Raising Children host Jude Dobson shares best parenting tip she ever received
It takes more than jetlag and a hockey match to stop Jude Dobson talking about her fourth 'baby'.
It is clear Raising Children, a multi-platform resource for Kiwi parents, is very dear to the mother of three who has been a fixture on New Zealand television screens since her debut on Sale Of The Century in 1989.
Dobson went on to present a range of lifestyle series including Open Home, Alive And Kicking, and NZ Living. Then, in 1997, she began hosting the weeknight magazine show 5:30 With Jude. When that ended after five years, Dobson moved into production.
"When I got sidetracked into television, I was working in the post-natal wards of National Womb (Auckland's National Women's Hospital) as we nicknamed it," she says, in explanation for her commitment to improving the lot of Kiwi parents and children.
Her children – Ella, 22, Jack, 18, and Rosie, 14 – are well past the infant stage but Dobson is not one to let crying babies lie, as her sister-in-law discovered recently.
"Her baby wouldn't sleep so she couldn't eat dinner so I said, 'You eat and I promise I won't let your baby cry'. I don't like crying babies. If babies cry there's a reason and you have to fix it," she says. "So I just wrapped that little bubby up, shushed it and eventually it just settled. I'm not a grandmother and I'm not a young mother. I'm like the reliable aunt."
With Raising Children, Jude is putting parents in touch with the same kind of baby-whispering skills.
"I wanted to make a New Zealand resource. That's why I've used New Zealand experts – and New Zealand parents," she says, from the sidelines of her daughter Rosie's hockey match.
Still recovering from a 12-hour international flight, her enthusiasm for the project is so great, it's easy to understand how she managed to convince a host of famous Kiwis to talk on screen about their own parenting experiences.
"My researcher and I sat down and did a bit of a grid reference, wanting to have a really good cross-section of people – some from sport, some from art, from all different walks of life," Dobson says.
"Without fail everyone said 'yes'. I just said to them, 'We've all been there as parents and it makes you human to allow other people to know you might have this glossy life in theory but we all have issues trying to figure how our kids tick'. They were all very good about that."
As a result, well-known Kiwis – ranging from journalists Toni Street and Melissa Stokes to boxer Shane Cameron and basketballer Dillon Boucher – talk about what they have learnt from having children.
Their experiences are backed up with advice and information from experts in various aspects of childcare.
The result is Raising Children, a 20-part TV series, which is backed up by a website, DVDs and a newly updated app which sends parents regular notifications tailored to their child's stage of development.
Dobson is "pedantic" about ensuring all information is accurate.
"There's so much information out there now that it's almost paralysing to parents," she says, adding modern parents seek help in different ways to previous generations.
"There's a virtual community now which didn't exist when we were young parents."
Raising Children offers information modules for different age groups – from newborns, infants, crawlers and toddlers through to preschoolers and primary-school ages.
"When you've got a newborn you're not interested in three year olds because they're gigantic monsters and you'll never have one. You only want to watch what you're involved in right now," Dobson says.
Ironically, given all her research, Dobson says the best parenting tip she received was from her mum.
"She said, 'This too shall pass' and I thought that is actually fantastic advice because it's for the good and the bad," she says.
"So when things are really grim and you think, 'Oh, I don't think I can deal with this two year old any more' or 'I haven't had enough sleep', you can do it because that phase passes.
"They won't have a dummy when they go to school and they do eventually sleep. All those things pass so, I think if you know it won't last forever, you can dig a bit deeper.
"The flip side of that is the good things pass too."
Raising Children, Prime, starts Monday September 4.
- TV Guide