Why are children born into ongoing war zones?

I was born in 1937 and my young life was during the second world war. Although I lived in the country in West Yorkshire, several miles away from the towns, we still heard and felt the impact of the Doodlebugs. Depending how loud the noise, we would either go into the air raid shelter in the garden, which Dad had had built, or alternatively dive under the strong oak dining table. The doodlebugs were the sinister V-1 flying bombs that menaced Britain, which were unpredictable and brought terror. When the sound they emitted stopped, everyone held their breath, waited and prayed.

Members of the family had been enlisted into the armed services, mostly stationed abroad, and the constant and overriding anxieties about my uncles, on both sides of our family, clouded every day, all day, during those long years.

But, even to me as a young child, the situation, for us in our village, was nothing like the present days in some of the middle eastern countries.

My elder brother was just 2 years older than me and we grew up together. But the gap between me and my second brother was 7 years. I remember, as a girl, asking my mother why he was so much younger than me.

(This was a time before the availability or reliability of oral contraception).

She simply said, ‘Audrey, there was a war going on’.

I have written this poem:

One aspect of War

The world’s heart breaks

Each day, a little more

As tiny, helpless children

Are rescued from death’s door

Bombs fall as toxic rain

From an unknown, unseen plane

So terror rules with endless pain

And evil’s captains reign

But, I ask this one question

In a war that lasts for years

With destruction and hunger

Nothing left but total fears

Why are there any young children

Born in this dreadful state?

Men, to satisfy their carnal need

Do these innocents create

A father is meant to protect

To nurture, and to love

Any child he has caused to be

His gift, from God above

If this is impossible to achieve

Then a father he should not be

Loving a future child enough

To leave it safe at God’s right knee

A father’s tears are meaningless

When the grief has been

Caused through his desires

Despite the wartime scene

Cultural or religious beliefs

However strong or mild

Play no part in stopping

The suffering of his child







Can leaving tiny children in large nurseries all day be ‘emotionally correct’?

We hear a lot about ‘political’ correctness. But, what about ‘emotional correctness?’

I qualified as a Doctor and then took ‘7 years out’ of daytime/regular full time work situation to care for our children when they were young.

I was fortunate that my mother (who kindly offered) and my husband looked after our first baby for her second 6 months of life  while I had to continue to work – until I became fully registered as a Doctor. I then, willingly, despite having very little money to spare, stayed at home. During the next seven years I ran, and opened new ‘family planning clinics’ as they were then known, doing just two or three evening clinics per week, while my husband was home and cared for the children. This, incidentally, was a time (early ’60s) when that particular work could not be advertised and the advertisement of one newly formed clinic had to be removed from the local library! Times have changed – but the result of that change is another story and the dark side of sexual ‘freedom’ that has been subsequently surfaced could not have been predicted, particularly for our teenagers.

I did not know at the time whether I would ever be able to follow my medical career despite my intent. But I knew, instinctively, that, as we chose to have our children, their wellbeing came first. We entertained a group of Russian visitors to the town one evening, connected with my husband’s teaching/youth work at the time ( about 1964) and I was told in no uncertain terms by them that I should be working as a Doctor not staying at home!

When my children started school, I found out that Medical input was needed in our local large Psychiatric hospital. My input was welcomed and I was able to negotiate part- time work in that field – so that I worked during school hours. I became full time only after the children had left home.

For me, and I don’t speak or pretend to speak for others, nor do I judge others, I regard the years at home with our children as the happiest, most challenging and the most important of my life. Instead of having a job and an income, I became a competent seamstress, sewing our clothes from either remnants or old clothes, e.g. on one occasion a favourite skirt was made from my mother’s abandoned coat, a reasonably good cook and in spare moments I read Arnold Bennett and Anthony Trollope. With my first wage packet I bought a suit for work and we managed to save for a holiday to Greece.

I subsequently enjoyed my nearly 35 years of work as a psychiatrist with its difficulties and anxieties, often due to lack of resources. I became a Consultant Psychiatrist. In other words, I managed, to study for my Membership and reach the highest clinical rank in my profession despite taking those years out of the profession. I only retired due to illness when I was 68 years. I often wonder if I would have been so enthusiastic or worked for so long had I not had those 7yrs looking after the children full time during each day. Of course, I can never know that answer, but all I can say is that a burst lung and near death ‘made’ me retire, it wasn’t from ‘patient fatigue’ or from choice.

I worked in the psychiatric field and specialised in the diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. During my 35 years of work and study in this field, I developed strong views on the slowly increasing practice of tiny children being left in large nurseries for many hours per day, sometimes many days per week, and these are the ones I write about. A day is a very long time to be ‘alone’.

My instinct to ‘stay at home’ for their pre-school years has, with the knowledge I have gained and which I did not have at the time, been proven to be correct. Quite honestly, I am glad that it was made easy for me by the ‘society’ views at the time. It was the norm for women to stay at home with their children. In 1956, the ratio of women  to men training to become doctors in our year at Edinburgh Medical School was about 1:10 – so fairly unchartered territory for any medical work to fit in with being a mother, even of older children.

I feel saddened, fifty plus years on, that the importance of a child’s youngest years  has shifted for so many. Emphasis is now seen more in economic terms – for many rational and very understandable reasons (house prices, high rents, career prospects – etc etc etc.), but is also encouraged by the government of the day. The priority should be, not only on the physical care but also the emotional and language development of each child.

The first nurseries were  opened and developed in and around the 1960s – children started to attend at 3-4 yrs for a few hours once or twice per week to learn to socialise, and become prepared for school. From that time and its appropriate concept, it has developed into ‘any length/all day if necessary child care’ for working mothers, often from a child being just a few weeks or months old.

Of course, from about two and a half years of age, a few regular hours spent at a small nursery, with continuity of a few kind staff is the ideal – to combat future separation anxiety and for learning more socialization skills.The government could make much longer maternity or paternity leave possible e.g. to cover the first two years of a child’s life. Work place changes, flexible career structure and practice could favour of the parent/child relationship, rather than encouraging people to use nursery school placements in those first years.When ‘profit’ mode is replaced by understanding, then solutions will be found.

Every parent makes their own decisions, based on their circumstances and/or desires and they are responsible for their decisions. Future results only give hindsight, not foresight. But knowledge and awareness is a useful tool in making any decision.

Maybe a parent should simply wonder how they themselves would cope, even as adults, if they were taken from home and left in a big strange land of unknown giants, without any means of communication and without any way to leave. Totally alone, totally vulnerable , no understanding, yet without any choice. Bit scary, maybe, more so if feeling ill or having a pain? Small children have a way of unconsciously  ‘switching off’. I first learned this while working in paediatrics when children who should have been crying in the ward stopped crying. I wondered why/how. Now I know. Parents were eventually allowed to stay with children in hospital.

I wrote an article called ‘Alone in land of giants’ – read in  TOPICS, which explains this stance more fully.

People are well aware of the physical milestones, but maybe don’t always realise that the first few years are also the years when the emotional foundations for the ‘house that will be them’ are prepared. The non- verbalised core beliefs (e.g. a feeling of being loved) are formed at this time. These are the deep seated beliefs about themselves which will ‘guide’ them through life. These very early years are also the time when learning language, speech development and understanding, and hence future communication are paramount. Building up these core beliefs takes time, effort, contact, patience and love with and from one or two ‘special’ people in a baby’s life.

Those first years are few and pass very quickly. A child is soon at all day compulsory school and a future lifetime awaits. I just want people to realise that those years cannot be recreated, regained or relived by the child nor by the parent.

Many will disagree, of course, and they are free to do so. Personally, I am and always have been willing to learn from those who know more about a subject than I do, rather than have a ‘blind’ belief based on need, prejudice or an operating ‘norm’ of society.

Poem from my book, ‘Daily Life’  –  Conversations at the nursery

‘Why are you here every day?’ because Mummy is unkind

She shouts and has been known to hit my bare behind

I was crying, I had tummy ache, I couldn’t bear the griping pain

Finger marks stayed there. She hit me, then hit again

Someone saw her do it and reported her and soon

I had to be here all the time. I see her most days – at noon’

‘My Mummy is not like that at all, she is very sweet and gentle

She is so intelligent that looking fter me just drives her mental

I heard her say she needs something called ‘rational adult talk’

So she just leaves me every day then drives happily to her work

Maybe there she is clever but with me she’s not too bright

She doesn’t know how to stop me when I test her through the night’

‘I do not have a daddy, my Mother had me on her own

She is kind and loves me but needs money for a phone

To ring granny and her best friend and my aunties Sue and Lizzy

They all say they love me, I see so many, my head is dizzy

I nearly know their faces, but I’m not sure where I live

As Mother will just take me and to someone different give’

‘I come from a wealthy family. Mummy thinks I am a guest

She doesn’t know about child rearing. ‘It’s for those who must know best’

She reads books about psychology,and Fen Chui to name a few

I don’t think she knows me at all. But her mother she never knew

She doesn’t want a nanny as she would clutter up the house

But if I could just stay at home 
I would be quiet as any mouse’

‘I wish I was at home now where I could quietly sleep

There is just too much noise and wide awake I keep

I have such a lovely bedroom with a mobile made of wood

I have toys piled around my cot and my soft teddy feels so good

My head aches with my cold. 
My chest hurts when I cough

Why can’t I just stay at home? 
I am so little and life is tough’

‘I don’t know why I was born. 
A mother I will never be

Unless I can care for my baby, so she won’t have a life like me

I don’t recognise where I am. What if they forget to call

To pick me up to take me home? I can’t find the way – at all

If a career is so important, status, clothes and a new car

Why did my parent have me? I’d be better not born, by far’

‘I took my first step today and 
I said ‘Mama’- my first word

But the lady did not respond as if she had never heard’

‘It’s because she is not your Mama and has heard it all before

Others have taken ‘first steps’. There’s no excitement any more’

‘I’m sad my Mummy missed it. But why should I try to wait?

Until she comes and collects me? She went out – through that gate’

Many others shared their troubles. Talked of dark, missed days of love

Discussed the deep black hole within. Some learned to rise above

Learned to cope by switching off their emotions one by one

Until, finally, like little robots, pain and feeling had now gone

The emotions of a few remained. Some were angry, some were sad

They were confused as they knew most parents were not bad

But the children in the nursery shared their thoughts – in vain

No one knew what was going on in each little person’s brain

Longing, loneliness, lost and sad. Felt in their body and their mind

A loving mother to a tiny child is more important than all mankind

That role is usually taken on with great pride and glowing joy

But greater needs soon appear to usurp a baby – girl or boy

So – they presented smiling faces as they knew that was the way

Hoped people would remain kind as they learned they had to stay

‘Such a good child’,

‘Oh so sweet’

‘Yes, I am sure I’m doing right’

‘The only problem that we’ve got

She will not sleep at night’


Why are young teenagers able to read their messages on their mobile phones several times per night.

Apparently, many teenagers are checking their mobile phones several times in the night, and replying to tweets and messages.

Teenagers need plenty of sleep. Their brains are not yet mature, physical changes are taking place which take energy, and emotional adjustments are ongoing. For health, these require the individual to sleep and rest at night.

Keeping up with the current ‘thread’ on shared texting or tweets is putting excessive pressure on a lot of teenagers’ time, affecting their concentration and sleep. For many, insecurities are magnified and they fear they will soon be ‘out of the loop’, feeling unwanted and ostracised.

Now we all know the virtual world is becoming increasingly important to a lot of teenagers. In many ways it is easier to claim 456 ‘friends’ on Facebook and such like, when face to face reality is very different.

Making a true, actual friend takes time, opportunity, shared interests and activities, give and take, honesty, understanding, tolerance, like mindedness, same moral values – to name but a few. If anyone has a dozen or so true friends at the end of a long life then they are fortunate.

But, there are adults called ‘parents’! These are people who are responsible for the care and well being of their children until they are considered ‘adult’.

So, why do teenagers have their mobile phones in their bedrooms at night, if they cannot be trusted and relied upon to switch them off during hours needed for sleep? Why can they not tell their ‘friends’ that they are tired and need to sleep?

Why do parents allow this to happen and, in my view, renege on their duty of care at a vulnerable time of their children’s lives, when peer pressure is paramount.

I gave my teenage children an ‘opt out’ for whenever necessary. I told them to say ‘my Mum won’t let me’! I didn’t mind what anyone of their companions or classmates thought of me, as long as my children did not feel pressured to conform, do something, go somewhere, when they didn’t want to. Even if it was never used, the option was there.

I was young at a time with no drugs, when alcohol could not be bought by teenagers, and there was no available contraception other than back street abortion. The behaviour of most teenagers mirrored these ‘restrictions’. I say ‘restrictions’ as that is how they could be seen in the present day, but, in fact, we were much freer. Why? Because there were no expectations from peers re. drinking, drugs or sex. No mobile phones, no internet – so no cyberbullying, no facetime, no online demands for time, or dangers etc. Of course, people existed to exploit innocents then as now, but at least some of the common dangers of today did not exist.

I am a technophile, but with good things, there are always people ready to ruin and degrade, and take advantage of weaknesses.

Teenagers are vulnerable, however they would disagree, and need parental support and guidelines.

Parents must build up trust, respect, obedience as necessary, and love in early childhood.. That takes a lot of consistency, time, effort and communication. Miss that opportunity, and how can parents expect to be listened to by their teenagers or have their teenagers understand any sensible controls?

The horse may well have already bolted!

Parents  – a suggestion. Put your teenager’s phones ‘on charge’ overnight in your own bedroom – with the notifications and sounds OFF.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but in my opinion, it is called ‘caring’.



Does ice-cream costing £1000 a portion taste 500 times better than one costing £2?

I recently watched the TV programme ‘how the other half live’, and how sad it was!

Even without considering the starving people on the planet, why on this earth would anyone want to pay £1000 (or it may have been $1000 or €1000 – it matters not) for a portion of icecream, and who wants/ needs to eat edible gold flake?

Several apparently pleasant, decent men, were interviewed – alone in massive houses with just possessions, the most expensive on the market, of course.

It is totally their choice in how they obtain and use their wealth, selfishly or to help others. Each adult is responsible for their actions, but I just wondered ‘how much are they missing on their life’s journey?’

What value have riches if serious illness e.g. cancer strikes, a time when being loved and supported is so vital when trying to survive any of the ordeals and pain involved. Illness can strike anyone, rich or poor. Yes, of course money can pay for operations and aftercare, but no one can be paid to love, or to give a sufficient reason for the courage or endurance which may be needed to survive.

After a protracted illness and a near death situation in 2006, I did not fight to survive for myself, but for my husband, children and grandchildren. Their love was the strongest power. When I reached and willingly would have walked through the ‘gate’ away from this life, and knowing what I would have to face if I returned, that power simply would not release me. So, I returned, and now, in 2016, cared for with great patience in the intervening years by my husband, I have eventually recovered.

Paintings and chandeliers cannot put a comforting arm around the shoulder when the tears flow, or sit holding a hand for hours when pain is overwhelming.

As my mother would have said ‘they can’t take it with them!’ The most important things in life cannot be bought.

The first poem I ever wrote was ‘Things that cannot be bought’, inspired by some of my patients. It is in ‘Choice for Teenagers’ poetry book.


Things that cannot be bought

I saw a man. He had a coat, like gold it shone so clear

I asked him where he bought it, and had it cost him dear?

‘You cannot buy a coat like this’, he replied to me

‘It is called Courage, but it did not come free

I went through a field of pain. I got to the other side

I had no one to help me and no horse with me to ride’


I saw a man with a hat. It was like a silver moon

I asked him where he bought it, and could I get one soon?

‘You cannot buy a hat like this’, he replied to me

‘It is called Kindness, and it did not come free

I helped one who was lost, and one who could not walk

One who had no food and drink, and one too ill to talk’


I saw a man with shiny boots, strong, light – as if a feather

I asked him where he bought them. He said he hadn’t – ever

‘You cannot buy boots like these’, he replied to me

‘They are called Endurance, and they do not come free

I had to work beyond my strength, and for so very long

No other there to lift the load, and no help came along’


I saw a man with a light that shone so far and bright

I asked him where he bought it, as it beamed into the night

‘You cannot buy a light like this’, he replied to me

‘It is called eternal Hope, it was given to me- free

I had lost direction. I had battled to the end

I had coped when all was lost, for myself I had to fend


Then a light I suddenly saw upon my darkest day

I did not ask, it was just there, and then I found my way’


You have to find your Courage,

Kindness comes from very deep

Endurance needs much effort, but

Hope is yours – to keep


This poem has been put to music by T Huelin

To listen click HERE   – suggest ‘watch in browser’

Song is copyright to THuelin

BOOK ‘Choice for teenagers’




Why would anyone who gets a salary of several millions of pounds or even hundreds of thousands of pounds per year want more?

Sad as it is, in many cases, even these amounts are insufficient to satisfy their need, amounts that most people wouldn’t earn in a life time of hard work, never mind in a year.

Money is on most people’s minds as people have to work to earn enough for a home, food, warmth, clothes, holiday, car, internet and TV and such like. Though people would like some extra for emergencies, e.g. when something breaks or for an extra visit to a sick parent etc., the occasional meal in a restaurant, maybe a visit to a theatre, Christmas gifts, the extra pullover and such like, having great riches is not part of their normal, realistic thinking. Maybe a lottery win – in your dreams!

I have no problem with people having a lot of money, none whatsoever, provided it was/is earned honestly and without detriment to others, deceit or exploitation. If they meet these criteria they can have it, spend it, give it away or save it as they wish – it’s none of my business or concern and good luck to them. Each adult person is responsible for their own behaviour and the consequences of that behaviour.

Some are earning vast amounts per week, e.g. footballers. They are entertaining millions of people – keeping them occupied for many hours, so, you might say ‘what price on that’? The fans could, of course, be spending time with their families, learning a craft or keeping fit, etc., but football it is, and they have a right to their own choice. The England football managers earn millions per year, if they can keep their job. To most people interested in football, being driven round the country to sit watching footballers’ skills would be, not a job, but a pleasure. After all, it’s hardly the work of a round – the – clock – on – call surgeon is it?

But, despite all the hundreds of thousands or millions per year, some wealthy people still need more, to the extent of dodgy deals to earn a few extra thousand pounds, risking their reputations, jobs and people’s respect, or ignoring other people’s needs and livelihoods to gain their goal.

Why? How can this happen? Thank god we don’t have to be in other people’s minds.

We all think in pictures and words, and we have feelings connected to the thoughts of both kinds.

Are the pictures in greedy minds only of money, e.g.myriad gold coins shining bright and in vast numbers, extending into some far off endless and unreachable horizon with no room for anything else to be seen. Yet, never quite filling the space? Or, do they see the opposite – do gold coins disappear down a deep well never to be replaced and always needing to be obtained, just in case? Are their word thoughts limited to ‘I must have more?’ Do they feel a hunger, an aching in their belly, with their endless thoughts of money, a hunger that can only be satisfied when they have even more?

How did their belief system that ‘excessive money is of prime importance in life’, blanking out honesty and integrity, effects on others (e.g. bankers), common sense and judgement start and grow? Once it has taken root, it seems to be like an obsession that cannot be stopped, a cancerous growth of ‘money’ thoughts.

It is not a state to be envied – for all the money they may possess.

Like all people on the planet, I can only healthily eat a finite amount of food. My clothes last well. One granddaughter, when aged about 5 years, said ‘Nana, why do you always wear the same clothes’? I answered because I like them and they are comfortable – and she agreed that I looked OK. 15 years later, I am still wearing some of them, though I now ‘hear’ the sewing machine and its mate, my fantastic serger (a type of overlocker for wonderful neat seams) ‘calling’ loud and clear. Our usual, routine daily needs are few and inexpensive.

I have spent a lot of time writing books in the past 10 years. Apart from one story (Beyond Mercy) my writing has mainly been poetry – for all ages, and the poems are based on my experience and expertise – after about 35 years of psychotherapeutic work as a psychiatrist. They are a distillation of this knowledge and many people will find they ‘hit a chord’, amuse, educate, or bring understanding – maybe whatever is appropriate/ needed at the time and place.

I would be very pleased to earn money from the sale of my books (at MY BOOKS), as I know several people who could benefit from a bit of financial help right now!





Audrey asks questions

I am a retired Consultant Psychiatrist. Now I write – both prose and poetry. ‘Beyond Mercy’ is a past life story set in the 15th century  – a book which challenges beliefs. Is it true? Time will tell.

My blogs will ask questions, which I ask myself. Questions about everyday life, family life and the happenings in the world in general.

My own answers are not necessarily the answers of other people. What I think about the issues is my own right, but the question ‘WHY?’ can also include ‘WHEN?’, ‘WHERE?’, ‘WHO?’ ‘HOW?’ What I ask and what I write is based on over 35 years of psychiatric experience and nearly 79 years of life!

Some blogs will have relevant poems from my poetry books.

For those who are interested, all my books can be found, previewed and bought via   MY BOOKS and ebooks by Audrey Coatesworth websites