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Noni has big picture view of mothering:

Barnardo's Mother of the Year ambassador says mothering is about much more than just the home.
By Motherpedia with AAP
Date: February 16 2013
Editor Rating:

Actor Noni Hazlehurst believes that when it comes to mothering we need to think about the wider environment, not just the home.

Good mothering she says involves "the ability to nurture, be warm and kind and gentle, fair, straight, caring".

"I think we're all responsible for all children and I don't think we're doing that," Hazlehurst, who has been Barnardos Australia's Mother of the Year national ambassador for eight years. "We're increasingly isolated from one another and why does it take a tragedy for people to show their caring, nurturing side?

" ... I think environment needs to be taken as a wider thing, it shouldn't just be in our home environment.

"What about the rest of society? Is that a nurturing, caring environment for children? Often not.

"What's on the front page of every newspaper at the moment? People cheating and corruption and lying and what's on every billboard? Seductive images which we know are inappropriate for children under preschool ages to be surrounded by."

She agrees with Barnardos that if a child's developmental needs for attachment and emotional growth are not met in the first three years of their lives, they may be damaged for life.

"You make more connections in your brain in the first two years of life than you do in the rest of your life put together. The way you construct your world view is largely formed in your preschool years.

"That's why mothers who are doing this task deserve recognition because you get to see what happens when you manage it."

She says it's interesting when as a mother herself of two boys (18 and 25) she opens up and admits her own failings and fears, others tell of their own.

"Generally theirs come rushing out with relief because they don't have to give the impression that it's easy and they're coping. It's difficult when you have many pressures and many of us do have many pressures, so we don't prioritise it in our lives."

Now in its 18th year, the Mother of the Year awards are the charity's flagship, recognising the enormous contribution everyday mums make in shaping the country's future.

Barnardos says through those years it has celebrated many wonderful mothers who have worked to give children a safe, loving and nurturing environment in which to grow - so that they can make it to their own 18th birthday.

Nominations are open now and close at midnight on March 1. Winners will be announced on May 10 in Sydney.

"I'm glad I'm not a judge because it must be quite an overwhelming task," Hazlehurst says.

The stories of all, particularly the state and federal finalists, are moving and inspirational.

"I know the judges have several boxes of tissues when they do the judging.

"It's done on the basis of what we're told by their loved ones."

The stories are so good she believes there should be a documentary made every year on all the finalists.

She recognises too that fathers are totally crucial in the raising of children.

And while it doesn't apply for all women, many of whom are single mothers, the ones who have active, involved fathers consider themselves as a partnership.

Hazlehurst says winners often become proselytisers for Barnardos which works in a number of areas, including finding foster parents for children.

Winners have sometimes never been on a plane before and are shocked to find they've won, let alone been nominated.

You don't have to be a child of the woman you're nominating; you can be a friend, sister or neighbour. Nominees can be foster mums, adoptive mothers, natural or step-mums, even a prized teacher, just so long as she deserves a thank you.

But both nominator and nominee have to be Australian citizens. Every mother nominated receives a commemorative certificate.

You can nominate or vote for a mum for the 2013 Barnardos Australia's Mother of the Year Awards here

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