Name: Suzanne Parsons
With four kids and another on the way, you would think Suzanne Parsons from Kempsey would be craving a bit of adult time. However, when it comes to kids and supporting Indigenous families, Suzanne just can’t get enough.
As a family support worker at the Durri Aboriginal Medical Service, Suzanne believes it’s important to enjoy your time with your children as much as possible.
“I think the best advice I could give anyone who is thinking of becoming a parent is to have fun,” says Suzanne. “Some people get too caught up with having to look this way or act a particular way, and they forget to have fun with their children.”
Originally from Queensland, Suzanne has lived in Kempsey for the past 20 years and has dedicated her life to keeping kids and families healthy.
“As a family support worker at the AMS, you learn that good health starts from when the child is a baby,” says Suzanne. “It’s my job to help make sure kids’ health checks are up-to-date and to try to prevent them from having any long-term health problems,” says Suzanne.
As part of her role as a family support worker, Suzanne also runs a playgroup and teaches parenting skills. While many people might say that parenting should just come naturally, Suzanne says that not everyone has had equal access to learning these important skills.
“There are many reasons why people may not have developed their parenting skills,” says Suzanne. “It depends on whether they’ve had good role models for parenting and the opportunities they’ve had in life. Also, many people have had kids when they’re very young. I talk to them about the different stages of childhood and what you can do with kids at different ages. I also talk to them about health and nutrition. I really just provide the information and then let them be responsible for it. But having the information available to them makes it a lot easier for the parents.”
As a mum, Suzanne says she always tries to remember that all her children are different and have different needs.
“They’re all individuals and sometimes it can be difficult knowing what you’re meant to say and what you’re meant to do because they’re all different,” she says. “You’ve really got to try hard to treat them all individually and be fair to each one. If one of them gets grumpy, then I’ll try to spent a bit of extra time with them or give them an extra cuddle. I always try and spend a little bit of individual time with each child to talk about them and what they’ve done and how they feel inside.”
Suzanne believes the most important thing that we can teach our children is to respect themselves and each other.
“I try to teach my children about respect and responsibility,” says Suzanne. “That means respect for other people regardless of who they are or what colour or race they are. I also try to teach them to be responsible for their actions. You can only teach them respect by treating them respectfully and I try to give all my children little responsibilities in life that are achieveable so they learn about responsibility.”
Even though being a parent is a big responsibility, Suzanne says that you are constantly rewarded for your efforts.
“The most rewarding thing about being a mum is just watching them grow and when they achieve something, whether that’s just bouncing a ball or getting their spelling right, it feels great. It’s the little things they do in life that make you proud,” says Suzanne.
While children can build you up and make you feel proud, they can also sometimes be a bit too honest. Mind you, says Suzanne, that does come in handy when it comes to shopping.
“The thing I like most about kids is that they always tell the truth and tell you exactly how they feel. I like that. So when you go clothes shopping you should always take your kids and then if you ask if you look good they’ll always tell you the truth,” she laughs.
Maybe Suzanne’s onto something there. Perhaps this could be the start of a new reality show – Kid’s Eye for an Honest Buy?