How To Not Be A Dickhead Parent by Kate Forster

I recently came across this article written by Kate Forster and I thought it was brilliant. She talks frankly about the dos and don’ts of parenting that she has learnt over the past 16 years. She uses a different language to what I personally do, lol, but I’d have to say I agree with 99% of her list.  Let’s raise kind, we’ll balanced, confident humans.  You can find the article here.  Words are by Kate, images are of Ari and I, when he was 4 months old, taken by the beautiful Nicola Holland Photography.

I have been thinking about parenting. My children are now adults. Well,  as close to as possible, with the youngest only 6 months away from being 18.

They’re both exceptional. Funny, smart, they work hard, they’re kind, they are strong and they have a strong sense of social justice. I am proud of my part in their upbringing and prouder of them managing to get over the shittiest parts of my parenting.

As I get older, I see what made a difference and what didn’t,  where I wasted energy and where I was right to remind them to push a little harder in their own life. This is also based on watching other kids and their families and the ones who have taken refuge in our house away from their dickhead parents. I have had several children here, so I get it.

I’ve had to try and reason with mothers who don’t understand why their child is suicidal because of their appalling parenting. I’ve had to go to court for another as their advocate. I’ve fostered one because the parent refused to stop drinking and kick the abusive boyfriend out. I’ve had 2am calls from a desperate kids who have made bad choices and need an adult to help. I have done pickups from parks at 4am for drunk teenage girls, I’ve pulled kids from fights. Told parents off for pushing so hard their kid was on the edge, ready to jump. I’ve sat with a kid and told him it wasn’t his fault his mum killed herself after he found her body. I have taught kids how to set boundaries with their fuck-wit parents. I have listened when my own kids tell me how I can do better.

So, here is my list for do’s and don’t in raising kids:

  1. Don’t be a Tiger Parent. Don’t demand they practise until they hate the thing they’re learning. Just because you didn’t get to learn the violin doesn’t mean they want to. They will hate it and you in equal parts in the future and hold it against you. Start saving for therapy now if you continue this.
  2. Don’t push them at school. Get them to pass and teach work ethic. My kid just passed her final year but focussed on her passions. She is now going to graduate with a double degree and is starting her Masters in what she loved since she was small.
  3. Don’t go away on holidays and leave them behind. They remember. This will come up in therapy. It’s called abandonment and it’s gonna bite you in the bum one day, hard. Real hard. Keep adding to the therapy fund if you keep doing this too often.
  4. Don’t lecture your kids about not drinking when you drink every night in front of them.
  5. Don’t tell your kids to not try drugs. They will. You can’t stop them. Educate them about safe choices instead.
  6. Tell them to have sex when they’re ready when they feel really okay with it, and not before. Give them the power, and they will make the best decision for them, based on their feelings and self-knowledge.
  7. Teach them to laugh at themselves more than they laugh at others.
  8. Teach them self-awareness. Really. Stop with the selfies so much kiddo.
  9. Don’t worry about the Grade 2 teacher. Ten years later and you won’t remember their name.
  10. Help your kid find out what they’re good at and build their interests and co-curricular activity around that.
  11. Ask them to try a food 10 times before they decide they hate it.
  12. Ask them to wait six months before they give up the instrument they are learning. If they still loathe it, then it’s gone. My son said he wanted to give up guitar. We waited the 6 months and now he’s studying it for his final year because he loves it so much.
  13. Being a kind person will get them further socially, than being smart.
  14. Tell them you enjoy parenting them, often and always. Don’t make them feel like shit for being born. That was your decision, not theirs.
  15. Don’t pay for them to go to a private school and then make them feel guilty about the fees. Again, that was your decision.
  16. Don’t tell them you need “grown up time.” That’s a shitty thing to say. Find grown up time. You’re a grown up.
  17. Answer every question as honestly as you can. Children remember the lies.
  18. Don’t live through them. Let them shine on their own terms.
  19. Work. Especially if you’re a woman. Show your children you are capable and able to earn your own money and that women contribute to the world also. If you aren’t working, then tell them you used to work, and will work again and explain your time at home with them is your job, so they get that women do things and do them well.
  20. Spending quantity time with them is more important than quality time. No such thing. They don’t remember the ‘special’ time. They just remember the time. The gaps of you not being there create anxiety and they turn on each other. Be present.
  21. Tell them you love them, even when you don’t like them.
  22. Saying no is good when it is going to protect them from themselves.
  23. Don’t fuck around with mental health. Remind them that there isn’t a problem in the world that can’t be solved and that everything passes. Today’s gossip will be replaced by something else at school tomorrow. Lie in bed with them all night if you’re worried. Stroke their hair, tell them stories about when they were little and how loved they are, tell them about when you were pregnant with them. Remind them they are wanted and loved and that they can and will survive what is happening.
  24. Ask them about pop culture and things you don’t get. Find out about their lives and what is in it. Don’t dismiss it because you don’t get it.  Learn their language, enter their world, and they will enjoy teaching you about it all.
  25. Laugh at yourself and often.
  26. Say sorry for when you are a shit parent. It matters to them. It also teaches them how to apologise to others.
  27. Don’t tell your kids they owe you because you feed and clothe them. You’re supposed to do that, you absolute idiot. You don’t get respect for doing the bare minimum!
  28. If your kid hates you, you caused that. Sorry, but you did. Sort it out, now!
  29. Don’t invalidate their feelings. To not have your feelings heard and recognised is a form of child abuse. If they are upset, acknowledge it first, then respond.

And that’s Katie Parenting Class 101.

All of this comes from my learnings, the children who have passed through my doors looking for help for their life issues, and their home life. These are the things that stick. Thank you for reading.


*Disclaimer: At times this website contains posts where items and experiences have been sponsored, gifted or blog posts have been paid for in return for advertisement/promotion.  Where this applies it will be clearly stated at the bottom of the blog post. Natalie Sullivan and only endorses brands/items that her family uses, loves and highly recommends. To read the full disclaimer see here

10 Important Lessons We Need To Teach Our Girls


• by Sareswari, Founder of Next Generation Magazine • Chairperson A.L.L Indonesia • Writer • TEDx Speaker • Social Entrepreneur • Computer Scientist •

We are living in world where we want to have equality for ourselves and our daughters. Your daughters and their daughters or sisters will also need the role models they can look up to, sadly we don’t have enough. This is your chance to give the world the wonder women its desperately needed.

1. Critical Thinking

When your boys are playing with their car toys and something happened or they broke it down — wouldn’t their be unlikely try to fix it by just assembling the parts together? What if it was our girls? We have been teaching our girls to always get someone’s help — unknowingly limiting their ability to think to their way out of a critical situation. When your daughters are faced with difficulties, the best way you can start teaching them about critical thinking is involving them and teaching what to do if something like that happens again. If they broke their toy, get them to help fixing the broken part. This small act will help them later on in their future life when they are faced with critical situations in their relationship, workplace or business.

2. Stand for yourself, always

Nowadays, your news feed must have been filled with the news of various types of abuses women around the world are going through. Some are brave enough to voice it out while many others are still holding themselves from speaking up the truth for many reasons — mostly because they don’t how to stand up for themselves when their rights have been violated. Can you imagine the mental and emotional torture these women have had to face every single day? When we teach our girls to stand up for herself, for her beliefs and for truth — we are giving them freedom to speak not only for themselves but for many other. Our society is turning to cruel place and it all takes one voice to make the difference ; and it can theirs.

3. Understanding

Our world has the misconception that women have to feminine. Women is also associated with their caring, understanding and ability to love everything and everyone. They are not wrong, we always have that ‘motherly nature’ inside of you. What they don’t understand is that we can gentle and strong, we can be humble yet firm at the same time. Understanding is important because it will teach other girls to see it from other’s point of view or other’s shoes. Understanding will help our girls to make some major decisions in their life not without knowing the consequences of it later on.

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass — Maya  Angelou

4. Self-respect

Respect others, but not at the cost of yourself respect. Teaching your girls self — respect is giving the ability to say no or walk away from any situation that can threaten their honor and dignity. It’s also teaching them on how to love and value themselves. As much as it’s important for us to teach our girls to respect everyone, how can they respect others when they don’t know how to respect themselves? Teach your girls on how to respect their bodies by getting proper exercise or well-balanced diet and healthy food. Their self-respect is so important that it will affect the life choice they will be making.

5. Brave

Just like any other little girls, I, too, was obsessed with fairy tales, princess stories and pink aisle toys. What I didn’t understand then was my parents always taught me to be the perfect little girl — to sit pretty or dress pretty. There was nothing wrong with it, however I realized that growing up, I was afraid to do certain things which boys would not even a second thought in doing. Unfortunately, we don’t teach our girls the same way we teach our boys. We teach our girls to be perfect and our boys to be brave. While we always told them to hold on to our teachings, how will they be able to go in the world if we have never taught them to be brave.

Being brave simply means that it’s okay to be afraid. We teach them it’s okay to take risk and embrace failure. Teaching our girls to be brave can start from the simplest things in your house, give them a voice in your home. We give them a chance to talk. Not only it’s going to boost confidence in the future, its also sending a message that they should never be afraid to voice their opinion. You can start from the basic like asking and discussing the menu for dinner and involve them in the process.

6. Patience

With patience they can reach for the stars — it won’t be easy or quick but it’s possible. Patience turns talent into achievement. Hard work and patience always brings forth result. Patience can transform relationship, be it in their workplace or marriage. In life we are always quick to hasty decisions in the moment full or rush or anger and often regret it later on. While, there are much too much things that can be changed if we have the patience and think past the situation. All things will come past, be it good or bad. Time will heal everything.

7. Independent

Unfortunately we need to teach our girls that our world is not the Disney world and instead of a Cinderella waiting for her prince charming to come, we need to teach our girls to be a wonder woman ; who doesn’t need anyone to rescue but able to save and stand for herself. Being independent doesn’t always mean you have to do all the physical fighting. We need to teach our girls to be strong enough to walk away from any abusive relationship or situation. Being independent doesn’t mean to be alone all time — it means the ability to stand alone even at the hardest times.

A woman is like a tea bag — you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.– Eleanor Roosevelt

8. Forgiveness

Teaching your girls forgiveness is the best gift you can give to your daughters. Forgiveness will free their mind from any past bondage. Forgiveness is not something we do for others but ourselves and forgiveness is not something we give when the other parties apology. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves whether the other parties sorry for what they did or not. Mostly important teach them the importance to forgive themselves for any mistakes they did in the past. Forgiveness will also allow them to walk freely and with confident to their future

9. Equality

Equality doesn’t men and women are the same. We are not. Women can bring a new life to this world, which no man can. Equality means that our girls are no less than boys. Equality means not limiting themselves only to the princess dolls or toys that are only for girls. Equality means we are giving out girls the same opportunities to explore their talents and their hobbies just as our boys. If our girls is interested in engineering type of toys or something like car toys — we give it to them. We do not limit them just because “it’s not girls toys.”

10. Adaptable

When we respect the land we walk upon, all it’s habitats will respect us. It’s simply means wherever we are or wherever we go we need to teach our girls to be adapt. As your daughters grow up they won’t be able to stay with you, they will be going to school or college, going to work and eventually get and start her own family. Each phase will be different, she will introduced to different of types of people and places and in every situation she has to be able to have self-control and behave according to the situation and the custom of the place.

Sares is founder and writer at Next Generation Digital Magazine, a social action & education platform that wants to solve the world’s biggest challenges.On our platform you can learn about issues, take action on what matters most and join a community committed to social change. To learn about our work, subscribe now

— Published on July 27, 2017


*Disclaimer: At times this website contains posts where items and experiences have been sponsored, gifted or blog posts have been paid for in return for advertisement/promotion.  Where this applies it will be clearly stated at the bottom of the blog post. Natalie Sullivan and only endorses brands/items that her family uses, loves and highly recommends. To read the full disclaimer see here