Local couple chooses strengths based parenting

Local couple chooses strengths based parenting

"I wouldn't want to work full time because I don't want to give up my precious time with my children, but what makes me think that Joel would want to give that up? Right now, if we could, we'd both be at home with the children. But we need to work to live of course…"


The speaker is Loren Hartcher, 32, wife of Joel, 33, and mother of George, 2, and Rose, 4 months. Joel teaches Year 6 at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary, Tarro, on a part time basis, so that he can spend three days at home with George and Rose.


When Loren returns to dentistry from maternity leave, she will work three days, with flexible hours, so that there is always a parent at home - or at the park, the library, visiting grandparents or any number of other enticing child-friendly activities.


As Loren says, "I love being a dentist, I always wanted to do dentistry, and after all that study I certainly couldn't imagine not doing it.  


"I love the face to face contact with people - I have a special interest in paediatric dentistry, and in seeing phobics and children with special needs - autism for example. I do a lot of 'show, tell, do' - I believe in giving patients control. There's never silence in my surgery!"


Loren worked as a dental nurse from the age of 16, when she was a student at St Mary's Campus, Maitland.  Joel and Loren met at St Mary's but Loren's family moved to Sydney and they lost contact. They reconnected at university through mutual friends.


Joel's path to the primary classroom was not so straightforward. For the love of learning, he studied Philosophy and History at the University of Newcastle, then detoured into retail to support the couple while Loren completed her study. The attraction to the classroom came later. Joel says, "There's enormous job satisfaction in teaching, watching children learn and grow. I realised I wanted a job that actually made a difference in people's lives." In fact, when he's one on one with his little son, Loren sometimes has to remind Joel that "George is only 2!"


This leads Loren to acknowledge that she and Joel have "different parenting styles", and as she says, "That means we have to talk about it, so there's some consistency, but at the same time, we're allowing our children to be raised by our strengths." Loren's more likely to be arty and crafty with George and Rose; Joel's keen on soccer and other boyzone activities.


Joel says, "It's an unwritten rule that when you're the parent at home, you do what needs to be done - cook, wash, shop…whatever." He likes to stay back after school to prepare and he can do so knowing that Loren will have the evening meal under control. When Loren's back in the surgery, she won't have to think 'what's for dinner?' because Joel will be on task.


Something that's important to both of them is holidays; "We believe in having that family time every year." Of course, teaching is a career that lends itself to holidaying, and Loren realises that she's blessed to have very flexible conditions. "A lot of our friends think we holiday all the time - and in comparison, we do! We save for everything, and we make decisions based on our shared values. Holidays are a good example."


Loren and Joel are conscious that not everyone understands the choices they have made - to postpone the bigger home, the five star holiday, the newer vehicle - for the sake of more time and less pressure. They feel a certain privilege in the opportunity they have to choose and realise that their way does not suit everyone, but for now, as Joel says, "It works for us." 

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