Guest Post & #BookGiveaway
by Naomi Hunter
A couple of days ago we were fortunate enough to hear from author and publisher, Naomi Hunter in her interview about her first book, A Secret a Safe to Tell. Today she has generously provided even more valuable insights into dealing with family pressures and struggles and her latest title, Even Mummy Cries. Thanks once again, Naomi! X
We live in a world full of emotionally challenging situations to navigate, often with compounding financial pressures that dictate how we schedule our household responsibilities, work commitments, quality family time and leisure activities. As parents, we often attempt to juggle all this with the composure and calm needed to keep our children feeling safe and secure in their routines, providing a balanced and nurturing environment in which they can thrive throughout their childhood, unaffected by the pressures us adults face on a daily basis.
Sometimes though, hardships arise, pressures bubble over and our ability to manage in warrior-mode become tried and tested.
‘Then sometimes we notice our mummy feeling sad. And then we hear her late at night… Our mummy’s sadness explodes and she cries.”
As a parent, I regularly feel upset, worried, sad, confused, alone, tired, anxious and unwell and it can be very tempting to want to shelter my daughter from these times in fear that she will be negatively impacted and scarred. Maybe you have stressed, going through something extremely heavy and challenging and feel that it must be hidden from your kids in order to protect their innocence and save them from any suffering.
We all experience hardship and it’s tough to navigate these times when we have parental responsibilities. The precious little ones in our care make getting through painful experiences so worth it, and often, many parents believe that to be a ‘good parent’ or to deal with difficult times the ‘right way’ means that our children must be protected and must not know what we are going through.
My second book, Even Mummy Cries, was inspired by this very dilemma – how to continue to be an effective parent whilst struggling to cope with a crippling hardship without the heaviness imploding on our little ones.
As a child with two parents who were suffering considerably from mental illness and grief, I was filled with questions but given no answers. Tension, confusion and anger bubbled up in my home and our parents thought they were doing their job ‘better’ if we were not burdened with their pain and suffering. It led us to believe that we were the problem. The hardship and sadness that crippled their lives, that inhibited them from being there for us was all our fault.
By suppressing our real emotions in front our kids when faced with difficult situations, we can limit their potential to grow with us through these times. When we block their view of what we are feeling, we can sometimes appear distant or not in the moment with them, sparking questions about what IS going on and sometimes this can have a profoundly negative impact on our child. The most compounding fear for a child seeing their mum or dad upset, or anyone close, whom they love and adore, is feeling that they may be responsible for the issues that are arising, the distance they are noticing, the low tolerance levels in the household and the tension amongst their family. Not knowing what is going on can sometimes be more frightening, than being told in an age appropriate way.
My beautifully illustrated picture storybook gently guides the reader on a family’s journey where the bond between a mother and her three children is strong, with her love for them more than “a gazillion billion trillion plus infinity.” This bond is challenged when the children notice their mummy looking sad and worried and when they don’t understand why she only wants to sleep a lot and doesn’t feel like playing any more. It’s not until their mummy snuggles them in again and explains her tears that her children feel settled again, they’re reminded of their unbreakable bond and that their mummy’s sadness has nothing to do with them.
I’ve learnt a lot of things while juggling my healing process with the most complicated job in the world – parenting, and the most important lesson is that kids can cope with difficult topics. They can try and understand depression and anxiety and they can understand that sometimes Mum cries a lot, or that Dad doesn’t feel like playing outside. It even allows them to develop a healthy source of empathy towards you and anyone else experiencing hardship. What they don’t cope very well with though, is being isolated. They don’t cope well with lip service and they certainly don’t cope well with a lack of explanation as to why things are stressful. Many times over the past 7 years I have replied to one of my daughters many, many questions with, “It’s not appropriate for me to give you any more information right now, but I definitely will when you’re older” or “Leave your question with me right now and I will think about the best way to answer you later today.” This is never said to shut down a conversation, it is simply being honest about what I am willing or ready to disclose in a way that helps us all. I have learnt that it is more helpful to be honest first, than to make something up out of fear of upsetting your child or “ruining their innocence”.
By providing this open and honest platform, our daughter knows that she can come to us with any questions or concerns she might have. She knows that we will always be honest and she knows that we will always value what she has to say.
In the end, kids just want to feel included. If you bring them in and include them in meaningful discussions, they are far less likely to attribute the stress to something they have done. It’s time we stop trying to ‘shelter’ our kids and start empowering them to deal with what life can throw at us.
Naomi Hunter is the co-founder of her publishing business, Empowering Resources. Together with her husband, Jeremy, their goal is to produce high quality picture books and Young Adult Novels to nurture, educate and empower kids and adults. She is also a mum, Primary School Teacher and author of the inspiring story of courage through adversity, A Secret Safe to Tell.
See my review of Even Mummy Cries here.
CLOSED- For your chance to WIN a copy of either A Secret Safe to Tell or Even Mummy Cries, courtesy of Empowering Resources, simply ‘like’ or ‘share’ this post or the interview post on Facebook! More details can be found below:
- Competition is a game of luck with winners selected at random.
- A ‘like’ or a ‘share’ via Facebook of either this post or the next post by Naomi Hunter on the Just Kids’ Lit website constitutes one entry into the competition. Both ‘like’ and ‘share’ receives two entries.
- Two (2) winners will be selected, each winning one copy of either A Secret Safe to Tell or Even Mummy Cries, written by Naomi Hunter, illustrated by Karen Erasmus.
- Book copies are supplied and posted courtesy of Empowering Resources.
- Winning entrants are to provide their postal address within 7 days of competition close to: Laura Wallbridge, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, Laura!
- Judging is final and no further correspondence will be entered into.
- Competition open only to Australian residents.
- Entries (‘like’ or ‘share’) close at midnight on Wednesday July 20, 2016.
- This competition is not sponsored by Facebook or any other entity other than Empowering Resources and Just Write For Kids.