When it comes to “the juggle”, Jo Abi has more balls in the air than most. With three young children and a successful career as a journalist for 9Honey and Channel Nine, the single mum knows all too well the challenges modern-day parents face.
The Sydney-based writer says she’s always instinctively known a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work with kids.
“Mine especially,” she says. “Philip suffers from mental illness and has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Giovanni has ASD and my daughter can get lost in the shuffle because the boys need me so much, but as a result she’s become so sensitive and understanding.”
It’s this flexible approach to parenting which has helped her navigate the complexities of raising three children of different ages with different needs.
“(It’s) a constant process of evolution and change,” she explains. “My children respond to different parenting styles at different times of their lives and the parenting style I follow also depends on what the issue is. I think that parenting styles are like a toolkit for parents, and you can pull out the one you need. If you think of it like that, it is less judgmental and more empowering.”
One of the biggest challenges Abi faced early on as a mum was learning to trust her instincts and be discerning about the advice she took on, but she says giving herself permission to change, learn and grow had helped her navigate the complexities of parenthood.
“Accept it is your role to support the person your child is meant to become, instead of raising them to be who you think or who people tell you they should be,” she adds.
Abi says a child psychologist recently offered her a simple but helpful suggestion – listen, and just allow kids to vent, process and talk things through.
“They know I can’t fix everything, but they know I am standing by them and we are in it together,’ she says.
“The thing I always tell them is that I am with them and we will figure it out together. They are not alone. And they can talk to me about anything.”
The TV commentator may have a busy schedule but spending quality time with each of her kids is not only a top priority, but also one she adores.
“Spending time with them is my absolute favourite thing to do,” she says. “My kids and I have so much fun together and as a result have an amazing relationship. We are a little team. We talk everything out together. They are extraordinary humans and I am so proud to be a part of their lives.”
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