Taunton Parenting Cafe

I would like to invite all parents of children from 9-19 yrs to the new Taunton Parenting Cafes!

I want the Café to be a welcoming, encouraging and safe space where parents can discuss parenting pre-teen and teenage challenges and find practical help, support and encouragement. 

This is what parents said about my June Parenting Café:

“Brilliant!  Exceeded my expectations”

“It was a welcoming, non-judgemental space where you can talk openly about the challenges you face of the parent.”

Each Café will be on a Monday from 7 PM-8:30 PM at Company Spaces, 2 Bridge Street, Taunton, TA1 1UB

I am Ruth James and will be running “Building Confident and Resilient Teenagers” courses in association with Taunton Doctors organises.

Each Café will focus on a teenage challenge, include a short talk by me and there will be plenty of time for discussion, the topics for the next 2 are:

7 October: How we can help our pre-teens and teenagers manage their anxiety, stress and worries

18 November: Helping our pre-teens and teenagers cope when things go wrong

I will be on hand to give parenting support and advice so there will be plenty of opportunity to ask any questions about parenting you may have. 

Please contact me if you have any questions at parentingcafe@outlook.com or 07718178111

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Exciting new workshops for parents of teenagers in 2019

Family life can be tough, particularly when you have teenagers. No two days are ever the same, one day life can be amazing and then the next it isn’t, you can feel overwhelmed, unable to cope and have no idea what to do…

New for 2019

I am so excited that in 2019 I will be launching a new series of workshops focusing on “Building Resilient Families”.

Having had 3 teenagers, I am already including topics like managing behaviour, building your teenager’s self-esteem, managing screen time, dealing with rudeness, how do to talk so teenagers listen etc.

But, I want to make sure that my workshops answer your questions and deal with the issues you are facing, so, please let me know what your biggest parenting challenge is by emailing me at parentingcafe@outlook.com

So what is my new approach to parenting?

Families, whatever their shape, influence everything we do. Ask any parent what they want for their children, and no surprise, they want their children to be “happy” – but what is “happy”? Having positive family relationships is an important part of “happy” but, as we all know, that is easier said than done with teenagers.

Since I set up Surviving Teenagers in 2012, trying to understand what is behind teenager behaviour has absolutely fascinated me, I must have now read over 60 books as well as spoken to well over 500 parents! Using this research I have put together a new, innovative approached parenting which aims to transform family relationships.

I couldn’t do this if I didn’t practice what I preach, so I have been developing my approach to parenting over the last 10 years with my children (the oldest of which is now 23!)

As my daughters will tell you, I am far from perfect but my research and learning over the last few years has made a significant difference to how I parent and I can genuinely say that we do have positive family relationships and we all enjoy spending time together.

All my children are very different so using a different approach for each one has been key and I have been able to develop a personalised approach based on a better understanding of who they are and who I am as a parent and why I parent way I do using a model I have developed.

Family life is hectic so keeping things simple and practical is my mantra, so my workshops focus on how I can better support parents cope in your busy day-to-day lives.

My new approach is different to anything I’ve come across, it focuses on understanding ourselves, our children and the 3R’s of family life, relationship, relationship, relationship.

It is often the simple things which make the biggest difference in relationships. All too often it is our emotions and assumptions that get in the way of building positive family relationships and we don’t or can’t see the wood for the trees i.e. we focus on struggling with day-to-day relationship challenges rather than standing back and changing how we approach our children.

Helping parents to understand how you could start opening the door to new ways of building more positive family relationships is my reason for doing this, helping and encouraging families to bring new perspectives and understanding of each other will hopefully allow you to transform your day-to-days.

If you would like to know more, please email me at parentingcafe@outlook.com

Ruth James

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Making 2018 a “Happy New Year”

building resilient mumsWhen I ask most parents what they want for their teenagers, they want them to be “happy”.

Happiness does not necessarily mean having more money or stuff, the evidence suggests that more money does not make us happier. We all have an “optimum level of happiness” and even though we may experience temporary euphoria with a job promotion, financial gift or even winning the lottery, after a period of weeks or months we get used to this new money and life continues as before as we strive towards the next anticipated goal which will make as “happier”.

Interestingly, giving to others and spending time with people is more likely to make is happy than money or things.

So what will make our teenagers happy? Ironically, part of this answer is having a good relationship with their parents even though they may do everything to sabotage this. Often, their behaviour is driven out of a lack of self belief and this is so clear to me when I talk to parents.

The problem is parents often misinterpret their teenagers’ reaction and perceive them as being rebellious or difficult. Whereas, if you look behind the behaviour their teenager is clearly struggling with GCSEs, friendships, body image, a comment on snap chat etc. You can usually trace back shifting behaviour to something going on in their lives.

Unfortunately, we can get into a habit of constantly reacting to our teenagers, even using a particular tone of voice, which of course never ends well and undermines our ability to build a positive relationship with our teenagers.

Perhaps in 2018, our New Year’s resolution ought to be to look behind our teenager’s behaviour, to try to understand what is really going on in their world and perhaps be a little more patient with them.

On the positive, in 2018 I would encourage you to do what you can to build them up, affirm them, complement them – catch them doing something positive for a change. They may not show a positive reaction to any of this but trust me, they do appreciate it, it can make a difference and even open the door to a more positive relationship your teenager.


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Some phases in life are harder than others…

Tough phases

Doesn’t life goes in phases and the latest phase of my life has been tough for a number of reasons, hence no blogs for several months. However, sometimes it’s about hanging in there and just carrying on despite what is going on around us.

Being a parent when times are tough can be hard because if we are struggling with a difficult situation we can be tired, grumpy and inpatient, and unfortunately, often take our stress out on those nearest to us.

Equally, it is important that our children recognise that life is not straightforward, and we need to remember that because they watch us cope with our day-to-day this will influence how they cope. They are acute observers and often mirror our attitudes and behaviours.

I realise it is about my mindset, how my attitudes and behaviour come across when times are tough is so important for my teenagers, they need to learn from me and this can be challenging as I can enjoy my own “pity party” like the best of us. However, I constantly remind myself that this never gets me anywhere and often makes me feel more miserable… which always has a knock-on impact for my family and never for the positive!

It is all about the choices we make, do we moan about things, are constantly negative or  choose to be more  positive/optimistic…?  I know it isn’t easy but I would rather show my children how to be optimistic and teach them to be grateful regardless of what is going on rather than teach them how to moan and always see the negative.

Ultimately, I would like my children to be happy with who they are, able to build positive relationships, cope with the never ending pressures from education/the workplace as well as the 24/7 social media.

Therefore, for me, it is about helping them find their own way through whatever they are going through and hopefully show them that when we do go through tough times we make choices about how we cope with the day-to-day pressures.

I know, throughout my life that tough phases eventually do come to an end and I always hope that the next phase will be more positive, mine certainly feels more positive at the moment which, in turn, will hopefully have a positive impact on my family!



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We all need more encouragement… particularly after a tough week

Feedback from Wellington School

Some weeks are just harder than others and this one hasn’t been great… at the moment I am living through GCSE stress as well as actively supporting a daughter who is doing her NQT year as a Y3 teacher, however much she loves teaching it is tough, who else would have to do a 60 hour week just to keep their heads above water.

Such is the life of a mum trying to juggle supporting family issues with pressures at work – I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just find it hard going.

Fortunately, I did have a bright spot this week, it came in the form of encouraging feedback from parents at a workshop I delivered at Wellington School, Somerset on Monday (above). I love delivering these sessions so it is good to know parents find them helpful.

At the moment, particularly if our teenagers are doing exams, they need loads of encouragement – it is suggested that we should use 6 words of encouragement to 1 word of criticism. However, I think we all need more encouragement so this week I am going to focus on encouraging those around me because I know the difference it made for me this week.


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