Helen Bashford, author of Perry Panda, has experience working in the mental health field, most recently as Carers Lead for a Mental Health Trust, providing support for families. In this article, Helen discusses the need to talk to children about mental health, and the benefits of drip feeding them information.
We have all heard it by now, that 1 in 4 people will experience mental illness at some point in their life. This statistic means that every child – every single one – will know someone experiencing mental ill health, if not now then in the future. There’s also a 25% chance they will become ill themselves. In families where a parent or sibling is ill, children have to live with the disruption mental illness can cause, and childhood is rife with issues such as bullying that can leave children vulnerable. Research now shows that half of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14, and 75% by the age of 24 (Mental Health Foundation). So, when we think about how to prevent mental illness we probably need to think about childhood.
Sally Donovan, bestselling author of No Matter What and The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting, recounts how her journey as an adoptive parent has changed and shaped her as an individual, and discusses adoption’s place in the future. Her article is taken from 30 Years of Social Change which gathers together over 30 leading thinkers from diverse disciplines to reflect upon how their fields of expertise have evolved during those years.
Thirty years ago, as Jessica Kingsley Publishers was being formed, I was 18 and about to embark on my first experience of parenting. After finishing sixth form college I took the Eurolines coach to Paris and started work as an au-pair for an Anglo-French couple. He was a floppy-haired British banker who had something of a blonde Hugh Grant about him and she was a beautiful Parisian who spoke English like Princess Diana. I lived with them in their rented house just off Place Charles de Gaulle and cared for their 1 year-old son Pascal. It was kind of normal back then to go to a foreign country, move in with people you knew virtually nothing about and, with no experience, look after their precious child. Continue reading
Lisabeth Emlyn Clark talks about her experience of growing up with dyslexia and how she wishes she’d received the correct support at a younger age to help her manage it. Her personal story has inspired her to write a children’s book about a boy named Harry with dyslexia called I Don’t Like Reading.
As a child I loved looking at books and enjoyed having them read to me. Often with my favourite stories I would stare at the pages for an age, looking at every part of the picture so I could memorize the details while I listened to the words being spoken. When the pages were turned I would look at the picture and hear the first few words, and could finish the sentence before the reader did.
I remember being around 6 or 7 years old when I started to realise that my friends and class mates seemed to finish reading their books so much faster than I did. They all seemed to be on the harder stage books than me and some even on the ‘pupil choice’ stage. I left primary school having never been able to choose my own reading book!
It’s not that I couldn’t read then, or can’t read now; my issue has always been that I try so hard to read the text that it becomes harder to remember what I have just read and this makes books difficult to understand. Continue reading
Read an exclusive extract from Straight Expectations
Chapter 13: The Transition (2004—2006)
“I did my own research to get clear about what we were dealing with. I wanted to understand the process of transitioning. I realized we needed professional help. There weren’t a lot of resources at that time. The only one who seemed perfectly clear was Julia herself. She was completely confident. She knew who she was now and insisted we had to figure out what to do so she could be the person she knew she was inside. It wasn’t about sexual preference. She was transgender and wanted her brain to be congruent with her body.”
Ever since they were young, Peggy Cryden noticed her children’s gender expression did not correspond with society’s expectations of their biological gender. In this moving and honest memoir, Peggy details the experiences and challenges of raising both a gay son and a gay, transgender son and shares her family’s journey of adversity and growth, which has helped inform her work as a psychotherapist.
Beginning with her own unconventional upbringing and personal relationships, the second half of the book follows her children from birth to adulthood and through their numerous experiences including coming out, depression, hate crime, relationships, school and various aspects to do with transitioning (legal, physical, medical, social) as well as their appearances in the media as a family. This book is insightful, charming and thought-provoking, and through levity and humor, offers a positive approach to parenting outside of convention.
To learn more about Straight Expectations or to purchase a copy, click here. You can also view the full range of JKP’s gender diversity books here, join our mailing list, or follow us on Facebook.
In this extract from Welcome to Fostering, Annie describes what it is like from a birth parent’s perspective to have your children living with foster carers, and provides some useful advice for foster carers on how to manage a good relationship with birth parents. She is the writer of her own blog, Surviving Safeguarding, which tells the story of her ongoing journey to win her children back into her custody. She believes that ‘Fostering is truly a wonderful thing’.
Click here to download the extract
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Joy Rees, author of Life Story Books for Adopted and Fostered Children, gives her advice on how best to compile a life story book for an adopted or fostered child. Working chronologically backwards rather than forwards, she explains how such a format reinforces the child’s sense of security and promotes attachment.
A Life Story Book tells the story of the child’s life and is often described as an ‘essential tool’ to help the child gain a sense of identity and an understanding of his or her history. This was the emphasis when I wrote the first edition of this book, Life Story Books for Adopted Children, – A Family Friendly Approach, some 10 years ago.
This approach evolved from my work with adoptive families, and from a growing awareness that most of the books I read at that time were simply not ‘fit for purpose’. The language used and the details given about the birth parents’ history was generally not appropriate or helpful. The books were just not child friendly. At best many of them were complex and confusing and it was difficult to follow the child’s story in them. At worse, some books inadvertently fed into the child’s sense of self-blame and shame about their early experiences. Others risked adversely affecting placement stability by impeding the vital claiming and belonging stages of the attachment process. Continue reading
Bo Hejlskov Elven is a parent and one of Europe’s leading clinical psychologists specialising in challenging behaviour. In this new blog for JKP he offers insights into how the low arousal approach informs his new book (written in collaboration with Tina Wiman) on parental strategies for managing the most challenging behaviour of any child, Sulky, Rowdy, Rude?: Why kids really act out and what to do about it.
The psychologist Douglas MacGregor proposed a theory of motivation in the sixties. He argued that we can view humans in two different ways: Either we think that people are lazy and need to be controlled and motivated by rewards and punishment, or we think that people do their best if we create the right environment for them to develop autonomy. His theory was on management, and he and later psychologists have shown that the second view increases productivity. In our book Sulky, Rowdy, Rude? we adapt that way of thinking to parenting. This is in no way controversial in Scandinavia, where we live, but may be a less common view in other parts of the world. Continue reading
Clinical psychologist Colby Pearce provides a concise and easy to understand introduction to what ‘attachment’ means, how to recognise attachment disorders and how to help children who have an attachment disorder. This extract is taken from his new book A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder, Second Edition which offers a comprehensive set of tried-and-tested practical strategies that can be used in the home, school and consulting room with children affected by an attachment disorder. Colby is also the author of A Short Introduction to Promoting Resilience in Children.
If you would like to read more articles like Colby’s and hear the latest news and offers on our Adoption and Fostering books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Sally Donovan, author of No Matter What, Billy Bramble and the Great Big Cook Off and The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting, reflects upon her decision to adopt all those years ago, and what National Adoption Week means to her.
Last weekend I went to a reunion at the historic garden I used to work in. I left fourteen years ago. Amongst the staff who had worked there some had lost partners, some had married and had children, several were suffering ill health and one had moved into a nursing home. We all had stories to tell over lunch. Mine was that I had adopted two children, now in their teenage years.
I went through all the highs and lows of the adoption process while I was working there. After the reunion lunch and the group photo on the steps I walked around the garden. Every familiar wall, doorway, tree and view took me back. It was a pivotal time for me. I was happy there in that pseudo-Edwardian world, amongst a warm and slightly dysfunctional family of gardeners, historians, teashop staff and office workers and yet I wanted so much to be a parent. I’d planned at some point to do both; to return to historic gardening as a working parent. It wasn’t to be. Adoptive parenting, or at least the kind that was demanded of me, was not going to share me with anything else. Continue reading