Parenting in Different Countries | My Australian Story

I’m from Vancouver, BC.  Met an Aussie on Halloween 1988 and by Valentine’s Day 1989 I was married, pregnant and living in Australia.  Partner lived in Australia so we’d only spent 3 weeks together in those first few months.  Pretty crazy and not something I’d ever recommend as now I know it takes 2 years to really get to know someone.  Anyhoo, was a successful marriage in that we had 2 beautiful children, lasted 15 years we have a very good relationship as far as exes go.  Spend birthdays, Xmas, etc. together with our kids.

He moved out New Years Day 2004 and we all moved back to Canada in March 2005.  Was not an easy move and not one I ever thought I’d do as Australia was home.  But, my wonderful mom was in her 80’s and had failing health.  She needed help, she needed me here. 

You can just imagine how the conversation went with my ex when I told him I wanted to move back to Canada with the kids, and I wanted him to come with us.  He’s Australian, loves Australia, as I do.  Anyway, he very graciously agreed to the move as visited my Mom and saw the condition she was in.

We had 5 wonderful years with her and 6 1/2 more challenging years as she suffered dementia and several health problems.  She died in my arms in June, 2016.

Kids were 10 and 15 when we immigrated to Vancouver so spent all their formative years here.  So, doubt we’ll ever end up living in Australia again.  But never say never :).

When I first moved back to Canada I knew I was going to start a parenting business but I had a slight disadvantage:  I’d raised my kids in Australia.  It was profoundly different from parenting in Canada, more so than I would’ve thought.  

A friend sent me this great article on Motherhood Around the World, here’s the Australian section.

Loved the article on the mom from Vancouver living in Australia, related to a lot of what she said.  The big difference between us was that she associated with expats.  I avoided that which I think helped me to assimilate quickly.

Funny Sideline:  When I first moved to Australia, the slang was the biggest challenge, didn’t know what they were saying half the time.  I worked in an office in Sydney before my son was born.  My boss asked me to get him a rubber and I just stood there stunned.  A co-worker came over and explained to me that in Australia a rubber is an eraser.  I said, “Thank gawd as I was just about to review my job description.”  Another time I was teaching an aerobics class and suggested they all root for one another as it was going to be a challenging class.  Their eyes widened and everyone just stared at me kinda frozen.  Someone walked over to the stage and whispered, “I’m assuming you don’t know that in Australia to root means to screw.”  My mic picked it up so the whole room heard.  I said, “Okay then, how about we just encourage one another”.  Aussies have a great sense of humour so those awkward moments were great.

The challenge with coaching parents in Canada was helping clients through their insecurities.  They all felt they were being judged.  I was confused by this as had never experienced anything like it in Australia.  Moms in Australia are non-competitive and very supportive of one another.  In playgroups and playgrounds we used to sit around and talk about what lousy moms we were, how horrible our kids were, etc.  Aussie humour is self-deprecating so that transferred right into parenting.  Also had a lot of Kiwi (New Zealand) friends who were the same.

A huge part of what I deal with with my Canadian and American clients is helping them deal with other people’s judgment, feeling almost bullied by other moms.  I rarely see that in clients from other parts of the world.

If you aren’t surrounded by supportive moms, go out and find them, they’re there.  Parenting isn’t about perfection, it’s often just about survival.  There are lots of down-to-earth moms out there to hang out with, you may have to be the one to start the ball rolling, but go for it, what have you got to lose?

I’m planning on starting a little support group for new moms in my area (Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, BC).  I’m just looking for a private space, just for 4-5 of us plus strollers and little ones.  We’ll be sitting around talking about what mothering is really like:  the ups, downs and funny things that happen.  I’ll also be answering any questions but it’s going to be very casual.  The best part is that it’s FREE.  

If you know of moms who would be interested in this group, please let me know.  I’ll be talking about it more once I get the space set up and decide how I want to format it.  Your suggestions are welcome.  I don’t really want to call it a support group, more of just a friendly chat among new moms.

Feel free to email me at:  Lisa@BratBusters.com

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Spoiled Princess needs a Lesson in Gratitude || Teach Children Life isn’t always Fair

I read an article about parents who were suing the school over their traumatized 7 year old.  She was the only one of her friends with a packed lunch from home, the rest had money for cafeteria food.  She threw a fit because the cafeteria wouldn’t give her a free lunch. 

The parents accused the school of who knows what and they were threatening to take them to court.  The mother was actually crying at how upset her daughter was that she was the only one with a packed lunch.  If my kids had thrown a fit like that they’d be apologizing to the staff and clearing tables the next day at lunch!  

Those parents have what I call “Self-Entitled Parent Syndrome”.  It’s when parents expect their children to get special treatment.  

I’ve been to hundreds of kids’ concerts, games, etc. and there’s often one parent there with “Self-Entitled Parent Syndrome”‘.  They’re consoling their child over not getting the best position, the starring role, etc.  Some even complain to the adults running the event.

The only time my kids ever complained to be about something not being fair was by son in Grade 9.  He told me his teacher was marking him down as she just didn’t like him.  Her son was in the same class and my son was a better student so that may have had something to do with it, I don’t know.

My son and his friend decided to test the teacher and copied each other’s answers on a test.  His friend got an A, my son a C.  I could’ve gone to the principal with that but decided to be nice and just popped in on the teacher instead.  When she saw my son and I coming she actually looked scared, lol.  I never accused her of anything, was really nice and said I was just concerned over my son’s “low performance” in her class.  Never had a problem with her after that.

So of course I believe in standing up for your children, but only when necessary.   I was proud of my son for asking for my help as what 14 year old boy wants his mommy going to school to defend him?

If I ever complained to my Mom about life not being fair she’d tell me about how she grew up in the Great Depression with a can of spaghetti between 4 of them for dinner, on a good day.  How the school gave her cream to fatten her up as she was so skinny.  Nope, no point complaining to her about anything, lol.   

Children need to learn that life isn’t fair.  Sometimes you’re going to get the short straw in life.  The earlier you teach this to your children the better.  They’ll be happier, stronger and grateful that you didn’t have “Self-Entitled Parent Syndrome”.   

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

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Toss Out Time Out || Parenting Advice

If you are currently using timeouts and they’re working for you, then keep going.  Don’t fix what’s not broken.  But if you’re using them and they’re not working then keep reading.

I’ve never used timeouts nor have I ever taught them.  I see them as a form of avoidance, “You go sit over there as I don’t know what to do with you.”  I find them weak as they don’t really teach any lessons other than how to sit in a chair in the corner.

Here are 2 scenarios, one with timeout, one without:

With Timeout:  Johnny hits Sally with the TV remote because she changed the channel away from his favourite show.  Mom puts him on the naughty chair in the corner for 5 minutes (1 minute for each year of his life).  When the 5 minutes are up she tells him he can get up and has to apologize to Sally for hitting her.  There, done.  A couple of days later he hits Sally again and the process is repeated because Johnny has only been taught that being mean leads to punishment.  He hasn’t been taught how to be nice.  Saying sorry isn’t much of a lesson, it’s just empty words to most kids, and adults.  The real lesson is learning how to treat people well and act appropriately.

My Method:  Johnny hits Sally with the remote control.  Mom takes the remote control away from Johnny and gives it back to Sally telling her she can watch her show.  She then hugs Sally to make sure she’s okay.  She calmly says to Johnny, “Come with me.”  She takes Johnny into Sally’s room and says, “For the next 2 days you are going to make Sally’s bed to make up for hitting her.  When that’s done you can watch your favourite show again.”  Then she walks him back to Sally and explains that he’ll be making her bed and says, “Sally, if you tease him about making your bed, you’ll make his bed instead.  Everyone understand?”  Let’s assume they agree then Mom says, “Now, how about we all play a game?”  Johnny has learned it’s not okay to hit people and how to be nice to people.  He’s also learned that TV is a privilege not a right.  The game at the end is a bonding exercise.  It’s to reinforce good relationships instead of focusing on negative behaviour.

Once a child has been punished you have to let it go and move on in a positive way.  Too often I see parents reminding kids about how rotten they’ve been.  Ugh, what does that do to self-esteem?

Oh and by the way, if Johnny doesn’t make Sally’s bed his favourite show is not allowed.  It’s used not as punishment for being bad, but reward for being good.  It’s in line with my “as soon as method”.

If you want help with this, check out my Coaching Page.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

How to Bully Proof your Kids

School’s coming soon so time to start teaching your kids how to handle bullies, just in case.

The best defense against bullies is confidence and high self-esteem.  But when I was mentoring kids I didn’t always have a lot of time to build up their confidence, etc. so I had to come up with another way to arm them against bullies.  So we used role playing.    

Why is role playing so effective?  Because kids learn best by doing.

So how do you do this?  You set up a bullying scenario, write it out like a script with your child.  Then you take turns being the bully and victim.  Keep the bullying non-personal as even when acting things out meanness hurts.

Make it fun.  When I’d play the bully I’d say things like, “Do you use that thumb growing out of your forehead to push elevator buttons.”  Kinda embarrassing writing such ridiculous stuff here, but kids gobble that stuff up.

The victim role is one of calm indifference.  Not ignoring as that’s antagonistic, but indifference.  Indifference then diversion.

Role play could go something like this:

Bully:  Does your whole family have green hair or is it just you?
Victim:  Yup, all green tops.  What are you doing this weekend?

Humour can work also but it has to come naturally to the child already.  My son used humour but my daughter used indifference and diversion.

I had my first bullying incident when I was in Grade 2.  A much older student came up to my face and made fun of my last name.  I laughed right along and came up with an even funnier play-on-words with my name.  The bully was completely defeated and walked away.  Bullies are quick to move on when they don’t get the desired reactions:  fear, crying, etc.  

Were you ever approached by a bully?  How did you handle it?

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Note:  Sorry about having to turn some of you away with the August “4 Week Parenting Plan”.  I have a limited number of people I can handle as I have daily contact with everyone and it filled up very quickly.  Private coaching is available.

7 Ways to Boost Children’s Self-Esteem | Parenting

There are probably 70 ways to boost children’s self-esteem, but I’ve narrowed it down to 7:

  1. Spend time with your kids.  Kids don’t really care as much about quality time as just plain old time.  They want to be around you, they feel safe around you, they feel good about themselves around you.
  2. Enjoy their company.  Find some common interests to share.  When my kids were toddlers they loved seeing mom trying to roll down hills, do somersaults, etc. with great difficulty.  They’d wallow in showing clumsy mom how great they were at tumbling around.
  3. No insincere praise.  (“Stop Praising your Kids for Everything”)  Kids are great crap detectors.  They know when they’re great at something and when they’re not.  If you praise them for picking their nose they’re not going to believe you when you’re praising them for a real accomplishment.  Actually I’m kinda guilty of this with my 27 year old son as I don’t see him nearly as much as I’d like to.  He walks the room and I become this pathetically over indulgent mother.  He hates being fussed over and says, “Get a grip Mom, all I did was blink and you’re acting as if I cured cancer!”
  4. Give them chores and responsibilities.  You have to give children something to be proud of, something to make them learn about self-discipline.
  5. Give them choices.  My Mom was the queen of this.  She never told me what to do, it was always about giving me choices.  Of course that’s exactly what I did with my kids as it makes them self-disciplining plus gives them a huge sense of confidence and pride.  You are the master of the choices though.  “You can eat all your vegetables and watch TV or not eat your vegetables and not watch TV … your choice.”  I never questioned this, nor did my kids.  We all just grew up understanding that we were responsible for how our lives went.
  6. Praise them just as much for trying and failing as succeeding.  There is no shame in losing, just in not trying.  Make your kids try everything and praise them for being outgoing, adventuresome and open minded.  Poor sports are built on a base of thinking that success is everything.
  7. Teach them that no one’s perfect.  Perfection is impossible and those who strive to appear perfect are boring.  Teach your children to be confident enough to be comfortable with their imperfections.
More on this:

 

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

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