How to stay calm and carry on when aliens possess your teenagers
Sandy (or 'Auntie', as many people call her) is our FIFO Survivor. Her husband works offshore in oil/gas and they've been together for more than 30 years - many of them as a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) family. In that time they've raised two beautiful daughters (both now in their 20s) and moved more than 19 times! Sandy wanted to write for Mining Family Matters to show you can survive FIFO.
At this time of year I can hear those sounds all across the country. Sounds from my past.
"It’s my formal and I have nothing to wear."
"You're so mean - why am I on a budget?"
The teenagers of today seem to have a lot more pressure placed on them than I did; the choice of subjects for high school; what job to take for the summer (we took whatever was going and worked hard so hopefully we'd be asked again next year!); and of course the choice of outfits to each social event - and apparently you can never be seen in the same one twice.
Then there's this 'schoolies' thing in Australia. In New Zealand we don’t really have schoolies. We have music festivals over the summer, but the children all go to school until Year 13 so most are over the legal drinking age. The majority will also have a full driver's license.
When it comes to those awful things that teenagers sometimes say, I've learnt to ignore any remarks made in the spur of the moment - they are thinking with emotion and not common sense.
I did lose one daughter for a couple of years as the aliens possessed her, but she was soon returned as a mature young adult. Just take a breath and walk away. Don’t try to be a "buddy". There does need to be an adult in the relationship.
Try not to be one of those parents who can’t let them out of your sight, either. Sometimes you will have to cut those aprons strings.
Being a FIFO family made things interesting too. My husband and I learnt early on that our daughters would play one against the other, so it was important to keep the lines of communication open.
That goes for your relationship with the kids as well. Try and connect where and when you can: trapped in a car was always a good one for us.
With one parent generally at home, it was important for the girls to know that they could talk to both of us no matter what. We have always provided them with reliable phones and paid for top ups.
They also had another adult they could go to when we were freaks who had no idea what was going on. This happened to be a close family friend.
Also they need to be educated on the temptations they will face. The most important thing I have learnt is to be there for them, no matter what choices they make.
Of course they will make mistakes - but these are only an issue if they don’t learn from them.
More from Auntie Sandy:
- If FIFO life has taught my daughters one thing, it's resilience
- If you want a job done, give it to a busy mum
- Whatever your reason for choosing FIFO, set realistic goals and stick to them
- Yes I'm FIFO: DON'T JUDGE ME!
- Tough love: how to tempt fussy eaters
- From the Pilbara to Indonesia - how I've learnt to love thy neighbour
- Sandy's Law: things always go wrong when you're on your own
- Even for a FIFO survivor, the shit does hit the fan sometimes!
- To raise great kids today, return to the values of yesteryear
- Looking back on how we prepared the girls for school
- Cocktails at breakfast, waterfights and a house full of people - Sandy's perfect Christmas
- Fifty Shades of Sandy: sex and the "experienced" FIFO couple
- Karratha: a little mining town with a big heart
- Striking the right balance between parent and friend as the kids get older
- Coming out as a Kiwi to offer advice to other NZ mining families
- Even FIFO Supermums do it tough sometimes
- Prepare FIFO kids for change and you'll all have amazing adventures
- Yes, mining life can take a toll on friendships
- How to communicate with tetchy teenagers and a husband working offshore
- Give your kids the blessing of hard work and routines
- Special times are what (and when) you make them
- Keeping your cool when travelling with little people in tow
- Goals, routines and other clever clues for FIFO families
- The memorable meltdown moments of a FIFO mum
- The joys of travelling across Australia to a new mining town
- The pros and cons of boarding schools for FIFO kids
- How to relocate AND save your sanity
- How to be happy with and without your partner
- Meet Auntie Sandy, the FIFO survivor
If you've got a question for 'Auntie' Sandy or would like to make a comment about FIFO living, we'd love to hear from you. Click here!