Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Expert Tips for Your (Nearly) Perfect Family; as the New Year Approaches, LISA SALMON Asks Parenting Experts to Give Their Views on the Resolutions That Will Make 2014 a Better Year

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Expert Tips for Your (Nearly) Perfect Family; as the New Year Approaches, LISA SALMON Asks Parenting Experts to Give Their Views on the Resolutions That Will Make 2014 a Better Year

Article excerpt

Byline: LISA SALMON

MOST mums and dads, however dedicated they are to their children, would agree there are still some aspects of parenting they can improve on - and what better time to make those improvements than in your New Year's resolutions? Who better, too, to help you plan these resolutions than the nation's parenting experts? Here, a host of specialists share their opinions on what British families should really be pledging to change, or keep, in 2014.

Lorraine Thomas, chief executive of The Parent Coaching Academy (www.theparentcoachingacademy.com), says the one simple resolution parents should stick to is 'connection not perfection'.

"Don't try to be the perfect mum or dad," she says.

"Perfect parents don't exist and real parents are much more fun.

"Connecting with your child - cuddling, sharing a story, jumping puddles, playing tickle monsters and having a laugh together - will create memories that last forever."

For mums, Justine Roberts, chief executive of the parents' social networking site Mumsnet, wryly suggests "diet less and dance more".

More seriously, she also points out that mothers seem to be at a disadvantage in the workplace because the UK continues to have a tangible gender pay gap.

"With over half of mums saying they feel less employable and three-quarters saying it was harder to progress in their career since having children, it's clear there's still lots of work to be done to ensure family-friendly practices are commonplace," she says.

"In 2014, we are resolved to work with employers to help them evolve more family friendly policies to protect women against discrimination."

As for dads, the Fatherhood Institute says everyone in Britain needs to resolve to do everything they can to provide a great dad for every child.

"Dads matter hugely to their children," says Jeremy Davies of the Institute.

"If you have a positive relationship with your dad, you're likely to do better at school, be happier, have higher self-esteem, and even form better relationships when you're an adult.

"But all too often fathers get forgotten or sidelined, and governments, public services and employers act as if mothers are the only ones who really matter. This needs to change."

He suggests such change should involve a cultural and legal system that expects both parents to care for and support their children financially if they don't live together, and a parenting leave system that encourages dads to become hands-on parents.

In a similar fashion, the campaign group Working Families suggests parents should make the most of their 'right to request' flexible working practices in 2014.

"Working flexibly will help your work-life balance and make you a more engaged, loyal employee," says Elizabeth Whitehead from Working Families.

"The right will be extended to all employees during 2014 so think about what you'll request now."

Families also need to think more about their older members, say grandparents' groups. …

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