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Project blog: Student views on diversity

As part of the diversity project, we really wanted to also get input from the students, so over the next few blogs posts, we'll be hearing from them directly. This week's blog comes from Rebecca Askew:

I am a mature student, not 20 something mature student, a proper mature student in my final year studying a BSc in Psychology. I am a wife and a mother to four children, three grown up and one ten year old daughter.

As part of my degree I study a module called The Developing Child. This module has made me to consider diverse childhoods, and made me think about my own children’s childhoods. The TED talk for the parenting workshop from this module made me reflect on how I am as a parent, to this end I have written down some thoughts to share.

In my opinion there is not a group of people more universally judged than parents, with most of the criticisms falling on the shoulders of the mother.  As a mother of four I readily admit to making mistakes, but on reflection I realised I tried my best. Three of my children are now grown up and all appear to be happy, grounded, caring people.

However, an epiphany moment occurred when I realised I needed to parent them all differently, that’s when I feel I started to get it right, I started to really listen to them as individual people and not a collective group of siblings.  I had always believed that children needed a set of rules, and those rules needed adhering to at all times no matter what, my children spent a lot of time on the naughty step.  Then I realised I could not treat parenting like making a cake, using the same ingredients, same method and the cooking time and all would be well.

The turning point came when my eldest son tried to get out of the car whilst we were driving along at about 50 mph, all because he did not want to go where we were going.  We had been going through a difficult turbulent time with him and my solution was to lock horns with him.  After this incident I just knew something had to change, so when he was calm I sat down with him a truly listened to him for the first time.  He was just as upset as I was and was really remorseful for all the “hassle” he was causing.  We talked for a very long time, he told me he doesn’t like things to be sprung on him at the last minute, and he needed a plan. We led very hectic and sometimes chaotic lives, I realised this was quite distressing for him.  We came up with a plan together, how he could deal with the rages he got into and how I could help.  I promised to try and give him more notice of events and outings; we agreed there would be times when this would not be possible and that he would have to learn to deal with it.

This realisation also helped me be a better parent to my other children.  I recall my daughter coming down the stairs dressed and ready to go out.  The problem was she was wearing a bikini, boots, a woollen hat and fingerless woollen gloves.  After trying really hard not to laugh at her attire, I said maybe you need to rethink the outfit darling it is really cold out there, she answered she would put a coat on, so I let her go out how she was dressed.  She was freezing, but she never went out like that again, she would even say to me mummy is this outfit ok and does it go, invariably nothing ever coordinated.

Individuality should be celebrated in our children, parenting is not easy but it is much easier when you listen to your children, appreciate them for the unique people they are.

Share your thoughts! @CharlotteJD

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