Archive for the ‘General’ Category

I have spent a fair while compiling a shop at amazon that contains only items personally tried and tested or recommended by trusted NAPfriends.

Please check it out, and let me know if you have any more recommendations for products or books that other Natural, Attached Parents might find useful.

Please visit the NAPshop from the menu above.



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Thinktank DEMOS got quite a lot of publicity yesterday for it’s new report entitled ‘Building Character written by Jen Lexmond and Richard Reeves.

Building Character was funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and included such names as Penelope Leach and Penny Mansfield on the advisory board.  The EHRC commissioned DEMOS to undertake research into the development of character capabilities contributing to ‘life chances’ and factors influencing the development.

The methodology looks pretty robust.  They reviewed up-to-date literature, carried out a new statistical analysis of the Millenium Cohort Study and analysed policy initiatives.  The statistical analysis looked at information given by over 15,000 families.

The report first of all defines ‘important character capabilities’ which include empath, agency (locus of control), responsibility and self-regulation.  The authors state that these should be considered ‘hard skills’ if the definition of hard and soft skills is actually useful, which they doubt.

They go on to divide parents up into 4 groups:

  1. Tough love.  Parents are attached, warm and loving and ‘high control’ more rules, consistently enforced..
  2. Laissez-Faire.  Parents are attached, warm and loving and ‘low control’ have fewer rules/more variably enforced.
  3. Authoritarian.  Parents are not attached, have ‘low warmth’ and ‘high control’.
  4. Disengaged.  Parents are ‘low warmth’ and ‘low control’.

They then also look at parents capabilities, self esteem and so on.  They look at how children’s character develops in relation to the above style of parenting.  They also compare all the usual ‘risk’ factors such as low income, family make-up, employment, ethnicity and so on.

I think the findings are remarkable.  In virtually all cases, allowing for the capabilities of the parents the ‘risk factors’ become negligible.  The style of parenting is the most important factor in how children develop these ‘hard’ life skills.  Children of ‘tough love’ and ‘Laissez Faire’ parents develop character far better when all factors are taken into account than authoritarian and disengaged.  Children of Tough Love parents do significantly better and children of Disengaged parents do worse of all.

This is probably hardly surprising but it does bring about some interesting thoughts.  All the money being poored into providing childcare, welfare-to -work, reducing teenage pregnancies and so on is seemingly wasted.  In actual fact having working or young parents makes no difference to outcomes for children.  It is the style of parenting that is all important.

Demos make a very convincing case for refocussing public spending and energy on providing parenting skills and support to impact on the style of parenting.

There is really far too much information in this report to summarise in a blog post, but I’ve hopefully whetted your appetite enough to go and read for yourself.  If not, here are some quotes from the report which might convince you!  Check out the Breastfeeding one – one of my favourites 🙂

An analysis undertaken by Kiernan of the MCS found that family status was only very weakly associated with children’s development, once other factors – like poverty, maternal depression and so on – were controlled for.

When we control for other characteristics – namely parental style and parental confidence – the relationship between family structure and child outcomes disappears almost entirely.

Crucially, the outcomes for children of lone parents and step-parents are explained by the differences in other family characteristics such as parental confidence and self esteem; being a lone parent or a step-parent does not adversely affect child outcomes in itself.

There is a strong association between children’s development of character capabilities and breast-feeding to six months. This effect remains even after controlling for all other variables in the model, including primary carer attachment

There is no connection between paid employment on the part of either the main carer, or the second parent, and the development of character capabilities in children.

Parental disability and parental ethnic background are associated with significantly different outcomes for children at age five, but all differences are outweighed when parental ability was taken into account.

Now, I’m off to peruse the rest of the DEMOS website as this report is pretty good in my opinion.  Just wonder… is anyone going to listen?

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We live in a funny old world.  We are a strange society.

A popular TV programme in this household is Harry Hill’s TV Burp (don’t ask) which is on ITV on a Saturday evening.  I was ‘lucky’ enough to catch a couple of minutes in passing this week.

He was taking the mickey out of a soap character, and she was breastfeeding her baby.  It then cut to Harry asking for a drink and being given a cup of milk and biscuit.  Supposedly the character’s breastmilk.  The audience gave the obligatory cries of disgust, and then when Harry dipped the biscuit in the milk and ate it – the uni-groan of disgust and shouts went up a notch or ten!

I just thought… isn’t it strange when the prospect of an adult human even touching breastmilk is enough to repulse us as a society?  If it was the milk of another mammalian breast the audience would not have reacted in any way whatsoever, yet even the idea of the milk coming from a human breast (clearly it was not) created such reactions of disgust.

I just thought it was a sad reflection of what a messed up place we are in at the moment about what is actually the most natural and fantastic life-giving substance. <sigh>

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UNICEF have a campaign to raise money for tetanus vaccinations in the developing world.  It is a joint campaign with pampers which does mean that in order to help you need to visit their website.  So how do you go about helping?

  1. Visit the Pampers home page.
  2. Ignore all their gumph and forums if you find the whole thing offensive or irritating.
  3. Click on the little balloon that pops up to download a FREE song.
  4. This will immediately donate money toward the UNICEF fund.
  5. Make sure you wait for confirmation!

I know that both vaccinations and disposable nappies are contentious issues, but I think in this case it is worth knowing about this campaign.

If I lived in a developing country at risk of tetanus and with a poor health care  system I would want this for my children, currently hundreds of thousands die of tetanus annually and it is highly preventable.

Worth considering.



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Positive and informative statement from UNICEF which has been seen and approved by the authors of the study.

Interesting comment in The Guardian yesterday who picked up the mis-reporting issues and the fact that the authors of the study are not happy with how the press have been picking it up.

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After the ridiculous case of the policewomen told they were acting illegally by minding each others’ children, the Children’s Secretary Ed Balls has clarified the ‘rules’.

In a case of unprecedented common sense Mr Balls stated that he wanted :

“to make clear that reciprocal childcare arrangements between parents where there is no payment involved should not be a matter for regulation.

I have agreed today with Ofsted that with immediate effect, this will be beyond the scope of their childcare inspections and will make this crystal clear by changing the regulations in the coming period.”

So, friends who know each other well and know each other’s children well can now babysit and arrange childcare without worrying that Ofsted are going to come knocking.

Don’t fret, I am sure this worrying bout of common-sense and proportionate regulation will more than likely come to an end shortly.

Source: BBC News

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Interested in being a WAHM?

You may be a SAHM looking for another challenge or needing some extra money, or a working mother looking to make the transition to being a SAHM.  There is something in between being a full time SAHM and being a working mother.  Being a work-at-home-mum (WAHM) can be the ideal compromise between the two. 

That said, how easy is it to find a job that can be done from home and provide an income and is flexible enough to fit around the children?  Not necessarily a piece of cake!  I have come up with some ideas, but any other ideas are welcome!

1. Childminding.  Seems a natural choice for the WAHM.  Being paid to mind other children alongside your own and provide a valuable service.  Hours are flexible, tends to be paid in the range of £2-£4 per child per hour. 

2. Teaching childrens groups/classes.  Drama, dance, cooking, messy play, music,  singing, swimming – the list is pretty long.  You can start yourself or buy a franchise.  This is as flexible as you want it to be.  I do wonder how happy children would be attending the same classes 2 or 3 times a week every week, but that’s something only you will know about yours!

3. Selling.  Again, the list of people you can sell for and range of products you can sell is pretty long.  Make-up, toys, games, foot prints, nursery furniture, ethical items, nappies etc etc.  It’s difficult to estimate how much you can realistically earn as in my experience they are not forthcoming with honest information about that.  But lots of mums are doing it, and it can’t be for the love of it so I will put my cynicism to one side and assume it can be financially worthwhile.

4. Starting your own business.  If you don’t like what is out there, then start something yourself.  You can set the pace of growth and the hours you need to work.  A great place to start for advice is your local Business Link.  (check links below.)

5. Re-train.  Consider where your skills and interest lies, and maybe think of retraining.  There are fields that naturally lend themselves to the WAHM.  Complementary therapies, various teaching, counselling, consultancy, writing (!), craft work and artistry are all industries worth thinking about.  If you are looking for a more long-term plan and don’t mind putting some time into getting to your end-goal then re-training may be the best option.

Useful links or organisations mentioned above.

Business Link

National Childminding Association

Mum and Working


Complementary Therapies

If you know of or can recommend any other genuine WAHM opportunities then let us all know!

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