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Set them free

Posted by Mum About Town
Mum About Town
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on Thursday, 02 October 2014
I’ve spent the whole of this week fussing over a suitcase when I’m not even going anywhere fun. In fact, I’m not going anywhere at all. It’s Mini who’s running off into the sunset. My just-10-year-old is off for her first EVER residential school trip and the planning, labeling, instructions and finally the packing… is in itself full to the brim of emotional adrenalin.

On one hand, she is half dying to slip out of the house unaccompanied (no piano practice, homework etc) but, on the other hand, she is half dreading having to fend for herself with no mug-of-a-mum running up and down the stairs kissing her good night and tending to her every whim.

For me, this is all about a change. I’m dying to see the change this trip will bring about. Week on week, it’s hard to see our children grow up as they are right in front of our beady eyes. However, next week’s metamorphosis will be hidden from me until a beyond-exhausted slightly-smelly creature is delivered back to the ranch. And then, once she has caught up on sleep and baths, the change will be uncovered and my girl will be that little bit bigger with a sprinkling of social independence.

Of course I will miss the blonde bombshell - my sensible, conscientious, reasonably bossy child who has more sense (sometimes) than her own mother. But I do fully embrace her temporary departure as she steps into the outside world without her parents. It’s the only way for these kids to work out who they really are.

I love one of my children more than the other

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 10 July 2014
Dear Patricia Marie

I'm worried that I love one of my children more than the other. While one is sweet-natured, funny and full of character, the other is sullen and unresponsive. My husband doesn't seem to notice the difference, but to me it's obvious and I find it hard to treat them in the same way. I hate myself for it, but I'd rather spend time with one than the other. How can I stop this cycle?

Patricia Marie says...

If you think favouritism is no big deal - think again. The consequences for both the golden child and the least favourite can last a lifetime. Many adults embark on counselling due to the psychological damage of having either been the rejected, or indeed the favourite sibling. That early message of  "you're the special one " to a child can give a distorted view of themselves and their place in the world. For those parents who show preference and turn a blind eye to inappropriate behaviour, the child can then grow up struggling with rules, as well as lacking in morals and may struggle to find a partner who cherishes and spoils them in the way their parents have.

The least favourite, on the other hand, can go through life never feeling good enough, constantly feeling they are undeserving of love and kindness - often embarking on relationships with partners who treat them poorly.

Step into their world and try to imagine how they are feeling. Indeed, both are victims of your favouritism, and unless you see things more clearly and break the cycle, you could jeopardise any future relationship with them.

Your letter indicates you are feeling guilty for your behaviour -  this recognition is a good step towards promoting positive change. Start by treating your children equally. Lose comparisons and begin celebrating, rather than criticising their differences, as this will allow you the opportunity to turn things around and create a healthy, happy family.
And finally, sibling love is unique. Who but your brother or sister remembers, the family rituals, the good, bad and crazy fun times -  all those childhood memories that help to bond this special love. Favouritism can ruin a relationship between siblings, depriving them, sometimes forever, of a precious resource. It is one of the best gifts you, their parent, will ever give them: one another.

Have a dilemma? Please email  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

A good mummy moment

Posted by Slummy single mummy
Slummy single mummy
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on Tuesday, 26 February 2013
I had one of those moments yesterday where you remember what being a parent is about and why you love it.

It’s not that normally I don’t get all the kicks I need out of making packed lunches and hoovering, (oh no, hang on...), but sometimes it’s good to have a little reminder of why exactly you bother to do all those things that actually you find tedious, things like sitting through an hour and a half of Monopoly and pretending you’re having fun.

(To be honest, in the case of Monopoly, it’s normally the other members of my family who aren’t enjoying themselves. I can’t help it if I have a gift for property.)

Yesterday I took Belle to see Oliver. She played Nancy in a recent class rendition of the musical, so she knew all the words to all the songs. It was extra exciting as it was a last minute ‘we happened to be walking past the theatre on the last day of its run’ type of occasion, so what would normally be weeks of simmering nervous tension (‘only 16 more sleeps!’) had to be condensed into ten intense minutes of squealing and shopping for snacks. (Belle was pretty excited too.)

It was a great show, but two thirds of the way in, when I was beginning to wish Bill would hurry up and put Nancy out of her misery so we could do the same and get off the bench seats, I happened to glance over at Belle.

In the half darkness, you could see her wide eyes sparkling, glued to the stage. She was sat forward a little bit on her seat, her neck long, and her hands held in her lap. She was mouthing the words as Nancy sang, and smiling. As the song finished, she clapped as loud and as fast as she could, bouncing a little bit on the red velvet covered bench.

I watched her.

As the clapping died down, I leaned over and whispered “she wasn’t as good as you.” “I know,” she whispered back, her smile broader than ever, and turned back to the stage.

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