5 Jul 2017

Are We There Yet?

From Are We There Yet?, 3:35 pm on 5 July 2017

Katy Gosset takes a fresh look at the challenges of parenting in a changing world in the first episode of Are We There Yet? 

Multi-tasking mother

Multi-tasking mother Photo: 123RF

Wanted: Committed mothers and fathers for demanding, full-time positions
Work will include cooking, cleaning and attending to the bodily functions and psychological needs of a dependent.
You will be committed to top quality and engaging child rearing techniques, balancing emotional intelligence with a high threshold for being judged and ridiculed. A comprehensive general knowledge, covering everything from childhood illnesses and social media platforms through to Sponge Bob Square Pants and other inexplicable pop cultural references is a must.
You'll be calm under pressure and in the face of extreme untidiness, bringing order and compassion to stressful situations, and negotiating tight deadlines and thankless tasks with ease, possibly whilst half-asleep. A strong, broadcast quality voice is essential for the regular and repetitive reading of bedtime stories and the delivery of firm rules.
Remuneration: Nil (although some emotions may occur naturally, including, but not limited, to love, excitement, exhilaration and fear, tempered with exhaustion).
Please note: This position includes shift-work.
Apply Now: (The faint hearted need not bother).

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Photo: 123RF

It's a Tough Job but someone's got to do It...

Ever felt like you've got all the answers?

How about a miraculous manual on parenting tucked under your pillow?

No? OK then, chances are, like most parents, you've embarked on the great adventure that is child-rearing equipped only with the best of intentions, plenty of enthusiasm and perhaps a dash of trepidation.  

But what follows can sometimes best be described a roller coaster.

'You kind of feel like you're bumbling your way through really. There isn't a manual for kids and it's hard to know if you're doing the right thing really. And sometimes you're not," - mother of two  

Parenthood has always been exciting, rewarding and just a little terrifying, but in 2017 the challenges have changed.

The intricacies of the Internet, social media and an increasingly fast-paced life can make parenting a stressful business.

Are We There Yet? examines some of the pressing issues parents face today, contrasted with historical audio, courtesy of Archives New Zealand and Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision.

"It really is hard. It's like you've got to be the answer to everything and you can't answer everything can you ? I love it though," - mother of four

"It's great. It's kind of nerve-wracking at times - obviously all of the responsibility that comes with it and it can be kind of boring sometimes: it can involve those really repetitive games that you play with your kids," - father of two

"It's still bloody hard work, very rewarding but really hard work."

Catherine Gallagher wears two hats - just not in this photo.

Catherine Gallagher

Catherine Gallagher Photo: RNZ / Katy Gosset

One is her job as a clinical psychologist and other, her role as mother of two. Together, she says, they help her work better.

"The one role as a parent keeps me very modest and humble and non-judgemental when it comes to me wearing the other hat. I think it helps me in the work that I do with parents."

Ms Gallagher specialises in Child and Family work and sees many issues affecting young people including oppositional behaviour (better known as attitude or back chat), low mood and particularly anxiety.

"So they've got kids who are having a tough time doing life and being brave and, I suppose, doing the tasks that other kids might find easier."

Blended families, bereavements and bullying at school are other common issues for her clients. But she says some parents have lost their confidence and just need a sounding board.

"They want to check in with [questions like] 'Actually is what I'm seeing to be expected, and do I just let this ride or is this something to pull back on?"

Ms Gallagher says, for example, many parents may have a child who wants to sleep in their bed sometimes but, unless they talk about it with their friends and peers, they have no idea if it's something to worry about.

"So it's that whole thing of what's normal and so for some parents, they might use someone like me just to kind of check in and go 'Hmm, where are we at with this?' and get the confidence to do the next developmental stage."

How to navigate and guide a teenager through adolescence can be one of the most challenging experiences of being a parent.

How to navigate and guide a teenager through adolescence can be one of the most challenging experiences of being a parent. Photo: Pixabay

She says raising children now, in a fast paced society that increasing lives online, can make it harder for parents.

"We are doing things at pace .. we have this great information and then what we realise is when it all comes down to it, it's still bloody hard work, very rewarding but really hard work."

Ngā Taonga kōrero

Ms Gallagher will be offering parenting tips to accompany each podcast episode but warns that all children are different and any general advice needs to be taken in the context of each child's particular issues.

"Our challenge as parents is always to take the expert knowledge and see what's relevant about that for what's in front of me right now."