having or some of the things I never imagined myself saying. Out of the mouths of babes as they say, except when itâ€™s out of the mouths of mums.â€¦â€¦.
Experienced parents have booked their time off work and one first time Junior Infant parent asked me earlier â€œis it that big a deal?â€ My reply was â€œOh yes â€“ sports day is a huge dealâ€
Â From differing opinions on childrenâ€™s discipline, family size, insistence that the grandchildren bear not even a passing resemblance to their mother (well except maybe for their feet and even at that only maybe) to out and out mud slinging, it seems everyone has a tale to tell about their
partnerâ€™s mother.Â For some people itâ€™s a bit more than a passing annoyance and they may never be bosom buddies but for others, mother in law difficulties can be enough to put a real strain on the family. I have laughed at some of the stories my friends have told when we have got together and cringed at some of the others.
Not everyone seems as bothered as I am when I hear of some of the more difficult situations but I think that might be because of my tendency to personalise things. While one particular friend shrugs off her relationship with her mother in law as a lost cause, I imagine a â€œwhat ifâ€ situation for myself in the future.
Although in all likelihood my opportunity to be a mother in law is many years away I have decided on a new motto for the future â€œkeep your enemies close, keep your daughters in law closerâ€! Forward planning and all that
It has become quite the standing joke with the older kids in our house at this stage, while the younger ones remain oblivious to his claims. Iâ€™ve no idea where he got the idea from but heâ€™s happy enough to argue the point with his Gran, who in her loyalty to my other children tries regularly to convince him that I donâ€™t in fact have a favourite. He wonâ€™t entertain the notion, however, and remains confident that he holds the most privileged position in my affections.
Just when you think you have it sorted. Just when you think that you are finally getting the hang of this parenting lark, you find that you are the parent of a teenager! Harry Enfieldâ€™s Kevin and Perry could not have been more accurate (if you canâ€™t remember this you should really google when Kevin turns thirteen, itâ€™s hilarious). Suddenly everything you ever thought you knew, every reaction you thought youâ€™d have and every â€œnot until youâ€™re such an ageâ€ goes flying out the window as you realise to survive this challenge youâ€™re going to have to pick your battles!
The teenage years can be a very stressful time for parent and child. Itâ€™s a difficult time for teenagers, who, while full of hormones, are dealing with growing up, finding their place in society, trying to assert some independence, and dealing with peer pressure which is at its most fierce at this stage of life. Itâ€™s also a difficult time for parents who are trying to balance allowing their child have more freedom to grow while trying to keep them safe from harm and maintain a decent relationship â€“ all at the same time. One of the particular challenges encountered by parents is the virtual world in which our teenagers spend so much time. As adults we choose to log on to the internet. Teenager are always online. The virtual world means todayâ€™s teenagers are never away from the influence of their peers. There is a constant bombardment of snapchats, Facebook messages, updated viber groups messages with pictures and messages about whoâ€™s doing what, who got what, who went where. There is no escape from the peer group and the influence of family is pushed more to the side than it could have been in years gone by. In the virtual world there is also a pressure to engage in activities they might not otherwise consider. Itâ€™s not an easy situation to manage as most teenagers place huge importance on their virtual friends.
Compromise is essential, but so are boundaries. While no one wants to fall out with their child, itâ€™s our job, difficult as it is, to be their parent rather than their friend. They have enough friends whoâ€™ll support them through the trauma of having a cruel mother or father who insists all electronics are left downstairs at bedtime!
Coming up with an agreement for an acceptable amount of internet usage and involving your teenager in the discussion is a good place to start. Explain your concerns. Teenagers being teenagers will always challenge whatâ€™s agreed, but try, as much as possible not to get dragged into an argument, no matter how hard your teenager pushes (not an easy ask by any stretch of the imagination). Consistency really is the key here. If you give in over an unjustified strop, you have just given them reason to have another one in the future. Less strops, generally equals less arguments. The teenage years are certainly a minefield to navigate, but Iâ€™ve met quite a few parents whoâ€™ve lived to tell the tale. So thereâ€™s hope for us all!
I am from a family of all girls. Not quite sugar and spice and all things nice but it was as youâ€™d expect quite a girly household and the world of boys was pretty alien to us. I was quite the football nut growing up (Iâ€™m sure to my fatherâ€™s relief a little bit and certainly my motherâ€™s amazement) but asides from that our house was full of make-up, clothes, perfume, dolls, and girly bits and pieces. The fact I played and loved football meant I was categorised as somewhat of a tomboy but that was ok because that was acceptable.
Fast forward a few years and while we all look quite alike, we have grown up to be four very different women, four very different types of mother and we have four very different personalities and interests. Again, not surprising because we are four different people. My sisters are fantastic and different. I went on to have my own children, and I have, you might say, a fair few boys. Raising sons has been quite the eye opening experience for me. Having no brothers, I had no experience of little boys to draw upon. Iâ€™ve learned clothes arenâ€™t considered a necessity – nor are underpants. Farts are something to be proud of (I think this continues into later life), snot isnâ€™t gross and â€œrudeâ€ words are just hilarious. I have also learned boys are so, so full of love. Boys are as different from each other as the genders are. Some are soft. Some are sensitive. Some are physically gentle. Some are definitely not! Some like sport. Some like drama. Some like art. I even have a son who likes clothes, and by this I mean style rather than actually wearing them!
My boys are all so different and I love this fact. Variety is definitely the spice of life and the world would certainly be a very boring place if we were all the same. I do worry however, that life has very set expectations from boys and that can prove very difficult and isolating if they donâ€™t meet them. Differences which are embraced or at worst accepted in girls are often discouraged in boys. There is sometimes a failure to recognise in our society that different boys have different needs and even just within the confines of the family, school environment, or on the sports field different boys need different parenting, teaching, coaching. It is personality rather than gender determines a childâ€™s needs. My lads keep me on my toes and theyâ€™re great. Itâ€™s a lot of responsibility for us mums (and dads of course) shaping the men of the future and encouraging them to wear underwear!
My boys are all so different and I love this fact. Variety is definitely the spice of life and the world would certainly be a very boring place if we were all the same. I do worry however, that life has very set expectations from boys and that can prove very difficult and isolating if they donâ€™t meet them. Differences which are embraced or at worst accepted in girls are often discouraged in boys. There is sometimes a failure to recognise in our society that different boys have different needs and even just within the confines of the family, school environment, or on the sports field different boys need different parenting, teaching, coaching. It is personality rather than gender determines a childâ€™s needs. My lads keep me on my toes and theyâ€™re great. Itâ€™s a lot of responsibility for us mums (and dads of course) shaping the men of the future and encouraging them to wear underwear! ~ Jen