Campaign reveals new faces of parenting after nationwide search
After a nation-wide search that attracted entries from parents right across Wales, four families have been named as the new faces of the Welsh Government’s positive parenting campaign.
The search was part of the Parenting. Give it time campaign, that provides support and advice to parents of young children in Wales and shows how encouraging and praising children for good behaviour is more effective than harsh punishments for challenging behaviour.
The four families, from Rhydyfelin, Rhyl, Newport and Swansea, were selected by a panel of parenting experts from more than 200 online entries. The chosen families have agreed to share their personal experiences of the joys and challenges of bringing up a young family, in the hope that other parents can benefit from their stories.
Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children said: “Congratulations to the four families who have been selected as the faces of our Parenting Give it Time campaign. The response we received to the Face of Parenting competition was incredible and the judges found it difficult to select from so many inspirational stories.
“The one thing that all the parents had in common was that they had embarked on a journey that nobody could have prepared them for. By taking part in the campaign and sharing their real-life experiences, the families hope that other parents can benefit, whether by learning from their mistakes or trying out tips that have worked for them.”
Over the next few months, the Welsh public will get to know the families, through reading their own accounts of life as parents of young children, as well as through photographs, videos and posts on the campaign’s website and Facebook page.
MEET THE FAMILIES
Van and Mark Goodbody live in Swansea, with 2-year old Lily. Although they are both working parents, they try to organise their schedules to spend as much time with Lily as possible, so that they don’t miss out on her development. They describe parenting as “the most challenging and rewarding job in the world” that nobody can prepare you for.
Lily speaks English and Vietnamese (her mother was born in Vietnam) and has a lively personality. As parents, they have learned how to cope with any challenging behaviour by using distraction techniques, staying positive and showing love and affection. Especially on days that have been tiring and stressful. They try to set a good example for her by working hard, looking after themselves, helping people and leading a happy and healthy life.
“Be patient with your child and try to see the world through their eyes,” says Van. “Spend time with them, enjoy and treasure it, as there is nothing more rewarding than seeing your child happy, playing and growing. Don’t be afraid to admit that sometimes you might make mistakes with your parenting. Just try to learn from those mistakes.”
Natasha and Dean Jones live in Rhyl with their three children, Sebastian (6), Imogen (4) and Eliza (9 months). A bilingual home with a Welsh-speaking mum and an English-speaking Dad, the Jones family live in a “parenting whirlwind”, trying to pull off the ultimate balancing act to ensure all the kids get enough attention, cuddles, playtime and chats.
Sebastian has mobility problems, while Imogen has a rare type of lung disease, which makes it challenging to balance health needs and hospital appointments with the desire to have a fun family life. As parents they have always felt it important to give praise and attention for good behaviour, rather than forms of punishment, as a way to build up confidence and prepare their children for the future.
“It’s all just a phase” says full-time mum Natasha. “Whenever we’re going through challenging times, whether it be disturbed sleep, feeding problems or hitting, I remind myself that it’s just a phase and before long we’ll be on to the next one.”
As a midwife and a secondary school teacher, Naomi and Sam Price-Bates from Newport thought they were well prepared for the arrival of little Myla, but 16 months on and parenting continues to provide its little surprises.
Although they admit that they are still getting to grips with their whole ‘life adjustment’, they now feel able to embrace the rewarding moments, while accepting that there are lots of things they can’t control. Pressure to bring up the ‘perfect’ child has been replaced with a ‘trial and error’ approach – as well as the realisation that it takes time to get to know your child, as well as your own parenting beliefs.
“Communicate, communicate, communicate,” says Naomi. “Talk to your partner, other parents, friends and colleagues – anyone! Talking things through always makes things better, whether it’s a ranting session or a proud-mummy chat about new words your toddler can say. Sharing is the best way to support yourself and others.”
Stephen Smyth lives in the village of Rhydyfelin, near Pontypridd, with his daughter Ayda (6) and son George (3). Stephen described the birth of his daughter as “emotional and life-changing” and, although he and his wife Teresa were apprehensive, they embraced the challenge and agreed they would give parenting their best shot and “enjoy the ride”.
As parents, they put time and patience above everything and gradually settled into a routine that worked for them and Ayda. When Teresa fell pregnant again, they received the devastating news that she had cancer. They vowed to fight it together, with Ayda and George as the glue that helped them to hold it all together. Sadly, seven months after George was born, Teresa passed away but Stephen had promised to raise their two children in a way that would make their mummy proud, and is now determined to do just that.
“Nobody can tell you how to parent your kids,” says Stephen. “It’s about finding your feet and what works for you and your little ones. Any parent would be very lucky if everything fell in to place, so be patient, give it time, and you’ll get there.”
ABOUT PARENTING. GIVE IT TIME
The Parenting. Give it time campaign stresses the importance of making the most of the time you have with your children. The aim is that by reading and listening to the personal accounts of four very different families, whose children range from seven years to nine months, will help other parents going through similar challenges. The Welsh Government hopes it will also show parents that the choices they make can have a hugely positive impact on their children, and the family unit as a whole.
Parenting. Give it time was first launched in 2015, with a dedicated website, Facebook page, booklet and advice sheets offering tips and information for parents. It suggests ways to take some of the stress out of everyday family activities, such as bed time, bath time and the weekly food shop. The website (gov.wales/giveittime ) deals with specific issues, including toddler tantrums and potty training, and addresses the challenges associated with a child’s development, from birth to five years.