Articles about The Work

When someone is critical of your child do you feel mum shame?

You know the scenario: someone says something critical about your child’s dreadlocked hair, or the fact that they’ve just hit another child, or that they can’t read fluently at age 9. Your child may, or may not be upset, but you’re devastated. Crushed. Hit by a ton of mum shame.

I felt the weight of that mum shame many, many times. It’s excruciating. What made things worse was what happened after that: I felt like shit and then I projected that onto my child. I passed the criticism on down the line by making some judgmental comment to my child like: “What you did was totally unacceptable. You’ve just caused a big problem.” or “I can’t bear to be around you when you look like that. It’s awful.” or “I wish you’d try harder to learn. You should be able to read that by now.”

If my child didn’t feel awful before, they do now. They’ve got the message, loud and clear, that they are not OK; that there’s something wrong with them.

When the mum shame is active there isn’t room for compassion, empathy or acceptance.

It’s so easy to pass the burden of judgement and shame on to the next generation, just like it was passed to us. We do it unconsciously, because it’s what we’re used to. We’ve been brought up on criticism and it’s become programmed into us. We’ve internalized all the criticism we’ve heard and it’s become a voice in our heads: the inner critic.

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My biggest lessons from 18 years of peaceful parenting.

Eighteen years ago I used to swim in the sea pool near my home every day when I was pregnant with my first child. Bobbing about like a small whale. It was summer, so the sea helped me keep cool and it took the weight off my legs.

I was excited and very, very nervous.

I had no idea of the wild, life-changing adventure that was about to begin. Jeremy was born on 01/01/01 at 1.01am.
I kid you not.
Just after the fireworks had ended to bring in the new millennium.

01/01/01 sounded like some sort of crazy-weird numerology to me. I have no idea about numerology, but life sure got crazy after he was born.

He was born at home, in a blow-up paddle pool in the tiny living room. I had my darling husband and my best friend holding onto me as I screamed my way through labour. After he was born I sat in the pool for ages with him lying on my chest. Just stunned and amazed. Completely in awe.

The story of my life had just taken the most astonishing twist. Everything was different.

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My deschooling journey: how I came to love home education.

I’ve been a home educator for a long time now. At the time of writing my eldest son is 18 and my youngest son is 14 and they’d both been home educated their whole lives, until my eldest son decided to try out high school when he turned 17. It’s been a very interesting, and a times challenging, home education journey and I’ve done a lot of deschooling over the years. This article is going to be about my process of deschooling over that long period. I’ll also be sharing the tool that I used to question my thinking and to dissolve my school mindset.

Starting from the beginning……..

I have a very “schooly” background because I come from an academic family. My Dad was a university professor, my Mum taught at university and I had a university education myself. I taught at university before I had children. So it was a very academic environment. Obviously, the “academic” type or style of learning was very highly valued in my family. I had kids quite late when I already had a career teaching Law. I had my eldest son when I was 35 and he changed SO much in my life. I’d never been more in love and I’d never been more emotional and sleep deprived.

Things changed even more when my son got to four years old. That was when he dropped out of preschool. He had been enrolled in preschool two days a week and had enjoyed it, but it had always been quite stressful for him. He’d started to have really big meltdowns after preschool and to resisting going and it was getting very stressful. When he was four and a half, he just refused to go anymore. He told me he just wanted to stay at home with me and his little brother. I was left thinking, well, what do I do now? I can’t get him to go to preschool. How’s he going to fit into a school environment?

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