Growing up with my daughter...

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When I was growing my first born, I thirsted for all the information I could lay my hands on to make sure I offered her the best start in life. I spent every spare dollar on books and read all of them from cover-to cover. I pored over, What to Expect When You Are Expecting, The Rhythm of Life and Positive Affirmations for Pregnancy and Birth. I hung off every word Dr Christopher Greene had to say, downed blueberries, folic acid and raspberry leaf tea like there was no tomorrow, all because the ‘experts’ said I should.

During the pre-school years I pounced on Melbourne Child warm off the press and could recite Toddler Taming by heart. I continued to seek every piece of information and advice from friends and professionals alike, as my children transitioned through all their ‘firsts’ – first sleepovers, first day of school, first menstruation - right up until I attended seminars on, Parenting an L Plater & Surviving VCE. Of course, I didn’t take heed of all the advice some of it was too difficult and some of it was just plain ridiculous! I couldn’t see the sense in reading advantage for 3 year olds and I certainly wasn’t going to disguise vegetables in desserts. I cherry picked the pieces that worked for my family, and with the guidance of all those experts, mostly we bumbled our way through. So when my 18 year old announced she was off to live in New York City to attend Acting School, (after picking myself up off the floor) I decided to turn again to the experts to guide me through parenting, but this time, an independent young adult.

There wasn’t necessarily a shortage of Empty Nest literature, but the advice was pretty universal, “Get a life!” Well that was well and good, I already had a life, a thriving private practice, friends and family to travel and socialize with and 2 gorgeous dogs (one that belonged to said daughter!) that demand my time, but what was I to do about this aching hole in my heart? I missed my daughter so badly it hurt. 

Oh dear, what had I done? I’d fostered independence and celebrated her for being true to herself and to her dreams. I’d reminded her enough times that she is responsible for her destiny and to welcome opportunity. And what did she do? She listened! Seized the day and embarked on a great life adventure. Now while others tell me how proud I must be, I envy them their Mother/Daughter time, their chats over coffee, and their weekends away.  I ponder how to stay connected to her during these years as she really transitions from girl to woman. As her Mother, I feel short-changed. I haven’t finished yet; I have plenty more to say! 

And as I lay in my bed Facetiming her at 2am, (during her lunch hour at school) I realize it is my daughter who can guide me how to navigate this new parenting frontier. I just have to allow her to. I still cry myself back to sleep sometimes after we hang up but then I sense I am no longer hanging up from my little girl but rather a capable young woman that now shares my joys and sorrows while I continue to share in hers. And as much as I treasured baking muffins together for class parties and receiving burnt toast and cold tea in bed on Mothers’ Day, there is something equally heart-warming and precious about this next chapter in our relationship. When my eldest sends me an encouraging text on the morning of an important presentation or posts a photo of a curry on Instagram with the hashtag #notasgoodasmum’s, I remind myself that times may have changed but the love between us is the same and maybe, if I am open to it, the connection woman-to-woman runs even deeper in its unexpected reciprocity. 

Reflection - "What have your children taught you?

( Specialising in working with children & adolescents, Megan Rees, works from her practice The Grove Counselling, located in the Melbourne bayside suburb of St Kilda East .)

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1 Comment

Sarah Sacks

Sarah is a qualified and experienced counsellor, meditation teacher and group facilitator. Sarah's years of body based based practices, in meditation and yoga, have led Sarah to believe in the inherent wisdom of the body. In line with this belief, Sarah has trained and qualified as a Whole Body Focusing Orientated Therapist, Transpersonal Counsellor, Holistic Counsellor, Meditation Teacher and Group Psychotherapy Facilitation. Over the last 5 years Sarah has worked in the not-for-profit sector, the community health sector and privately, as a generalist counsellor and group facilitator. Sarah has experience working with children, families and adults around issues of; isolation, anxiety, depression, grief, loss, trauma, anger, separation, addiction and general mental health. Sarah's warm and intuitive counselling style, along with her extensive life experience, enables Sarah to gently support her clients towards their own path of change. Qualifications - Bachelor of Holistic Counselling, Diploma of Transpersonal Counselling, Bachelor of Business (International Marketing & Trade), Diploma of Arts (Japanese), ACA (level 2), qualifying member for CAPAV

The psychological impact of pursuing Childhood Stardom.

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When people learn that my children have worked in the film and television industry for most of their lives, I am asked all the questions you would expect…How did they get into it? Aren’t you worried about them missing school? Do people recognize them in the street? And as understandable as all those questions are, the one that really matters is, do they enjoy it?  

If you are thinking of signing your child up with a talent agency you may want to consider all that is involved should they be successful, or perhaps more problematically, if they are not?

Being an extra on a film or tv series can be really fun but the industry is hierarchical and extras are at the bottom of the pecking order. This may not be a problem for your child as she or he may think just being on a set is exciting, even if there are other kids who are the so called ‘stars’ of the show.

The greater problem may be why, after registering with an agency, do some children get work and others do not? This can be really hard to take, and understandably, the child can go straight to feeling vulnerable about how they look or who they are.

Maybe you can help your child comprehend it is a bit like a lottery and if the Director is looking for a 10 year old boy with dark curly hair, that is the criteria - nothing personal.  It can be one thing to grasp this intellectually, but not to feel rejected when weeks go by without a call, can be a whole other story.

Another aspect that needs to be considered is if you do win a role or get cast as an extra, you can’t complain or go home when you’ve had enough. You must arrive on time, but then you will wait around for ages before you actually do anything! Once committed you have to see it through no matter what. And then you will have to do the same thing over and over many times! Some kids are cut out for it and some kids just aren’t!

So if you’re considering signing your child up with a talent agent you might want to consider all the aspects that go into appearing in that 30 second television commercial, especially if you think it might boost their confidence. Helping your child to find where they shine, in their own right, might just be a more positive course of action.

(In addition to having a former career working as a performing artists for 20+ years, Megan Rees is a highly experienced therapist, specialising in working with Children & Adolescents.)

If this content interests you and you would like to receive regular updates of developments at The Grove, please leave your details in the "Subscribe" box to your right.

Comment

Sarah Sacks

Sarah is a qualified and experienced counsellor, meditation teacher and group facilitator. Sarah's years of body based based practices, in meditation and yoga, have led Sarah to believe in the inherent wisdom of the body. In line with this belief, Sarah has trained and qualified as a Whole Body Focusing Orientated Therapist, Transpersonal Counsellor, Holistic Counsellor, Meditation Teacher and Group Psychotherapy Facilitation. Over the last 5 years Sarah has worked in the not-for-profit sector, the community health sector and privately, as a generalist counsellor and group facilitator. Sarah has experience working with children, families and adults around issues of; isolation, anxiety, depression, grief, loss, trauma, anger, separation, addiction and general mental health. Sarah's warm and intuitive counselling style, along with her extensive life experience, enables Sarah to gently support her clients towards their own path of change. Qualifications - Bachelor of Holistic Counselling, Diploma of Transpersonal Counselling, Bachelor of Business (International Marketing & Trade), Diploma of Arts (Japanese), ACA (level 2), qualifying member for CAPAV