Taking stigma out of being vulnerable

Adella (4) and her mum Prairie Pritchett of Lake Hawea. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
Adella (4) and her mum Prairie Pritchett of Lake Hawea. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
In June last year, Lake Hāwea toddler Adella, now 4, was battling for her life after contracting viral encephalitis, a disease causing brain inflammation.

Her mother  Prairie Pritchett and  father Nick Frame suffered their share of trauma as Adella suddenly went from being a vibrant little girl to being unable to walk and talk.

Now, after a long rehabilitation, including treatment in Dunedin, Adella is thriving and her mother  is keen to share one of the key things that helped in stressful times.

It was a parenting course with Australian social worker and psychotherapist Lael Stone.

"I was really struggling with some behavioural issues we were having with my then 3-year-old daughter after she went through her very serious illness . . . 

"I originally heard about Lael through a podcast called "The Imperfects", in Australia. 

"It was all about mental health and wellbeing and taking the stigma out of being vulnerable. 

"It just resonated in the way she spoke about parenting and looking after ourselves," Ms Pritchett said. 

She  sold her yoga and Pilates business to concentrate on parenting Adella, whose behaviours stemmed from having a traumatic illness and having to relearn everything from  eating and talking  to walking.

"That was a long journey for our family. 

"Once I sold the Body Garage business I was the sole carer, became the one who was supporting her with all that, helping Adella process the trauma so she doesn’t have to deal with it as she gets older," Ms Pritchett said.

From  Ms Stone,  Ms Pritchett  learned carers were not perfect, mothers were not necessarily born to it, and parents needed to work on expressing emotions and not shutting them away.

"She’ll be right is such a cultural thing . . .We say it’s all right, and we weren’t right," she said. 

The parenting course helped her parent Adella in a new and supportive way that worked for them all, she said.

Ms Pritchett recently convinced Ms Stone to come to New Zealand on a speaking tour to share her advice. 

"She is very genuine and very relatable. She is also a parent who got it all wrong in the early days and learned to shift and change her style. 

"You have to meet the child in front of you, in that moment. 

"I have found if Adella is having a moment and if I can come down and connect with her, we can do anything," Ms Pritchett said.

Lael Stone will be hosting a  parenting workshop at the Wānaka Community Hub  on December 9.