Category Archives: parenting

Our GCSE Manifesto………………….

I’m sure like many thousands of other parents, my husband and I are counting down the days until the end of June 2018, when our teenage daughter will have completed her GCSE examinations.

Have been astounded by how stressful we’ve both found this two-year period and can’t wait for it to be over.  Back in the late 70s, I genuinely do not remember my parents or me for that matter being this involved or anxious about my O’ Levels. At that time, they were just a set of exams to take before moving onto either work or some form of further study.

So, what’s changed? Quite a lot I should imagine, but this months’ post isn’t going to be an in-depth treatise on the pros and cons of the current education system. Life is too short. 😉

But what I would like to do, so me and my husband can support our daughter through the next six months and retain our sanity is to lay out our GCSE Manifesto.

Isobel on beach 2016

So, to our daughter we’d like to say:

We don’t need you to finish with nine, 9***********, or however the hell the top marks are described these days. A smattering of reasonable grades is absolutely fine with us, thank you very much.

Get yourself through this but look after yourself too, your physical and mental health is our top priority. We want you to be resilient and that might mean sacrificing a few marks, here and there.

We do need you, to put in the ‘effort’, this is probably the biggest and most important predictor of success in these exams. So, if you can look us both in the eye and tell us, you have tried your hardest and your best. We will be proud.

These exams are a gateway, a set of stepping stones to a future we cannot fully predict or control. They may lead you to where you want to go, but they may also lead to unexpected or unanticipated opportunities. So, as such they don’t have to determine the rest of your life, that is for you to do.

Real learning is a joy and is for life, so don’t allow this small part of your education to put you off. If you can keep your mind open to learning and your heart open to friendship, compassion and kindness, your dad and I will have done our job.

And remember, whatever happens on the 23rd August when the results come out, there is always, always a plan B and we will be with you, come what may.

Life will go on, all you need to do is make the best choices from wherever you happen to be.


Mum and Dad

Janice Taylor

Mum, ‘stop filling in the blanks!’……..

I first wrote about being a mum in September 2014 and again in July 2016, this is going to be an ongoing theme as I am the parent of a ‘teenager’.

We are entering new territory and it must be said, my parenting style varies from having ‘Rapunzel’ like moments when I want to keep her locked up in a tower until she ‘comes of age’ to ‘you’re getting older now, why can’t you just get on with this.’

Neither stances are particularly helpful, but honestly, I don’t always manage to maintain a calm, consistent and graceful approach to parenting. Sometimes I’m shouty, illogical and inconsistent, largely through anxiety and fear for the future.

Isobel on beach 2016

Like many others I don’t always achieve the right balance….

So, my clever and resourceful daughter has found a way to help me with this, by using the following phrase:

‘Mum, stop filling in the blanks!’………..

Much as it pains me to say this, but this apt response from my daughter, is enough to stop me ‘dead in my tracks’.

It stops me each time I rush to give my reaction – before she has even had a chance to think about and respond to a question, a request, an observation just about anything really.

Ironic as I coach for a living, but hey ho 😉

Am sometimes, just a bit too quick to jump in with what I imagine or think she is going to say. This would not be acceptable in coaching, so certainly don’t need to be doing this as a parent.

It is quite shocking how much I can do this as a parent- I’ve already created a scenario in my head and voiced my irritation, frustration, or conclusions to it before she has even said anything.

In other words, I’ve already filled in the blanks………

Pittabread 2 July 2017

But since my daughter started using this phrase, I have been reminded to stop, as it so beautifully describes what I have been in the habit of doing.

I’m not alone in this, I’m sure but it seems to me that it is often our habitual responses that can cause problems in our interactions with our children.

Now I need to learn to take a breath, count to ten and listen to what is being said, before I go rushing in.

And I certainly, need to go back and revise my sessions in mindful parenting.

So, there you have it, until next time.


PS, before anyone asks, my husband might well say the same too, but less worried about that 😉