‘You need to get back up again’

New Zealand Woman’s Weekly - - THIS WEEK IN... -


It’s been a long time since Jude Dob­son last shared words of wis­dom in the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly via her col­umn Ask Jude. So long, in fact, that when she’s asked how many years she did it, there’s a rather lengthy pause.

“Um, I know I started in the early ’90s, when I was a young woman liv­ing in Ohakea and my hus­band was in the air force, and I ac­tu­ally had a com­puter at home, which was pretty cool,” she says, rack­ing her brain for dates. “Was it 1991? I know I was in my 20s. I can re­mem­ber some of the let­ters, but I can’t re­mem­ber how long I did it for. Hmm.”

Jude’s mem­ory may have failed her on that point, but her abil­ity to help read­ers deal with some of the dilem­mas life throws at them is still as spot-on as ever, as we’ll get to see now that she has re­turned to the Weekly with a new ad­vice col­umn, Hey Jude.

The for­mer TV host turned pro­ducer and doc­u­men­tary maker has been look­ing for­ward to com­ing back to the magazine, which first fea­tured her in an ar­ti­cle in 1989 when she landed the job on game show Sale of the Cen­tury.

By our reck­on­ing, she was our ad­vice colum­nist from

1994 to 1997, tack­ling ques­tions on ev­ery­thing from fall­ing out with friends to med­dling moth­ers-in-law. After that, her

Weekly col­umn changed from ad­vice to handy tips and recipes to tie in with her TV show,

5.30 with Jude.

Al­though she’d had train­ing as a Life­line coun­sel­lor when she took on the col­umn, she was some­what lack­ing when it came to life ex­pe­ri­ence.

“But I think my an­swers were pretty good and from a cou­ple that I’ve looked at, I think I’d say the same thing to­day.”

She’s since had the ben­e­fit of con­sid­er­able life ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially when it comes to par­ent­ing and be­ing a mem­ber of the “sand­wich gen­er­a­tion” – look­ing out for both chil­dren and age­ing par­ents – and has also picked up valu­able in­sights along the way from re­search she’s done, par­tic­u­larly for Rais­ing Chil­dren, an on­line video re­source she puts to­gether.

“And I think life ex­pe­ri­ence doesn’t just have to mean what you’ve been through per­son­ally, but it’s from be­ing around friends and fam­ily, and see­ing how they have dealt with things. I’ve cer­tainly been through plenty of that.”

Adding an em­pa­thetic na­ture and a no-non­sense at­ti­tude to those life lessons she’s learned along the way will help her to make use­ful sug­ges­tions – she doesn’t like the term “dis­pense ad­vice” – to peo­ple who write into the Weekly with is­sues they need as­sis­tance with.

“What­ever you do, don’t de­scribe me as the font of all knowl­edge,” she im­plores.

“That I am most def­i­nitely not. I’m more of a friendly ear, some­one who’s just had a bit of ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I’m not a re­ally earnest per­son and if you want re­ally se­ri­ous ad­vice, then you should go to a coun­sel­lor for it. But I’m also not that flip­pant per­son ei­ther, the one who says, ‘Oh mate, what are you wor­ried about?’ I think I sit some­where in the mid­dle.

“I’ve found that a prob­lem shared can be a prob­lem halved and some­times even just writ­ing down how you’re feel­ing about a sit­u­a­tion can get your thoughts in per­spec­tive.

“And when other peo­ple read these let­ters, they can re­late to them and think, ‘Oh, that’s me.’ They might not have been able to write that let­ter them­selves, but it can help them know­ing they are not the only one go­ing through some­thing.”

Like any­one else, Jude has had her fair share of ups and downs in life. She has lost both her par­ents in the last cou­ple of years – her mum Naomi died in 2016 and dad Bill passed away in July last year, and she misses them dread­fully.

She’s also missed her two old­est chil­dren while they’ve been liv­ing over­seas – daugh­ter Ella (23) has been work­ing as an an­i­ma­tor in New York, while son Jack (21) went to the Uni­ver­sity of Wash­ing­ton in Seat­tle on an ex­change pro­gramme. The youngest, Rosie (15), is still at home with Jude and her hus­band Graeme.

Al­though she’s had great suc­cess with Rais­ing Chil­dren and a doc­u­men­tary se­ries she made about Kiwi in­volve­ment in World War I, last year she was turned down for fund­ing for an­other project. “That was so dis­ap­point­ing, but I’ll just have to find other ways to fund it.”

And there were cer­tainly plenty of highs and lows through­out her TV ca­reer, which she nearly gave up after three months, thanks to a bar­rage of un­pleas­ant com­ments about “hav­ing too much per­son­al­ity” after she started on Sale of the Cen­tury.

“I don’t think any­one can say they haven’t

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