Tag Archives: parenting

A beautiful mayhem

A television ad caught my attention recently when it described family life as ‘beautiful mayhem’. Across my 16 years as a parent I have sometimes used ‘organised chaos’ to describe the mundane activity of family but never beautiful mayhem.

Family epitomises something which can be in equal measure beautiful and chaotic. Frustration for parents arises when we expect it to be solely one or the other.

Parents (I’m looking at myself right now!) can set the bar too high, expecting that family life is meant to be some form of beautiful simplicity; smooth-sailing with compliant children, parents managing outcomes as they navigate the parenthood path. The converse is also true – an expectation that family life equals pure mayhem, chaos following disaster with parents resigned to a lack of control and influence. The reality is somewhere in between – this ‘beautiful mayhem’.

A challenge I’m all too aware of is seeing the beauty amidst the mayhem and calling that out. We can routinely allow cherished moments to pass by without bringing them to the surface, archiving them as lost in the mayhem. Our kids then recall only the chaos, the challenge, the confusion.

As parents we need to train our eyes and our hearts to create, identify and reinforce the beauty of each situation. This will equip our kids with an instinct for finding the beauty which then positions them to bring encouragement and life.

In the midst of chaos, we can feel overwhelmed, weighted down by the challenge. As parents we have to decide that we will do things differently, view situations with a fresh set of eyes. This starts with how we view our role as a parent.

Are we there to simply ensure our kids survive until adulthood when they’re on their own? Or are we called to equip our kids with the tools (attitudes, beliefs and practical skills) for them to be life-bringers? By adjusting how we see our critical role as a mum or dad, we will not only impact how we parent but also the destination to where our parenting guides our family.

Amidst the mayhem, what are you doing to call out the whimsical, the fun, the ridiculous, the beauty?


“Won’t power”

It’s not the willpower, it’s the ‘won’t power’ that’s important” was regularly recounted by my dad when people spoke about diets and refraining from certain foods. He was, of course, talking about one’s ability to say ‘no’ to those foods rather than simply the desire for change. I’ve found that whilst seasons of saying “yes” to opportunities have enlarged my world and my capacity incredibly, the power of saying NO to behaviours and attitudes is paramount to lasting change.

Change starts with a desire. A wish for things to be different. Whatever this ‘different’ is – be it in the area of health, relationships, finance, career, parenting – will always require a change in both our behaviour and mindset. What we do and how we think is essential for lasting change. This is where my dad’s quip is important – we need to say NO to those old behaviours, those old mindsets and attitudes, replacing them with the new desired behaviour and thinking. Being keen and enthusiastic won’t bring the results – action is always required!

As we step into a new year, some of us tend to resolve that ‘things will be different this year!’ The resolve won’t deliver change. If we’re genuine about change for the sake of ourselves and those around us, then let’s remember the ‘won’t power’.

What do you need to say NO to in 2016?




Event-based parenting

Technology is a wonderful thing. The world of online gaming, handheld devices and the world-wide web can provide seemingly endless amusement for our kids (and ourselves!). The challenge presents when this is the norm and us mums and dads become what I term “event-based parents”. This is where we abdicate our regular parental responsibilities thinking that our kids are being suitably amused and entertained, and we conveniently pick up our parental function when we specifically plan an event.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. Our kids confess their happiness as they while away the hours on their devices so there is little overt pressure to change this. We then focus our involvement on a day trip to the beach, an afternoon on the skate ramp, or a trip to the museum. Stepping back from this picture, we can see we have possibly become an event-based parent.

I do not believe the answer lies in removing the technology, but rather changing our focus. My wife is an amazing example of this, actively engaging our eldest son as he enhances his online gaming profile. Rather than either ignoring his activity or prohibiting it altogether, the approach of sharing the experience appears to be the most valuable.

I can obviously only speak from my own experiences. I know the enthusiasm with which I am greeted by my boys when I sit down and watch a favourite TV program or join in a Lego building activity or bounce on the trampoline with them, in addition to sharing a family event. The boys like the big things we do together but they love the little things I do with each them individually.


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Outsourced parenting

Businesses outsource many essential functions – HR, ICT and even debt collection.


They effectively partner with other companies to ensure optimal performance of their enterprise. Families can do the same thing!

Yep, we outsource our parenting, from time to time. We do not outsource the responsibility, only some of the function, and only occasionally. What I mean by this is, as parents my wife and I strategically partner with other parents, family and friends to be integrally involved with our world. We retain 100% responsibility but enable our kids to build relationships outside of our family unit, exposing them to a broader range of experiences.

Obviously, we need to be VERY smart as to with whom our kids spend time. This is always relationship-based where trust has been built over a period of time. Understanding and sharing the Team Mahoney values is critical. Loving and empowering our boys, essential.

Separation anxiety (from both the children’s and parent’s perspective!) is something with which we’re not really familiar. Our kids have spent time away from mum and dad from relatively early on, knowing that mum and dad love them and are ALWAYS there upon their return. I know this has built confidence in our boys. I know this has built confidence in the couples with whom our boys have spent time, particularly couples who were yet to have kids of their own.

As parents we have the responsibility to empower, enable and equip our kids to be confident contributors to their communities. It starts with breaking the apron strings and giving our children the necessary room to grow whilst at the same time building friendships with our neighbours, and our school and church families.

Parenting does not have to be a Lone Ranger affair. Let’s start by partnering with other parents. Give outsourcing a trial!


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Does copy and paste parenting work?

I enjoyed a coffee with a friend who’s recently become a first-time dad. Myself being the dad to four boys, I was asked if one approach worked for all of them. Sadly, from the point of view of my friend, I identified this was not the case – what worked for one did not necessarily work for another as each had their own personalities and primary motivators. It was then my friend said he was hoping for “copy and paste parenting”!

I love this term because parenting is anything but copy and paste. Every child is unique. Each child has their own personality with likes and dislikes. Every son and daughter have their own set of motivators, their own “hot buttons”. As parents, my wife and I apply the same set of values and behavioral expectations to each of our boys but how these are outworked is different taking account of their individuality.

It is important for us parents to take the time to understand our kids’ personalities, to really grasp what drives them and what limits them. Parents should be calling their children to the one set of values whilst accepting this will look different for each child. So from my experience, unfortunately for my friend, copy and paste won’t be effective here!

What about your family – has copy and paste parenting worked?


Acknowledgement: Many thanks to my mate Sam for the inspiration for this post!

Image credit: andresr / 123RF Stock Photo

What fatherhood and rocket science have in common

Being a dad is the greatest opportunity and responsibility I have. The ability to shape the lives of my boys, empowering them to become influential young men of purpose, is equal parts opportunity and responsibility. I do think, though, sometimes us dads overcomplicate things just a tad.

I am dad to four boys, the oldest nearing teenagehood (is this even a word?). I readily admit I am no expert but I know what has worked well for our family over the past 12 years, a foundation which I believe will serve us well into the teenage years and beyond.

Anyone who knows me well can attest to my fondness of the saying “it’s not rocket science” and I boldly attach this to fatherhood. Yes, it is often confusing, very often challenging, but it is NOT rocket science! As dads, time is a critical factor – spending time with our kids collectively and individually enables a relationship to be built beyond the normal father / child routine post-work. This designated time enables us to connect with our kids and to then invest appropriately and strategically.

Take for example a recent planned opportunity I had to spend a day with son #3, our 4-year-old adventurer. An avid collector of timber, rocks and miscellaneous things from nature, a movie date, whilst enjoyable, would not create a super memory for either of us. Instead, our day was spent in a local park testing the laws of physics via a flying fox before exploring along the banks of a nearby creek. Testimony to the success of this day is our car now being burdened with a branch, some rope, a length of vine and a myriad of rocks, all collected on our adventure and brought home to show mum!

The easy route of a movie and lunch at McDonalds is useful and can certainly be fun, but it shouldn’t be the standard “adventure”.  As dads, we need to know our kids and cultivate their unique talents and interests. After all, fatherhood is not rocket science!


Photo: Royalty free image purchased via 123RF Stock Photos