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Parenting courses and disabled children
When you’re a parent of a disabled child, it’s wise to take as much help as you can get. There may be more support on offer than you realise, so speak to everyone who might be able to help – your child’s GP and other clinical professionals, your local children’s services, the school, and even friends or family who might know what’s available in the area. There is still a lot of stigma around parenting support. As a proud parent, you might be tempted to talk yourself into thinking that you don’t need it or shouldn’t accept it. However, when embarking on the most important job you will ever do, you might as well take whatever help is on offer. Seeking support isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a smart, practical choice to help yourself be the best parent you can. If you’ve been asked to do a parenting course, it can feel like you’re being judged. Many parents worry that their parenting skills are being called into question, or that their child is in trouble – try to remember that parenting programmes are designed to support you in developing the positive skills you already have. They can help you deal with stress and improve your and your partner’s relationship with your child and with each other. If you can get onto a programme with specific content for your child’s needs, you may find content that’s especially relevant, but a general parenting course can still help. For lots of parents of disabled children, attending parenting programmes helps to create a sense of stability. Having a specific course of action mapped out can give you a feeling of security which can help your child to feel more confident too [1]. Personal empowerment  A parenting programme can also have a positive effect on how you feel, alleviating some of the stress in your life, and helping you to feel better about your role as a parent. One study found that parents of disabled children felt more empowered and more empathetic after undertaking a specialist parenting programme [2]. Disabled children may be more likely to display behaviour that challenges than non-disabled children as they may have no other way of communicating that they are distressed or unhappy. As a parent, you may feel very alone, and worried about the best approach to take. Getting expert help through a parenting class can help alleviate your concerns, and it can be a relief to discover that other parents are facing the same issues. If you are dealing with behaviour issues, you can also read Contact’s guide Understanding your child’s behaviour. Family support If you can’t get access to an appropriate parenting programme, or don’t feel comfortable attending a generic one, you can still get support from friends and family – you don’t have to do everything on your own. Caring for a child with additional needs can be physically and emotionally exhausting, especially when tackled alone, so don’t hesitate to call on your social support network. Parents of disabled children cope better when they work together as a family unit. Having a strong group dynamic can actively strengthen the resilience of each individual family member [3]. This means that you, if you are the main caregiver, can benefit from the combined strength of your partner, your parents, and other family members. Lean on whoever is available. Accept help when it’s offered, ask for it when it’s not, and build a strong unit of support around your family. Short breaks Of course, not all families have good relationships. Sometimes, the arrival of a disabled child or the realisation that an older child has a disability, can add to already strained relations. Other family members may go through the same emotions as parents – including anger, grief and denial – and some find it hard to move on and accept the situation. Even if you feel disappointed by the support you receive from family members, there are practical services which may be available to give you the chance of a real break and to make time for you and your relationship. ‘Short breaks’, which ensure a disabled child or adult is cared for while the main carer has a break, may include: Overnight care in the family home or elsewhere. Daytime care in the family home or elsewhere. Educational or leisure activities for disabled children and young people outside their homes. Services available to assist carers in the evenings, at weekends and during the school holidays. Most breaks are arranged by social services – the department in your local authority, which is responsible for providing help to meet the needs of disabled children and adults. Usually, social services will need to assess your child and the family’s needs before services can be arranged but getting a break can be a lifeline for some relationships. For more information about getting a break, see Contact’s guide, Services and support from your local authority – England. If you can’t access short breaks, you can ask your local Family Information Service about local organisations offering relaxation sessions for carers, as well as activities in the holidays and at weekends for you, your disabled child and any siblings.   References [1] Nelson, P., Kirk, S., Caress, A., & Glenny, A. (2012). Parents' Emotional and Social Experiences of Caring for a Child Through Cleft Treatment. Qualitative Health Research, 22(3), 346-359. [2] Burton, R., Zwahr-Castro, S., Magrane, J., Hernandez, C., Farley, L., & Amodei, H. (2018). The Nurturing Program: An Intervention for Parents of Children with Special Needs. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27(4), 1137-1149. [3] Suzuki, Hiratani, Mizukoshi, Hayashi, & Inagaki. (2018). Family resilience elements alleviate the relationship between maternal psychological distress and the severity of children’s developmental disorders. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 83, 91-98.
Article | disability, parenting
Loneliness for new parents
Being a parent of a disabled child keeps you extremely busy and changes the patterns of your lifestyle in ways that are hard to anticipate. You may not have the same access to your social circle as you used to, and many new parents say they feel socially isolated and lonely [1] [2]. “With a non-disabled child, you feel isolated, but with a disabled child that feeling is exacerbated. For the first two years of Nathan’s life, I had a lot to come to terms with, and at the same time I had to put an enormous amount of things into place like facilities and the professionals involved in Nathan’s care”. Why do new parents get lonely? A lot of the pressure of parenting comes from practical changes to your lifestyle – new working patterns, lack of sleep, more things to worry about, extra costs, and so on. Another reason you may feel more alone is that your couple relationship has to take a back seat while you adjust to your new circumstances [2]. Ordinarily, your partner might be the first person you’d go to if you’re feeling lonely – they may even be the person who stops you from feeling lonely in the first place. During the transition to parenthood, your best source of social support isn’t as available as they used to be, and you might be less available for them too. This can be magnified when you have a disabled child, or when you are concerned your child may be disabled but don’t yet have a diagnosis. Some parents worry that it is their fault their child is disabled because of something that happened before the baby was conceived, or during pregnancy. It is important to remember that it is rarely anyone’s fault, but it is still emotionally very draining to see your child suffer or struggle, and you may not have much energy left for your partner. It can be equally difficult asking for help or admitting that you need it. “I wasn’t brought up to ask – there’s enough guilt around having a disabled child anyway.” “Any difficulties between my husband and I are exacerbated by the additional stress and time lost to caring for a disabled child.” The pressure to be a perfect parent Another cause of loneliness in the early days of parenting is the pressure to live up to the standards that society sets for new parents. All parents face this to some extent but, when you’re dealing with the extra challenges of caring for your disabled child and figuring out what kind of additional support your child needs, the pressure can be overwhelming. You might look at other parents and wonder if you’ll ever be able to have the same kinds of experiences as them, particularly around issues like breastfeeding, sleep and potty training. When everyone around you seems to be coping better than you are, it can leave you feeling isolated and alone [3]. It’s important to remember that there is help available. You can find information, advice and further help in these guides from our partners at Contact: Helping your child’s sleep Feeding and eating Potty and toilet training Support from other parents Trying to access support can be very distressing. It can seem as though support is lacking and that the places parents usually go to meet are not accessible or even welcoming to you. This is when it’s particularly important to find other parents of disabled children you can talk to. Sharing practical solutions to shared experiences is a valuable source of support that many parents get from talking to others who’ve been there too. “Her condition has thrown us into a world that we never knew existed, we had to adjust. Me and my partner are forced into these new experiences, and we didn’t know how to talk about it with each other. I think that parents who don’t have a disabled children find it hard to relate to us and they don’t understand what we’ve been through.” Look on your local authority website to find out if there are any support groups near you – these can be a lifeline, and many parents talk about an overwhelming sense of relief at finding other parents like them. Getting in touch with other parents can also put you in touch with local support you may not know about. For example, you may be entitled to a short break from your caring role, which can give you and your partner space to be with each other and reconnect – this can be vital when you’re busy caring and fighting for support. “Taking time to be with yourself and your partner can re-establish relationships that are buried under doctors’ appointments, being told what they can’t do, and hopes and disappointments of life.” While feelings of loneliness can be very difficult to deal with as they’re happening, it’s often a temporary state [3]. It’s important to get support in place, but it’s also worth reminding yourself that this too shall pass. Your partner can help As a couple, try to be sensitive to each other’s needs. You’re both going through a huge change and dealing with news and practicalities that you haven’t had a chance to plan for, but your experience of these things may not be the same as each other’s.   Get together with your partner and talk about your experiences of parenting. Be honest about the disappointments and acknowledge how difficult the transition to parenthood can be. Opening up about the things you’re most worried about, including feeling lonely, will make it easier for your partner to understand what kind of support you need. Your relationship relies on each of you knowing how the other is doing, which means taking time to talk about thoughts, feelings, hopes, concerns, and needs. Each of you needs to know the other has heard them. That means really listening to each other – listening to the words and understanding the feelings that underlie them. When your partner shares their feelings with you, don’t judge them – listen and try to understand. Recognise your differences. Try not to make assumptions about what your partner is thinking and be as open with your partner as you can be. Look at where you might be able to make changes that might make things better. These conversations can help you feel closer as a couple, making parenting feel more like a shared experience and reducing the sense of loneliness felt by many new parents [3]. “Neither my husband nor I can imagine life without the other – neither of us could cope with the children without the other’s help. There is a bond between us that can never be shared by anyone else.” Old friends and new friends Another reason new parents can feel socially isolated is the sudden change in social circles [4]. When you become a parent, your life patterns change completely, and you may find it harder to spend time with friends, particularly as a couple. When your friends do invite you out, you may have to decline, or one of you may attend as a representative while the other stays at home with the baby. Try to use this time as a chance to connect with other parents in your local area. As you familiarise yourself with your child’s care team and other local services, you may find yourselves spending time with people in similar situations to your own. These new social connections can become invaluable sources of practical and emotional support. While clinical and therapeutic support is vital, there’s nothing quite like getting together for a chat with people who really understand you [4]. References [1] AXA Healthcare (2015). Social isolation putting first time mums at risk. Available at: [2] Keizer, R., Dykstra, P., Poortman, A., & Kaslow, Nadine J. (2010). The Transition to Parenthood and Well-Being: The Impact of Partner Status and Work Hour Transitions. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(4), 429-438. [3] Lee, K., Vasileiou, K., & Barnett, J. (2016). ‘Lonely within the mother’: An exploratory study of first-time mothers’ experiences of loneliness. Journal of Health Psychology, 135910531772345. [4] Toombs, A. L., Morrissey, K., Simpson, E., Gray, C. M., Vines, J., Balaam. (2018).  Supporting the complex Social Lives of New Parents. Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Paper no. 420. Available at:
Article | loneliness, disability
Children arguing with each other
As a parent, your relationship with your children may influence how well they get along with their brothers and sisters.  From Romulus and Remus to Kim and Kourtney, brothers and sisters have always had their disagreements. If you grew up with siblings, you may have your own experiences of rivalry from childhood – maybe even into adulthood! Why we ignore sibling rivalry It’s easy to dismiss sibling conflict as a natural part of growing up. We’re used to seeing warring siblings in the media, and we all have our own stories, so we might not worry too much when we see our children arguing. We may even trick ourselves into believing that nothing is wrong, particularly if they seem to get on well most of the time [1]. But, if you’ve ever had to pull two fighting children apart, you’ll know how difficult it can be to manage conflict that’s gotten out of hand. Some arguing is, of course, unavoidable but it is important to be aware that toxic conflict and aggression between siblings can have lasting damage [1]. Effects on health and wellbeing Sibling arguments are very common and may affect over a third of all children [2]. While it’s understandable that children want to compete for your attention or just to rule the roost, it’s important to keep an eye out for sustained conflict or aggression between siblings, as this can have a negative impact on children’s mental health and wellbeing, lasting well into adolescence and affecting the relationships they form as adults. If one of your children is being aggressive towards another, even occasionally, it’s important to address it. Seeking help early makes it easier to resolve the issue and can minimise the risk of negative effects in the future [3].  One of the most straightforward ways to find support is to ask your GP or paediatrician. Or, if it’s available in your area, you might find it helpful to try a parenting programme, especially one that includes tips on dealing with difficult behaviour. Your local Children’s Centre may be able to offer advice as to which programmes are available locally.  Positive parenting  If that all sounds like too much, you may be able to help by working on your own relationship with the children. Positive parenting is associated with reduced sibling aggression. You can have a positive impact on your children’s relationships with each other by working on your relationships with your children [2].  Positive parenting is all about empowering your children to develop their self-esteem and feel better about their role in the family. Set guidelines for the type of behaviour you feel is acceptable, explain why these rules are in place and answer any questions they have. This balance between authority and warmth can help your children feel more confident and has been shown to improve social responsibility and decision-making [4]. You can learn more about this in our article on parenting styles.  As with most issues, it’s always best to take action as early as possible, working to resolve the conflict as soon as you notice it. By acting early, you can help your children boost their social skills and increase their compassion and understanding. You can also help to reduce future conflicts, so your children may have closer relationships with each other now and as they get older [5].   References [1] Pickering, J., & Sanders, M. (2017). Integrating Parents' Views on Sibling Relationships to Tailor an Evidence‐based Parenting Intervention for Sibling Conflict. Family Process, 56(1), 105-125. [2] Tippett, N., & Wolke, D. (2015). Aggression between siblings: Associations with the home environment and peer bullying. Aggressive Behavior, 41(1), 14-24. [3] Tucker, C., Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., & Shattuck, A. (2013). Association of Sibling Aggression with Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Pediatrics, 132 (1), 79-84. [4] Baumrind, D. (1991). The Influence of Parenting Style on Adolescent Competence and Substance Use. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 11(1), 56–95.  [5] Tucker, C., & Finkelhor, D. (2017). The State of Interventions for Sibling Conflict and Aggression: A Systematic Review. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 18(4), 396-406.
Article | children, arguments, siblings
Becoming a dad gives you a sense of purpose
Despite the challenges of parenthood, new fathers are taking to their roles with a growing sense of purpose. Up until now, fatherhood has been somewhat neglected in parental mental health research, but we are starting to learn more about how men adjust to parenthood, and the psychological benefits that can help balance out the tough times. A new generation of fathers are getting more involved in the care and wellbeing of their children and it’s having a transformative effect. Shortly after the birth of their children, many dads are redefining their priorities, reflecting on what is important to them and what they might pass onto the next generation [1]. A sense of purpose and wellbeing If, like us, you read a lot about parenting and relationships, then you could be forgiven for thinking that your life as you know it will end the moment you become a parent. And, while that might be partly true, it’s not necessarily going to change for the worse. Though you may need to turn your lives upside down to provide for your child, the change can give you a shared purpose and shared goals to work towards [1]. Much of the research into parenting and relationships has focused on the risks and challenges, but researchers are beginning to shine a light on the other side of the coin and they’ve noticed that parents, particularly dads, are experiencing an increased sense of purpose in life [1]. Becoming a father can be a time of personal growth – if you’re already a dad, you may be familiar with this. Mothers often start to feel these changes during pregnancy, but fathers are more likely to experience them after the birth, when the child becomes a tangible presence in their lives. As you work to deal with the challenges of raising your child, you may start to become more aware of what you’re capable of, and even reassess your sense of who you are. Previous research suggests that men can also experience an increase in life satisfaction, happiness, and pride when they become fathers. These changes can be more significant for dads than they are for mums [1]. Involved fatherhood For your relationship to stand the best chance of staying strong, you and your partner both need to feel that things are working fairly. According to a number of studies, women still do the majority of childcare and housework even when they also work outside of the home [2].  As the dad, you can lead this change by making sure you are pulling your weight when it comes to childcare and housework. You may already be on top of this but it’s worth repeating: fathers’ contributions to the household are the most important factor when it comes to relationship satisfaction for new parents [2]. Even if you are the parent who goes back to work, you can still focus your emotional attention on your home life. Stay tuned in to your partner’s feelings and try to anticipate the needs of the family and the household – arrange video calls on your lunch break, text to see if you can pick anything up on the way home, and don’t assume that your partner has had it easy at home with the baby. Your role is as varied as it is important, so step up, be bold, and don’t be afraid to take the lead sometimes. Ask your partner to trust you with the baby, and remind each other that if you don’t make mistakes, you can’t learn from them. For your parenting relationship to keep working as a couple relationship, it’s important that you both feel things are fair. This means that you both do your bit, but also that you value and respect each other’s contributions both in and out of the home. Communication is crucial to making this a success. You’re both going to be busy, stressed and tired, so try not to take each other for granted. Talk about who is going to do what, and keep checking in to make sure things are still fair. As your family’s needs change, you will need to keep redrawing the lines but, with a little flexibility, you can be part of a generation of men who are embracing the joys of fatherhood in a new way. References [1] Brandel, M., Melchiorri, E., & Ruini, C. (2018). The Dynamics of Eudaimonic Well-Being in the Transition to Parenthood: Differences Between Fathers and Mothers. Journal of Family Issues, 39(9), 2572–2589. [2] Matta, D. S., & Knudson‐Martin, C. (2006). Father Responsivity: Couple Processes and the Coconstruction of Fatherhood. Family Process, 45(1), 19–37.
Article | dad, Health
Adoption and couple relationships
Unlike the biological route to parenting, adoption is never unplanned. You and your partner may have done extensive research into how adoption works – we’re here to help you consider how the adoption process will affect your relationship and how you can prepare as a couple. No matter how joyous, every big life change presents challenges to your relationship. Becoming parents is one of the biggest, and this is no less true when adopting. The impact of adoption on your relationship You will find that you have less time for yourself and less time to dedicate to your relationship. Your priorities will change overnight and, while it can be the most rewarding experience of your life, it can also be exhausting. You may also face some additional challenges due to the processes that you need to comply with. Keeping the communication going can help you feel more confident as you enter the process of adoption. So, rather than seeing this as a list of things to worry about, try to see it as a list of things to talk about as you get ready for the change: Uncertainty. Before you can formally adopt a child, there is an initial period where the child comes to live with you for at least 10 weeks. After this, a court order can be granted, making the adoption permanent and giving you parental responsibility for the child [1]. Motivation. If one of you is more hesitant about adopting than the other, the placement period can shine a light on this in a way that doesn’t happen with biological parents. Scrutiny. Going through social service assessments can make it feel like someone is testing whether you are fit to be a parent. All this testing and waiting can make you feel powerless and may ramp up the stress early on. Bonding. The pre-adoption placement can be a tricky balance. One of you may bond closely with the child while the other holds back waiting to find out if a formal order will be granted. This can be a delicate matter if you have different approaches. Additional needs. Many of the children awaiting adoptive parents have complex emotional and behavioural needs. You may need to maintain connections with social services at first. Babysitting. During the placement period, your social worker may need to approve any babysitters you employ. Parental roles. Establishing parental roles, such as who will be the primary caregiver, can help avoid tension, and it’s an important conversation to have before the placement. This is particularly important to consider if adopting older children who might have preconceived notions about parenting roles and family dynamics. Preference. Your child may show preference for one parent over the other. While this might be connected to your child’s history, it can be comforting to remember that many biological parents also go through similar experiences [2]. These challenges are all real possibilities but they needn’t leave you feeling disheartened. Just be aware of them and keep communicating. A big change like this can be a wonderful shared experience that allows you and your partner to figure out new ways of working together. Many couples find that becoming adoptive parents brings them closer together [2]. Talk about your needs, your hopes, your fears, and your dreams. The level of commitment and cooperation between you and your partner can help you feel less stressed – even in difficult times, communication can build trust [3]. Even when the challenges are bigger than expected, it doesn’t necessarily take away from the rewarding feelings. For most parents, adopting is a positive experience, often more rewarding than expected [4]. References [1] Department for Education. (2017). Children looked after in England (including adoption), year ending 31 March 2017. Retrieved from [2] Goldberg, A. E., Kinkler, L. A., Moyer, A. M., & Weber, E. (2014). Intimate Relationship Challenges in Early Parenthood among Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual Couples Adopting via the Child Welfare System. Professional Psychology, Research and Practice, 45(4), 221–230.  [3] Lionetti, F., Pastore, M., & Barone, L. (2015). Parenting Stress: The Roles of Attachment States of Mind and Parenting Alliance in the Context of Adoption. Parenting, 15(2), 75–91. [4] Neil, B., Young, J., Hartley, L., Sirbu, I., Morcina, M., Holmes, L., & Lushey, C. (2017). A Survey Of Adoptive Families: Following up children adopted in the Yorkshire and Humberside region. Norwich: University of East Anglia, Centre for Research on Children and Families. 
Article | adoption, same-sex
Resilience for kids with a speech impairment
If your child’s disability includes a speech or language impairment, one of the things you might worry about is how well they are going to make friends when they start school. Speech and language impairments can affect around 7-12% of preschool children [1] and around two children in an average year 1 class of 30 children [2]. Friendships and resilience Having a speech or language impairment can make it more difficult for children to make friends at school [2]. But, while there are some factors that you won’t be able to influence – like the nature of your child’s impairment, the school environment, and the other people involved – there are things you can do as a parent to help your child prepare.  Researchers have looked into what makes some children more resilient than others, and have identified three major factors that can help children cope: Hope. A belief that things will go well, or could change for the better. Agency. A belief that effecting this change is within their own power. Positive relationships. An experience of forming bonds with others [1]. Hope Hope is an essential part of how children build resilience and cope with challenging situations at school and in other social settings. Your child’s teachers and healthcare providers, and you as a parent, can all play a crucial role in encouraging your child to feel positive about what the future holds. Ask your child about their hopes and worries, and help them find a way through to the outcomes they want. Agency Children are likely to cope better if they position themselves in an active role in their social circle. This means taking responsibility for how their friendships are formed and maintained, rather than waiting for others to come to them [1]. You can support this by encouraging your child to develop skills like nonverbal communication, coherence, and knowing how to initiate conversations [3]. Talking point – an initiative by the communication charity ICAN – has activities, DVDs and top tips to promote children’s communication development from babies to the teenage years.   Positive relationships Children can benefit from having positive relationships in all areas of their lives, including with family members – that includes you as a parent, but also siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbours, and even pets. Your child will learn social skills from your examples. You can be a positive force by demonstrating warmth and empathy, and reassuring them of how capable they are. Your child may not be able to win everyone over, but if they can maintain some positive friendships, it will help build their resilience and balance out any negative experiences [1]. Encourage your child to invite their friends home and try not to be over protective. Children with severe learning difficulties Children with severe learning difficulties often have complex communication needs, but they communicate about the same things as everyone else – their feelings, their needs, their likes and dislikes, and so on. They are more likely to use gestures, facial expressions or behaviour to do this, rather than speech. If your child has a severe learning difficulty, you can support them to express themselves and communicate their needs in a positive way – see Mencap’s guide to communicating with people with profound and multiple learning difficulties (pdf download). If your child needs support to make friends The Circle of Friends approach was developed to help disabled children – who may be vulnerable to isolation at school – to be more included in mainstream settings. A group of the young person’s friends and peers are brought together at their school with the aim of creating a support network for them. Circles of Support is a similar approach to including people in the community, where a group of people meet to help someone achieve their goals in life. Ask professionals involved in your child’s care about putting these approaches in place, or find out more at Ways to support your child’s communication There are different ways to help your child learn to communicate their needs, and make sense of what is going to happen throughout the day:  You can use pictures and photos to explain what is going to happen if they have limited understanding or are non-verbal. You can show your child objects (such as a nappy if you are going to change them) before commencing the next step of your routine. You can demonstrate the routines visually. For example, if you are going out, show your child your coat and point to the door. Try to break down your sentences into single words and keep them simple. Many parent carers find they can help their child to understand and communicate using signs for basic needs, such as sleep, hunger and thirst. You can also learn to communicate by: Using picture exchange communication system (PECS) symbols. Learning Makaton (a mixture of signing and symbols). Showing photographs or other familiar pictures or objects. A social story describes a situation and possible sequence of events to a child to prepare them for what is likely to happen. There are also picture books for children to help prepare them for new experiences, such as going to school, travelling on a plane, moving house, visiting the dentist or hospital, and so on. Search for ‘social stories’ at You can get help to find the best communication system for your child by speaking to professionals such as Portage workers (for pre-school children) and speech and language therapists. You may be entitled to aids and equipment to help your child communicate, like voice recognition or eye-tracking systems, through the occupational therapy service. How to support your child’s resilience The social skills children pick up in their pre-school years become the basis for their friendships as they get older. The way you interact with your child at home will not only support the development of their social skills, but also boost their resilience to cope with the challenges of having a speech or language impairment [4].  Even if your child is still very young, it is important to give them an opportunity to make friends and practise their social skills [4]. Early meetings can allow your child to experiment while the stakes are low, so that they already have an understanding of how to make new friends when they arrive at school. Playdates may not be an option for some, but it’s important to find a space where your child can be involved with other children. Many disabled children are able to go to local playgroups and nurseries. Specialist nurseries may be a more suitable option for some children with complex special needs. Check your local area, or call Contact’s free helpline for more information. Other things you can do Other factors affecting your child’s resilience include: Self-esteem. Belief in their own abilities. An understanding of their strengths and limitations. Being able to solve problems. A sense of what their future holds. Knowing how to set and work toward goals. Humour [5]. Depending on your child’s impairment, which may call for some workarounds and adjustments, most of these skills can be learned and developed. Through warm, sensitive, and supportive care, you can help your child work on these qualities, so that they feel more secure and more trusting of others when they start school [5]. The following suggestions from parents and disabled young people may help: Reinforce with your child the fact that everyone is different. Remind them of the things they are good at. Encourage them to be assertive. There are more and more positive role models in the media – point them out to your child without making too much of an issue. Help your child to develop diversion tactics for any questions about their condition that they do not choose to answer, for example by changing the subject. Respect their opinions. Encourage them to learn about and manage their condition as they get older. Encourage them to make their own decisions about all aspects of their life as far as possible. This will help them to become more assertive and independent, and to feel that they have some control over the way they look and their life in general. Try not to talk about your child or their condition as if they were not present. This often happens in medical appointments. Give your child clear instructions as to what is expected of them, and lead by example. Demonstrate your own warmth, and encourage your child to have a sense of empathy and concern for others. When children understand how these things work, they can learn to cope better with the challenges they face. Although communication can take time to develop, and some children will always need support, with your help your child can build a sense of resilience, feel better about what the future holds, and start making friendships that matter [5]. References [1] Lyons, R. and Roulstone, S. (2018) Well-being and resilience in children with speech and language disorders. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 61. pp. 324-344. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-16-0391 Available from: [2] Norbury, C. F., Gooch, D., Wray, C., Baird, G., Charman, T., Simonoff, E., Vamvakas, G. and Pickles, A. (2016). The impact of nonverbal ability on prevalence and clinical presentation of language disorder: evidence from a population study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 57(11), 1247–1257. [3] Laws, G., Bates, G., Feuerstein, M., Mason-Apps, E., & White, C. (2012). Peer acceptance of children with language and communication impairments in a mainstream primary school: associations with type of language difficulty, problem behaviours and a change in placement organization. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 28(1), 73-86. DOI: 10.1177/0265659011419234 [4] Estes, A., Munson, J., St. John, T. et al. (2018) Parent Support of Preschool Peer Relationships in Younger Siblings of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 48(4), pp.1122-32. [5] Hill, M., Stafford, A., Seaman, P., Ross, N. and Daniel, B. (2007) Parenting and resilience. Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Accessed online:
Article | disability, children
Disabled children: balancing childcare
When you become parents, you’ll need to make some decisions about how to divide up work and childcare responsibilities, taking into account the level of care your child requires. Before you make any assumptions, take some time to discuss your hopes and expectations with your partner. Many parents fall into traditional gender roles with women taking on the majority of childcare duties, even when the relationship was equal before parenthood [1]. A traditional setup may suit your family, but it may not. Have a conversation and make the decision as a couple, rather than drifting into roles you feel you’re supposed to fulfil [2]. Getting this balance right early on can help you establish a suitable routine for your child’s care and give your relationship quality a positive boost. “Making sure I kept my professional working life going [helped us most], even though it has been a real juggling act. It has kept my sense of identity rather than being ‘only’ mum to my disabled daughter and kept me fulfilled – so I think I'm more interesting to live with!” “[Work means] sanity. If I constantly stay in and have my life being revolved around the children and the house I think I'd go mad. [Work] brings out the creativity in my mind… I feel that I've found my niche and I'd really hate to lose it, but I've always been a carer… and I just wanted to be myself… and I am myself when I'm studying or when I'm at work”. Sharing the care For many parents it’s not possible to share things equally, so try to be patient and understanding with each other. If you are the main carer, remember that your partner may take longer to learn new skills. If you are not the main carer, be prepared to learn from your mistakes so that your partner isn’t left feeling like they have to do everything. If you have access to shared parental leave, consider taking off as much time as possible together. This will give you more time to get acquainted with your child’s care needs as a couple. Making the most of these opportunities to spend shared time at home can help increase your understanding of, and confidence in, each other. This can lead to more effective co-parenting and better relationship satisfaction [1] [3] [4]. “We know that we have to get on with it – we try to respect each other, learn from each other, laugh at one another and love one another. Oh, and on the odd occasion that we get a good night’s sleep we do all the above, with value added”. Balancing work and family when you have a disabled child Some of the main obstacles to working include: The unpredictable nature of certain conditions. Difficulties getting time off for hospital appointments. A lack of understanding from employers. Problems finding suitable childcare. Many parents want to work not just for the income it provides, but because working gives them the opportunity to make new friends and develop skills outside of their caring role. It can offer a space to recover from the stresses of home and family life, as it provides a change of scene from the often-frustrating demands of parenting a disabled child [5]. But others may approach it more like an obligation that takes them away from family life. “I come home tired and then I have to face caring for our child and I have a stressed partner to deal with”. “My partner helps a lot in the house and does the main caring plus a job. But we always worry about the future”. As parents, it isn’t always easy to strike a satisfactory balance between work and family. If you are working and your partner is on full-time childcare duty, you might feel like you have the tougher role, feeling excluded from daytime appointments and unable to provide support to a partner who cares full time. While work can of course be stressful, try to be sensitive to the idea that your partner may be feeling a different kind of pressure from being on constant parenting duty, and may feel resentful and isolated without the change of pace between work and home [5]. “There is a great deal of resentment – I resent that he doesn’t recognise the colossal effort I put into co-ordinating schedules, visiting school and fighting continuous battles to get what our son needs”. “Because I have to go to work they think it's a rest. They don't see that you are the one living with the child”. One way to avoid these tensions is to recognise each other’s contributions. If you are out at work all day, you can help your partner by showing an interest in, and an understanding of, their work at home. If there is conflict over who does what, find ways to share the work. Make sharing tasks part of everyone’s daily routine – adults and children. Make arrangements to cope with the practical aspects of your family’s daily life and troubleshoot problems in advance. This can help keep some of the pressures and stresses off your relationship. “One parent in our relationship is the investigator, explorer, questioner, driving force, and the other keeps the home fires burning and brings perspective to ideas that can be outlandish”. “Faith, love, grace, compassion... all these are present and manifest and we are close and love each other and feel fortunate too – but it's still a hard journey to face”. Working and childcare If you are both working, it can be a real struggle to balance things. Getting good quality appropriate childcare may affect the type of work you are able to do – and you may have to work extra hours to cover childcare costs or give up work to cover childcare yourself [5]. Distressingly, childcare is often a major obstacle for parents. Despite local authorities having a responsibility to ensure the provision of good quality childcare, many families caring for a disabled child still struggle to find appropriate childcare. Problems can emerge not only in paying for childcare but also in finding suitable childcare for your child. “I would like to work, if there was affordable and available childcare to look after my children with severe autism and learning disabilities”. You may find it helpful to talk to other families who have a disabled child to find out about their experiences of using childcare. Professionals you have been working with may also have some insight about suitable childcare providers in your area. In certain circumstances it may be possible to get help with childcare costs via working tax credits or via Universal Credit. It may also be possible to use direct payments to arrange childcare. Through the direct payments scheme, local authorities can give cash payments rather than a service. This can enable working parents to employ someone to look after their child after school. Direct payments can even be used to pay a close relative, although only in exceptional circumstances if they share your household. There are laws around childcare that local authorities and childcare providers must follow. If you’re struggling to find suitable childcare, or a setting has refused to take your child, you can use these and other laws to help you change the decision. You can find information and template letters to challenge childcare decisions on Contact’s website, plus a guide to help you understand your rights to childcare if you have a disabled child. It can make things easier if you’re able to arrange to work more flexibly. Under UK employment law, you are entitled to request flexible working arrangements, and your employer is obliged to consider your request seriously [6]. “I was working full time but it was too much. My employer was and is brilliant and allowed me to change my contract to term-time only, 18.5 hours”. “Getting a nursery place for my daughter when she was three made her transition to school much easier, as she had friends who understood her disabilities. It also helped me get back to work sooner, before I lost my confidence about being out of the job market”. Parental leave and other help at work Parental leave gives parents the right to take time off work to look after their children. Parental leave is normally unpaid but some employers have more generous provisions. Check your contract of employment. Both parents have the right to parental leave, so you each can take up to 18 weeks leave per child, to be used before the child's 18th birthday. Normally you have to take parental leave in blocks of one week or more, but parents of disabled children can take leave a day at a time. This means you could use parental leave for regular hospital visits. Time off for dependents You can also take time off work to deal with an emergency relating to a dependent, which includes your disabled child. It only covers the time taken to make alternative arrangements and any leave you take will be unpaid unless your contract of employment says otherwise. You are allowed time off if your dependant: Is ill and needs your help to provide assistance or to make arrangements for the provision of care. Needs you to deal with an unexpected disruption or breakdown in care such as a childminder or nurse failing to turn up. Is involved in an unexpected incident at school that you need to deal with. You cannot take dependants leave to deal with a situation that was foreseen or planned. In these situations, you would need to take parental leave, annual leave or other any other available leave. For more information about your rights to childcare and in work, see “Neither my husband nor I can imagine life without the other – neither of us could cope with the children without the other's help. There is a bond between us that can never be shared by anyone else”. References [1] Gao, M., Du, H., Davies, P. and Cummings, M. (2018). Marital Conflict Behaviors and Parenting: Dyadic Links over Time. Family Relations DOI:10.1111/fare.12322. [2] Jansen, M. and Liefbroer, A.C. (2006). Couples’ attitudes, childbirth and division of labour. Journal of Family Issues, 27 (1), 1487-1511. [3] Kolak, A.M. and Volling, B.L. (2007), Parental Expressiveness as a Moderator of Coparenting and Marital Relationship Quality. Family Relationships, 56(5), 467-478. [4] Rehel, E. (2014). When Dad Stays Home Too: paternity leave, gender, and parenting. Gender and Society, 28 (1), 110-132. [5] Brown, T.J. & Clark, C. (2017). Employed parents of children with disabilities and work family life balance: a literature review. Child Youth Care Forum. 46: 857. [6] HSBC (2012). HSBC lends a hand to back‐to‐work parents: Employees guaranteed part‐time work after maternity or paternity leave. Human Resource Management International Digest, 20 (16-17)  
Article | childcare, disability
Disabled children and bullying
Children with a disability are more likely to experience bullying than other children, so it can be a particularly worrying issue for parents [1] [2]. If your child is being bullied, there are steps you can take to stop it and to help them protect themselves. Depending on your child’s needs and the situation they find themselves in, this may involve working with the school, encouraging social support, or educating them about the risks. [3]. What is bullying? The Anti-Bullying Alliance defines bullying as: The repetitive, intentional hurting of one person by another, or by a group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. Bullying can be carried out physically, verbally, emotionally or through cyberspace. Bullying is often aimed at people who are different, for example because of race, religion, disability or sexuality. Bullying can be: Verbal. Name calling, insulting, teasing. Physical. Pushing, shoving, hitting, damage to personal property. Indirect: Spreading rumours, excluding from friendship groups. Cyberbullying: Sending nasty texts, emails, or social media messages, sharing photos online. Preventing cyberbullying All types of bullying are horrible for children and can leave parents feeling helpless and angry. Cyberbullying is often harder to avoid as bullies may hide their identities and can strike from anywhere, even when your child is relatively safe at home. This form of bullying that can happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week [4]. Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or those with active social media profiles may be at greater risk of cyberbullying [5] [6], but you can reduce the likelihood of your child being bullied by staying involved in their online experience. First, make sure you find out how to add parental restrictions to all websites that your child has access to – and keep this under review. The NSPCC has a website aimed at helping parents keep their children safe online at The most effective thing you can do is to talk to your child about the risks of cyberbullying and help them anticipate situations where they might be at risk. Having active discussions about the risks and making sure they understand how to keep themselves safe is more effective than just placing limits or controls on your child’s internet use [6]. Make sure your child is aware of advice on respecting others and staying safe on the internet, including when it is safe and unsafe to share information online. Ask them to let you know if someone or something is worrying them, or making them feel uncomfortable. Make sure your child knows not to respond or return any bullying messages. If your child is being bullied online, keep copies of emails, texts and social media posts. Make a note of the dates and times, along with any information about the sender’s internet details if you can. This may help to identify the bullies. Preventing other types of bullying One thing to be aware of is that your child may not necessarily come to you for support if they are being bullied. Many children want to avoid burdening or worrying their parents and so may not bring it up at home [2]. Our partners at Contact asked parents how they realised their child was being bullied. They came up with a number of signs to look for: Becoming withdrawn, if previously outgoing. Coming home with cuts and bruises. Regularly coming home with torn or missing clothing. Refusing to go to school or a youth club. Doing less well at their schoolwork. Changes in mood – becoming depressed, angry, anxious. Changes in behaviour, for example wetting the bed if they have been dry at night. Being aggressive at home with their siblings and other family members. Sleep problems, nightmares, or waking at unusual times. Getting more headaches, stomach aches and other minor illnesses. Immersing themselves more into obsession and fantasy. Self-harming, cutting, hair pulling, skin picking. Wanting to change their journey or time of their journey to school. Changes in your child’s behaviour are not necessarily related to bullying, so it’s always important to find out more. In preventing bullying, your child’s friends can be one of the best sources of support. Talk to your child about strategies for forming and maintaining friendships, as this can help them protect against bullying: Encourage them to get involved in social activities. Create opportunities for them to mix with other children. Talk to other children and parents about your child’s disability so that they know how to be good friends. Remind your child of what they have to offer in social situations [7]. Ask the school to help. There is more information below on Circles of Support. Strategies to help deal with bullying Disabled children have different needs and may experience bullying in different ways. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Some children, due to the nature of their disability, might not be able to understand the process or the ideas behind some ways to help deal with bullying. But there are ways to help support your child – for example by developing their confidence. Parents we talked to also described different forms of support that the school had put in place to help their child. Suggestions parents made include: Teach your child some simple sentences about their condition. Encourage them to practice until they can explain their condition confidently. Check also that they are happy with the explanation that you give to other people about their condition. Create opportunities to talk to your child about name calling and teasing. Ask how things are going at school, who they like playing with or who they try to avoid. Some families find roleplay useful. Work with your child through difficult or worrying situations, and decide on appropriate comments and reactions. The more your child is involved in deciding on the best responses, the more likely they are to use them. Draw pictures of the bullying and ways your child could deal with it. You could draw a cartoon strip which shows your child walking away from the bullying or telling someone. Use ‘social stories’ to help your child understand and deal with bullying. Social stories describe a situation and focus on a few key points, such as what will happen and how people might react. This can increase your child’s understanding and make them more comfortable in different situations. You can use social stories to explain times and places where bullying might happen, like lunchtimes or on school transport. Give your child the opportunity to tell you how they feel. Agree on a time or place to do this, if you can. Draw a map of the school and ask your child to colour in different areas to show how safe they feel. For example, safe areas might be green, unsafe areas might be red, and orange could represent areas where they’re not so sure. Give them lots of praise when they cope with a difficult situation. Dealing with the school As well as the bullying itself, you may feel frustrated by a lack of communication from the school, or a sense that nothing is being done about punishing the perpetrators. Schools have a duty of care towards their pupils, which means that they must look after the safety and wellbeing of their pupils as a reasonable parent would. They can take steps to deal with behaviour, even if it isn’t taking place on the school premises. If you think your child is being bullied at school: Tell the headteacher. Try to arrange to have an appointment rather than a quick word in the playground. Be specific about what is being said and the effect it is having on your child. The school may not be aware that it is happening, or the impact it has on your child’s self-esteem. Ask for a copy of the school’s anti-bullying policy and behaviour policy. Keep a record of all the incidents. If there are any physical injuries, take photos to show the school. If your child is unable to attend school because of the stress of the bullying, get this confirmed by your GP and tell the Education Welfare Officer about the situation. Ask for the bullying to be recorded in your child’s individual education plan; statement; Education, Health and Care plan; or co-ordinated support plan (Scotland) if they have one. Work with the school to resolve the issue. It may not happen immediately, but do keep meeting and working with them. Get advice about disability discrimination and the disability equality duty. Remember that the teachers may not know the situation as well as you do, and might interpret the behaviour differently. They might just think that other children are innocently questioning your child about their condition but, if it upsets your child, then it is not acceptable and needs to be stopped. If the bullying continues, you may want to make a complaint. What the school can do Schools use a variety of methods to deal with bullying, some of which are listed below. Ask your child’s school for their behaviour and discipline policy to see what they do. Circle of friends. This was developed to promote the inclusion of students with disabilities and difficulties into mainstream schools. It’s a programme involving pupils, teachers and parents. Telling schools. If the child being bullied is unable to or too scared to tell a teacher, all other children know it is their duty to report it. Peer support programmes. Older pupils can volunteer to be trained in caring for younger pupils. These volunteer pupils are identified by a badge or ribbon and everyone in the school knows bullying is not acceptable. ‘No blame’ support groups. Bullies are not blamed and are encouraged to work in a group together with a teacher to suggest a solution. Whole school individual approach. This uses mentoring in addition to circle time, restorative justice and quiet clubs. Group and individual sessions based on listening and behavioural therapy. The sessions explore anger management, social skills and resilience, emotional issues, and relaxation. Training and resources that encourage staff and children to think of ways to make their school more inclusive, helping them to challenge bullying in their school. Projects that provide opportunities for disabled and non-disabled children to spend time together, looking to bust the myths and change views and attitudes. Your experiences as parents While your main focus may be on your child’s experience, it’s also important to recognise the impact that it’s having on you as parents and as a couple. Parents often feel a range of emotions after finding out their child is being bullied – anger, guilt and anxiety. It is natural to have these feelings but there are things you can do to help cope: Share how you are feeling with family and friends. Consider peer support through online forums and social media. If there is a support group for your child’s condition, get in touch. They will probably be supporting other parents with similar experiences. Remember you’re not alone, and that the bullying can be resolved. Reassure yourself that you’re doing a good job. Contact your local parent carer forum for support from other parents in your area. Get support from anti-bullying organisations. Spend time together as a family. When your child is being bullied, it can be easy for you and your partner to feel guilty and start blaming yourselves, so it’s important to remind each other that you are both doing everything you can. As well as offering each other support, it can be useful to try and understand the causes of your feelings – for example, a lack of support or a sense of powerlessness may add to whatever stress you’re already feeling about the actual bullying [8]. If you are trying to engage the school, share the burden of contact and perseverance and make sure you are both doing your bit in starting conversations and chasing up replies. This can make things much easier than just leaving one parent to deal with everything [8]. For more information about spotting the signs of bullying, strategies to deal with bullying, and tips for building your child’s confidence and self-esteem, see Contact’s guide to dealing with bullying. References [1] Jones, L., et al. (2012). Prevalence and risk of violence against children with disabilities: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Lancet, 380, 899-907. [2] Bourke, S. & Burgman, I. (2010). Coping with bullying in Australian schools: how children with disabilities experience support from friends, parents and teachers. Disability and Society, 25(3), [3] Turner, H.A., Vanderminden, J., Finkelhor, D., Hamby, S. and Shattuck, A. (2011). Disability and Victimization in a National Sample of Children and Youth. Child Maltreatment. DOI: 10.1177/1077559511427178. [4] Smith, P.K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S., & Tippett, N. (2008). Cyberbullying: it’s nature and impact in secondary school pupils. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(4), 376-385. [5] Didden, R., et al., (2009). Cyberbullying among students with intellectual and developmental disability in special education settings. Dev Neurorehabil. Jun;12(3):146-51. doi: 10.1080/17518420902971356. [6] Mesch, G. S. (2009). Parental mediation, online activities, and cyberbullying. Cyberpsychology and Behaviour, 12(4), 387-393. [7] Rose, C., Monda-Amaya, L. E., Espelage, D. L. (2010). Bullying perpetration and victimizationin Special Education: A review of the literature. Remedial and Special Education, 32(2), 114-130. [8] Hale, R.C., Fox, C., Murray, M. (2017). “As a Parent You Become a Tiger": Parents Talking about Bullying at School. Journal of Child and Family Studies; 26(7), 2000-2015, DOI:10.1007/s10826-017-0710-z.
Article | disability, bullying
Balancing work and childcare as a dad
When you become a dad, you and your partner will need to make some decisions about how to divide up your work and childcare responsibilities. This may prove to be a more complex decision that it initially appears. Even in modern families, many parents still tend to drift towards traditional gender roles with men returning quickly to work and women staying home to take on primary childcare duties. As a dad, this can leave you feeling like the backup parent, on hand when needed but never at the forefront of parenting decisions [1]. Take some time to discuss your hopes and expectations with your partner so you can each get a true sense of what the other wants. You’ll still need to make compromises, but it will benefit you to make the decision as a couple, and take on the roles that suit your family, rather than the roles you think you’re supposed to have [2]. Getting this balance right early on can help you establish a childcare routine that works, and this can give your relationship quality a positive boost. Balancing your work and family lives It isn’t always easy to strike a successful balance between your work life and your family life. If you have to go back to work soon after your child is born, it can be a mixed experience. On the one hand, it may feel like a daily grind that takes you away from family life; on the other hand, the change of scene might sometimes feel like a relief from the stresses of home and family life [3].  If you’re the one staying at home while your partner goes back to work, you may face a different kind of pressure as you remain on constant parenting duty without a change of pace. Whether you’re working, or on full-time childcare duty, you’ll probably have good and bad days. Try to remember that your partner is probably having a similarly tough time, even if you are tackling very different roles – you’re both going to need each other’s support. If both want to keep working, it can be a struggle to balance things. Good quality childcare is often hard to find and isn’t always affordable. This may affect the options available to you around the decision to return to work. One or both of you may have to work extra hours to cover childcare costs, or you may find that it makes better financial sense for one of you to stop working and cover childcare yourself.  It can make things easier if you’re able to arrange to work more flexibly. Under UK employment law, you are entitled to request flexible working arrangements, but your employer is not obliged to grant it [4] – it’s best if you can present the request in a way that benefits your employer as well as your family. Parental leave  Dads are still more likely to go back to work sooner than mums, which can leave them feeling less confident in their parenting roles. If you’re not around the baby as much as your partner, you’ll have fewer opportunities to practise your parenting skills and you may worry about getting things wrong. If it’s available, an extended period of shared parental leave can give you both a chance to develop your parenting skills together. This early sharing of hands-on experience can set a precedent for a more equal involvement in long-term childcare, increasing your confidence and giving you a better understanding of what your partner is going through at home, if and when you return to work. All of this can help set up a more effective co-parenting relationship and, as a result, a happier couple relationship [1] [5] [6].  If you can’t get the time off work, be prepared to learn things at a slower rate than your partner and try not to be put off by the fear of getting things wrong. Ask your partner to be patient with you. Explain that, even though you may not get things right first time, you do really want to help. By demonstrating that you’re willing to learn, you’ll be able to offer your partner more support in the long term. References [1] Gao, M., Du, H., Davies, P. and Cummings, M. (2018). Marital Conflict Behaviors and Parenting: Dyadic Links over Time. Family Relations DOI:10.1111/fare.12322. [2] Jansen, M. and Liefbroer, A.C. (2006). Couples’ attitudes, childbirth and division of labour. Journal of Family Issues, 27 (1), 1487-1511. [3] Brown, T.J. & Clark, C. (2017). Employed parents of children with disabilities and work family life balance: a literature review. Child Youth Care Forum. 46: 857. [4] HSBC (2012). HSBC lends a hand to back‐to‐work parents: Employees guaranteed part‐time work after maternity or paternity leave. Human Resource Management International Digest, 20 (16-17) [5] Kolak, A.M. and Volling, B.L. (2007), Parental Expressiveness as a Moderator of Coparenting and Marital Relationship Quality. Family Relationships, 56(5), 467-478.  [6] Rehel, E. (2014). When Dad Stays Home Too: paternity leave, gender, and parenting. Gender and Society, 28 (1), 110-132.
Article | dad
1 6 min read
Community posts
“Pregnancy woes”
My partner is now 20 weeks pregnant. Yesterday we had the 20-week scan which we were both excited about. I wanted to find out the gender, my partner didn't. She refused to let me find out as she didn't trust me not to say. I felt utterly embarrassed when she refused in the ultrasound room. I had previously tried to persuade her to find out to avoid gender disappointment for herself as she's adamant it's a girl. I entirely respect her wish not to find out but do not see why I couldn't. She then proceeded to write a post on Facebook chastising me for wanting to know and for daring to upset her by showing my annoyance at being refused. It has brought to surface many issues for me and I believe the ultrasound was the final straw. As soon as she found out she was pregnant she made a stop smoking appointment for me which I agreed to go to. We made the appointment for the same time as an early scan she was having to avoid having to drive to the hospital twice (it's a fair distance). I did not expect her to force her way into the meeting and certainly didn't expect her to arrange for a prescription of chantix with the advisor without me being fully on board or agreeing to it. She proceeded to order the medication and after I refused to take it for several days literally forced me to take it and ensured I kept taking it. She has given me absolutely no way in anything relating to the pregnancy and I feel like I'm just being dictated to. It has now resulted in an almighty quarrel and we are at loggerheads. She refuses to write the full story on FB although she has now deleted the offending post (I feel that's not enough as it was commented on 60+ times and has already done the damage) She now wants a private scan and will let me find out the gender. She thinks that fixes the lack of trust to begin with. She refuses to acknowledge that it's going to cost over £100 by the time we pay for gender scan and drive two hours to get there and that is a total waste of money we don't have right now. She now says she doesn't trust anyone, its apparently an historic issue that's news to me as I feel trust is all important in a relationship. What can we do to resolve this issue? We are close to separating over this issue.
User article | breakup, pregnancy
“Social skills and team sports”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   One of the best after-school activities for kids is to participate in youth sports. Taking part in different sports activities over the school years can benefit kids in a number of ways. Not only they get great much-needed exercise from sports, but taking part in team sports also provide them with numerous valuable life lessons. It’s often encouraged that kids can participate in sports from a very young age. Take a look at how kids benefit from playing sports. Gaining social skills Social skills are best gained when children take part in team sports that require and enable them to interact with one another. Kids who are not talented athletes will still benefit from team sports as they will learn a lot by interacting with the other kids. Shy or timid-natured kids can learn a lot and improve their social skills by playing team sports. Team sports allow kids to solve problems by communicating with each other – listening and taking in others' ideas, and brainstorming together to reach a strategy. Kids can develop leadership skills by being a part of a team. The communications practice that they get goes a long way to help them in evolving their minds for future leadership roles. Getting much needed exercise Organised sports events enable kids to get mental and physical exercise. Their mind and body can get a great workout by taking part in sport activities. Outdoor recreational sports enable kids to create bonds with other children, making memories that last forever. Paying sports also acts as an excellent stress reducer, promoting healthy body and minds. Better academic performance Children who are more active in sports may show a greater success rate at school than kids who are not so active. Participating in sports may enhance fine motor skills in children. It can also refresh their minds, allowing them to pay better attention in class. Sports can help them by sharpening their focus and improving their memory. Team sports also teach kids how to follow instructions and directions, helping them to cope better at school. Forming friendships through teamwork Children's interpersonal skills are developed as they participate in teamwork. This helps them develop strong bonds and promotes a better social life down the road. They learn how to form friendships by supporting each other and working towards a common goal. It helps improve co-operation and leadership skills and teaches them how to accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Teamwork also makes sports more fun as they get to share the experience with other kids and they learn how to cheer each other on. Encouraging healthy competition Sport provides children with a healthy outlet for competition. Team sports teach kids how to compete with others fairly and how to give their best towards winning. It also teaches that while it’s great to win, it’s also OK to lose sometimes. They learn that practicing something enables them to perform better. They learn that, through discipline and hard work, they can fare better. Competition in sports also teaches them to stay positive even though the situation may not always be in their favor. For instance, if their team loses, they still need to remain positive to uplift the team’s morale. Reinforcing mental health Being a part of organised team sports teaches kids to be more self-aware and boosts their self-esteem. Teamwork makes them feel more valued and needed. It teaches them to think big and how to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves. Playing recreational sports can relieve stress and help them to combat anxiety. Parents can offer encouragement and compliments to children, rewarding them for their achievements. This can help build their confidence. Performing well at team sports can also earn the acknowledgment and respect of the teammates, actively building positive self-esteem. Learning to manage and organise time Sports teach children how to follow instructions. This helps them learn how to manage time for the different activities in their lives such as school, homework, house chores and other forms of recreation. They learn how to make time for each activity and how to make commitments based on the time they have allotted. Teaches them a good sporting attitude Participating in team sports is a great way to learn about the value of sportsmanship. They get to learn the importance of fair play and how everyone deserves a chance at playing. They learn how to play their part by taking responsibility and how to not argue if things don’t always go their way. One of the biggest lessons learned is how to lose graciously and not to brag if you win. The value of team play is emphasised and they can also learn how to cheer their teammates on. Learning to respect others Team sport can teach children how to respect the decisions of referees, umpires, coaches and other officials. This also enables them to build respect for themselves and to respect the development of their careers. Respect for other individuals helps them to establish positive habits throughout their lives. As parents, it is your responsibility to provide your children with positive experiences throughout their childhood, so that their development takes proper shape. Providing them with access to sports facilities can go a long way in ensuring that. Adequate sports experiences as a child can encourage kids to keep making healthy life choices. It also helps them stay actively involved in sports and have an energetic lifestyle. So, help your child to make the right choice by involving them in sports at a young age.
User article | friends, school
“Confronting my stepchildren's mother”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I have been in a relationship for one and a half years I am pregnant and due in July. My significant other has other children from other women (which I can handle). I have been battling with my emotions on a subject that has been haunting me for almost a year now. My hunny's ex-wife had been informed that there were bed bugs at her job the middle of last year, well i guess not thinking anything of it until her daughter (his daughter) was sleeping on the couch many months down the rd and woke up with bites all over her. Turns up she found out she had them. Not really taking any action to solve the problem, I found out and being the freak that I am about pests I tried to take every precaution that I could without saying hey well the kids cant come to the house (even though that's what I wanted to say) I didn't want to be considered the bad guy, but I also don't want the bugs at my home with my kids. Well needless to say i said how I felt numerous of times stating she needed to do something about it before it became out of hand and it spread(but nothing was really done) so now this woman has an infestation I have the bugs because of course the kids as well as her would come over to my house. I don't know how to react or what to do, I don't want my immediate family to get them. I have been spraying and reading on how to take care of the situation, but as soon as i feel like i have it somewhat under control i feel like they are just bringing more over!!!!!!! Help!!!!! Just some opinions, suggestions would be great. I have not reacted how deep down inside i would like to because i don't care for confrontation i have spoke out in a nice manner but obviously am being ignored by not only her but my boyfriend which is her ex-husband.
Ask the community | parenting, stepfamily
“She abandoned me while I was sick”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   We have seriously dated four months. Neither serial daters. Both professed our deep love to each other. I will do anything for her and have done so. I'm all in. I am getting the impression that I love her more than she loves me. Case in point yesterday I awake sick but still have to get my kids out the door (single Dad). So here is our text conversation over the day. Anyone else see red flags in the caring and sacrifice areas? I can promise...a team of wild horses could not have kept me from caring for her however she wished. I'm hurt and confused. 6:17am I told you I awoke sick. Flu-like aches and sore throat.  10:36am You ask me if I want you to come over. 10:41am I say yes please come over 12:32pm You say that you need to get through a little bit more work (from home, flexible) 2:56  You say "Honey- I love you sooo much and I can't wait to you as soon as possible!" 3:24pm You asked me about my plans for tomorrow (Me thinking- I am getting the distinct impression you're not coming over but still you don't say this) 3:37pm I asked if you were coming over 3:39pm You say no that you have other plans (workout and weekly dinner/wine with friends) and don't have time now.
Ask the community | social media, parenting, stepfamily
“Four kids and no time left for each other”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   My wife and I have got four great kids together and last year we bought our very first house together (previously rented) which is a four-bed in need of total renovation. Since we got the keys I basically worked all day at my job and then went there until the early hours of the day until we moved in at the end of last year. My wife has always commented how we've not got anything in common for a while now and looking back at my interests I can agree that they differ from hers completely. She is one of six kids and although her family leave reasonably close, they never really help out with the kids as they either have kids of their own or they work full time/have other responsibilities. I'm an only child, I don't have a relationship with my Dad and my Mum is a professional musician so I don't see much of her but we do talk all the time so thats all good. Anyway, it was my daughters birthday last week and she wanted a garden party and as our garden was a mess, we decided to update it with some decking which yours truly did and this took up a lot of my time. On top of the house projects, we have a new puppy, which was supposed to be a family pet but has basically come down to me and my other daughter to look after. There are other things but to summarise them, my life is basically like this: With so many responsibilities, I only have Mon/Fri/Sat night free. Out of these three free nights, I've been working on the house be it inside or in the garden and i normally finish after 10pm each night. Oh yeah, and then I have to walk the dog! My wife on the other hand looks after everything else such as the cooking,cleaning, looking after the kids if i'm not there etc but her life is just as busy as mine albeit child-focused. I'm sure that when the house is all finished we'll have more time for each other but in the past year we've been out once together. I've lost touch with all my friends and she spends all her free time on facebook. She told me last night she wasn't happy with me and ended up storming off as I don't talk to her and she's lonely but from my point of view everything that takes up all my time like the decking, dance rehearsals, swimming and the dog were all sorted out by her and then she left it to me. for about 2 years she's also had minor medical niggles which have ranged from headaches, to ulcers, to tummy ache to foot ache etc and when I get home from work i hear about whats hurting her today. It's now got to the point when I don't want to talk to her as all I hear is complaining about everything. What do I do? I can't stretch myself any thinner and anything i'd consider talking to her about is either minor compared to her life or just not on common ground between us. It's hard to want to listen to someone that moans all the time about life but I don't want to break up as she's a good Mum to my kids and does a good job keeping on top of the house. We just don't click any more. Any suggestions?
Ask the community | parenting
“Relationship issues after birth of child”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I have issue with my partner after our girl was born. I am being always very close to my partner and we did pretty everything together. This baby for us is like a blessing since I am low count guy and I have few chance to achieve this naturally. Basically I am very keen in doing home duties from cleaning to grocery and household stuff shop. I always have done this, even before pregnancy. During pregnancy I supported my partner every day by helping her with shoes, eating and also being always at scan and check. Of course I did mistakes sometime because my love one is anxious and tends to overreact to problems and sometime I used bad words because I was panicking too. However always recognized my mistakes and made my apologies, now I am changed and tends to be more calm and paced when she get anxious. However, I use to snore and in the last ya my sleep become quit deep. The his made me incapable of listening my partner calling me sometime for help on nappy changes and nights with the baby. However, it was not like this always and I did what I was capable of doing, since for both of us is just the first child. In addition I work and I am trying to make my work do not forbid me for being next to them. Despite this my partner said that she hate me for not being able to help her in the nights, she hate everything of me and want to leave. This started an evening when I was returned from the usual shop for all of us and by closing the door the lock woke up the baby. From that day every single minimal thing is something to argue and tell me how I am shitty. I am confused worried and really exhausted of being treated like this from the person that I LOVE. Please someone has any advice? Cheers
Ask the community | parenting, arguments