrive at but self preservation of ones health is what’s important.

The bottom line is that making someone the scapegoat is hurtful and damaging, whether that person is a child or adult.

When something unpleasant happens, we will naturally try to come up with an explanation for it. We explain it through our experiences, skill sets and knowledge. There are people who trust completely in their own answers rather than siding with you and the reality of the details and information because admitting their mistake challenges their ego and expertise. Example, “Why didn’t you just say no?”

I always valued fairness, because if you do the right thing or what you are supposed to do, you’ll get good things and visa versa. So I suppose people view if you have done a bad thing or something goes wrong you are at fault. Thus where fairness applies it is hard for them not to blame you.

Forming relationships is difficult, and trust is an integral part of any relationship and safety within that relationship. Can we trust them or not? Once a dispute starts, people may not behave as we have come to expect and blame you rather than accept that someone they like did something wrong. Accepting what happened violates their sense of security, making them insecure and even scared. It is important at times to understand what drives people to blaming and finger pointing. Ultimately they are trying to protect themselves.

Nevertheless you are driven by guilt, emotionally drained and confused feeling useless and incompetent. Perhaps there also exists a person who doesn’t see anything wrong with what they are doing, they firmly believe you are wrong and they are right and they are helping you by putting you down so you will see the errors in your ways and never make the same mistake. Boundaries don’t exist, this person is to be admired. The more you try to defend yourself the worse the situation gets and god forbid you try to share the blame. Anger raises its ugly head and the tables are quickly turned and everything now is entirely your fault, you are evil. There is the right way, the wrong way and they’re way. Offence is their defence. In essence they never make mistakes.

Im not sure if my desire to please everyone is a result of this behaviour? Perhaps some coping mechanisms I have developed have made relationships difficult, perhaps all of this is in my head and I need to rearrange my life and how I view things.

My Teenage Years Versus My Children’s

Chores a real thing in the 80’s

Ah yes, my teenage years were spent in the 1980s and what a fantastic decade. We were individuals and suffered from materialism and all of this was reflected in our fashion and more importantly our hairstyles! Wow, we had lots of them and if we are being honest most of us are thankful social media didn’t exist and thus the evidence is lost and we are not the subject of mockery with our children! I can hear my parents saying don’t eat it all in one sitting when we were your age we had rations, it was the war years. Naturally it all went over my head, the top 40 was about to come on the radio or my friends an I were gathering around the tv to watch MTV!

Back to hair, cmon you know it was a BIG part of the 80s and a big part on our head. Big Hair, volume was in the form of long and curly hair inspired by many of the bands and reflected on screen, hair was everywhere! The Mullet, a favourite of mine, Mel Gibson, Rob Lowe, Cher and omg Ellen DeGeneres. Curls and Perms, this style could achieve incredible heights with hair spray. The perm was popular and our spring heroes wore it with pride, Kevin Keegan and our movie stars, Brooke Shields and singer Dolly Parton. Punk, ripped and studded fashion was the rage, bleached hair with spikes and an innovative use of hair colour was common and it contributed to my baldness. Thank you Billy Idol. Ponytails with Scrunchies, of course ponytails have been around for ages but the scrunchies added serious fashion and it could be worn high or to the side and was complemented with bright fabric which could cause eye damage! Aqua-net Bangs, the less said the better. The Hi-Top Fade, yes it added not inches but feet to ones height. Kid N Play and Salt-N-Pepa made this style popular. Princess Diana, cropped, voluminous and fluffed, the Princess of Wales’ hair was a style all its own. This look was so popular, that women all over the world were rushing to their hairdressers in order to get their own version! Wild hair, this is hard to define but Cindy Lauper and Madonna wore it and changed it often!

The sound of the 1980s was all about image, MTV was born the bands image became super important and nothing was understated including the music, fashion and it was the decade of Live Aid, charity was significant. Hip Hop, New Wave and Hair Metal was born and is a bing influencer in sound today. We were spoilt for options and some have lasted to today, Madonna, U2, Queen Tears for Fears, Bon Jovi, AC/DC and Guns n Roses to name but a few.

So what’s different today, this is hard to explain without sounding like my parents but I have fallen into that trap and screamed, “I would have loved that when I was your age” or “Your not going out looking like that!”

When I was a teenager I cycled everywhere and when I wasn’t peddling I was on foot, walking. A form of exercise alien to teenagers today. The Dad or Mum taxi hadn’t been invented.

Homework, there was no connecting to the internet and a tap of a button and whosh all the information is there ready to copy and paste. No, we had books and libraries where we had to find the information ourselves and then write it out. I didn’t dare not do it and for two very good reasons. My parents wouldn’t give me a note and I was scared of my teacher.

The mobile phone sends me to space and takes years off my life. Imagine a payphone and a house phone with a cord going into the wall and more often then not a lock on it

The top 40 came out on Sunday and it wasn’t streamed we had to wait to find out who was number one, Spotify, my good god how lucky are they. I was hanging out my bedroom window trying to get a signal.

Amazon Prime, Netflix etc how lucky are our kids. Watching a recently released movie in the 80’s meant a trip to the video store and renting the movie and of course trying to make yourself look older to get the 16+ movie. Then you would arrive and no doubt the movie was already on loan. No such problems today, press the button on your tablet (not a pill) or phone and whosh it arrives and no ID needed. Yes, I still haven’t figured out the parental controls. Fame, Dirty Dancing, The Breakfast Club and Footloose oh we were rebels without a cause. Streets of Fire I wanted to go Nowhere Fast with Diane Lane after all Tonight is what it means to be young!

My pet hate is selfies, I just don’t get it. Crowds of teenagers with phones held high and click and whosh its in the cloud. Seriously its cloudy why do I want me picture up there. Call me traditional I would rather wait the two weeks to collect mine from the developer and be suitable disappointed when they are all blurred! At least no evidence to be use against me at a later date.

I loved the 80’s, It was so much simpler and I knew who my real friends were and certainly didn’t have a thousand followers. Chatting is not the same as texting and when you arranged to meet you turned up! A window was just something I looked out of in school whilst I dreamed and an apple was in my lunchbox!

Having to deal with a very difficult ex

Being single again after spending time in a relationship is a very hard challenge. Normally there a lot of painful stages which need to be conquered during the process. If you have been unfortunate enough to have been in a cancerous relationship you have no doubt found out the true colours of your ex. My experience was to encourage a rational approach, which isn’t always easy as emotions are running high and not always stable, a bit like the weather. Try to be intelligent and promote common sense, of course there will be money concerns and for many people their first real dealing with a lawyer and at times the language used seems foreign but the invoice is real! But when children are involved I urge you to take a step and a deep breath and think of the children and park your feelings for your ex. Not for a second do I support the easy option just a more intelligent one and intelligent doesn’t mean stupid.

There are cases when you must stick to your guns and make a firm stance, not to be friendly and not to engage with your ex. The smart thing and intelligent thing is to recognise if you are dealing with an abusive spouse, somebody out to hurt you or your children. In these instances let your lawyer do the talking on your behalf.

Unfortunately once a relationship breaks down we tend to see a side of our ex we didn’t know existed. So be aware of who you are dealing with and expect the unexpected. For me I expected the worse and anything better was a welcomed surprise.

Be prepared for the “bar stool lawyers,” these are your friends, family and colleagues that have the advice tailored just for you. Winning at all costs is their mantra and this formula always ends in disaster. There is never a winner in a breakup and especially not when children are involved. It is never fair but you have to deal with it! Sticking your head in the sand is a poor strategy and will serve no purpose for you. Divorce is stressful enough and you will need to have your wits about you for the best outcome for everyone involved.

It is not unusual to feel wronged, a huge injustice has been served up to you. After all, all those years you committed yourself to the marriage, everything you gave up for them and you are the one that does everything with the children! They must be unfit to have custody! Of course in an abusive relationship this is true. This type of person possess a powerful sense of justice and self-righteousness. They also work from a tiny piece of the truth, which makes their claims that much more powerful! Outside that playing the victim is a poor strategy and one always gets caught out. In essence you are not fooling anyone just causing more hurt and damage to your family.

Attention here comes the“Control Freak.” This trait definitely existed during your marriage and now the relationship has ended their behaviour will escalate! The control freak will easily hide your assets, many of them work in finance and have the tools and skill set in succeeding. This person wants to win and rarely has any real emotional feelings. If you are dealing with this type prepare yourself to work harder and do not be intimidated by them, they want you too and are unprepared for you to stand up for yourself.

As if the control freak wasn’t extreme enough you might be dealing with someone who is completely self-serving and self-centred, the Narcissist! But perhaps you already know them from their need to be right, always seeking admiration, the need to be right always and even criticising you behind closed doors for not living up to their expectations. Now that the relationship has ended they will completely dismiss your needs. The end means the end and it is a fight for survival to the bitter end. This person has already forgotten any good that was in your marriage. A normal individual will remember the good times and this will assist them in achieving a sense of balance when it comes down to splitting things up fairly. A narcissist will try to break up your friendships and undermine you, even with your children.

Your ex may be out for payback a sort of crusader, an avenger, a super victim or a control freak gone nuclear! They just don’t want to win they want to see you loose, knocked out and with nothing. They want to see you hurt and are motivated by your misery, they will not be satisfied until you feel pain. I have no idea how somebody arrives with such a devastating personality but rest assure most people and at least the people who matter to you are all too aware there are two sides to the tale. Revenge is a fools game and achieves nothing but hurt and devastation, these people are not in touch with reality.

Time is a great healer and years from now you may be in a position to have a normal and respectful relationship with your ex.

Coming to terms with being a single parent!

single parent, divorce, marriage break up, family, children

Marriage is this exciting, wonderful, loving, caring partnership! Unfortunately for some it stops. Of course, some marriages last and are truly wonderful or just last in existence, and then some like mine cease to exist, leaving behind a large mess and heartbreak. Marriage takes a lot of work, an awful lot of work that can be really rewarding. Ending the marriage takes even more work, especially when there are children involved. Im not sure what I expected or how I thought my life would change, and along the way I sure did get some surprises, some good and some, well, not expected.

At the beginning it was really nice and comfortable to have the bed to yourself. However it wasn’t long before I got lonely and it was not so much fun.

It dawned on me my ex was not going to be there, ever, they were gone for good and not coming back.

I didn’t rush things and I can say hand on heart it was the best decision I made. Everything hurt at the start and we were angry with each other, this insured time calmed the situation and we were able to think clearly and behave like adults and make rational decisions important to us and our children. Of course at this stage I felt a failure and had to continually remind myself this was not the case. The marriage had just reach its expiration date. I knew we were making the right decision for our family and it did not concern both our extended families. In truth I was doing a dance inside as I would never have to interact with them. My own extended family for the most part were understanding and time does heal and give the opportunity for everyone to reflect. I was purely concentrating on my children and pouring all my energy into them. The only difference now was I was doing it alone, no-one to bounce ideas off outrun for a second opinion. This took me time to adjust to and at the beginning I consistently questioned my decisions. I lost a certain amount of freedom as I had to be super organised. There was no-one to ask to stay at home with the children while I bounced out to meet a friend for a coffee or watched a game with some friends. 

I loved my wedding ring, I had it made and it was a little different. Taking it off made me fell naked and concreted the fact I was a single parent. Eventually I carved a plan on how to wear it. I spoke to my children and asked if they would mind if I had Mum’s name removed from it and inserted theirs. They loved the idea and now I wear it on my right hand. What really happened with this gesture is my children and I felt closer and it was my way of committing to them my love. 

I never regretted getting married, we have two amazing children and it was a time in my life that sometimes I reflect on with joy. Unfortunately it did not last and my family and my ex are so much more happier. 

Life goes on and within no time at all my marital break up was yesterday’s news and we became a statistic. Age has helped me, a very unusual statement so let me explain. As I reached every decade I embraced it. I knew each one was going to be difficult. As a teenager I was a car crash and my own parents must have thought what have we created. My twenties was all about my career and my thirties was marriage and responsibility, my forties was my marriage break up and I lost my career and was broke. I just recently turned 50 and I can honestly say on reflection my life to date has been wonderful. Now I am armed with hindsight and full of experience and blessed to have two fantastic children. I am eager to live the next chapter of my life.

My marriage is over but not my life.

Divorce, marriage break up, seperation, family,

Divorce more often than not is a devastating experience for the adults who are realising their marriage is over and especially of there is children involved. But it can be an empowering, and on occasion even life-saving for both parties, if the only alternative is staying in the marriage. 

Some marriages are abusive, which increases the risks to the emotional and physical well-being, and even the survival, of adults and children. It can be an act of bravery for yourself and your children (if you have any) to leave such marriages, especially in the face of an unsure life outside of the marriage and threats from the abusive partner.

Marriage simple defined is the process by which two people make their relationship public, official, legal and permanent. It is the joining of two people in a bond that is meant to last until death, but in todays world is often cut short by separation or and then divorce.

Every marriage brings challenges, often profound ones. How a husband and wife manages them often determines whether their relationship disintegrates or holds firm. Nurturing everlasting love may require turning a blind eye to misguided beliefs or dysfunctional habits that their partner has carried with them for many years.

Ensuring a marriage will last can mean identifying and cementing a couple’s strengths and adding new skills and approaches to sharing their life together.

Over the course of a relationship a lot will happens. Personalities change, bodies change and we age and no relationship not even marriage is free from friction. 

My ex and I got divorced because we didn’t want to remain married to one another. It wasn’t a decision we took lightly. 

Divorce is not a cause for celebration. It’s the end of a marriage/partnership, and no matter how disfunctional the marriage was, the fact that it’s finished is regretful and upsetting especially if there are children involved. Whatever dreams we had died the day we finished our marriage.

It wasn’t until I finally moved out of the family home I finally had space to mourn. But like all mourning, mine eventually subsided, and what had felt like loss came to feel like an opportunity. And that brings me to the good news.

But once all was said and done, there was room in my head to let myself look at all we’d achieved as a couple. Come to think of it, I realised, we had had quite a successful run. No, it didn’t last forever. But nothing does. And our greatest achievement was knowing exactly how long to stay and exactly when it was time to wave that white flag.

While I was still in my marriage and clearly neither of us were happy, I felt like a failure. Why can’t I be happy? I’d wonder. Why can’t she? Why is it so hard for me? For us? What’s wrong with me? With us? My head was full of anger, disappointment, shame, and self-loathing.

With all that racket, it was easy to overlook the fact that my marriage had lasted nearly two decades, and produced two amazing, brilliant daughters.