Thursday 20 June 2019

I want my sons to take risks in life

Ollwyn Moran is the founder of Irish baby product brand Cognikids, the ethically-produced, nasties-free range. Mother to Matthew (14) and Alex (12), she reveals what being a parent has taught her

Working mum: Ollwyn Moran left her teaching job to start up her business, Cognikids
Working mum: Ollwyn Moran left her teaching job to start up her business, Cognikids

I'm obsessed with child development

I was a secondary school teacher for 16 years and worked with children with learning difficulties, on the remediation side of things, so it was trying to help fix some problems. But I think if you can help prevent some, that's even better, because you don't have all the associated psychological effects that go along with a child who has struggled, for possibly six or seven years, in the school environment as well.

I would definitely be firm but fair as a parent

I'm not an authoritarian parent at all, which is like, 'This is my will; you will do as I say.' I would be much more of an authoritative parent. There are lines and there are boundaries and they are established for a reason. We will sit down and discuss the reasons why, and obviously, your parenting style has to adapt to the child as they grow.

When I was in working as a teacher, I was also a restorative practice practitioner [the approach which builds relationships and deals with conflict in a healthy manner]. It sat really well with me because that was the type of person that I was and I think I parent like that as well.

We talk very openly. I'm divorced and they don't see their dad. Obviously, nobody starts out married life thinking they'll be done and dusted in five years, so I've had to make changes and deal with that and navigate it for the boys as well. I didn't want them growing up in an unhealthy environment and also, coming from my teaching, I would have understood the importance, particularly for boys, psychologically, to be able to healthfully navigate feelings and emotions. Girls do it anyway and it's statistically proven that girls are talkers and we talk to each other and we talk to our peers.

What I really wanted to build for the boys was a really stable structure in the house of sitting down and talking about feelings.

My support system is family, friends and a few favourite psychologists that I read

I'm obsessed with Steve Biddulph, who writes the most amazing child psychology books that have very easily accessible information. I read his stuff when I was doing teacher training and it stuck with me, even though I had no kids at that time. I just like his approach and his attitude to raising children in the modern world.

Running Cognikids is mad during the week, and it still seeps into the weekends

That's even though I really try to consciously carve out a Saturday and a Sunday that isn't work, but as every self-employed person knows, work can still seep in. Saturday is normally sports - if it's not training, it's matches. As they're getting older, they're starting to not wanting to hang out with me on a Sunday and I have to navigate that one myself. But we would normally go to Greystones and go for a wander on the beach, or we'll go up the mountains, or for a walk in the park. I like to get out and about, but I do tend to focus on experiences with the boys rather than things, so that's where we would put our attention and focus.

I want to instil kindness in my children

To themselves and to others. I think there's no point in being intelligent if you're not a good, kind person. Empathy is also important, and the emotional intelligence side of things.

I want them to take risks in life. I left a stable, secure, permanent and pensionable teaching job, much to the dismay of my parents, to start up my own business and never had any experience in business. But it was something that I really wanted to do, although I had been told it was a dreadful idea, but it was a burning desire in me. I thought, 'Flip this, life is too short.'

It doesn't have to be starting a business or doing a course, but just trying something new and I really want the boys to soak up as many experiences as they can and to be used to being outside of their comfort zone.

They don't have to be leaders, but they have to be independent thinkers and not go with the flow just because that's what everyone else is doing.

See cognikids.com

Irish Independent

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