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Unfortunately bullying is an issue that many will face during their lifetime. In order to help fight against it, a better understanding of it is necessary

We hear so much about bullying these days, and particularly the kind of vicious, anonymous cyberbullying that can have terrible consequences, that it’s no wonder schools are making an effort to teach kids to be nicer to each other. But we also have to be careful to not create such emotionally fragile kids that even a bit of good-natured ribbing between friends is something they can’t cope with. If kids walk away from anyone who gives them a bit of a stirring, never to speak to them again, it may not be the best outcome.

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that kids should have free reign to say nasty things and everyone else should just harden up. But if we can teach kids to cope with a bit of gentle teasing, there is a side benefit: they will also be learning to react in a way that can stop potential bullies in their tracks.

We hear so much about bullying these days, and particularly the kind of vicious, anonymous cyberbullying that can have terrible consequences, that it’s no wonder schools are making an effort to teach kids to be nicer to each other. But we also have to be careful to not create such emotionally fragile kids that even a bit of good-natured ribbing between friends is something they can’t cope with. If kids walk away from anyone who gives them a bit of a stirring, never to speak to them again, it may not be the best outcome.

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that kids should have free reign to say nasty things and everyone else should just harden up. But if we can teach kids to cope with a bit of gentle teasing, there is a side benefit: they will also be learning to react in a way that can stop potential bullies in their tracks.

 

IS THERE INTENT?

Firstly, how do we know what’s bullying and what’s teasing? Well, a lot of it depends on the intent. Are the comments designed to hurt and upset? Is there repeated and hurtful name-calling? Is a child being ridiculed in a nasty way? Is one child being singled out and socially isolated?

All of these indicate that we’re talking about harassment and bullying of children.

That can be very distressing, and have long-term consequences. It’s not something a parent should turn a blind eye to — but at the same time, children can’t control what other kids say to them. What they can learn to manage is their own reaction to it.

(As an aside, if there’s any physical element or the threat of physical harm, then this isn’t something kids should be trying to handle on their own. Speak to the school and make sure they follow through with any plans to prevent the problem from recurring. Your child may need extra help to gain skills to handle the situation and prevent it from getting worse.)

But returning to the grey area of teasing that may cross over into being hurtful, especially to a sensitive child, we need to think about the banter that goes on within peer groups.

HOW TEASING CAN HELP BUILD RESILIENCE

Depending on the group, there may be a bit of what we might call mutual teasing or ribbing; a bit of a gentle dig, or a laugh at one’s own or someone else’s expense.

But as long as it’s not causing distress, and is seen for what it’s intended to be, which is a light-hearted and equally shared around the group, then it’s probably a good thing. It can build resilience, and can even be part of healthy friendships, where everyone knows they’re not perfect.

There’s always room for it to go too far, and it’s important to be aware of and sensitive to how others may feel. But at the same time, most of us have had to learn to cope with a bit of this kind of thing at school and in the workplace. What we need to remember is that some kids, especially if they’re naturally sensitive, will need more practice than others to successfully manage their emotions in such situations.

As tempting as it is to rescue a sensitive child any time they’re upset, this doesn’t help them to build resilience. And ironically enough, if a child only knows one way to react if someone calls them a nickname or has a laugh at their expense, and that is by going into emotional meltdown, they risk becoming more of a target for teasing.

WHAT MAKES A BULLY?

One of the things that tends to perpetuate teasing — and this is where it starts to become a more abusive kind of behaviour — is that, unfortunately, there are some kids who enjoy watching the bite or reaction their words can cause. These are the kids who will up the ante and start teasing more frequently if they can see that they have the power to upset or distress someone. This is probably because they have their own issues and need to deflect that distress onto someone else. But whatever the reason, these are also the kids who are most likely to become bullies in the future.

For this reason, it’s worth keeping an eye and an ear on what goes on between siblings and friends and doing something about this behaviour early on. So don’t always assume that the version of the facts your child is giving you is all you need to know.

LITTLE ANGELS?

Not all kids who are on the receiving end are 100 per cent little angels and sometimes it’s a situation that’s been allowed to escalate over time. It might be worth having a conversation with your child about what happened and what they could do instead that might lead to a better outcome.

For the child being teased, parents can help kids to understand that while light-hearted banter is part of life, when it spills over into comments that could be hurtful, learning how to handle it can make it much less of a problem.

TIPS FOR LITTLE KIDS AND BIG KIDS

If we’re talking about pre-school or little kids, it’s important for them to learn that a lot of the teasing in their peer group doesn’t really mean anything. It’s not meant to be hurtful or upsetting when someone laughs if your sandcastle collapses, for example. And youngsters who learn to not only respond with a laugh when they’re teased but also give a little of it back, without the intent to hurt, do much better socially.

If an older child is being “picked on” at school, for example because of something to do with their physical appearance, while it’s unfair and unpleasant, it may be best for them to learn to have a ready response to it. So they may reply with something like: “I’m glad you’ve noticed my glasses. I like them.”  Or “Yes, you’re right. It’s not a big deal,” or a sincere “thank you – thank you so much!”, no matter how odd this may sound in response to something like “you’re fat” or “gee, you’re ugly”.

What you’re teaching your child to do is flip it around. They’re neutralising the comment and giving a message to the teaser to say: “This is not working. It is not having the intended effect. I can even have a laugh about it”.  You might also look on the internet for resources to help your child learn to make an assertive — not passive, nor aggressive — request for the problem behaviour to change.

We’re helping kids to learn different ways of reacting. The person who is doing the teasing isn’t getting their desired result of seeing their target distressed or upset. Often this alone will be enough to stop these kinds of comments, although the child may have to be prepared to persevere a little before the strategy works.

(It may not be a bad idea if at the same time, the school gives a general reminder to all the kids about not making hurtful comments. You might also need to ask for some stronger supervision in the playground for a while if there seems to be a particular problem with one or two children.)

Preparing kids to cope with life (on their own) 

If the problem continues, you may need to get some professional help from the school counselor or a psychologist. The aim of the game is not to take over and fix the problem but to help your child develop the necessary skills and strategies to deal with the situation.

Because when it comes to teasing, there is one very important message as parents we do need to get across to our kids: you can deal with this. That’s a message of empowerment. It’s a message that the solution is within their grasp.

Ultimately, that’s going to help them cope with life’s little unpleasantries later on, without becoming upset or aggressive…and without needing your help.

http://www.triplep-parenting.net.au/au-uken/triple-p/?utm_source=offspring_magazine&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=bullying_blog

Prof Matt Sanders is the founder of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program and Director of the Parenting and Family Support Centre at The University of Queensland.  Triple P is widely available throughout Australia and is offered free of charge in some states, including New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

It’s important to teach children from an early age how to manage their emotions and bounce back from any positive or negative moments that they’re faced with. While we may want our little ones to have a carefree upbringing, children at some point, do meet challenges and adversity. Being able to cope with those situations in a healthy way will benefit your children for a lifetime.

Being able to positive self-talk, openly express your emotions, use age-appropriate calming strategies, and generally coping with whatever life throws at us, are all part of a jigsaw puzzle called ‘resilience’. Resilience can change and depend on what is happening at a particular point in time – if you have multiple negative stressors at a vulnerable stage in your life, you can be less resilient.

 

So why is resilience an important skill to develop? Well, it has been found that people who are resilient, or who have good coping skills are healthier, live longer, have happier relationships, are more successful at school and work, and are less likely to feel depressed. The good news is that our capacity to be resilient develops as we age and experience life’s ups and downs. Therefore, by preventing children from experiencing any challenges and disappointments, we are actually preventing them from developing resilience.

People who are resilient, or who have good coping skills are healthier, live longer, have happier relationships, [and] are more successful at school and work

Helping children develop resilience involves the following:

Safe and caring relationships within the family

  • Children do best when they feel loved, understood and are protected from harm. Positive daily interactions with the important people in their lives helps them have confidence to explore their environment, form other caring relationships and ask for help when they need it.

 

Being a positive role model

  • Young children in particular, copy what adults say and do. When parents and other significant adults handle stressful and challenging situations with resilience, this also teaches children resilience. Being a positive role model also includes taking care of your physical and mental health, reaching out to social networks and community resources, and being mindful and present in the moment.

 

When parents and other important adults handle stressful and challenging situations with resilience, this teaches children resilience.

Good sleep, good nutrition and opportunities for lots of movement and play

  • Children thrive when they know what to expect so family rhythms around sleeping and eating can help. Not getting enough sleep and poor nutrition negatively impact children’s ability to learn and regulate their emotions. Play and movement is how children learn about themselves and about how the world around them works. Outside, nature play in particular, is highly beneficial for children.

Play and movement is how children learn about themselves and about how the world around them works.

Labelling your own emotions as well as your child’s

  • This helps children use words rather than their bodies when they are feeling frustrated or challenged; and also helps them develop empathy over time for other people’s feelings.

 

Developing a growth mindset

  • Children who are resilient believe that they, and not their circumstances, affect their achievements. Adults can help develop a growth mindset by commenting on the process, rather than the end result, encouraging children to problem solve by asking “what if” questions and conveying to children that mistakes (and failure) are part and parcel of learning.

 

Providing opportunities for your child to practice waiting and restraint

  • This can be done in an enjoyable and fun way – play games that require turn taking, or sing rhymes and counting songs about waiting, and put in place rituals that require them to wait, eg. only giving them pocket money once a week, or make them wait until the holidays before visiting a fun park.

 

Opportunities for learning and practicing life skills

  • This involves providing opportunities for children to have responsibility for small tasks that allows them to contribute to family life; providing time and opportunity to practice self-care (getting dressed, going to the toilet unaided, feeding themselves). All learning takes time and requires a lot of patience and energy from involved adults. Development of self-care skills increases self-confidence and self-esteem. Time spent on supporting this aspect of development impacts on their dispositions, attitudes and motivation in many areas.

 

 

Supporting children during stressful times

  • Adults do this by facilitating problem solving steps to work through a situation positively, teaching strategies to calm down and relax (relaxation breathing) and chatting about what happened afterwards – which helps to reinforce learning and remind children that things turned out alright in the end even though it was a stressful event

 

Developing a positive outlook

  • A positive outlook builds hope and can change a challenging situation into a more manageable one. Help children develop a positive outlook by being a positive role model, encouraging the use of humour to lighten a situation, thus teaching them that challenges are an opportunity to learn and grow. Spending time in nature and finding meaning in things that happen is a wonderful opportunity to help children develop.

 

Building resilience starts in infancy and continues throughout our lives

Parents have the biggest role to play in helping their children develop resilience. However, parents are not alone, other adults in their child’s life such as teachers and other relatives, plus community support systems and resources also play a significant role.

 

For more information visit:  WiringKids on 0447 648 044 (Julie) or 0402 668 752 (Wendy) or visit www.wiringkids.com.au

While Offspring is a mainstream family lifestyle magazine, I love to include juicier topics around spirituality and personal development for mums, as well as more pervasive child-rearing issues

I think this is an interesting edition, with a change of tone, to incorporate what I feel are more “Real” issues we face as parents, and as women.

In our last issue I shared details of my recent experience with depression, where I felt overwhelmed by pressures to combine both career and motherhood, which resulted in hospitalisation earlier this year (Editor’s Note, Winter 2017). Here, I mentioned how two energy healers, Yvette and Brenda, helped lift me from the darkness.

After numerous inquiries from readers, it was fitting to include an article about these healers and their modalities, and how these alternative methods help people overcome emotional struggles (“Spiritual Healing,” p32).

Stating the obvious, perhaps, but if we are happier and truer to ourselves, we are better mothers who have more to give – more patience, more insight, more love, for our children – creating happier families and hopefully a stronger, more insightful next generation.

If we are happier and truer to ourselves, we are better mothers who have more to give – more patience, more insight, more love, for our children.

My personal, introspective journey this year has involved various spiritual and emotional experiences, including the Path of Love retreat in the Hunter Valley, NSW. This course is a powerful, transformational inquiry into helping people become more fulfilled, happier and ultimately having a more authentic life. You can read about this in “Path of Love,” p24.

Inspiration can be found from One Million Women founder, Natalie Isaacs, a grandmother and mother of four, who has identified mothers as the Number One influence affecting household carbon blueprint. She has created a huge following online, where she offers advice on how mothers can make a quantifiable difference to pollution levels, as well as save money on our power bills. Her story: “Mother of Earth,” p18.

Chris Pritchard’s article, “Mirror, mirror on the wall,” (p28) is confronting. Like many mothers, I have been focused on helping my children avoid self-esteem challenges, but, I didn’t really consider a back swing – Narcissism. Have we swung the pendulum too far? This article is thought-provoking.

Like many mothers, I have been focused on helping my children avoid self-esteem challenges, but, I didn’t really consider a back swing – Narcissism.

This edition includes our annual “Having a Baby” special feature, to help Mums-to-be in welcoming their most precious gift – a newborn child.

We also have a Christmas Gift Guide, which might inspire you to find some lovely finds for loved ones.

Speaking of loved ones, I thank my very patient and special children, Helena and Jarvis, and my family; as well as the important people who work hard to continue to make Offspring a strong, free, magazine for us all to enjoy – Jess Loudoun, Steve Lilywhite, Elle Higham, Jess Watson, as well as the many other contributors.

Happy Christmas and I hope 2018 is special for you and your families.

Kate Durack

xxx

Do you want your child to grow up to be a happy, resilient teen? Offspring catches up with renowned parenting expert, Kathy Walker, about what you can do now to help that happen.

Let’s face it – saying life is busy when you are taking care of a young child is an understatement. Each day is a juggle between swimming and ballet lessons, playgroups and visits to the library, toilet-training and trying to get them to eat a balanced meal (when will they eat a vegetable without it being disguised with cheese?).

Everything you do for your child, you do to make them happy and to give them the best start in life – but have you started thinking about how you will equip them to deal with future challenges, such as peer pressure?

It seems like a long way off, but a stern word about responsibility the first time your teen asks for your car keys is too late to shape them into a young adult that makes good decisions.

Parents need to be proactive in helping their children create strong relationships to instil self-discipline, learn emotional intelligence, master mindfulness and a sense of self, and develop resilience.

Leading parenting expert Kathy Walker and author of Future Proofing Your Child says by establishing boundaries and by being a good role model, parents can equip their children, from a young age, with the skills and qualities to become a happy, resilient and emotionally-intelligent teen. She calls it ‘future proofing’. “We are spending more time on electronic devices and in Australia we have increasing rates of suicide and depression,” she says. “I felt that anything we can do early in life, the better…future proofing is about prevention rather than cure.”

So how do you ‘future proof’ your child?

According to Kathy, parents need to be proactive in helping their children create strong relationships to instil self-discipline, learn emotional intelligence, master mindfulness and a sense of self, and develop resilience – all of which are very important skills and qualities to have when they reach teenage-hood and beyond (when they are likely to be exposed to stressful situations).

Kathy says all parents focus on making their children happy, however, things like setting boundaries, learning about disappointment and frustration (such as realising they cannot win all the time or missing out on something they want to do), being able to make mistakes and solve problems, and having time to ‘be bored’ can all help your child learn develop qualities that will be invaluable for them in the future.

For example, one example Kathy uses is by respectfully saying no to some requests (she says many parents don’t like saying no to their children for fear of them missing out), children can learn:

  • We don’t always get what we want when we want it.
  • We can feel frustrated, angry and disappointed but we will get over it.
  • We can’t manipulate people with our emotions.
  • It is okay to say no to someone.

(Source: Future Proofing Your Child by Kathy Walker, Viking, 2015).

One of the most common mistakes, she says, is when parents overschedule their children because children need time to play to learn, discover and make mistakes – but she says having time to be bored is a good thing! “I have been working with families for over 30 years and all parents want is the best for their children, but they don’t know how to say no,” she says. “They want to give their children many opportunities but they then end up overscheduling so their children don’t have the opportunity to self-entertain – and self-entertaining is so important. In life, you have to look after yourself, and if the pattern early in life is that every minute is scheduled, then you don’t get that opportunity to initiate your own ideas.”

 

Kathy says all parents focus on making their children happy, however, things like setting boundaries, learning about disappointment and frustration (such as realising they cannot win all the time or missing out on something they want to do), being able to make mistakes and solve problems, and having time to ‘be bored’ can all help your child learn develop qualities that will be invaluable for them in the future.

Kathy says you don’t have to be the perfect parent – but it is important to be reflective as parents and take on strategies to keep communication open with your children and create a strong relationship – which will make your child feel valued and secure. Then hopefully this will mean that in the future, your child becomes a teen that keeps communicating with you and will come to you with any worries or concerns.

Limiting screen time is an important aspect, according to Kathy, who says long periods of screen time can promote isolation. “Just because children have the skills to work these devices doesn’t mean they have the maturity to use them,” she says. “I wouldn’t let a toddler use an iPad. For older children, I would set a timer so they have a set time to use them. They need to communicate in the real world and get outside and play.”

“(Parents) want to give their children many opportunities but they then end up overscheduling so their children don’t have the opportunity to self-entertain.”

“Remember that you are models for your children,” she advises. “One example I think of is going to a restaurant and seeing every member of the family on an electronic device – the kids are watching their iPads and the parents are on their phones, so no one is communicating with each other. You need to spend quality time together to keep communicating with your child.”

Kathy’s top 3 tips for parents:

– Really listen to your children.
– Always end each day with love.
– Never discipline when you are angry.

 

To help future proof your child, Kathy provides the following top tips:

  • To create strong relationships with your child – Spend quality time together.
  • For self-discipline – Follow through with consequences.
  • To learn emotional intelligence – Parents need to acknowledge a child’s emotions.
  • To master mindfulness – Learn to slow down the pace of life. We all rush too much and we need to remember that children are not mini adults – they weren’t designed to work at adult pace.
  • To develop resilience – Let children make mistakes. It is important to sometimes let kids make discoveries for themselves.

 

Kathy Walker’s latest book, Future Proofing Your Child, RRP $32.99 (Viking) is available now.

She’s Mum to Steven (21), Evie (19) and John (16), and Grandma to seven-month-old Harvey. Three years ago, she became a single mother when her husband, Glenn (58), a devoted family man, was tragically killed in an accident while working as a truck driver.

The sudden death of her husband was the catalyst to Robyn making far-reaching life changes, which has resulted in her now spending two-thirds of the year away from her children. Simultaneously fighting the judgment she receives from disapproving women.

“My husband died, my kids were torn apart. I went through gut wrenching grief. I went through anger. I went through self-destructive shit.”

Robyn, a fun and adventurous woman, was shattered the instant her husband died. Her world turned upside down.

She was barely able to help herself, let alone help her three children to cope with their grief. But all they had was each other, and they became stronger as a family because of it.

“My husband died, my kids were torn apart,” Robyn recalls. “I went through gut wrenching grief. I went through anger. I went through self-destructive shit. It brought me to my fucking knees.”

“For a year I cried and all of life seemed so damn right pointless.”

Robyn kept busy to avoid the pain and was determined not to fall apart or give up after losing her best friend. “Never stopping to let myself heal, never really letting my emotions flood out, I just kept driving forward with a fucked-up determination.”

Robyns's husband Glenn and their three kids

“I just kept driving forward with a fucked-up determination.”

Me & a Nepali Friend (DIdi - sister in Nepali) swimming in Nepal

Robyn’s determination enabled her to convert her grief into a focus and a positive outcome. She began a rigorous fitness plan, including bodybuilding and healthier eating, resulting in her becoming a happier and healthier person. Out of this came an incredible 40kg weight loss. Robyn started living her life to the fullest, realising, “I only live once, so why aren’t I doing exactly what I want to be doing?”

Before becoming a mother, Robyn was a personal trainer: a lifestyle that she loved but wasn’t an easy life to get back to after having kids. It was a space where she felt comfortable and a place she now craved in her life, after diving headfirst into fitness following her husband’s death. It’s a life that demanded sacrifice, and that sacrifice meant investing time into it, time that was expected to go to her children.

This decision to return to a career she adored came after Robyn decided to give up her corporate life, which involved travelling domestically and internationally selling accounting software. It wasn’t a decision, or a lifestyle change she made lightly. She’d invested in two years of study and training to get to the level she achieved. It was a good job that paid well and there was nothing bad about it, except that it wasn’t her passion. During this time Robyn was also studying to become a qualified yoga teacher, meditation instructor and learnt about natural remedies and nutrition.

“I took that leap of faith. For so many years I had dreamed of this path in life. I was 43 years old and my kids were beginning to spread their little independent wings and fly the coop. I started to feel that ‘empty’ nest thing. So, I figured it was time for me to leave home too.”

 

Me & my daughter - 2 years ago    Robyn is now based in Nepal for eight months of the year, building up her business, Integrative Wellness & Yoga, which comprises of yoga and mindfulness retreats. She too is establishing contacts with business partners, local people and local communities.

She’s also been busy mapping out trekking trails into remote communities that will in time enable her to contribute money towards education, tourism and healthcare.

 

Robyn’s choice of career and lifestyle has come at a price. She has become a target for disapproving women, comprising of non-mothers as well as mothers. Robyn says she has been called, “Selfish,” and “A bad mother because I have a career, or that I haven’t spent enough time with the kids”. Being the woman she is says she response: “It’s okay to judge me but you know what, my kids have turned pretty well; they’re positive and independent and driven with what they do.”

Robyn adds, “One thing I don’t like about parenting is that so many parents judge one another. Each parent is unique, and you can’t have all the answers, all the time. It is a hard job without having someone telling what you should or shouldn’t be doing, or that perhaps you should be wearing an apron, for example.”

“I’ve been judged for my choices, but I would never judge someone who chooses to be a stay at home mum. That’s her choice.”

“I’ve lost friends, but letting go of the fear of others’ judgment, and what they think of me, has been one of the most soul-freeing moments in my life.”

“I’ve lost friends, but letting go of the fear of others’ judgment, and what they think of me, has been one of the most soul-freeing moments in my life.”

Me - Handstands in Nepal

Robyn has never been a woman who was going to put her life on hold once she became a mother, not wanting to, “lose her identity as a person.”

Embarking on this new journey comes at the cost of only seeing her children for four months of a year. These four months are dedicated to family time – celebrating the quality of time they have together, not the quantity. Their time together spent indulging in the simple things: nice family meals, camping, going to the beach, or just simply watching a movie.

Robyn believes in teaching her children that, “You can still love, and have relationships with people without being with them all the time.”

Many communication services, such as Skype and FaceTime enable Robyn to always be available for her children, wherever in the world she might be.

Me Trekking in the Gurja Himal Region of Nepal with GuestsNot only has Robyn taught her children how to be resilient, strong and independent, they have also taught her important values including, “patience, tolerance and acceptance”.

Robyn’s children haven’t suffered from seeing less of their mum, and they know she is always there for them. Her daughter, Evie, is now a mother, so Robyn now also has grandson, Harvey. Robyn is able to teach Evie meditative techniques to calm and help Harvey sleep better. Her youngest child, John, is working as an electrical trade assistant, and her eldest, Steven, is a FIFO worker.

“Being a mother and a grandmother is one of the most rewarding and loving journeys in life, but don’t forget there’s a little girl inside you, don’t forget to let her voice come out to honour the woman you are.”

Though the heartache of losing her husband will always be there, a glimmer of light came from all that darkness, it was the nudge Robyn needed to change career directions towards what she truly loves and is passionate about. Being a mum doesn’t mean that you need to give up who you and what you love, and being called “Mum” doesn’t mean that a barrier is erected, permanently taking away your independence.

As Robyn says, “Being a mother and a grandmother is one of the most rewarding and loving journeys in life, but don’t forget there’s a little girl inside you, don’t forget to let her voice come out to honour the woman you are.” Me in India whilst doing teacher training - 1 year ago

Improving your health in just 10 minutes a day: 

As a parent, it can be difficult to find time to yourself. Here are Robyn’s top tips for improving your mental and physical health in just ten minutes a day.

1. Focus on your breathing. This can improve your cardiovascular health and immunity.

2. Writing. Robyn says she writes everything down that’s on her mind. Wherever she goes, she has with her a blank book to jot down the things that are worrying her, things that have made her happy and those things that she is grateful for. The simple act of seeing your thoughts on paper makes it easier to process without being overwhelmed.

3. Find a space and just lay there: your bed, the grass, a hammock or a couch. Put headphones in, or just rest your eyes, for 10 minutes. Allowing yourself that time is so critical to your overall health. Even if you’re some sort of super mum, you need to stay as healthy as possible.

Chakra cleanse

If you’d like to find out more about Robyn’s business, or information on her retreats please head to her website http://www.integrativewellnessyoga.com

Adoption numbers are on the rise in Hollywood. Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Hugh Jackman and Katherine Heigl are amongst the celebrities who are growing their families by adopting children. Read about what other stars are doing the same and how their life has changed.

 

Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie

“They have programs in their countries [for] each of them we’re starting…They are from their country and they are of their country and they should know that.”

A-listers Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are parents to six children: Maddox, 12, Pax, 9, Zahara, 8, Shiloh, 7, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 5.

Their three eldest children were adopted from Cambodia, Vietnam and Ethiopia — although, Angie said she’s lost track of the details. “I couldn’t tell you in my own home who’s adopted and who’s not,” Angelina recently said.

“It doesn’t cross my mind,” she added. “There is something really wonderful when you adopt a child from another country because that whole country enters your house. We have different languages in our house, we have different flags up in our house, we have different food and culture and discussions and we go to their countries.”

The Oscar-winner wants her children to one day give back to their homelands.

“They have programs in their countries [for] each of them we’re starting. There’s a TB/AIDS clinic being built for Zahara; there’s a clinic already for Mad[dox]. So each of them will take that responsibility. They are from their country and they are of their country and they should know that, it’s part of their family, we are their family but so is their country.”

 

Charlize Theron

“‘Would you please take me to orphanage, so that I can go and adopt a baby?’

Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron shocked fans with her baby news in March. The actress adopted a baby boy named Jackson.

Charlize opened up about a letter she wrote at eight years of age, sharing her plans for a future adoption.

“My mother found [it]. It said, ‘Would you please take me to orphanage, so that I can go and adopt a baby?’ I always knew I would adopt – always,” she shared.

 

Sandra Bullock

“It was like he had always been a part of our lives. All I said when I met him was, ‘Oh, there you are.’”

Not only did Sandra Bullock become an Academy Award-winner in 2010, she also become a mum. The Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close actress adopted a New Orleans-born boy, Louis, in January 2010.

Now three years old, Louis has become Sandra’s greatest joy. “He’s just perfect, I can’t even describe him any other way,” she gushed.

Sandra opened up about the first time she laid eyes on her gorgeous son.

“The first time I met Louis, it was like the whole outside world got quiet,” she said. “It was like he had always been a part of our lives. All I said when I met him was, ‘Oh, there you are.’”

 

Madonna

“I was accused by a female Malawian judge that because I was divorced, I was an unfit mother.”

The Queen of Pop has adopted two children from Malawi – David, 8, and Mercy, 6 – and has since spoken about the experience.

“This was an eye opening experience” and “a real low point in my life,” the Like a Virgin singer said of adopting David.

“I didn’t know that trying to adopt a child was going to land me in another sh– storm,” she added. “I was accused of kidnapping, child trafficking, using my celebrity muscle to jump ahead in the line, bribing government officials, witchcraft, you name it. I could get my head around people giving me a hard time for simulating masturbation onstage or publishing my Sex book, even kissing Britney Spears at an awards show, but trying to save a child’s life was not something I thought I would be punished for. . . In any case, I got through it. I survived.”

The Material Mum was more prepared for her second adoption.

“When I adopted Mercy James, I put my armour on,” the popstar said. “I tried to be more prepared. I braced myself. This time I was accused by a female Malawian judge that because I was divorced, I was an unfit mother. I fought the Supreme Court and I won. It took almost another year and many lawyers. I still got the shit kicked out of me, but it didn’t hurt as much. And looking back, I do not regret one moment of the fight.”

 

 

Hugh Jackman

“I’m working on an international campaign to shine a light on the fact that there are 153 million orphans in the world.”

Hugh Jackman is happiest, “being with my family, definitely, without a doubt.”

The sexy Wolverine star and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, have two adopted children Oscar, 13, and Ava, 8. The hands-on dad said it was a “no-brainer” for them to adopt children in need.

“When we first went to talk to someone in Los Angeles about adoption, I remember, they said, ‘What do you want?’ I said, ‘Well, healthy would be good.’ And they said, ‘Well, what about the race?’ We’d ticked mixed race. And he said, ‘Now, listen. Please don’t, please don’t just tick that because you think it’s the right thing to tick.’ And he said to me, that we turn away children every month who are mixed race, because we can’t find families for them.”

He’s also spoken of the joys of adoption.

“A while back, there was a lot of shame attached to it and parents wouldn’t tell their kids they were adopted,” he said. “What’s great is that the focus is now shifting to the care of the child. We were very fortunate and open – I can’t go into details because of the privacy of the birth parents, but I can tell you it was amicable. Adoption is a wonderful thing to do.”

“I’m working on an international campaign to shine a light on the fact that there are 153 million orphans in the world,” the actor recently said. “If that were a country, it would be the ninth-largest in the world, just ahead of Russia.”

 

Sheryl Crow

A year after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Sheryl Crow adopted her now six year old son, Wyatt. The songstress said she always knew she’d be a mum.

“There was a shift in my life when I got diagnosed, [with breast cancer] because it demanded I look at everything and redefine my life,” she said. “I always felt I would be a mum. I have strong maternal instincts.”

The singer went on to adopt a second son, Levi, now three.

“I’ve always had maternal instincts,” she said. “And there are so many different ways you can go about that. My sons didn’t have to be from me. They didn’t have to look like me. I just wanted children to love.”

“They have so much energy and they keep me young!” Sheryl recently told Celebrity Baby Scoop. “I wouldn’t change a thing. I love getting to see things through their eyes.”

Katherine Heigl & Josh Kelley

“She is a special needs baby and because of that it all moved so much faster.”

Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl and her husband Josh Kelley adopted their daughter Naleigh from Korea when she was 10 months old.

“[Adoption has] been a big part of my life and my family,” Katherine said. “My sister is Korean and my parents adopted her back in the 70s and so I just always knew that this is something I wanted to do.”

Katherine went on to talk about her now four-year-old daughter.

“She is a special needs baby and because of that it all moved so much faster. They wanted to get her to us as quickly as possible.”

The couple went on to adopt a second daughter, Adalaide, domestically, in April. “She’s great! She’s a delicious, beautiful, wonderful child,” the Grey’s Anatomy alum gushed of her new daughter.

Mariska Hargitay

 

Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay and her husband Peter Hermann endured a long and emotionally challenging journey to finally reach their beautiful family of five and now, things couldn’t be better for the happy couple.

“They’re awesome and perfect,” the star said of sons August, 7, and Andrew, 2, and daughter Amaya, 2. “My heart just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

The actress opened up to Ellen DeGeneres about her surprising second adoption.

Just months after bringing home daughter Amaya after an emotionally-trying adoption process, the couple’s lawyer called them to let them know an agency had a newborn boy ready to be adopted as well.

“It was one of those things that we were not expecting at all and my husband and I looked at each other and have never been more sure about anything.”

The Little Couple

“We’ve dealt with prejudice and many challenges.”

The Little Couple’s Dr. Jen Arnold and Bill Klein introduced their three year old son William on the Katie Couric show in April. And just one month later, they had more exciting news to report.

After years of hoping to become parents and suffering through fertility issues, the couple announced they adopted a 19 month old girl from India they have named Zoey.

“We’re so delighted that Zoey will be joining our family and that William will have a little sister coming home very soon,” the reality TV couple said in a statement in May.

Zoey also has a form of dwarfism like her adoptive parents and brother, Will.

“We’ve dealt with prejudice and many challenges,” Jennifer said of her life experiences. “I feel very lucky and fortunate that I have the wonderful life I have.”

 

 

 

Jillian Michaels

“They say, ‘We have a referral for you,’ which means they’ve matched you with a child…and in less than 24 hours she says, ‘By the way, I’m pregnant.’”

The Biggest Loser star Jillian Michaels and her partner Heidi Rhoades became parents to two children in May: A 2-year-old daughter Lukensia and a newborn son Phoenix.

“About three and a half years ago I began dating my partner Heidi,” Jillian shared on her road toward motherhood. “We had a very easy going, comfortable and no-pressure relationship. And a year or so into our relationship, I decided I wanted to adopt.”

The celebrity trainer went on to say the adoption process was not easy, and after a year and a half of waiting for a referral from Africa, she switched gears.

“I switched all my paperwork over to Haiti and I get a phone call one day,” she shared. “Heidi is now trying to get pregnant for five months now. They say, ‘We have a referral for you,’ which means they’ve matched you with a child. I was like, ‘This is unbelievable, this is great!’ I come home and tell Heidi, and in less than 24 hours she says, ‘By the way, I’m pregnant.’”