Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Kerry Secker of Kerry Cares as she sat beside me at a mums breakfast meet that I went to and within a few minutes of talking to her I felt such joy because I came face to face with a parenting “expert” who believed in my idea of gentle parenting. Thankfully she agreed to meet with me in the new year so I could chat to her about her methods. Here it is…in conversation with Kerry of Kerry Cares Parenting.
NM: How did you get into nannying?
KS: I’ve always loved children. My mum tells me at family gatherings I was always the one found hanging out with and looking after the kids. When I finished my A Levels, I knew I wanted to work with children but university wasn’t going to give me that so I went on to do an NNEB (Nursery Nursing Examinations Board) and then at 19 got my first job working with a family of 3 children (ages 2, 3 and 5 when I started). I worked 8am-6pm everyday.
NM: There’s a lot of pressure put on nanny’s these days. Mums tend to judge their nanny’s for being on the phone when they’re on their phones themselves. Some parents even go onto mum FB groups to name and shame these nanny’s/helpers.
KS: You can not judge anyone based on a snap shot. How do you know the nanny isn’t on the phone to the mum. With such long hours, like with any job, you’re allowed to be on your phone or take a quick call. I try not to be on my phone too much but we’re in a modern world. I could be looking for directions or fun things to do in the local area.
NM: How has the role changed since you started?
KS: I didn’t have a mobile phone when I first started! Back when I started, you just got on with it.
NM: When Kerry first came out of college, she was trained with traditional methods. There was no scientific background then. This was circa 1997. Parenting (like technology) has changed so much. Methods she’d learnt were things like the naughty step or time outs. There was no focus on why children behaved the way they did.
Being young and enthusiastic, she started out practicing what she’d learnt. But being a nanny for 3 completely different children, she soon realised those methods weren’t going to work. Being in “control” of the children wasn’t working. It’s been a long journey going from being the authoritative nanny to founding Kerry Cares Parenting, using a much more gentler approach. What changed?
KS: It’s all about intuition. Our gut is so important and people don’t use it. We’re born with really good intuition but as the rational side of our brains develop, we stop listening to our gut. We don’t trust our gut anymore.
NM: Sometimes I think reading too much is not always a good thing either. Good parenting will come to you when you’re not relying on all these outside opinions but listening to your gut.
KS: I am not an expert and I don’t like being referred to as one. I think the only experts of babies are their parents. How can one person be the expert of every single baby? There are billions of babies out there, each one different and unique. I don’t have a crystal ball or a magic wand, it’s impossible! Every circumstance surrounding every baby is different.
NM: There are many parents who aren’t “being” the parents anymore. There’s a fine line between being the parent and letting your child do as they please.
KS: As a parent, you have to have boundaries when it comes to your children. Children do as they see, they will naturally pick up traits they see in their parents. You will never win against your children! The sooner you realise that, things will become a lot easier.
NM: I’ve always taken a gentle approach to parenting but in the last year, when the threenager phase hit, I found myself losing my cool. I know I’m only human and I hated myself for it but it was happening. The penny only dropped when one day I was telling S off and I said “Don’t speak like that to me” and he said “No, you don’t speak like that to me.” And that’s when a light went on and I thought he’s right. How can I ask him not to speak like that to me, when I am speaking like that to him. Gentle parenting can be tough and it doesn’t work for everyone. What does gentle parenting mean to you?
KS: Fundamentally, it’s just parenting with respect and seeing it from their point of view. There are no right ways to parent. Gentle parenting means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It’s often mistaken for permissive parenting and not disciplining. But there is disciplining involved with gentle parenting. Kerry Cares is not attachment parenting, it’s just using a gentler approach. How you parent your child needs to feel right for you and your family. So when I have a client, the first question I ask is “How does this feel to you?” And if it doesn’t feel right then don’t do it.
NM: Kerry’s approach is very individual. She spends time talking with the parents she’s working with to get a complete background (from birth) before offering any advice. She follows her ASS method. Your children need to feel Attached, Safe and Secure. When you have these 3, you can tackle anything: Sleep, weaning, behavioural issues, potty training and everything else in between. It’s important to understand why our babies are behaving in a certain way.
KS: I hear so often people saying “What is the best way to put my child to sleep” or “What is the best way to get them on the toilet?” or “What is the right way to deal with tantrums?” The fact is there is no right way, every child is different.
KS: People think of discipline as regimented punishment. Discipline really means “to teach”. Discipline in my gentle approach is to show them how it’s done. And it has to be age appropriate. I don’t tend to use the word tantrum. “Tantrums” is your child communicating with you. You have to allow them their feelings. Even with babes in arms, we often go shh..shhh..shh.. when they cry and while that sound is soothing, it’s also subliminally telling them it’s not okay to cry. And the fact is, it is okay for them to cry. Babies crying is their way of talking to us. They could be tired, hungry, wet. Most people link crying to something being wrong. There’s nothing wrong, there’s just a need there. We have to normalise children’s behaviour. It’s normal to tantrum, to cry, to be loud.
If we teach children from a young age that the only person responsible for their happiness is themselves, they will get it.
Children just want to anchor to you. When children feel their emotional tank is empty, that’s when they need you. If you’re distracted elsewhere, conflict arises.
For more information, check out http://www.kerrycaresparenting.com/