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"My one parenting regret"

By Ariana Clark 4 min read

"She needs to still have a relationship with him, but even letting her see or talk to him can mean days, or even weeks of problems."

I have two beautiful children, Scarlet, aged six, and Jayden, who is four months old.

I remember back in 2013, when I first had my daughter, thinking how beautiful she was, how I wanted to teach her everything I possibly could and more, and how I wanted to give her the world—she is my world!

I would buy her all the latest toys, such as Shopkins, Barbie dolls and American Girl dolls, give her plenty of clothes, and bring her on plenty of outings. There were zoo trips up and down the North Island of New Zealand (where we live) and I would give her anything she ever asked or what I thought would be a great experience.

Sometimes when there was only a little bit of money left over, I would go without so that she could have it all. She was such a happy, lovely girl (and don’t get me wrong, she still is at times).

I wanted her upbringing to be completely different to my own: not having everything or struggling. Also, her father and I had a toxic relationship. He was always very verbal and loud, and would smash things in anger. I had to call the police on numerous occasions.

I stayed, thinking Scarlet needed to have both a mum and a dad to raise her. But things escalated towards Scarlet. There was name-calling and he never controlled himself around Scarlet—there was never any fear on his behalf if she was around or not.

I often regretted staying for five years, putting up with it, as it affected us both in such a dramatic way. I still struggle now with communication and conflict. Domestic violence has been a part of my life for so long, it has become the norm. Looking back now, maybe that’s why I let Scarlet have everything.

After her father and I spilt, Scarlet struggled with anxiety, sleeping and loud noises. It took more than a year for her to settle. Now that she’s six—sometimes going on 16—I wonder to myself why I wasn’t tougher on certain things such as bedtimes, saying no and giving her more boundaries.

I’m struggling more now than I ever thought I would! Sometimes, it’s 10 pm before she’s asleep. I struggle with her attitude—swearing, backchatting and so many things that I didn’t even think of while trying to give her everything else.

I realise I did give her everything she ever needed or wanted, but, I’m not ashamed to say, I missed the boat on a few must-have rules and guidelines.

I have always tried to be open and honest with her, wanting her to know the truth about her parents as much as possible. But issues between her and her father keep coming back. I know she needs to still have a relationship with him, but even letting her see or talk to him can mean days, or even weeks of problems, which could be a whole new story on its own.

I am definitely not afraid to ask for help, but I do find it really hard to change routines or habits. I often forget about or give in without thinking, when it comes to groundings or loss of privileges.

There are so many things that I feel I fail at on a daily basis, but I carry on to help my daughter become the best, amazing girl I know she will one day grow up to be. Realising also that I’m not helping her learn, and instead of me being overwhelmed with her not listening and the many other issues we face, we are now attending a parenting class.

I may have struggled in lots of areas but I definitely have raised an amazingly caring and loving person.

I have remarried, and without the love and support of my husband now, things would possibly have stayed the same and I wouldn’t have the strength to make the changes I needed to make.

So now with two kids and an amazing dad to them both, we attend an incredible program to help us find new ways to deal with things, and also still let Scarlet have the things she needs and wants.

So far, it’s all about child-directed play, letting the child lead the way, no time-outs or harsh punishments. It’s about ignoring the bad stuff and encouraging play at their pace, with positive and non-questions-based feedback. I’ve already seen so much improvement. 

Scarlet has also started Highland dancing and is learning to play the practice chanter, which she loves so much because her stepdad can play the bagpipes. She can’t wait to be able to share the love with him. She has plenty of support and good things to focus on! The journey to school now is also much less painful and less chaotic.

Scarlet’s an amazing big sister, helpful and caring, and loves Jayden to pieces! Sometimes, it’s a little over-the-top, but all in all, amazing. I’ve enjoyed seeing her growing in her love for her brother, to see how loving and caring she can be towards him. Seeing how she can be having a bad day, but her brother cheers her up and keeps her at peace.

I may have struggled in lots of areas but I definitely have raised an amazingly caring and loving person.


If you have experienced sexual assault, domestic or family violence, contact 1800RESPECT (Australia) | It's Not OK (New Zealand)

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Ariana Clark loves spending time with her kids and exploring the New Zealand outback by four-wheel drive. She enjoys dancing, music, trying crafts and baking.


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