Tag Archives: behaviour

Thoughts On Turning 30

30. It sounds like a scary decade. Or at least that’s what my boyfriend thought as I reminded him that 30 is the marriage and kids decade.

It is strange to think that in ten years time that could be my reality.

If I don’t have children it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it would  be heartbreaking because I’ve had maternal urges since the age of 18.

This sums up how I feel about being broody.

I know it’s just biology reminding you that your eggs are ready for fertilisation, but it is an unsettling feeling when you aren’t ready for kids – the biggest decision of your life. I go through intense broody phases every couple of years. I used to cure them by watching One Born Every Minute. Even that doesn’t work now. I find myself thinking yes, it looks like a horror movie, but after that she gets a beautiful bundle of joy to love forever.

Copyright: One Born Every Minute – Channel 4

Now I cure broodiness by watching Super Nanny. It should be compulsory viewing for potential parents.

“They won’t fear you with the naughty step. They will fear the punishment.”

When you see a couple going insane for two torturous hours putting little Freddy back on the naughty chair, you realise why so many parents resort to violence. It’s the easy way out, just like plonking them in front of the TV is easier than reading to them.

Copyright: Super Nanny

It was easy to see how parents could lose it when a child screams and screams…and screams. When a friend’s cat cried constantly from when I arrived to when I gave it food I was guilty of snapping at him. I raised my voice and told him off. He then avoided me for the rest of the day and I felt incredibly guilty.

You see it time and time again on Super Nanny. The screaming from parents to children, from children to parents, the slaps. One couple were even shutting their toddler out on the patio like he was some kind of animal. On the other extreme there was the complete lack of discipline, leading to children up all night running wild, children who are tired and cranky the next day. You could see how the couple were creating the nightmare they lived in. On the website debate.org 60% of respondents agreed that there was no such thing as “good” or “bad” kids,only bad parenting. Yes, some kids are just naughty, but who does the child copy? Their parents.

Think about it – by slapping your kids, what do you teach them? You teach them that you solve problems with violence. You teach them to fear you. Sometimes you even see the kids reflecting the parents behaviour, hitting their siblings.

Of course children need to learn that there are consequences for bad behaviour, but is control through fear what you want? Or would you rather control through punishments like the naughty step?

As Super Nanny wisely said in one episode: “They won’t fear you with the naughty step, they will fear the punishment.”

 

No child wants to be ignored and isolated and that’s how this control method works. Part of the reason I watch Super Nanny is that I am fascinated by the way the lady works with the child’s psychological perspective to get into their head and onto their level.

I saw my cousin successfully use a similar technique on his son. He asked his son to go out of the room for being cheeky and the child stomped his feet and had a tantrum. His father patiently let him do this and firmly repeated his request for his son to leave the room until he did so. He then asked his son if he was ready to come back in. The child said he was but continued to be naughty. His father told him to leave the room again. The boy cried and wailed at the perceived injustice. But my cousin did not falter, he simple asked his son if he was ready to come back in and behave again. The child said again that he was and this time he complied.

I have done work experience at nursery so I’m aware of the reality of kids. The endless questions and demands for stories, the tears and the tantrums. Toddlers have to be the focus of attention 24/7. As soon as you look away they are there in your face, thrusting a soggy book at you with that wide-eyed look that you just can’t say no to. There are only so many times you can ask a child what number comes after three. Even the fingers on my hands didn’t help – the kid was convinced two was the answer.

Too many would-be parents think of the cute pink baby and its massive eyes, of the love they’ll feel for this little beauty, of how that baby might somehow make their relationship stronger. As if sleepless nights and endless poo and vomit might somehow create some kind of unbreakable bond.

Too many parents find out later that actually, what seemed like a solid relationship pre-baby wasn’t as strong as they thought, as sleep deprivation and drudgery take their toll.

A study of 2,000 couples in Germany found that the happiness of parents decreases temporarily after the birth of their first child, which is hardly surprising. It even causes 10% of parents to make the decision not to have a second child.

Knowing all this I am slightly terrified about the idea of having children, as I know my partner is. I know it’s something I want and I hope he does too. But could I handle the stress?

It’s not just me that is worried about the idea. My mum had a nightmare last week about me being pregnant. She asked again whether I was definitely just overweight and not expecting. She said in her dream, her and dad were asking each other what they could do and panicking. We worry about it because we know that I can’t handle less than 7 hours of sleep.

I would be reluctant to give up work to become a nappy-changing milk machine.

Scientists have discovered that how well we tolerate sleep loss is actually written into our DNA. Nothing can change that, and if all those affected remained childless, this gene would have been bred out in a kind of natural selection. But people are prepared for the pain and the sacrifice of children. As a friend said: “The sleep loss is only for two years and it’s worth it”.

I think I want to leave it at least five years. When I said this to another friend she warned me about fertility – we have been told that levels decline from the age of 37, or maybe even 35. I want to have two children, so I don’t want to wait too late.

Before I have children I need to be living with my boyfriend and preferably married. At the moment we are no further forward than when we met four years ago, because we are not even living together.

It’s only now that I’m 30 that I’ve started to worry about our current inertia. Suddenly I am aware of the fertility clock ticking in the background.

We women are born with all the eggs we will ever need. They just grow older every year until they become genetically damaged, increasing the risk of conditions such as Downs Syndrome. Genetic code starts to be eroded by the passage of time.

What if we leave it too long and it’s too late? This has happened to other couples. Women who have left children til they were ready and financially sound have found that they cannot conceive naturally anymore and some don’t even have any luck with IVF. What seemed like such a sensible decision in their twenties backfires. The fertility clock has stopped ticking and their time is up. They will never have children naturally or even with assistance, and they have to make the difficult decision to adopt or remain childless.

If I can’t have children naturally, I doubt I will bother going through the long, frustrating process of IVF. I went into an Assisted Conception Unit a couple of times when I worked in an Ante-natal Department and the room was full of miserable, defeated and exhausted couples. I promised myself I would never end up there. I’d rather adopt and help a child less fortunate than myself to have a stable, loving home to grow up in. I feel like I have too much love just for my boyfriend. At the very least I would need to get a pet, something to fill this void that is becoming more and more apparent as I get older.

Who knows what the future holds. Hopefully my relationship will survive whatever fortune throws at us.

If you’re thinking about having children please consider the reality first, think about the practicalities.

Discuss who is going to do what and how you are going to manage the extra responsibilities. Think about how the child will impact on your current lifestyle.

You need to be prepared to support and guide each other through the most intense, stressful yet rewarding time of your lives. Or at least that’s what parents tell me.

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Plain Stupid Sexism

Everyday-sexism-Try-replacing-gender

It is incredible that in today’s society sexist abuse is still tolerated in some quarters. There has been a lot of discussion about the issue of consent following the Ched Evans case, where a footballer walked in on his friend having sex with a teenager who was so drunk that she had fallen over. He had a turn (filmed by his brother) and then walked out of the fire exit, leaving the woman unconscious due to the amount she of alcohol she had consumed. He then served just two and a half years in prison for rape, rather than the five recommended by sentencing guidelines. Even five years does not seem enough for this crime that causes considerable psychological trauma for the women involved.

I was surprised that a prominent celebrity (a lady on a popular talk show) then blamed the victim for being drunk. There seems to be an attitude, particularly amongst the older generation, that if a woman has too much to drink or wears short skirts then she’s somehow “asking for it”. But what a woman wears has no relation to how slutty she is. Which brings me on to the point that men who have multiple partners are deemed “playboy bachelors” whereas women are called “sluts” and worse.

It is sad that some men, sorry, boys, think it is acceptable to treat women in a degrading, disrespectful and downright disgusting manner. I think we need more education in schools about sexism as like the evils of racism and ageism, which I have ranted about previously, it is plain wrong and incredibly ignorant. These people see the world through such a distorted filter. 36% of women who say they have experienced this type of prejudice The figure is probably higher as many brush it off, given that they are often not taken seriously and accused of “making a fuss about nothing”. article-2706734-2004332500000578-978_306x440

Last month posters suggesting that alcohol means women are responsible for being raped by predatory men were withdrawn by the government after a public outcry which resulted in a petition gaining over 100,000 signatures. Sadly examples such as these show just how endemic sexism is.

I’ve had enough, as have a multitude of women judging by the international slutwalk protests.

Even Serena and Venus Williams were subjected to sexist comments regarding their physical appearance, with the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, Shamil Tarpischev, calling them “brothers”, voicing the outdated stereotype that muscles are for men. Serena Williiams complained, supported by Maria Sharapova. Tarpischev was fined $25,000 and suspended for a year. This outcome gave a clear message that sexism in sport will not be tolerated.

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How to Baffle a Bully

There’s always one isn’t there?

Or maybe more. According to anti-bullying charity, Ditch the Label, 69% of young people will experience bullying. Children have even committed suicide, often due to a new phenomenon known as cyber (online) bullying, and it doesn’t stop there, with a quarter of office workers experiencing it.

When I was younger I used to get really upset by people trying to humiliate me and put me down. But then I grew up and saw it in a new light.

In my experience, there are four main reasons for it:

1. It makes them feel socially superior

By showing you up, they feel like everyone is on their side, laughing with them. They think they appear more clever as imagesa result. They don’t.

2. They feel threatened by you

Perhaps they feel that you are more qualified or perceive you as superior, this leads to point one – they need to ensure that they are back on top in their minds. So take it as a compliment.

3. Revenge

It gives them a kick for that time you did something to offend them.

4. They’re having a bad time and need someone to take it out on

They see you as a soft target. Don’t be one.

So, how do you deal with it?

 – Pity the bully

Their lives must be unhappy to behave like that. Perhaps they envy you, perhaps they need help. But don’t make it your problem. Perhaps they were badly brought up. Feel grateful that you were brought up to be polite and bullyingrespectful to others.

– Don’t let them change you

Sociopaths have high self esteem. If this is to blame, they think they’re amazing, so why shouldn’t you think that about yourself as well! What makes you different makes you beautiful. Christina Aguilera had it right in her song about the issue. 

 – Don’t lower yourself to their level

Maintain your personal integrity. Don’t try to behave like them in revenge. For example if they are swearing, don’t lower your standards and swear back. You know you are better than that.

 – Don’t let them win

They want an emotional response from you. Don’t let them have it. When I was at school a student told a girl in my class that her headband looked like toilet roll. She responded “if toilet roll was all I was wearing you’d be happy to see me in it wouldn’t you”. The boy was not expecting a comeback and blushed – the joke was now on him. She then wore the headband for the rest of the week. Think on your feet and show the bully they haven’t affected you. This is how you win.

 – Don’t give them ammunition

They’ll try and collect things you say or do to use against you later. Make sure you don’t say anything they could use when they are in earshot. Make sure you behave appropriately for the same reason.

 – “Love thy enemy”

This is age-old wisdom and it’s true. Treat them like anyone else – you do not want them to think they have got to you, this may be what they want. Bullies teach us how to deal with adversity. With their challenge we can grow stronger.

 – Don’t bother with revenge – they’ve got it coming anyway

People who bring negative karma to others usually get it back themselves. For example, someone who is rude to you may be rude to a teacher and be disciplined. This is why there is no point in revenge, the consequences of their behaviour will be felt at some point or another.

 Develop your confidence

With unshakable confidence they can’t make you doubt or think negatively yourself. Taekwondo really helped my brother with that. Self defence also means you know you can protect yourself should the bullying get physical. I got confidence from my grades and my sister got confidence from dancing exam results.

 – Stand up for yourself

If it starts affecting you or your work don’t be afraid to address their behaviour with them privately or tell someone with higher status if this is unsuccessful or if you feel too intimidated (e.g. teacher, manager). They may not realise they were upsetting you. Make sure you have a log of specific things they have said/done with dates. If there is no result take it to the teacher/manager again, or take it to a more senior level if you feel it is not being addressed. Explain what you have done to attempt to rectify the situation. Again make sure you have dates and stick to the point. When addressing it with the bully or a superior, be clear that it is nothing personal, you just wish to be treated with respect. Don’t suffer in silence – they wouldn’t.

Finally, as the comedian George Carlin said:

Try and laugh at how ridiculous they are – it always makes things easier.

“You know the type, loud as a motorbike, but wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight.” Rapper Jay-Z

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