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Missing the Moments– Feeling Sentimental As Children Grow Up

By Benison O'Reilly - 5th August 2013

A couple of months ago I attended a performance of Joanna Murray-Smith’s new play, Fury. At one stage the central female character, Alice, comments that it’s often best we don’t know when it’s the last occasion of anything. I can’t remember her exact words, but I do remember the example she quoted: the last time her (now rebellious) teenage son and only child had shared a bed with his mum and dad in the morning. As parents we know this particular ‘last time’ must come for a whole variety of reasons, but I can’t help looking back on those (now past) years of morning cuddles with a twinge of sadness.

Breaking News - We Had Birthday Party Success

By Benison O'Reilly - 7th March 2013

Recently the Huffington Post featured an article called The Upside of Autism by Jackie Morgan MacDougall. It opened with these lines: "People often talk about the difficulties associated with parenting a child with autism..." MacDougall’s article rang many bells with me. Once you’ve stared into the abyss - as I did once when Joe, my then 3-year-old son with autism, was assessed as having moderate-to-severe developmental delay - any achievement, any milestone, is celebrated with extra fervour.

Reporting on Gun Crimes? Leave Autism Out of It

By Benison O'Reilly - 25th January 2013

I have an 11-year-old son with autism. His lack of social understanding means he can occasionally be insensitive; he embarrassed me the other day by loudly pointing out the “fat lady” at the supermarket. He’s also the sweetest kid in the world. For no particular reason he will hug me and say, I love you.” Our son is socially naive, a babe in the wood; much more likely to experience hurt than to hurt others. When the dreadful news of the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, came through I crossed my fingers and hoped the words ‘autistic’ or ‘Asperger’s’ would not enter the equation, as they had after the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings.

Why Do So Many Teenagers Get Into Trouble?

By Benison O'Reilly - 13th November 2012

Whether it be managing the unexpected behaviours of teenagers, a chronic disability, an acute illness, or mental health issues, Benison O'Reilly explores why teenagers get into trouble even with supportive parenting.

How My Husband Raised a Good Man

By Benison O'Reilly - 19th June 2012

I’m just about to reveal myself as an appalling hypocrite. I think I can justify myself, however. You may recall that in my last outing for happychild I expressed my discomfiture at the idea of parents monitoring their kids’ Facebook accounts. (Not everyone agreed with me I have to add.) Yet only the other day I found myself reading my eldest son’s private correspondence without his knowledge.

Teens on Facebook - Where Does Supervision Stop and Privacy Start?

By Benison O'Reilly - 18th April 2012

‘Shutting the gate after the horse has bolted’ parenting - I don’t know about you, but I’m often guilty of it. I’d been meaning to put an Internet filter on my 11 year old son, Joe’s computer for ages. Joe is on the autism spectrum and approaching puberty so I knew it was only a matter of time before he became curious about sex. "I must do it," I probably said half a dozen times, "but tomorrow." ... As parents we are charged with protecting our kids from danger, but when they become teenagers it can be difficult to know which line to tread. Teenagers expect, and indeed are entitled to, some independence.

My Child has ADHD - So Now That's My Fault?

By Benison O'Reilly - 8th February 2012

Recently my fifteen-year old middle son, N, said to me, "Whenever I tell my friends my mum is allergic to the cold they think I’m making it up." I’m most definitely not making it up and have a written diagnosis from a rheumatologist to prove it. However, I thought it was ironic that N brought this up, as he also has a condition which many people seem keen to claim is ‘made up’ - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD ... I get extremely annoyed when so called ‘experts’ suggest that ADHD may simply be a result of bad parenting, as in the case in this recent New York Times opinion piece.

Nothing is All Bad - and other Lessons from a Veteran School Mum

By Benison O'Reilly - 13th December 2011

I am writing this post a day before my eldest son’s Higher School Certificate results are released. I’m still living in blissful ignorance but we’re expecting results in the disappointing to disastrous range. That’s okay. Yes really okay. My son and I sat down the other day and worked out a contingency plan in case we’re faced with the disaster scenario. He, however, is dreading telling others his results, and now wishes he’d worked harder. That’s a lesson he had to learn. What have I learned this year? Here are a few random thoughts.

Motherhood, Boys and Testosterone - I'm Happy

By Benison O'Reilly - 13th October 2011

It’s only recently that I’ve realised how content I am just having boys. They suit me. I happily call myself a feminist but when I was pregnant with my first child I surprised myself by wanting a son. I was smug when I had him too; the first boy on either side of the family after five girls. With my second son I had an unspoken preference for a girl, but he was such a beautiful baby, a competition winner no less. With my third ...

Giving Your Children Choices Lays Good Foundations for Future

By Benison O'Reilly - 15th August 2011

Dr Jeffrey Pfeifer, a forensic psychologist from Swinburne University of Technology, was asked about some research he’d conducted into sixty American sports stars. Thirty of these stars were ‘models of professional behaviour’; the other thirty had been in trouble with the law. He found that: ": the group of individuals who had found themselves in trouble with the law were less likely to have experience in their lives with making choices whereas the ones who had not gotten into any trouble seemed to have a lot of experience in their lives from childhood up, making choices.

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