Q&A: Dr. Allison Rees

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Dr. Allison Rees has been a fixture on the Parent Education circuit since the early 90s, speaking to tens of thousands of parents and professionals over the years at engagements across the Island. Along with being a trusted voice in parent education, she is also a mother and a grandmother. Allison has co-authored two books, Sidestepping the Power Struggle and The Parent Child Connection. She has contributed to Island Parent for close to 30 years, penning the popular column Cut It Out. She has a common-sense, respectful and joyful approach to helping parents in their roles as parents.

Q. How many children do you have? What are their names?

My son, Jarryd, is 33, and my daughter, Lexy, just turned 31.

Q. How many grandchildren do you have? What are their names and ages? Where do they live?

I have one grandchild. Arlow turns 1 on March 27th. Presently, my daughter, husband and grand-daughter live in Victoria.

Q. What do you love most about being a grandparent? Least? 

I love watching my daughter parent her daughter so lovingly. I have deep admiration in seeing Lexy’s determination to give Arlow a strong sense of attachment, independence when wanted, and in educating herself as a parent. I am also experiencing a special relationship with Arlow. She knows the games we play together. She reaches out for me when I arrive, and I get a sense that she trusts me. That warms my heart.

What I least enjoy are the times when Arlow is sick or in pain with teething. Not only do I worry about her, but I worry about my daughter worrying about her. I seem to recall my mother saying something like this to me then I would worry about my mom worrying about me, worrying about my daughter. Worry is my least favourite thing!

Q. How is being a grandparent different than being a parent?

Obvious answer. I get to sleep, eat a meal without interruptions, read…I’m sure you get my point. It is totally different.

Q. What was important to you as a parent when you were raising your own children?

Growing up myself so that I could break ineffective family patterns and contribute to my children’s psychological health.

Q. What is most important to you as a grandparent?

Being available to do anything to help out and bring relief to their family. I also mind my own business and don’t give unsolicited advice. I respect their way of doing things. They have so much information and education at their fingertips. I had a few books. I’m learning a lot from my daughter.

Q. What part did your grandparents play in your life? What did you learn from them?

I had limited contact with my grandparents as we immigrated from Scotland to Victoria. My mother’s mom was kind and loving. This was evident in my mother’s behaviour and continues down the line.

Q. How did/will you help your children—and how do you help your grandchildren—find their talents and strengths? To explore their creativity?

By letting them take the lead and being open to their interests. The same way I did with my children. Putting my ego and agenda aside!

Q. What are some of your favourite things to do and places to go with your grandchildren?

We are just getting out of the winter months now so most of my time is in their home. We just play in whatever way we can. It changes every week.

Q. What do you wish for your grandchildren?

Health, happiness and peace.

 Q. What would you like your grandchildren to remember most about you?

I would like them to know that I simply adored them. That’s all.

Q. Do you have any wise words or stories to share with other grandparents to help them in their role raising their grandchildren? 

When my mother became a nana, she was pure love and fun. She never judged me, my choices or my kids. She had a wonderful sense of humour that would come out when one of my kid’s did something typical of their age. “They’re just children.” I think she was a major contributor to their well-being, their self-esteem and their ability to have such great relationships with others. Jarryd and Lexy loved their nana, and I feel her presence guiding me. When people say you feel the presence of loved ones, I get it. Mom’s attitude, her words, her way of being have stayed with me.

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