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You can navigate the everyday challenges of motherhood with a little reassurance and advice from one mother to another. As celebrities share their secrets  behind closed doors, with advice on navigating everyday parenting struggles.

While celebrities may share the glamour and fortune of their Hollywood lifestyles, their parenting styles  differ vastly.  With more access than ever into the lives of celebs behind closed doors, we have gathered their best advice on how to tackle the everyday challenges, as well as the everyday rewards of motherhood. There’s no handbook for successful mothering, but from Chrissy Teigen‘s bath time hacks to Beyonce teaching by example, these mothers have a few tips and advice to make everyday a little easier for all.

Chrissy Teigen (35 yo)

Children: Luna Simone Stephens (5yo), Miles Theodore Stephens (3yo)

@chrissyteigen

Chrissy Teigen isn’t one to shy away from the spotlight. Her Twitter escapades in particular, have made her infamous for her controversial and unfiltered nature. However, it’s Chrissy’s relatable and transparent parenting, or as she likes to call it, “de-motivational” speaking that offers lasting impression and inspiration to mothers everywhere. 

A bath time trick shared by Chrissy offers help to eliminate the shock and trouble of cleaning up. Chrissy shared that gently wrapping your baby (swaddled to your chest) and lowering them into the water while you enter as well, will provide the comfort and eliminate the bath time struggle for both mum and bub.

Teigen also shared some of her everyday advice with  SheKnows stating,

It’s important for us to come together and understand that there’s no perfect way to do something, There’s a million different ways to raise a child, and that’s fine.”

 

Chrissy Twitter Share:

8:00 PM · Jun 27, 2018·Twitter for iPhone

“only I can understand my kid. she’s like “BDIDKDKODKDHJXUDHEJSLOSJDHDUSJMSOZUZUSJSIXOJ”  and I’m like “ok I will get you a piece of sausage in just a minute”

 

Reese Witherspoon (45 yo)

Children: Ava Elizabeth Philippe (22yo), Tennessee James Toth (9yo), Deacon Reese Philippe (17yo)

@reesewitherspoon

Reese Witherspoon knows there’s no such thing as perfection in motherhood, and all mothers can share in the reassurance that not even Hollywood’s leading ladies always know how to navigate the unknown.

She states, “No one’s really doing it perfectly. I think you love your kids with your whole heart, and you do the best you possibly can.”

Reese places emphasis on finding a strong support network stating, “I depend on the kindness and support of my mom friends…It’s really about your support system, your family structure.”

 

Beyonce (40 yo)

Children: Blue Ivy Carter (9yo), Rumi Carter (4yo), Sir Carter (4yo)

@beyonce

Fierce and bold, Beyonce utilises her distinctive persona in her everyday parenting practices. Offering some of the most powerful advice on parenting in the contemporary age she states,

I let my children know that they are never too young to contribute to changing the world. I never underestimate their thoughts and feelings, and I check in with them to understand how this is affecting them.”

Helping her children feel empowered to change the world and modelling that same behaviour herself.

 

Blake Lively (34 yo)

Children: James Reynolds (6yo), Inez Reynolds (5yo), Betty Reynolds (12 months)

@blakelively

One of Hollywood’s Golden Couples, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds are renowned for their reasonably confidential parenting style.  Lively however, took to instagram to share advice on the importance of CPR for parents stating, “All mamas and daddies out there—I can’t recommend this enough. I took a CPR class with a focus on babies and toddlers, for those of you who haven’t done it, you will love it. It’s so helpful by giving you knowledge, tools, and some peace of mind.”

However, even when prepared, Lively knows to expect the unexpected. She states in an interview with The Los Angeles Times,

Having a baby is just living in the constant unexpected. You never know when you’re gonna get crapped on or when you’re gonna get a big smile or when that smile immediately turns into hysterics.”

 

Angelina Jolie (46  yo)

Children: Maddox Chivan Jolie-Pitt (20yo) adopted in 2002, Pax Thien Jolie-Pitt (17yo) adopted 2007, Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt (16yo) adopted 2005, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt (15yo), Knox Léon and Vivienne Marcheline Jolie-Pitt (13yo)

@angelinajolie

Although no longer married,  Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were one of the most iconic Hollywood couples of the past two decades. Pitt and Jolie have six kids, three biological children and three who are adopted.

Jolie shares tips about parenting throughout the pandemic stating, “Like most parents, I focus on staying calm so my children don’t feel anxiety from me on top of all the worrying about.”

Jolie shares her worldly wisdom and advice as a reminder to mothers that even in the chaos of life, it’s the simple moments and time spent with your children that matter most. Stating,

Sometimes, when I want to take on the world, I try to remember that it’s just as important to sit down and ask my son how he’s feeling or talk to him about life.”

 

Dianne Keaton (75 yo)

Children: Dexter Keaton (26yo) adopted in 1996,  Duke Keaton (21yo) adopted in 2001

@diane_keaton

Motherhood comes in all different shapes, sizes and ages.  Dianne Keaton is just one example, at the age of 50 adopting her daughter Dexter, and five years later adopting her son Duke.

The now 75 year old, is renowned for her matriarch roles on the big screen, and that ripples into her everyday lifestyle. She states, “I had a career and I came to motherhood late and am not married and have never had such a trusting relationship with a man – and trust is where the real power of love comes from. A sense of freedom is something that, happily, comes with age and life experience.”

Motherhood has completely changed me. It’s just about like the most completely humbling experience that I’ve ever had. I think that it puts you in your place because it really forces you to address the issues that you claim to believe in and if you can’t stand up to those principles when you’re raising a child, forget it.”

Jlo (52 yo)

Children: Emme Maribel Muñiz (13yo), Maximilian David Muñiz (13yo)

@jlo

Multi-talented and determined mother of two, Jennifer Lopez shares on her socials it was her mother that ingrained in her the power of believing in yourself.  She took to instagram on Mothers Day stating, “It was my mom who instilled in us at a very young age that we could do anything. This was something that has really stayed with me. Being a mom is my greatest joy, and today I think about my mommy and all the moms out there. This is your day, and I hope you are surrounded by love, gratitude and appreciation… enjoy it!”

Jlo also knows that it’s experience that drives wisdom stating,

You cannot imagine what it’s like to be a mom until you are a mom. I used to give my friends who have kids advice all the time, and they would look at me like I had three heads. And then, when I had you two, the minute I had you two, I literally apologized to all my friends.”

 

Nicole Kidman (54 yo)

Children: Isabella Jane Cruise (28yo), Connor Cruise (26yo), Suri Cruise (15yo), Sunday Rose Kidman Urban (13yo)

@nicolekidman

Australian golden girl, Nicole Kidman knows that motherhood can be a struggle of instinct and experience.

She states,

My instinct is to protect my children from pain. But adversity is often the thing that gives us character and backbone. It’s always been a struggle for me to back off and let my children go through difficult experiences.”

In an interview with Vanity Fair, the 54-year-old states a rule that has made her “unpopular” with Sunday Rose, 10  and Faith Margaret, eight, “They don’t have a phone and I don’t allow them to have an Instagram,” she told the magazine. “I try to keep some sort of boundaries.”  Kidman also states she raises her children in a very religious household.

 

Kate Hudson (42 yo)

Children: Ryder Robinson (17 yo),Bingham Hawn Bellamy (10 yo), Rani Rose Hudson Fujikawa (2 yo) 

@katehudson

Following in her mothers footsteps, Kate Hudson rose to the big screen acting predominantly in rom-coms.  However, raised by the free-spirited Goldie Hawn, many are surprised by Kate’s motherhood method of discipline. 

In an interview with PEOPLE, she states,“Where I am strict is that there are certain rules that I put down. I don’t negotiate with my kids about certain things.” 

She states, “What I realised about that is that when you set that standard in your home, you don’t end up in long-winded negotiations. When I say no, it’s done.” Adding that she is “very, very strict about manners”.  For Kate there is no tolerance whatsoever for untruths. “I have no tolerance for lying,” she shares. “The tiny lies or the big ones.” 

And while Kate’s no nonsense approach might seem tough, that it doesn’t mean she doesn’t let her kids make mistakes. “When it comes to your feelings or emotions … I’m very open, I give my children a lot of space to make mistakes.” 

“Parenting shifts as your kids shift. The best thing for me has been throwing any kind of parenting manual out of the window.”

 

Kim Kardashian (41 yo)

Children: North West (8yo), Saint West (5yo), Chicago West (3yo), Psalm West (2yo)

@kimkardashian

American personality, socialite, model and businesswoman Kim Kardashian is not shy of the public eye. Sharing her family life on screen and now her family through her socials Kim’s open lifestyle includes sharing her greatest attributions of motherhood.

Kim’s breastfeeding hack offers mums a solution to sibling rivalry. When her son Saint was born, Kim explains her daughter North was extremely jealous explaining on the Ellen Degeneres show she would slip a milk box with straw into her bra for North whilst breastfeeding Saint.

The Keeping Up with the Kardashians star shares she relies and recommends on leaning on your family, stating she often turns to her four sisters for support.

“I have such unconditional love for my kids. No matter what, I will always love them and support them in anything they choose to do in life. My family was so close growing up; now that I’m a mom, I understand the bond my mom and dad felt with us,”

Anxious Mums author, Dr Jodi Richardson, offers advice for mothers and children experiencing anxiety.

One in four people will experience anxiety within their lifetime, making it the most prevalent mental health condition in Australia. Statistics determine it is twice as common in women, with one in three, compared with one in five men, diagnosed on average.

Having lived and studied anxiety, Dr Jodi Richardson  is an expert in her field, with more than 25 years of practice. In addition to her professional background, it was ultimately her personal experiences and journey in becoming a mother that shaped the work she is passionate about. 

Jodi’s books, Anxious Kids; How Children Can Turn Their Anxiety Into Resilience,  co-written with Michael Grose (2019), and her latest release, Anxious Mums; How Mums Can Turn Their Anxiety Into Strength (2020), offer parents, in particular mothers, advice on how to manage and minimalise anxiety, so they can maximise their potential, elevate their health and maintain their wellbeing.

The more I learned about anxiety, the more important it was to share what I was learning.”

Jodi’s first-hand experiences have inspired her work today, stating, “The more I learned about anxiety, the more important it was to share what I was learning.”

Jodi’s first signs of experiencing anxiety appeared at the early age of four. Her first symptoms began in prep, experiencing an upset stomach each day. Her class of 52 students, managed by two teachers, was stressful enough, on top of her everyday battles. Jodi recalls, “There was a lot of yelling and it wasn’t a very relaxing or peaceful environment, it obviously triggered anxiety in me, I have a genetic predisposition towards it, as it runs in my family.”

Twenty years later, the death of a family member triggered a major clinical depression for Jodi. She began seeking treatment however, it was in finding an amazing psychologist, that helped her to identify she was battling an underlying anxiety disorder. Jodi discloses, “It was recognised that I had undiagnosed anxiety. I didn’t really know that what I had experienced all my life up until that point had been any sort of disorder, that was just my temperament and personality.” 

After many years of seeing her psychologist, Jodi eventually weaned off her medication and managed her anxiety with exercise and meditation. Offering advice on finding the right psychologist Jodi states, “For me it was my third that was the right fit. I really encourage anyone if the psychologist you were referred to doesn’t feel like the right fit, then they’re not and it’s time to go back to your GP. Having the right professional that you’re talking to and having a good relationship with is really important for the therapeutic relationship.”

Jodi highlights the importance of prioritising mental wellbeing, affirming, “The more we can open up and talk about our journeys, the more we encourage other people to do the same and normalise the experience.”

Anxious Mums came into fruition after a mum in the audience of one of Jodi’s speaking engagements emailed Jodi’s publisher stating, “Jodi has to write a book, all mums have to hear what she has to say.”

Everyday efforts new mothers face, consign extra pressure on wellbeing and showcase the need to counteract anxiety before it subordinates everyday lifestyles. While Jodi’s children are now early adolescents, she reflects upon the early stages of new motherhood, “Ultimately when I became a mum with all the extra uncertainty and responsibility, as well as lack of sleep, my mental health really declined to a point where I ended up deciding to take medication, which was ultimately life changing.”

When I became a mum with all the extra uncertainty and responsibility, as well as lack of sleep, my mental health really declined to a point where I ended up deciding to take medication, which was ultimately life changing.”

New mothers experience heightened anxiety as they approach multiple challenges of parenthood; from conceiving, through the journey of pregnancy, birth and perpetually, thereafter. Becoming a mother provided Jodi with insight into new challenges, in particular struggles with breastfeeding and lack of sleep. She shares, “It’s something that we don’t have much control over, particularly as new parents. We just kind of get used to operating on a lot less sleep and it doesn’t serve us well in terms of our mental health, particularly if there have been challenges in the past or a pre-existing disorder.

Research suggests women’s brains process stress differently to men, with testosterone also said to be somewhat protective against anxiety. This, along with different coping mechanisms of women, highlight statistic disparity between gender. For early mothers in particular, it is a time of immense change, as their everyday lives are turned upside down. New schedules, accountability and hormonal changes increase the likelihood of anxiety and depression, which are also commonly triggered in the postpartum period.

Jodi elaborates on important hormonal timeframes that shift women’s mental wellbeing stating, “Anxiety is heightened during times of hormonal changes as well as in the key points in our reproductive lives. Through having children and menopause and alike. It’s more disabling in that it impacts our lives in different ways to men, particularly I think, because we’re usually the main carers. There are stay at home dads, but predominantly that’s what women tend to do.”

Normal anxiety is infrequent and settles down, but when someone suffers a disorder, they can have incessant worry and avoidance. This can include anxiety around not wanting to participate, attend a function, for example, try something new or step up in a work role. Anxiety disorders can be crippling, leaving sufferers feeling as though they are unable to live their best life.

There’s no harm in going and asking the question because the gap between the first symptoms of anxiety and seeking help is still eight years in Australia.”

There are many telling physical signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Some indicative signs to look out for include a racing heart, trembling, sick stomach, frequent perspiration and dizziness that accompanies shortness of breath. Jodi says, “If you think that your anxiety might be a problem, that’s absolutely the time to go and make an appointment to see your GP. There’s no harm in going and asking the question because the gap between the first symptoms of anxiety and seeking help is still eight years in Australia.”

“Half of all mental illness comes on by around the ages of fourteen. Most adults who have anxiety can track it back to when they were teenagers or children.”

Just as anxiety is common for mothers, it’s also important to observe and be aware of in children. Jodi reveals, “For parents it’s important to know that half of all mental illness comes on by around the age of fourteen. Most adults who have anxiety can track it back to when they were teenagers or children. 75 percent of all mental illness comes on by about the age of 25, with one in seven children [4-17 years old] being diagnosed with a mental illness, and half of those have anxiety.”

“75 percent of all mental illness comes on by about the age of 25, with one in seven children [4-17 years old] being diagnosed with a mental illness, and half of those have anxiety

These pre-covid statistics highlight significant numbers of anxiety in adolescents. However, with the current climate prevalent of immense loss of control, many are facing new heightened emotions and increased numbers of anxiety. Early research coming out of Monash University is showcasing significant growth of adults with depression and anxiety, including statistics of children in the early ages of one to five experiencing symptoms.

Similar research has given light to evidence portraying children mirroring stress responses of their parents. Jodi further explains, “They can pick up the changes in our own heart rate, in our stress response — we are told that as new mums aren’t we, that our babies can pick up on how we are feeling but the science proves that to be true as well.” Parenting is a consequential way in which children receive cognitive biases and behaviours, “Just the tone of our voice, the expressions on our face, the way that we speak, what we say, certainly can be picked up on by kids and mirrored back.”

Noticing these early signs in your children is essential to alleviating anxiety before it progresses, Jodi lists some signs to be aware of, “Avoidance is a hallmark sign of anxiety — I don’t want to go, I don’t want to participate, I don’t want to deliver that oral presentation in class, I don’t want to go to camp and so watching out for that sort of thing. Other signs and symptoms to look out for include big emotions. If your children seem more teary or angry than usual, are feeling worried or avoidant, can’t concentrate, having trouble remembering or difficulty sleeping.” It’s important to be aware and help counteract anxiety when you see it. 

Jodi offers parents, who are struggling coping with their children’s anxiety some advice stating, “It’s an age old question, how much do we push and when do we hold back; I think as parents we are constantly answering that question. We don’t always get it right, but the thing about avoidance is it only makes anxiety worse. So for the child who is anxious about going to school, the more they stay home, the harder it will be to front up on another day. Sometimes, we need to nudge them forward in small steps and that’s a technique called step-laddering. It’s about making a step in that direction.”

Jodi encourages parents to observe their children’s symptoms and to never feel ashamed to go see a GP.  She urges, “Sometimes we get that reassurance from a GP, it might just be developmental, but the sooner kids are getting the help they need, the better, and it’s the same for us as mums.”

There are simple everyday steps we can take to combat anxiety. When someone is anxious a threat has been detected within the brain, this part of the brain is called the amygdala, one of the most powerful strategies for managing this stress detection is regulant meditation. 

Jodi explains, “What meditation does is it brings our attention to the present, so we are paying attention to what’s happening in the moment.” Meditation recognises deliberate breathing with a focus equally on exhalation as inhalation, proven to be calming to the anxious brain, using the relaxation response. 

Commending the importance of the practice and its effect on functioning, Jodi describes, “Meditation is more that sort of seated and formal practice of focusing the breath. What we know this will do over time, is it reduces the size and sensitivity of the amygdala, so it’s less sensitive to threat which reduces long-term anxiety. For the average person, our minds wander around 50 percent of the time, when we can bring our attention back to the present we are much more likely to be able to settle our anxiety, and feel happier as well.”

Another everyday strategy for combatting anxiety is exercise. Jodi shares her experience and routine stating, “Exercise is something I’ve used my whole life to calm my anxiety. Even now, I do cross-fit, karate and walks every week. I think naturally I was managing my health and wellbeing without really understanding why, I just knew that it made me feel good.”

The fight or flight response tied to anxiety powers us up to fight physically to save our lives or to flee. So often, when someone is anxious, they are powered up in this way, but not doing anything about it. Jodi shares, “When we move, it’s the natural end to the fight or flight response. Not only that, when we exercise we release serotonin, which is a feel good neural transmitter, among with gamma aminobutyric acid, a neural transmitter that puts the breaks on our anxiety response helping to calm us down.” 

Jodi’s practice in physiology, working with clients using exercise to help them with their mental and physical health has led her to her understandings, “One of the things I can 100 percent tell you is that it’s best not to wait until you feel motivated — the motivation will come once you get into the routine of it.

Dr Jodi Richardson, anxiety & wellbeing speaker, bestselling author & consultant

I’d just like to say, anxiety isn’t something we need to get rid of to really be able to thrive, to do what we need to do and accomplish what’s important to us. But I really encourage to anyone, that there are lots of ways to dial it back. I think it’s very easy for us to wait until we feel 100 percent to do something, but doing anything meaningful is hard.

So don’t wait until your anxiety is gone because you might be waiting a long time.”

 

 

 

 

Anxious Kids Penguin Books Australia, Author: Michael Grose, Dr Jodi Richardson RRP: $34.99 Anxious Mums Penguin Books Australia , Author: Dr Jodi Richardson  RRP: $34.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help now, call triple zero (000)

Lifeline:  Provides 24-hour crisis counselling, support groups and suicide prevention services. Call 13 11 14, text on 0477 13 11 14 (12pm to midnight AEST) or chat online.

Beyond Blue: Aims to increase awareness of depression and anxiety and reduce stigma. Call 1300 22 4636, 24 hours/7 days a week, chat online or email.

Kids Helpline: : Is Australia’s only free 24/7 confidential and private counselling service specifically for children and young people aged 5 – 25. Call 1800 55 1800

To learn more about Dr Jodi Richardson’s work, watch the full interview below or on our YouTube channel.

 

 

You might think gambling isn’t a kid’s problem, but most children have gambled in some way by the age of 15. Gambling is illegal for young people but is becoming increasingly common. This is why it should become a normal conversation to have early, like talks of drinking, drugs and sex.

The problem

A 2020 NSW survey found that 30% of young people aged 12-17 gambled over the last year, and their introduction to gambling began at age 11 or 12. Despite its illegality, a 2018 report by Growing Up In Australia found that one in six adolescents aged 16-17 reported some form of gambling.

1 in six 16-17 year olds gambled in the past year
Source: Growing up in Australia 2018

There are several risks linked with excessive gambling. These include:

classroom statistics
Source: Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation 2017

Types of gambling

Gambling may begin in childhood with games at home, buying lottery tickets or scratch cards, and in adolescence betting on races or sports. The use of video game gambling is increasing, with excessive video gaming recognised as a growing health concern.

With the options available in the online world, spending money on virtual goods is becoming more common. The Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation found in 2017 that 34% of Australian young people made in-game purchases for online games.

Loot box features are becoming more common, where random rewards can be purchased with real money, a sort of lottery to increase playing incentives. Social casino games are often engaged with as an introduction to the world of gambling.  A 2016 study found that 54% of Facebook games had gambling content, and 22% alluded to slot machines, showing the need for education on the risks of gambling.

graph describing youth gambling activities
Source: Growing up in Australia 2018

Risk and protective factors

Children are more susceptible to gambling problems due to developmental and cognitive immaturities combined with peer pressure. Some common risk factors associated with higher likelihood of engaging in gambling include:

  • Alcohol use
  • Depression
  • Smoking
  • Drug use
  • Impulsivity
  • Violence
  • Temperaments
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Poor academic performance
  • Mental health disorders

A 2018 report by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation recognised protective factors that could limit a child’s exposure to gambling problems.  These include:

  • No substance abuse
  • Low impulsivity
  • High self-esteem
  • Low risk-taking
  • Future-oriented thinking
  • The ability to regulate emotions

credit card and laptop shopping

Preventing the problem before it begins

Gambling should be a topic of conversations when children are young enough to understand the implications of betting and using real money. It can become a problem early in adolescence, carrying into adulthood. There are recognised ways to prevent gambling becoming a problem which mostly involve open communication and limiting screen activity.

gambling problems beginning
Source: Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation 2017

Explain how gambling works

Children in primary school will generally be ready to learn about gambling. Talk to them about the likelihood of winning compared to other chances. The likelihood of winning the jackpot for Powerball is around 1 in 290 million. However, the chance of finding a four-leaf clover is 1 in every 10,000! They should know that gambling your own money is something to be taken seriously, but having fun is also okay. Encourage sharing your betting activities, so habits that can get out of control are not hidden.

Ensure your family attitudes and activities are a reflection of your stance

Your family’s attitude to gambling can influence your child. The less they are exposed, the less likely they could develop a problem. If you gamble regularly, your child might see this as normal behaviour and want to copy. Gambling language, such as ‘I bet you can’t shoot three baskets in a row, if you do we can go for ice-cream’ can be used to encourage children. There is a fine line between healthy gambling messages and unhealthy habits.

Set limits for screen use and online gambling

Allowing your children to play online video games with gambling content can lead to addictive habits and make them want to play until they keep winning. Do not connect your credit card to gambling-type games, and ensure your children know life is not always about winning. Supporting positive mental health by promoting non-digital interests is important.

young person with mobile phone

Look out for warning signs

If your child is struggling at school or with friends, they might be more susceptible to develop a gambling problem as an escape. Be on the lookout for these problems, such as focusing on sports odds rather than the sport itself, or changes in the amount of money your child has. Encourage more positive extracurricular activities than betting or gambling games. Ask them what games they play and remember to talk to them about how real-life betting works.

teenagers and adults gambling

Compulsive gambling is a recognised addiction that is treatable, but easier to prevent. It is becoming increasingly common in children and adolescents, so it is important to recognise gambling behaviours to prevent betting from becoming a bigger problem. If you know or suspect anyone to be struggling with gambling behaviours, seek help at Gambler’s Help on 1800 858 858.

My Great Grandmother, Dorothy Shoemark, is a 94-year-old living alone in the rural NSW town of Wagga Wagga. Being born four years before the Great Depression and having a husband who fought at war, Dorothy wouldn’t be alone in saying she grew up in difficult circumstances. Growing up in challenging environments is part of the reason the older generation are so wise, making them always willing to locate an ear to be filled with stories of greatness.

The older generation possesses a distinct sense of wisdom that people of today will never truly un tap. Taking in years of helpful anecdotes from these individuals fills us with a sense of hope. Life is short, so satisfy it with colour and advice from those who have experienced walking the path before you.

As I walk up to Dorothy’s back gate on this delightful 27-degree day, I spy her keeping the garden in full bloom and satisfying the belly of the neighbourhood magpie. We settle in for what will be a two-hour discussion, reminiscing on her childhood, first loves and first jobs. 

“Everyone should follow their dreams and do what they want to do. Take no notice of anybody else, don’t get distracted on your journey to success,” my grandmother says at the beginning of our conversation. “If you think you can make it [in a career you love], that’s what you concentrate hard on. Do it and work your insides out.”

Dorothy says she is passionate about telling people they should work hard for what they want, as when she left school in her early teenage years she couldn’t read or write properly. Because she needed to make money to survive, she persisted and taught herself everything she knows by reading whatever she could find.

Following on from this work-related advice, Dorothy also tells me you get what you want out of work from what you put into it. “If you want money you need to go out and work for it, don’t just sit at home and do nothing,” she says with her finger pointing in the air.

“To get anywhere in this world you need to be outgoing, confident and consistent.”

Dorothy’s love advice doesn’t differ much from words in teen magazines today. As we watch the neighbourhood magpie fly back for its second helping, she tells me the key to love is all about respect. “Find someone who treats you well – a person with real respect for you,” she says. Dorothy knew her late husband was the one as even when he was sent off to war, he never forgot to write to her for special occasions, to check up on her or to provide his monthly updates – which to Dorothy, is a massive sign of respect.

In terms of self-love, Dorothy was ardent in telling me that we need to look after ourselves and our body first – as we are only blessed with this one body for our whole being. “If you look after yourself, you’ll live as long as me! In fact, if you don’t get married at all you’ll probably live past 100,” she chuckles. If an aspect within a relationship seems unsettling and you seek guidance from others, Dorothy urges that you need to take good advice when it is given to you, because more often than not they are right.

“Don’t take good advice for granted, if they tell you something that is hard to hear, it is because they care and want what is best for you,” she says.

Focussing on money, Dorothy believes it is important to always have a separate bank account just in case you need it. Keeping a portion separate from your partners ensures you have a select amount of money to keep yourself on your feet, as well as buying the occasional treats to make life exciting. “Some people don’t realise what’s in front of them. You have to rent homes, buy a property, buy or fix new appliances, have money for starting a family – it all gets very expensive,” she says. Making money all comes back to working hard, treating your bosses and employees with respect and never settling for anything less than you deserve.   

If you are privileged in this day and age to have an elderly member close by, go and tell them you love them, ring them up or even better, offer a socially distanced air hug.

Generation Alpha, the moniker given to the children born after 2010, not only resets the generational alphabet, but reflects the hope and potentiality this group promises as the first cohort born entirely in the 21st century in an age of unrivalled advancement.

Parents of these children need to ensure they don’t fulfil the tendency to project their own personal and generational ideals into teaching. Instead, treat children as unique individuals with their own inherent values and context and find that communication with flourishes easier and allowing them to be more self-actualised people.

 Dr John Demartini, notable human behaviourist, believes this caring individualistic approach to parenting is crucial in the raising of Generation Alpha to ensure they prosper in a dynamic future.

Dr John Demartini, human behaviourist

Effective communication is imperative to all successful relationships; in parent and child relationships however, it is often the weakest link. People are most responsive to suggestions that have benefits valuable to them. Thus, reframing information in accordance to a child’s values produces more constructive and efficacious communication.

You wouldn’t expect a customer to buy an item if you listed all the reasons why you personally wanted it. A skilled salesman examines the customer’s personal values and generates benefits from their perspective. Children are infinitely more receptive to instruction and guidance if the conversation comes from a position they understand wherein their own values are emphasised.

Dr Demartini’s principal recommendation to parents of Generation Alpha revolves around value determination and projection. Parents are urged to consider and care enough about the child as a real person to understand that they have their own inherent set of values and independence rather than extrapolating their own contextual ideals.

The tendency parents have to project their values onto their children autocratically will naturally be met with resistance. The assumption that the child is cast in the same likeness and values the same thing as the parent is damaging. Children end up mislabelled and sometimes mistakenly medicated out of ignorance.

“Children are customers,” says Dr Demartini. “In customer relationships, you factor in their values and their needs and establish those needs before communicating. You care enough to communicate and educate them in accordance to these values and they will be receptive and be able to incorporate that into their life and expand without resistance.

“If you project your values on to somebody and not consider what they hold in esteem you are going to get resistance. Your children will be labelled difficult people when in fact they’re just not being communicated with effectively.”

As is when someone attempts to sell you something you don’t want, children become belligerent when they are approached in a way that does not coalesce with their own intentions or perceive their feelings as bypassed.

Try avoiding imperative projection phrases: should, ought to, supposed to, got to, must.

“These authoritarian terms are almost disrespectful”, says Dr Demartini.

Caring about your child means articulating things in a manner that is understanding of their world view. They will be much more receptive and expand their capacity to listen if an instruction is coming from a line of thought they can follow by someone who respects them, rather than a demand they don’t understand from an authoritarian who speaks down mindlessly.

Teach them to think of obstacles differently; things are not IN the way, they are ON the way. By manipulating the vision of a boulder in the pathway into a building block, goals seem more achievable and accomplishment even sweeter.

Parents, generally, tend to parent in the same manner they were parented. However, after decades of thorough studies on child rearing, a traditional blanket, one-size-fits-all strategy is no longer viable.

Entering a world where the internet is a necessity rather than a luxury, gadgetry is ever advancing and encroaching and speed is a highly determinate factor, these present-day toddlers will likely set the precedent for the rest of the century. As their speed of learning increases so will their expectations; demands will be expected to be fulfilled instantly due to technological advancement. Dr Demartini notes that these new contextual factors will require change in tactics for the parents of these children.

“Their immediate access to information is increasing, thus their demands of themselves and other people will go up accordingly,” says Dr Demartini.

“Their long-term visions to do things in the future will be technologically achievable and so it is important that they are raised in a way that extrapolates their true values.”

Essentially, this generation will have not only the dream to develop the world in new ways, but the technological capacity to achieve it. It is of paramount importance that they are raised with values of the future rather than the past and have confidence and respect for themselves and their support system.

Generation Alpha children will still want to empower all seven areas of their life. They will have a desire to grow their minds, find a career path that serves themselves and others, attempt to expand their wealth, develop some sort of romantic relationship and sustain intimacy with others, monitor their physical fitness and health, fight for social justice and feel spiritually empowered. The difference is that the world is veering away from tradition and steering into a more diverse, flexible state. This distinction means that children need to understand themselves and their own values so they can move with the flow of the future rather than be stunted by the learnings of bygone eras.

“My son has 20,000 followers on YouTube. He wants to be just like PewDiePie. There was no such thing when I was growing up and I don’t entirely understand it, but I have to respect the things he values and encourage him in this new pathway,” says Dr Demartini.

“I spoke to a young lady who had a 16-year-old son many years ago. She thought he was wasting his life messing around on computers and wanted help in encouraging him to do something productive. He now has a high-ranking position as a specialist at IBM (a computer hardware company). She grew up in an era where computers didn’t really exist so she couldn’t understand the value. Each generation is going to have a technology that the generation before is not familiar with and they’re going to tend to project the past onto the future instead of respecting the present.”

You cannot expect to behave the exact same way in different relationships with different people. You have to take into account the values and personality of the person you are with; bend and flex in accordance to them.

When you are in a relationship with somebody, you don’t want them to tell you how you have to be, you want to be loved for who are. Children are no different.

For more information on Dr Demartini visit his website.