Last night I watched the TV programme Home is Where the Heart Is, where celebrities open thier homes to a homeless person. It made me think. These homeless people have found themselves living a life that is hard for me to imagine. How did they get there, so disconnected and bereft of support, community, family and friends. Hard for me to imagine.

It was Jim, who was staying with the designers Colin and Justin who after being fixed up in a flat on his own, reverted to drinking again and broke down on camera admitting he was so lonely and then saying he was worthless. My heart went out to him. Colin and Justin found it hard to understand why he had started drinking again and that, I think, is because they couldn’t put themselves into his shoes. His life is empty compared to theirs, he felt he had no purpose. To feel that way is so sad. It also occurred to me that he is somebody’s child! At one point when he was asked by either Colin or Justin (can’t remember which of them it was now) “is there anything about your life you would change?” He replied “Yes, that I was ever conceived”

We all need purpose and to feel worthwhile. As parents most of us want to raise our children in the best way we can and indeed do our best. It’s really important to remember whatever we do, is the best we are capable of at the time and no good berating ourselves afterwards. We can learn how not to do something again. Remember Edison and his light bulb? When asked how he felt about failing to invent the light bulb so many times. He said, he didn’t see it as failure, just ways of not doing it again

The homeless people began to thrive once they had direction, a purpose and a reason for getting up and changing the way they lived. They started to belong to a community, have people inter acting with them, encouraging them, complimenting them and telling them how well they were doing. They experienced belonging. We all need to belong and be connected. We don’t thrive in isolation. Somewhere along the way these people became dis-connected. As parents it’s important we help keep our children connected, feeling like they belong, are valued and appreciated. That they matter. Part of ‘raising’ them properly, or most effectively is to continue to raise their self esteem, self worth and confidence.

Remember to praise them, thank them for little things they do right. We very often forget to acknowledge what they do get right or do well and point out what they don’t! I realize I certainly did this with my middle son. At a time when my eldest was recovering from a brain haemorrhage and surgery and going through lots of rehabilitation and my youngest was exhibiting lots of autistic behaviour, my middle son was very good. At about age 7 or 8 he would get on and do as he was asked, be content and occupy himself, while I ran round the house like a mad woman trying to cope with the youngest one taking his clothes off as soon as I dressed him, cleaning up toothpaste he’d squirted and smeared all over the bathroom, deal with the papier mache mess that was a full toilet roll he’d put down the loo and other challenging antics. It was only when Hal, my middle son, hadn’t done something I’d asked or expected him to do I’d notice and point that out, or shout at him. In hindsight I realize how good he was and didn’t get acknowledged for all he was doing or thanked. I have told him since.