Tell your children that you love them
Children's book author Benji Bennett has three kids - Harry (17), Robbie (12) and Molly (10) - with his wife, Jackie. The loss of their four-year-old son Adam in 2007 inspired him to write the Adam's series of books, the message of which is 'bringing families closer'
At the parenting level, you have to be talking to each other to make sure it's working
My parenting style is, and always was, that the children are well able to do things on their own. I use the expression of 'loves, hugs and kisses' all the time. I've seen it in my own children: the most important thing we can do as parents is letting them know that they're loved, which gives that reassurance and foundation.
Reading is hugely important
Not just for the educational side but for that emotional connection that's made through reading. It's the sound of your heart beating, the warmth of your embrace, the sound of your voice and that emotion, and that's where the connections are made. The base line is time, love, reading and bringing them out for walks in nature and letting them develop a love of nature and general, healthy exercise. It's doing these types of things - this has been my experience and I'm almost desperate to get this message out to parents - if you want to raise a happy, well-adjusted child.
When somebody reads the book - and it's because of Adam and his message - it gives me a huge amount of comfort
Everybody says you try and make sense out of things: why us, why Adam, why did it happen? I hear and read, or when people tell me it's changed their life and their perceptions on parenting, it makes me want to try a little bit harder and instil those values and happiness in my children. That makes me realise that's why Adam was here; that's why we were picked, and that's a beautiful, wonderful sentiment.
As I've been writing, my children have been growing and my family expanded
When I wrote my first book, Harry was six-and-a-half, Robbie was one, and we didn't have a Molly. The writing process is definitely influenced by the kids. I start writing a new one in January and I never really know where it's going but I ask, what's the message, what's the message for the family reading the book and what's the message that I want Adam to deliver to the children, which might be one of happiness or kindness or friendship or self-esteem.
Thankfully, I married somebody who is very special
A lot of people will say that the worst thing you can experience is the death of a child, which is horrible, but grief is grief and if I lost Jackie - who would push me, who would inspire me, who would make me feel good? Jackie is my 100pc go-to person for advice and support. I would like to think I'm that person for her but she's much better for me than I am for her, to my shame! In the early stages, Barrettstown and Anam Cara put us in touch with people who have been through the process and they were also my go-to people, not for talking about Adam or my grief, but to see if there was hope. I was in touch with people who were 10 years on and who told me you will smile, it can be OK and that was a huge important part of our process and it's a big message I want to give out. Time is a great healer but if you don't work on your grief and work to move it forward you will get stuck in time and stuck in your grief and you'll be there forever. Some people are happy with that but for my own family and my children... I wanted a happy environment for them.
I have very much lived my life in a way that I want to make Adam proud
And Adam would be happy seeing us happy. Our number one thing was that the rest of the children would be OK. One of the messages that I like to try and give to people is that it does get better and it does get easier and it can be a wonderful journey of memory and inspiration and that's been my experience. We loved Adam so much, we still do and we always will.
The Adam's series is available at adamscloud.com and in book stores