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Practical Parenting – Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

Practical Parenting – Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

    Parenting 101

    Yesterday at lunch, I had a fascinating conversation with my business partners Mikey and Johnny about parenting. Mikey has two kids (ages one and three), as does Johnny (seven and ten) and we discussed the merits and pitfalls of the various parenting styles. Of course we covered over-protective parents who don’t allow their kids to… well, be kids. We talked about parents who seem to hand their insecurities, fears and issues down to their off-spring. And parents who micro-manage every moment of their child’s day. We also spoke about kids playing team sports where no scores are kept during the game because the grown-ups don’t want any of the kids to experience losing.

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    Good grief.

    My Childhood

    Growing up in a country town, I spent countless hours with my mates riding our bikes (without helmets) through dense leach-infested bush. In the middle of the wilderness, we would make fires, build ramps and jumps for our bikes, ride down stupidly steep hills, catch frogs and other critters, wade in swamps and often get lost. When we weren’t exploring the wilds of Latrobe Valley, we were playing team games and sports where there would be actual winners and losers. Amazingly, nobody died from losing a game of football, playing in dirt, climbing a tree or coming last in a running race.

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    And I should know; I came last many times.

    So, clearly the bloke with no kids is not the guy to turn to for parenting advice but as a casual observer, can I respectfully suggest that perhaps all our parental protection, direction and intervention might (at times) be leaving some of our kids ill-equipped to deal with the messy, nasty, unfair, uncomfortable reality of life beyond the parental bubble? Life post-childhood?

    Just saying. 

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    Life Lessons

    I worry about kids who never experience any kind of loss. Who never scrape their knees. Who never climb a tree, chase a frog, attack an ant nest, crash their bike or play in dirt. Who never experience the unfairness of life. Who never have to work hard or get uncomfortable. Who never fail anything at school because some grown-up decided that giving marks or grading work could be detrimental to the child’s self-esteem. Again, good grief. Wait till that child enters the workforce and their first boss is a total prick.

    Let’s see mum and dad fix that.

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    But then again, maybe the non-parent is missing the point? What would I know? The only thing I’ve ever raised is a Golden Retriever. And he had issues. Which is why I need your help today. Feel free to answer one, all or some of the following questions. Don’t be shy. Participation makes this a worthwhile exercise. I will give away five signed copies of my new book for the contributions that blow my lace-up Ugg boots off. Yes, we will post books anywhere in the world.

    Here are my conversation starters:

    1. Am I vaguely in the ball park with this topic or am I totally missing the point?
    2. Are we adequately preparing our kids for life beyond childhood?
    3. When does protecting, guiding and encouraging a child go from being a positive to a negative?
    4. What are the signs, symptoms and consequences of an over-protective parent?
    5. Do we tell our over-protective, neurotic, control-freak friends what they’re doing or do we stay out of it?
    6. Your general thoughts on the matter?

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    Last Updated on October 23, 2018

    Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

    Science Says Knitting Makes Humans Warmer And Happier, Mentally

    My mother was a great knitter and produced some wonderful garments such as Aran sweaters which were extremely fashionable when I was young. She also knitted while my father drove, which caused great amusement. I often wondered why she did that but I think I know the answer now.

    Knitting is good for your mental health, according to some research studies. The Washington Post mentions a 2013 survey of about 3,500 knitters who were asked how they felt after a knitting session. Over 80% of them said they definitely felt happier. It is not a totally female occupation as more and more men take it up to get the same benefits. Harry Styles (One Direction) enjoys knitting. So does Russell Crowe although he does it to help him with anger management!

    The Neural Knitwork Project

    In Australia, Neural Knitworks was started to encourage people to knit and also become aware of neuroscience and mental health issues. Knit-ins were organized but garments were not the only things created. The knitters produced handmade neurons (1,665 of them!) to make a giant brain. The 2015 project will make more neural knitted networks (neural knitworks) and they will be visible online. You can see some more examples of woolly neurons on the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

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    While people knitted, crocheted and crafted yarn, they listened to experts talking about mental health issues such as addiction, dementia, depression, and how neurons work.

    The knitting and neural connection

    The human brain has about 80 billion neurons. Learning new skills, social interaction, and physical activity all help to forge neural connections which keep the brain healthy and active. They are creating networks to control movement and make memories. The knitters learn that as they create the woollen neurons, their own neurons are forming new pathways in their brains. Their creations are mimicking the processes in their brains to a certain extent. At the same time, their brains are registering new and interesting information as they learn interesting facts about the brain and how it works. I love the knitworks and networks pun. What a brilliant idea!

    More mental health benefits from knitting

    Betsan Corkhill is a physiotherapist and has published some results of completed studies on her website, appropriately named Stitchlinks. She conducted some experiments herself and found that knitting was really helpful in reducing panic and anxiety attacks.

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    “You are using up an awful lot of brain capacity to perform a coordinated series of movements. The more capacity you take up by being involved in a complex task, the less capacity you have for bad thoughts.”- Betsan Corkhill

    Knitters feel happier and in a better mood

    Ann Futterman-Collier, Well Being Lab at Northern Arizona University, is very interested in how textile therapy (sewing, knitting, weaving and lace-making) can play an important role in mood repair and in lifting depressive states.

    She researched 60 women and divided them into three different groups to do some writing, meditating and work with textiles. She monitored their heartbeat, blood pressure and saliva production. The women in the textiles group had the best results when their mood was assessed afterwards. They were in a better mood and had managed to reduce their negative thoughts better than those in the writing and meditation groups.

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    “People who were given the task to make something actually had less of an inflammatory response in the face of a ‘stressor’.” – Dr. Futterman Collier

    The dopamine effect on our happiness

    Our brains produce a chemical called dopamine. This helps us to feel happy, more motivated, and assists also with focus and concentration. We get a boost of dopamine after sex, food, exercise, sleep, and creative activities.

    There are medications to increase dopamine but there are lots of ways we can do it naturally. Textile therapy and crafting are the easiest and cheapest. We can create something and then admire it. In addition, this allows for a little bit of praise and congratulations. Although this is likely not your goal, all these can boost our dopamine and we just feel happier and more fulfilled. These are essential in facing new challenges and coping with disappointment in life.

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    “Sometimes, people come up to me when I am knitting and they say things like, “Oh, I wish I could knit, but I’m just not the kind of person who can sit and waste time like that.” How can knitting be wasting time? First, I never just knit; I knit and think, knit and listen, knit and watch. Second, you aren’t wasting time if you get a useful or beautiful object at the end of it.” – Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit’s End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.

    If you thought knitting and textiles were for old ladies, think again!

    Featured photo credit: DSC_0012/Mary-Frances Main via flickr.com

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