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Parenting classes

The league topping school's alumni include actress Rachel Weisz

Alumni: The league topping school’s famous pupils include actress Rachel Weisz

High-powered families are being offered parenting classes by a top private girls school to teach them how to cope with everything from exam stress to parenting teenagers.

The seminars are aimed at families who struggle to fit in time devoted to their children while working long hours.

Clarissa Farr, high mistress at St. Paul’s girl school in Hammersmith, London, is offering the lessons in what is thought to be the first time a private school has provided such advice.

Two parenting seminars have so far
been held at the school and have looked at issues such as staying safe
in London and parents handling of the party scene.

Typically
poorer families are recommended by the government to attend parenting
classes but the high mistress said that wealthy parents tend to be
over-generous and fail to be tough enough with their offspring.

Ms
Farr told the Sunday Times that many parents overcompensate for the
time they spend at work and said that they should not expect to be able
to parent through technology.

She said: ‘We’re deceiving ourselves if we think we can bring up our children through an iPhone.

‘If they have a problem they want to talk to you and that when you have to
be prepared to set aside your own well-organised agenda and listen.’

The mother-of-two said she had noticed a change in the past five years which has seen parents becoming very time-poor.

The school is now considering giving parents one or two years notice to schedule upcoming school events in busy diaries.

High flying parents who send their children to the £18,000-a-year girls school include lawyers, stockbrokers, businessmen and doctors.

The league topping school’s alumni include actress Rachel Weisz, BBC’s economics corrospondent Stephanie Flanders and deputy leader of the Labour party, Harriet Harman

Help: So far the school has looked at issues such as staying safe in London and parents handling of the city's party scene

Help: So far the school has looked at issues such as staying safe in London and parents handling of the city’s party scene

Ms Farr said the classes have proved popular with parents who seek guidance on managing simple aspects of parenting such as how much pocket money should be allowed and bed times.

She told the newspaper: ‘Some parents give their children everything except the boundaries they need to find their secure place within the family and at school.’

Parenting: Stay-at-home fathers face adjustments

When he quit his job of 15 years to stay home with his two children, Frank was prepared for life to be different — different, but not turned upside down.

Frank agreed to become a stay-at-home father so that his wife could rebuild a career that was put on hold after the birth of their first child, now 8 years old. It was the fair and noble thing to do, he reasoned. Ultimately, it would prove rewarding.

He was correct on all counts. It’s just that he didn’t anticipate how consuming his new job would be.

During a day at the office, Frank would step out for lunch, take a couple of breaks at the coffee machine, mingle with other adults, engage in adult conversation.

At home, his routine includes getting his third-grader off to school; feeding, playing with and reading to their 2-year-old; dishes, laundry, breakfast, lunch, and supper. No mingling with other adults. No lunches out, no time off.

Adjusting to being a stay-at-home father can be difficult and shouldn’t be done with eyes closed.

The work is hard. And there is a lot of it, especially if housework is included. Young children can be very demanding. They need to be fed, changed, played with, read to, comforted, scolded, and never ignored. You are always “on call.”

And don’t forget the mental strain. Maybe you can handle having to change a diaper in the middle of making lunch. But how about, at the height of chaos, the phone rings and it’s the third long-distance service to call that day trying to get you to switch over.

Prepare yourself for distractions. Identify the busiest times of your day and keep those hours manageable. Plan your time loosely enough to accommodate the unexpected.

Time management is especially important if you are juggling caregiving and a home business. A demanding schedule can result in stressful complications when the unexpected arises, such having to take a sick child to the doctor. But the small, frequent interruptions to deal with a child’s needs are likely to be the most nagging and frustrating.

Accept both the nature of the task and your new role. You may not be out there conquering the world. But you’re raising your children, guiding them, supporting them, giving them a better chance to lead healthy and happy lives. It may well be the most important contribution you’ll ever make.

PARENTING: Twins having a great time at parent’s expense

Q: My twin boys will be 3 years old next month. They sleep in the same room. They’ve recently taken to getting out of their beds (together, although one seems to be the ringleader) every night, over and over, for up to two hours. They make a lot of noise, then they giggle and run when I approach, and feed off each other as they’re escaping. I’m not sure what to do. All I know is that what I’ve been doing isn’t working! Help!!!

A: They’ve certainly got your number, don’t they? They get out of bed, make lots of boy-noise, you come marching sternly down the hall, they run away laughing, you herd them back into bed, then you leave the room (making lots of empty threats, I’ll bet), and they start all over again. It sounds like great sport. Obviously, the problem is they’re having a great time, but you’re not.

You have become your own worst enemy here. Your boys cast the bait, and being the dutiful fish that you are, you bite it. They get you on the hook, reel you in, let you go; then they cast the bait again, and you bite it, and around and around the three of you go. You need to figure out a way of dealing with this that doesn’t involve you biting their bait. Do I really have to do this for you? Is this what I went to graduate school for?

OK (heavy sigh), I’ll give you a couple of suggestions. Let’s see … I have it! Ignore them! I can virtually guarantee that this nightly fishing game will last no more than one hour if you do not respond. As it is, it’s lasting two hours, right? Second, I’d be willing to bet that if you ignore this for two weeks, it will burn itself out.

What fun is there in getting out of bed and making lots of boy-noise if Mom doesn’t come marching indignantly down the hall? Answer: not much.

If you continue to march indignantly down the hall, I predict you will be marching indignantly down the hall six months from now. And somewhere along the line, you will become a basket case.

Suggestion Number Two: Gate them in. (I learned this old-fashioned method by taking Advanced Gating in psychology school.)

Buy a gate, or have your husband or a carpenter make one. Or, cut the kids’ door in two and re-hang the lower half or two-thirds. Turn the lock around. Put them to bed, read them a story, kiss and cuddle, then leave, closing and locking the “dutch” door behind you as you call out, “Have fun, boys!” Being behind a locked half-door with your twin brother in crime is not going to traumatize either of them. Let them boy-noise themselves to sleep in the confines of their room.

Third suggestion: If they stay in bed and go to sleep, take both of them to Disney World tomorrow to celebrate their accomplishment. Just kidding.

Whether you ignore them or gate them in, this boyishness will burn itself out in a couple of weeks. That’s much less time than it took you to break some of your husband’s bad habits, isn’t it? (All boys have bad habits because no matter how old we get, the boy in us lives on, and if it doesn’t, we become crashing bores.) Sure it is. You can do this.


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