Why do people die? Where do they go?

mnberksAwkward Questions Children Ask Part SevenGood Toy Guide Logo_MED

Dr Amanda Gummer, Play & Parenting Psychologist and founder of Fundamentally Children has been helping Mumsnetters with how to answer those awkward questions that children ask.

So today’s question is:

Why do people die? Where do they go?

tshirt sat at tableAmanda says…..

Your answer to this will be heavily influenced by the age of the child, the circumstances surrounding the timing of question, their personal experiences and your own beliefs.  If a child is suffering from grief, it is important to provide reassurance in the answer.  Ultimately, honesty in many cases is the best policy.  Younger children tend to take things literally so explaining that the family has ‘lost’ someone or he/she has ‘gone to sleep’ could lead to problems such as sleepness nights as the child will be afraid to fall asleep for fear of not waking.  As children get older you can explain in more detail but using clear, simple and accurate details is recommended.

If it is just one of those questions, you can encourage children to be more philosophical and think about concepts such as the circle of life, overcrowding of the world and even issues such as quality v quantity of life with older children.  Religious explanations aside, a child will benefit from hearing an adult acknowledge their own uncertainty.  Encourage questions from your child but be honest if you are unsure of how to answer them.  There’s no right or wrong answers.  It is fine to say that no one really knows but lots of people have ideas that they believe and that it is ok to believe whatever you want to.

Young children don’t have a mature concept of the permanence and irreversibility of death so they need an explanation that they can relate to. The butterfly analogy works well – a caterpillar on the ground goes into a cocoon not having any idea that it’s about to grow wings and emerge from its sleep as a beautiful butterfly.  This explanation can help take away the fear of dying that many children experience at some point.

A note from the Mumsnet Berkshire Local Editor: I hope I am not asked this question any time soon. The only thing I can really add to Amanda’s answer is to learn about the signs of grief in children if they have lost a loved one (be that a family member, friend or pet). For example, a change in behaviour (this could be many weeks or months after the initial bereavement), fascination with death, anxiety over certain things i.e. going to sleep, being ill etc. Please feel free to add your comments or email thoughts to berkshire@mumsnetlocal.com

Read more awkward questions here:

Read Part One: Who is lying?

Read Part Two: Why do grown ups argue?

Read Part Three:  What does the tooth fairy do with the teeth they collect?

Read Part Four: How do I explain that we can’t afford what their friends can afford?

Read Part Five: How does a baby get in Mummy’s tummy?

Read Part Six: My Friends say I am ugly. Is it true?

The Berkshire Show

mnberksMy Trip to the Berkshire Show

The Berkshire Show, organised annually by the Newbury & District Agricultural Society, is a weekend jam packed full of things of family friendly things to do and see all related to country life. There is so much to see including lots of animals, agricultural machinery, areas to shop for hand-made goods and so much more.

My husband and I took our two year old and our one year old to the Berkshire Show on Saturday 20th September. The first thing that struck us was that it was quite well organised. There are plenty of car parks (some that are free and one that charges £5 for the day) each labelled with a colour and they even had row numbers. They do pack you in and we did complain that there wasn’t a lot of room to reverse your car without risking hitting a car parked in the row behind. There was also poor sign posting for getting out of the rows of cars in the car park to leave the car park but that was our bugbear for the day.

My two year old was amazed from the start because we started off looking at some beautiful birds of prey and although we have plenty of Red Kite where we live, you don’t often get a close up view. We also saw a variety of snakes & lizards, enjoyed the petting zoo with goats, chickens, rabbits & donkeys, and enjoyed going to look at all the show animals including Lamas, pigs, sheep and poultry. On that note, I didn’t like the Poultry tent because all the animals were in very small cages and I felt quite uncomfortable about that. Whilst I appreciate it is only for a weekend event, the thought of them being cooped up and crammed in really rather upset me. The larger animals had a lot more space to roam about.

bs1There were tractors, diggers, combine harvesters and all sorts of machinery on show. Whilst it’s not really my interest, my husband and son both really enjoyed looking at them all. I was very entertained to discover that there is also a Police tractor – something I had never given any thought to.

As well as lots to see, there were many tents with kids areas for them to sit down for a bit and do some drawing, enter competitions and get some nice freebies! I was particularly happy to see a tent specifically for baby changing and feeding with a nice play area for the little ones to let off steam. I had been walking around for a few minutes trying to work out where I was going to change a nappy without being right in everyone’s way. There were also volunteers walking around telling parents where this tent was which I think was very handy.

The animals were in lots of competitions so you could listen to the judges and commentary on what was being looked for amongst the animals to pick a winner.

I was really impressed by and really enjoyed looking at all the hand made wooden crafts from benches and chairs to garden animals & walking sticks. The talent is fantastic. I only wish a few more had been Berkshire based!

Some of you would recognise them from Britians Got Talent – Bolddog Lings Freestyle FMX team were there doing a Motorcycle stunt display. We didn’t get to see it but heard from others that it was fantastic to see. The Main arena also featured show jumping and heavy horses.


Along with crafts, photography and cookery demonstrations there was something for everyone. We noticed that most of the people there were older and not so many families. That’s a bit disappointing for us because we thought it was a great place to take the children.

berkshire showThere was plenty of seating but not enough toilets. The toilers they did have always seemed to be a long walk from where I was and at one point I had a debate about whether I could hold it or not. So for future years they really need more toilets especially with the huge number of visitors attending.

Overall, a great day with lots to see and do for all the family. You can buy tickets in advance or on the day but it is obviously more expensive on the day. For more information on the Berkshire show, visit their website here: http://www.berkshireshow.co.uk/

My tickets were free but this in no way influenced the outcome of my review.

Low Expectations….left with Great Impressions!

mnberksGreat Expectations by London Contemporary Theatre

I was invited to the theatre at South Hill Park, Bracknell to watch the opening performance of Great Expectations by the London Contemporary Theatre group who are celebrating their second birthday!

I have to admit I haven’t been to the theatre in a long time and I wasn’t sure Great Expectations would really be something I’d enjoy. I have never read the book and I am sure I have seen one of the films somewhere many years ago but couldn’t tell you the story at all. So I decided to take someone along who would know all about it. My awesome Mum!

South Hill Park Arts Centre is one of my favourite places to go just to walk around its beautiful grounds and lake, take my kids to the sandpit and enjoy the nearby play park. Before the show Mum and I enjoyed a peaceful drink listening to some live music whilst sat outside overlooking these beautiful grounds. It set the scene for a lovely evening.

great expectationsWe went into the theatre which is a really nice size. It’s not massive so where ever you are sat, I think you’d have a good seat. But we were lucky to have our tickets in the middle. The stage was already set up with actors on it with a woman in a wedding dress laid dead on the stage. This sparked anticipation in me immediately. When the show started I was immediately drawn in to the story of a young Boy called Pip and the relationship he was to form with the cold hearted Estelle. I was so drawn in that when there was a break in the performance I was really disappointed so consoled myself with a nice ice cream.

The changes of scene were done to the sound of a clock along with music and the actors & actresses used dance to to move across the stage ready for the next scene to start. I thought it was really cleverly done. Great Expectations (or this version of) was a modern version, set in modern times and I felt it adapted well. I was able to follow the story line which I thoroughly enjoyed. I only got a bit confused near the end when the parents of Estelle were revealed. There was also a suitable amount of humour to break up from the seriousness of the story.

I have to say I was incredibly impressed with the cast. I thought the chemistry between Pip and his Mum was great and the portrayal of Miss Haversham was brilliant. Estelle was also portrayed brilliantly. I hated her but I could also see why Pip would fall for her and I was excited to see whether or not they would end up together! The performance was about 2 hours long which was just about right with the interval too.

I’d really recommend going to see Great Expectations by the London Contemporary Theatre. I can’t wait to see their up and coming versions performances including one by Roald Dahl. My tickets were free but this in no way influences the reviews I give.

Great Expectations is currently touring in the UK now. to find out more you can visit the website http://www.londoncontemporarytheatre.com/Greatexpectations.html

Fireworks Display in and around Berkshire 2014

mnberksFireworks Displays in & around Berkshire

We all love bonfire night and organised displays are a safe way to enjoy some beautiful and incredible displays. Here is a list of firework displays in Berkshire & surrounding areas. I will be updating this blog post regularly so please feel free to email me details of any you know about berkshire@mumsnetlocal.com

25 Oct –  Sue Ryder Fireworks & Halloween Night at Sure Ryder Care Home. Organised by the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge and held in the grounds of the Sue Ryder Care Home. Professional firework display, bonfire, Halloween fancy dress parade, numerous stalls, pig roast, soup, bangers, burgers, mulled wine and bar. Gates open at 5pm with fireworks at 7.15pm. Vehicle and all occupants £15, walking adults £5, child 5-16yrs £2.

31st October Fireworks to Music at Bradfield CofE Primary School


1st November Woodley & Earley Lions Club Display


1st November Ascot Racecourse


1st November Reading Lions Firework Display Tilehurst


1st November Newbury Racecourse


2nd November War Horse Fireworks Display Royal Windsor Racecourse


5th November Chievley Recreation Ground 


8th November Pangbourne Firework Fiesta


8th November Wokingham Fireworks Evening


My friends say I am ugly. Is it true?

mnberksAwkward Questions Children Ask Part SixGood Toy Guide Logo_MED


Dr Amanda Gummer, Play & Parenting Psychologist and founder of Fundamentally Children has been helping Mumsnetters with how to answer those awkward questions that children ask.

So today’s question is:

My friends say I am ugly. Is is true?


tshirt sat at tableAmanda says…..

No, this is definitely not true, no-one is ugly and it is not a nice thing to call someone or be called. Everyone looks different, and this is a good thing.  The world would be a very boring place we all looked the same.

When people are cruel to others they are often feeling unhappy inside, try to ignore the names and always be nice back and hopefully this behavior will stop. If it is a regular name calling, make sure you tell a teacher or adult who can ask them to stop. 

If your child is worried that people are not friends with them because of being pretty/ugly, it’s important to explain that people, children especially, are attracted to others who are happy and confident – not because of their clothes or hairstyle for example.  Encourage your child to be an individual and to enjoy developing their own interests.

 A note from the Berkshire Local Editor: The very fact this question was submitted in the first place upsets me. I wish that children could remain innocent from such things for a lot longer than they sadly do. I think it is also important to get your children to focus on what’s positive about themselves in terms of both personality and even how they look. Rather than focusing on things they may not like, I think it’s confidence boosting to talk about all the lovely things about them i.e. their lovely eyes or friendly smile. You can also encourage them to also see the lovely parts of all their friends and to always look at the positive. It’s important to empower children to believe in themselves. Sadly, children (& human beings in general) I believe, internalise things very easily and so the focus should be on growing their confidence and less focus on personal looks. Everyone has something beautiful about them. What do you think? Either comment here or email berkshire@mumsnetlocal.com

Read Part One: Who is lying?

Read Part Two: Why do grown ups argue?

Read Part Three:  What does the tooth fairy do with the teeth they collect?

Read Part Four: How do I explain that we can’t afford what their friends can afford?

Read Part Five: How does a baby get in Mummy’s tummy?

How does a baby get in Mummy’s tummy?



Awkward Questions Children Ask Part Five Good Toy Guide Logo_MED

Dr Amanda Gummer, Play & Parenting Psychologist and founder of Fundamentally Children has been helping Mumsnetters with how to answer those awkward questions that children ask.

So today’s question is:



How does a baby get in Mummy’s’ tummy?

tshirt sat at table


Amanda says……

Obviously this answer depends on the age of the child…I have aimed it towards a younger child as the question uses the words ‘Mummyand ‘tummyso sounds younger.
When a Mummy and a Daddy love each other very much they make a decision to have a baby.

Daddy puts a special baby seed into an area in mummys body called a Womb. The Womb looks after the seed and helps it to grown into a baby.  It is well worth looking at some of the great apps and books out there which introduce the concept brilliantly to children of different ages.

A note from the Berkshire Local Editor: I think it is really important to stick to a version of the truth so I like Amanda’s answer. Most children are happy with whatever answer you give and won’t necessarily quiz you on every small aspect of baby-making. Please comment with your thoughts or email berkshire@mumsnetlocal.com

Read Part One: Who is lying?

Read Part Two: Why do grown ups argue?

Read Part Three:  What does the tooth fairy do with the teeth they collect?

Read Part Four: How do I explain that we can’t afford what their friends can afford?

The Legal Concept of Parental Responsibility?

Lauren Cannon, a barrister at Guildford Chambers, briefly outlines the legal concept of ‘Parental Responsibility’, what it means, and who has it.


What is it?

‘Parental Responsibility’ is a term referring to certain legal rights, duties and responsibilities in relation to a child, provided by the Children Act 1989. In addition, Parental Responsibility is defined as “rights of custody” for the purposes of the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.   These rights and responsibilities exist until the child is 18 years old.


These rights and responsibilities include:

  • maintaining the child
  • making decisions about significant medical treatment
  • choice of educational provision
  • the naming of the child and any change of surname
  • taking a child abroad (unless there is a Residence / Child Arrangements Order in place)

If a holder of Parental Responsibility, does not live with their child, they have the right to be kept informed and consulted on the important decisions regards exercise of Parental Responsibility, but not regards the day-to-day exercise of Parental Responsibility by the other parent.

Who has it?

All mothers have Parental Responsibility for their children.

In England, fathers have Parental Responsibility in a number of circumstances:

  • Married to the child’s mother at the time of birth or subsequently 
  • Jointly registering the child’s birth certificate (births registered after 01.12.2003)
  • Jointly re-registering a birth that was initially registered before 01.12.2003 to include the father (only applicable if the father was not named on the original registration
  • Jointly adopted the child with the mother
  • The parents have entered into Parental Responsibility agreement, which has been duly registered
  • The court has made an order granting Parental Responsibility
  • By grant of a Child Arrangements Order that the child live with the father (previously Residence orders), as Parental Responsibility must be granted ancillary to that order for as long as the CAO is in force

There are similar rules in relation to births registered in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but there are some distinctions.

How does it work in same-sex relationships?

This is a complicated area and cannot be fully set out in a brief overview like this.

In cases of artificial conception a same-sex partner of the mother may have the legal status of ‘second parent’ depending on the specific circumstances at the time of conception.   Post 06.09.2009 in the case of children conceived after sperm donation, the birth mother’s partner is considered the legal ‘second parent’ if one of 2 conditions applies:

  1. They were in a civil partnership at the date of conception (presuming agreement to the pregnancy) and the conception was not by sexual intercourse
  2.  If not civil partners, the fertility treatment must be in a licensed UK clinic with appropriate forms completed by both parents

Parental Responsibility then is acquired in much the same way as for a legal father.

A civil partner may obtain Parental Responsibility for a partner’s child (their step-child) by agreement with all those who hold Parental Responsibility for the child or by court order.

By grant of a Child Arrangements Order as Parental Responsibility must be granted ancillary to that order for as long as the CAO is in force

Adoption of a partner’s child would provide Parental Responsibility.

In the case of a jointly adopted child Parental Responsibility would be shared by the adopters.


There are different procedures in relation to surrogacy.   Either an application for a Parental Order or Adoption is required to transfer legal rights in relation to the children from the birth mother to the parent(s).

Who else can have Parental Responsibility?

Applications for Parental Responsibility can be made by a non-parent who has sufficient connection to the child e.g a step-parent or grandparent / other relative. 

Local Authorities and Adoption Agencies can also hold Parental Responsibility for a child in specific circumstances.

Terminating Parental Responsibility

Parental Responsibility for persons other than the birth mother can be terminated by court order. Applications can be made by a person holding Parental Responsibility or by the child (with the permission of the court).

For more information about legal issues relating to children, please contact Guildford Barristers Chambers on T: 01483 539131.