Category: family


i don’t have children, but i have lived among them.

i can imagine that one of the scariest things for a parent [after safety/health issues] must be that moment when your young child throws themselves on the floor in the middle of the local supermarket [did i mention it’s end of the month busy packed shopping day?] and starts to scream and froth at the mouth.

i don’t know that all children have tantrums, but i know that a whole lot of them do. i imagine some parents have found methods that work really well and that other parents feel completely helpless and terrified.

So this feels like a Taboo Topic worth addressing in the form of inviting parents who have experienced their children throwing tantrums and either felt completely helpless, scared, embarrassed and vulnerable or else managed to find some ways to deal with the situation with the least amount of effort, pain and being red-carded from your local Pick ‘n Pay.

i hope these stories will encourage you to know that you are not alone, but also that some of them might have some tips, methods, ideas that you may not have tried which may be a possible solution for you and your children.

As always, thanks for everyone who has been brave enough to share:

Meet Candice D’arcy – Biting back, bathrooms and consistency…

Meet Wendy Lewin – Trying to get her son to sleep…

Meet Leigh Geary – The Joys of two-year-olds getting dressed…

Meet Belinda Mountain – Her two-year-old son Ben and a very public tantrum…

Meet Kirby and Sean Greathead – Difference between Tantrum and Meltdown

[I also have some great stories from Parents of Young Children when it hasn’t been that easy, click here]

My friends Terran and Julie Williams were going about life with their three delightful children, sharing regular stories of funny statements and learnt lessons and chaotic moments, when suddenly the news of a 4th child on the way… and then further news that their 4th was a set of twins… If you think three young children is hard, try to get your head around five! Terran shared this piece on Facebook yesterday and gave me permission to pass it on to you as he gets completely real about some of the harder moments of being a parent of a number of smaller children:

Permission to get SHOCKINGLY real about parenting small kids?


It’s hard. Much harder than you can imagine. Much much harder.

A few months ago a friend of mine who is a professional therapist said, ‘A family with a kid under the age of 3 is in crisis mode.’ At first I thought that was a bit negative. Upon reflection, I conclude they’re right.

Yesterday someone said to me, ‘My youngest just turned 4. I am starting to think we might be coming out of it. ’ I didn’t need to ask what ‘it’ was. She clearly meant the chaos. The crisis. The crazy zone.

My experience confirms that parenting infants and toddlers puts you under a kind of constant pressure that lttle else in life comes close to matching. To be fair, Julie and my situation of having five kids aged six and under only compounds this reality, but treat me as a magnification of what is still there for parents of fewer kids. (Besides, I know, I once had fewer kids.)

Of course there’s more to parenting nascent ones than it being hard. That’s what all the photos on Facebook are about – the sweetest things in the world, they are. Your heart walking around in someone else’ body. I get that, and it keeps me going.

However, in this post I thought I would get real about the (dark) side we don’t talk about. It’s no good running a marathon, and you’re doing uphill and you’re trying to tell yourself this is wonderful. Facing the fact of the agonizing incline is necessary if you’re going to make it.

As for those parents whose kids are all four+, looking back from your hard-earned view, it’s amazing how you tend to forget the pain. (One aspect of trauma is that you tend to forget the event itself, a kind of self-protective amnesia, I think.)

Would you mind if I get VERY REAL? Just so that I never forget, and maybe to help those of you who think something’s wrong with you as you suffer the little ones.

Here goes. Julie and I are experiencing the PHYSICAL strain of parenting. We’re exhausted. In the last two weeks, I get about 5 to 6 hours of sleep per night, but here’s the catch: it’s broken by the need to get out of bed and deal with a crying or calling kid, usually about 5 to 10 times per night.

One reason is their need for constant re-assurance. On this point, a curse be upon the inventor of the Pacifier! Our little suckers fall asleep more easily with those suckable things in their mouths, but by the time they’re 8 months they have formed a dependency on them, and every time it falls out of their mouths they wake and cry, lost in the universe. Do the maths on how many times per night a wriggling infant might lose their dummy. While writing this (5:30-7am) I ran through 11 times to put dummies back. Who’s the real dummy?

Other things wake our kids. At 4:30am this morning I got head-butted by my sweet lullaby of a 2-year old Ivy as she was waking up out of a nightmare. Unsatisfied that I was not-the-Mama, she ran down the dark passageway shouting for Julie, waking up the other kids. It’s impossible to fall asleep any time soon after that kind of ill-treatment from someone I love. (By the way, this assault provoked me to write this post an hour later.) Perhaps the sleeplessness is the real, foundational problem: all the other strains would be more manageable if our bodies and brains weren’t yearning for the unconscious state. Thankfully, we can grab an afternoon nap. Not.

And sickness. You know those new viruses that sweep the globe every year? I have to admit the original viral mutation happens in my house. Families with little kids can turn an ordinary flu that would set back a single person a few days, into a plague that loops through our entire family, two or three times – lasting a month on average, sinking us parents into our own mini-Great Depression. (Sick kids wake up a lot more, and sick parents need sleep if they are to shake off the virus they got from their kids.) In the last five years I have got more colds, flu’s and tummy bugs than in the preceding decade.

We have endured the FINANCIAL strain of parenting. Having kids necessitated that Julie and I fork out enough, not all at once thankfully, for a home more suitable for a family (bigger, garden, near a decent school), a bigger car, Mon-Fri domestic and child-care assistance and (gulp!) educational fees. Then there’s medical bills. For example, little Charlie (10 months) has cost us about 5k in doctor’s bills and medicines over the last 3 months. Next week he goes in for surgery to get grommets.

There’s also more mouths to feed. I spoke to a single dad in the beach-front parking lot of my surf spot the other day. He has one kid. He said, ‘Terran, I just got back from the shop. I am shocked by how much it costs to feed my little family. How on earth do you feed yours?’ Good question. By the time they’re two they’re eating almost as much as I do on some occasions. All these new costs are often augmented by a diminished income. In our case, Julie’s earning power went down (up till now she’s been a pay-by-the-job, part-time freelancer) at the very moment our costs escalated. That’s pressure.

There’s the MARITAL strain of parenting. On our better days Julie and I team together like Batman and Robin, but on our more stressed days, we turn on each other. Beat down people tend to beat others down if they’re not very careful. In the nights, we keep count of how many times we got out of bed, and when our number is higher, ‘gently’ nudge the other person who is pretending to be sleeping through the baby cry. By day, we play the ‘who is suffering more’ card, and sometimes have a go at each other verbally in front of these not-yet-pyschologically-scarred kids. Yes, we know how damaging it is upon a young child’s psyche to see mom and dad at each other. But the guilt doesn’t have power to stop the bickering.

This paragraph for the guys: there’s also little and sometimes weeks of no sex. Since it’s public knowledge that Julie and I have had sex at least five times (once on our honeymoon night, and four times for our five kids, the last arrow splitting into two), I feel the liberty to make this point. No seriously, pregnancy means less sex. Birth-recovering and breast-feeding moms (sorry Julie, I don’t know what other words to use) means no sex. The smells and sights related to changing nappies and wiping toilet-training bums mitigates against the daylong foreplay-messages that spice up a marriage. Stress and exhaustion work against one’s sexual capacities. As for the rare moments when the stars align, I am thankful that the Flight of the Conchords are right: two minutes in heaven really is better than no minutes in heaven.

There’s the SOCIAL strain. Friendships go into maintenance-mode. We have hardly anyone round. For all kinds of reasons: our house is a mess, we will be embarrassed if people glimpsed the real chaos of our lives, we keep telling ourselves that on the day we stabilize we will open diaries and think who to invite over for a meal. Would you be my friend?

There’s the SPIRITUAL strain. Maybe you can’t relate, but since I was a teen, early mornings have been a sacred time for me to tune into God so that I can keep sensitive to his promptings and stay within reach of his power and guidance throughout the day. Now that I need this kind of spiritual alertness and empowering more than ever, I seldom get the time that I need. I know God understands and loves me anyway. But I also know that not spending this daily time with God tends to put me out of frequency with the Spirit’s energies and nudges, setting me up for yet further stress-inducing errors of judgment and lapses of sanity.

There’s PROFESSIONAL strain. In the last decade, I have had two notably under-performing years in my work-life. My lack of sharpness has been evidenced in emails not responded to quickly enough, under-preparedness for critical meetings, increased strain from less quality attention to fellow-workers, and a tendency to lose composure when leading people requires that I stay calm. Those two years just happen to be the ones that immediately followed the birth of my third, and now the birth of my twins. (Would you let a pilot fly you if you knew he was bottle-feeding one baby, while trying to tame a volcanic tantrum in a toddler running amok in the cockpit, threatening to push ‘eject’? My policy: smile and wave boys.)

There’s LOGISTICAL strain. Our house is a mess almost all the time. Julie and I who are not A-type when it comes to neatness, but we start to come undone with the constant mess. Trying to keep a kid-inhabited house tidy is like trying to shovel snow while it snows. As for leaving house as a family: for every kid you have, add another 30 minutes to get-ready time. (For our first few months after the twins came, I was okay with us not having a car big enough for seven. I thought to myself, ‘Where can we go with this many kids? And when we get there, what will we do?’ So we just stayed at home.)

Air travel is another story. The fact that kids under-2 fly free makes bargain-hunters like me want to capitalize upon this fleeting opportunity. Bait for us fools. We just flew our family to another part of the country. It was as simple as one, two, three. One day of packing. Two cars to take us to the airport. Three tons of stuff. You have never seen people in a plane praying as much as when we queue in. ‘God, please no! Not next to me! No.’) When I notice enough people doing the count, and mouthing a silent ‘five’ to the person they just elbowed, I usually break the ice with one of my two jokes: ‘Yes, everyone. There are five! Our TV was broken.’ Or, ‘Who’s the lucky person who gets to sit next to us?’ The cabin laughter at that moment helps us all for what is about to happen in the next two hours.

There’s EMOTIONAL strain. Parenting introduces a panoply of negative emotions that are new to the lifetraveller: new fears and anxieties, feelings of inadequacy, the crippling curse of comparison, and post-natal depression for some moms.

In my view the most emotion-intensifying thing about family life is that we tend to absorb each other’s emotions. If we were all emotionally self-contained units, that would be easier. But as it is, every tantrum and tear and sibling-tiff emits an emotional toxin that the try-hard parents tend to take into their tender hearts. Our kids bounce back remarkably, but we parents, the emotional filters, are left with the residue. Keeping your head while all those around you lose theirs is easier said that done. I once came across a best-selling book on parenting titled ‘Keep calm and parent on.’ It’s one of those titles that say so much, you don’t need to read the book. That title is probably the best advice there is. But also the most unachievable advice there is. It’s like telling a person who is tumbling down a mountainside to keep calm and enjoy the ride.

My point? Parenting the youngest of humanity is not for the fainthearted. It’s brutal at times. It’s incessant in its challenges. To complicate it all, these strains – physical, social, financial, spiritual, etc – have a domino-effect, one causing or exacerbating the other. The result: life in a fully fledged crisis mode. A trauma being inflicted in slow motion.

It’s true. Parents of little lives are in nose-dive.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining. Some of you have it much harder. I think of parents who lose their income, or single parents, or kids with severe disabilities. You guys are the masters of the universe. We are in awe of you. Some of you don’t have it as hard. The thing so many parents say to us is, ‘You know, when Lee and I are freaking out as parents, we think of you with five, and that helps us. So thank you!’ Glad we could help.

Do I have any perspective to share for the fellow-traumatized? Other than ‘Keep calm and parent on’? For starters, one thing I can say: You Are Not The Only One. Parenting is hard for almost all of us. The other thing I can say is that You Are Not Alone. A small verse hidden in the massive book of Isaiah says ‘God carries us close to his heart, especially those who have young’. It has helped Julie and me when we’ve been at our lowest. It reminds us there’s a Parent in heaven who’s there for you as you parent another. Our vulnerability, as we rear the most vulnerable, catches the loving attention of One Above. We might feel alone, but in reality there’s a Heartbeat as close to you as your child is to yours.

(Permission given to share with the so-journers who can identify.)

[For some other stories shared from those who are finding parenting tough, click here]

[How to raise your young children as World Changers, click here]


[Disclaimer: while in Americaland, the term “coloured” is a strongly negative term, in South Africa there is a unique group of people who have come from a heritage of different cultures but now have developed their own distinct culture. They are neither black nor white, nor are they mixed race, and they would call themselves ‘coloured’.]

Marriage and Melanin

“You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.

We will make it through this.”

The words were written in irregular handwriting outside the lines that sought to contain them. They were written in red, scrawled like the love in his heart, across a page torn haphazardly from a notebook. They were courting words, wooing words – words meant for me, words meant for a heart that cracked a bit more every time it beat, and pounded anytime he was near. They were words written for a heart coming face-to-face with the way people often view inter-racial relationships.

We met in December 2007, when the South African sun was being chased away by a thunderstorm. We met at my work. I was a TV producer and he was a guest on the show. Xylon was early. He was also funny, entertaining and easy to talk to.

A few months later Xylon took me for lunch but neither of us ate. We talked about friends and the cold drinks and the way our bosses spoke. Then he took a deep breath, and said I shouldn’t laugh, because he’d never done this before. Then he told me that he liked me, and asked if I liked him, and I said I did.

I’d love to say that we then went on to live happily ever after but we didn’t. I took Xylon home to meet my parents and they told me they didn’t approve. They didn’t like him because he is coloured and I am white.

It’s been 8 years since I found the note saying we would make it. We’ve been married for four of those. It wasn’t an easy path to marriage for us. Both of us had to step back and give my parents the time and space to accept our relationship (you can read that part of the story on my blog here). In that time, we learnt to talk about real issues rather than just surface issues, we learnt how keeping our hearts from each other can destroy a relationship, regardless of the tones of melanin involved.

When I first started dating I cared about the race thing a lot. I worried about how people would look at me differently if they saw me dating someone of different colour. I’ve found that the more time passes the less I think about it. The more Xylon is just a person to me, the less the colour of his skin suit matters to me.

From time-to-time we talk about adopting across colour lines and I am always surprised, considering my parents were the ones that opposed us, how resistant his family are to us bringing home a black baby. I’m reminded of my parents and of the grace they needed to see that love is not a colour and character isn’t a shade of skin.

I’m not colour blind. I notice the skin colour of others. I love the way when I hold my husband’s hand pale ivory skin sits harsh against his dark caramel skin. I pity any photographer who tries to light balance a photo with us in it.

I don’t love the way other people sometimes stare, point or comment. But I try to remember that I sometimes stare at inter-racial couples out of curiosity, and unless I’m with Xylon they would probably think I’m judging them. As my husband would say, “everyone has a story”, and until we hear it we won’t know his or her heart.

[For some other stories of Mixed Race and Culture Connections, click here]

[Wendy van Eyck writes at for anyone who has ever held a loved one’s hand through illness, or believed in God despite hard circumstances or ever left on a spontaneous 2-week holiday through a foreign land with just a passport and a backpack.]

These are some ideas that Melissa Hertz shared on her blog which you can find over here that she graciously allowed me to reblog for this series:

Motherhood has stretched me… stretched my skin, my womb, my patience and the way I think. Motherhood has made me grow and I have learned a few lessons along the way. Here are my most valuable lessons so far.

1. I have learned that every child is completely unique. 

Unfortunately babies are not born with a manual strapped to their chest and each child, as small as they may be, has a unique personality, and has a unique life purpose and plan. What I do for my daughter does not necessarily work for my son. What you do for your son, may not work for my daughter.

It is my duty as a mother to learn who my children are and not try to conform them into who I want them to be. I need to encourage my children to know Him and discover their calling and dreams placed in their hearts by Him.

2. I have learned to trust my instincts.

I had my daughter when I was only 20 years old and had no family nearby to advise me on how to raise and look after this tiny little new born person. I had to learn quickly to trust my God given intuition and am so very glad that I did. Things that I instinctively did, like skin on skin contact, co sleeping, breast feeding and baby wearing all turned out to be very beneficial to my baby and to myself. I didn’t know it at the time and only found out later that these things that I had instinctively felt to do, had been scientifically proven to help my babys’ immune system, among many other neurological benefits.

I have learned to question everything, read up and research everything, question doctors and teachers, coaches and anyone else around my children, because although God is the only one who knows what is best for my children, my husband and I know our child better than anyone.

3. I have learned not to judge other mothers.

I have a confession to make. Before I had children I used to judge the way that other parents raise their children. Before I had children I knew so much about how to be a parent and a disciplinarian. I had all these perfect ideas of what it was like to be a mother, and then I became a mother and somehow knew less than I did before. I learned very quickly that motherhood is not a Pampers nappy television advert with perfect smiles and a clean perfect house and a child that is happy 24/7.

I have learned to give other mothers lots and lots of grace, because that is what I need.

4. I have learned that love really is the greatest gift of all.

Yes that sounds super cheesy. But also super true. Holding and meeting my children for the first time was one of the greatest gifts in this life time that I will always treasure. These guys are my treasures here on earth and I have discovered a love so deep and a bond so unbreakable and yet, I will never be able to fully grasp the concept of Gods’ unfailing love for me. But being a mother has given me just a teeny tiny teensy taste of how much God loves me. I love my children with every part of me and all that I am. And yet no matter how much I love my children, God loves me so much more. Mind blowing.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” John 3:16
5. I have learned to laugh at myself and not take myself so seriously.

Motherhood is a serious job and if I mess up my child I have to stand before God someday and please explain. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t have fun. I have been vomited on, peed on, I have had my children blurt out the most embarrassing questions and remark in public, and I have had moments that are so ridiculous that I have had to just laugh out loud or I would burst into tears. To gain perspective I have often had to ask myself the very important question; “What will matter more in five years?”


6. Motherhood has stretched me and taught me to be brave and strong even when I don’t feel it. 

There have been moments where I have been completely freaked out by this enormous task and responsibility of being a mother. Questions like, “What if my teenagers run away from home” or “What if we can’t afford to send them university” have crossed my mind. But in moments like that I need to control my thoughts and be brave and trust myself and trust God that it will all work out.

I don’t always know what I’m doing but God created these children for me, and created me for these children, so He will give me what I need when I need it. All I can do is take one day at a time, one step at a time, with lots and lots of grace from God.

                     Be brave butterfly….

7. I have learned to grow a thick skin. To hold onto the good stuff and exhale the bad stuff.  I have learned to let go of what people think because it really doesn’t matter in the bigger scheme of things. I have learned to fly against the wind and resistance and not always go with what society says I should do.

                      Be bold butterfly….

They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” John 17:16 

mel38. I have learned that it is such a short season of sacrifice. 
My daughter is turning eight next month and it feels like yesterday that she was moving inside of my big pregnant belly. I have sacrificed many things for these children, but I actually can’t even name them because it is irrelevant. They are just so worth it. Soon these days of standing on Lego at 3 am and reading bedtime stories will be over for me. I need to treasure and embrace this season because I will miss it so very much…

9. I have been so completely humbled. 
I really can’t do this motherhood thing on my own. I am seriously desperate for Jesus to guide me and show me and protect my family. I seriously don’t even know how people who don’t have Jesus in their lives do it… It is too much stress, too much noise and too much mess to actually cope alone…


10. I have learned that although I am the one who is meant to teach them, the irony is that they teach me… about life, about love and about myself. 

When I gave birth to them they really gave birth to me. They are showing me one day at a time who I need to be, who I am meant to be and who I want to be. And life is so beautiful because they are mine for this short time here on earth…

Yes motherhood has stretched me… stretched my arms so that I can embrace the little arms around my neck, and my heart wider so that I can be filled with love that children seem to naturally bring with them when they are born into this world.

I have stretch marks on my heart and a few on my body too, best of all I have me these amazing two little people who call me “Mommy”.

And the stretch marks, well they don’t really matter anyway do they?


[For more from Melissa, take a look at her blog ‘Arise. Butterfly. Glorify’ over here]

[For more tips on parenting from some other parents who are doing their best to do it well, click here]


I don’t ever profess to be the perfect parent AT ALL. In fact, most days, I feel like I’m falling short in a massive way. Motherhood is by a long shot, the most difficult journey I’ve had to navigate and it’s not just that newborn, super-over-tired phase. Each stage and each part of your child’s development presents new challenges and believe me, most days it feels like the blind leading the blind! That “Ï’m a new mom, what am I doing?” feeling rears its head often – whether you’re a mom of a newborn or a mom of a five year old. While I don’t have a newborn, I’ve never parented a five year old either – and that’s the stage I find myself in so technically, I’m a new mom too.

Recently, my babies got their first cousin – she is three weeks old now and just too precious. So I started thinking about what I would’ve told myself, if my newborn’s mom self and five-year-old’s mom self sat down and had a cup of tea. Candice of June 2009 meet Candice of March 2015.


The birth of a child affects an entire family, not just a mom. Pick your battles – with your kids and with anyone else in your house. You’re going to be so tired, whether your child is a month old or three years old, so you can end up grilling your husband about something totally ridiculous (been there, done that) and when you look back, IT IS totally ridiculous. Before you rage, take a step back and think about it. With your kids too. I’ve learnt this the hard way.


Don’t be hard on yourself. Your child will never be like anyone else’s and just because your child isn’t sleeping through the night at 8 months, doesn’t mean that’s your fault. Comparing your child to anyone else’s doesn’t achieve anything but parent-stress. What messes with our heads the most is how we think it’s supposed to be. Be confident in the way you choose to parent your babies.


Parenthood doesn’t of course come without its struggles. In fact, it’s riddled with them. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, so we might as well all be real about it. Being open about what you find difficult along the way, is one of the best things you can do. You often find that there are other parents dealing with the same things and you can swop ideas on how to deal with that particular thing. If you act like you have it all together even when you don’t, you’ll eventually get tired of it. People relate to honesty. If you’re having a HORRENDOUS day, say so. Other moms and dads are likely to encourage you and identify with where you are. You won’t feel so alone!


This is the MOST important thing I can tell you ~ always remember, you are their parent first and their friend second. That might be choosing the harder road most times, and that’s going to sting but some of the most important things we teach our kids, require us to be their parents above being their friends. It’s one of the greatest injustices you can do to your kids. Friends hold no accountability, friends have no boundaries, friends want to appear cool, and friends know it’s easy to say yes. Parents set boundaries, parents instigate consequences, parents are consistent, parents use

mistakes as teachable moments, parents know when to say no. It’s hard to stick to that, when your love for your child is so strong and you want to give them everything THEY want but teaching them a life lesson requires us to be the parent, and not the friend. We equip our kids for life when we parent as parents, and not as friends. Of course, they can be your friend as they grow and mature, my mom is one of my best friends, but when it comes down to the stuff that really matters and the years where the foundations are laid, always remember you’re their PARENT first, and their friend after that. They will thank you later in life.

(I feel this will get harder to stick to as my babies grow but I’m gonna try!)

On the hard days, just remember that your child was given to you, formed and created specifically to be parented by you. That’s an immense privilege. Yes, there will be days we get it wrong – we must have the courage to say we’re sorry. Yes, there will be days where we feel like we’re getting it right – celebrate those small victories. Shaping and guiding a life from birth is something that we shouldn’t take for granted, even on the days where we feel like we’re the ones who should be sitting in time out!

Hang in there moms and dads. No-one ever said it was going to be easy but I can tell you for sure, it’s all going to be worth it.

For more from Candice Fourie, on her own most excellent blog, click over here.

[For the next exciting part where Melissa Hertz shares ten tips from her own parenting journey, click here]


I received the invitation to contribute an article to this series on Parenting, whilst I was smack bang in the middle of hosting my own magnificent personal pity party, all in honour of my perceived parental failure. So my initial response to the email was not exactly enthusiastic, more along the lines of: ‘OH HECK NO! What advice can I offer anyone?’

As the night progressed, and the drama around me settled, it became obvious that I needed to at least try and write something. The lie that I can’t contribute, just because my life hasn’t reached perfect equilibrium was designed to keep me, us, inactive and bound by our own insecurity, and I’m so done listening to lies!

So here’s 4 parenting tips that have worked for our family. I make no claims to be an expert, I’ve never read a single parenting book, nope, not one, ever! All I can offer is my life experience thus far, and a few things I’ve managed to learn whilst trying not to fall off this rickety old parenting roller-coaster.

My children, for the record, are now aged 14-Boy, 12-girl & 7-girl.

We have also recently acquired a fabulous 18 year old ‘daughter’, whose beautiful behaviour I can take no credit for, as she’s been raised by phenomenal parents up to this point. However any wonderful successes from her in the future, we shall definitely be claiming as the benefits of her time living with us- Gotta take what you can!

I also want to say, every child is unique, every parent is unique what works for me may be a disaster for you. Parenting is akin to an Indiana Jones adventure. Sometimes you’re in a classroom lecturing attentive ears, other times you’re out of breath, dodging arrows and trying not to get blown up. And then there’s those rare moments when you’re grasping the holy grail and feeling like you could rule the world. It all part of the fun!

1. I’m Not Raising Kids! 


It is my personal opinion that I’m not raising kids, I’m raising adults.

Yes, they’re children now, but that’s not what I’m raising them to be.

My job, my responsibility, is to equip these young people to enter into, and interact with a world filled with other fellow humans. This means teaching them to give voice to their feelings, opinions, ideas, dreams and desires, in a way that honours both them and those around them.

One of the best ways to do this is by teaching them self-awareness, asking them to explore how their actions may affect those around them.

Every single day contains a lesson. As parents we must recognise all the opportunities around us that provide these lessons.

It could be as simple as grocery shopping and coming across a cereal box that’s fallen or been left in the middle of the aisle. Point it out to your child, ask them: ‘Do you think we should do something about this? Is it dangerous?’. You might be met with enthusiasm as your child lunges to return the box to its home. Or you might be met with ‘Why? We didn’t drop it!’.

Perfect, discuss that!

Discuss why we might have a responsibility to sometimes deal with things that aren’t our ‘fault’, in order to prevent further damage. Ask your child what might happen if someone who was vision impaired, or slow to react, were to stumble across that cereal box?

This kind of discussion segues beautifully into age appropriate lessons in spiritual dynamics, social justice and the precious injustice of true grace!

I promise, a lesson lurks around every corner and the relational bond with your kids will grow as you embrace these lessons and transform them into daily open dialogue. It’s never too early or too late.

2. Beans Means… Distraction? 


This is a tip I can unfortunately take no credit for, which sucks, because it’s brilliant! It was shared with me by a friend, who from what I can recall, received it from child-psychologist, yes, an expert, so drumroll please……


Your child needs beans.

Huh? Bear with me…

When a child is in a state of extreme distress or in The Tantrum Zone, our response is usually frustration and anger. We want the tantrum over, and we want to discipline our child for their poor behaviour. That, however, may not be what your child needs in that moment.

What your child needs is to calm down so that they can verbalise, or you can help them give voice to, their true frustrations.

This is where the beans come in. Next time you’re at the supermarket, go to the section where they keep dried legumes. Select two different types, one smooth, and one rough, and preferably in contrasting colours. Dried red kidney beans, and white chickpeas would work really well.

Fill a small container with half of each type of bean, and ask your child to separate the beans into 2 piles of their own kind, and to call you when they’re done, it should take a minimum of 10 minutes, so adjust the beans amount to suit.

Something to do with the concentration of having a job to do, and the different tactile interactions with the beans, causes the child to calm down and reach a place of reasoning.

You cannot reason with a child who is in distress.

The idea of the beans is not to punish or discipline your child, but to bring them to a more settled emotional state where you can talk to them about what was going on and why they had reacted so strongly. It will enable you to express yourself clearly also.

Make sure you introduce this new exercise and its concept to your child when they’re happy and drama free.

We introduced it to our kids as something that we would try next time they were upset, we showed them what the beans looked like and demonstrated different ways to sort them.

There is absolutely no point trying to introduce it for the first time, while your child is in the middle of a melt-down!

My only regret with this technique, is that we didn’t know about it sooner!

Remember, it’s ok if your child has fun whilst doing this.

If I’m honest, this was the part I struggled with! I didn’t want my child to enjoy this, they’d only 5 minutes earlier morphed from adorable small human into something from a horror movie, why should they have fun! But that’s not the point. The objective is simply to calm your child to the point where constructive conversation is possible.

IMPORTANT: Obviously, this is not going to work for very small children as there is a real risk of choking. So please be hyper-vigilant!

But for kids under 3-ish you could substitute this with balls & wooden blocks that are kept separate from toys, for this specific purpose.

3. Consistency  

KIds need consistency. They need boundaries and they need to learn that when you say ‘no’, it’s a no. Sticking to that ‘no’ becomes increasingly difficult when you’re exhausted, and heading into the third hour of your child’s banshee crying with intermittent screams and some head-banging and wall-kicking thrown in for good measure.

All you want is for the tantrum to end. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ANY REMAINING SANITY, PLEASE END!!! But your child needs to learn how to cope with not getting their own way, it will happen, to varying degrees, all through life and they need to know how to deal with it.

Today’s parental resolve, may mean that tomorrow’s tantrum only lasts 2.5hrs, the next only 2hrs and so on. It gets better, and it gets easier when you tell yourself this is not just for their short term well being, but their long-term maturity also.

4. I’m Sorry

Kids watch everything we do. They hear more than what we often realise, certainly more than I’d like mine to hear!

Just yesterday, a family member was asking if I had any advice for toilet training a two year old girl. I asked the mother: ‘Does she ever watch you guys using the toilet?’

Her reply was, “No, we don’t give her the chance, we keep her out of that area of the house, behind the baby gate.”

Their reasoning was their child’s own safety. But children watch, it’s how they learn. We teach them to eat by modeling eating. If a child does not get to see behaviours acted out, how then can they learn without anxiety and fear of the unknown?

We must model it, and one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and our children, is to model the apology.

Learning to kneel at your child’s level, look into their eyes and say with sincerity, ‘I’m so sorry, I messed up, I got angry too quickly’ or ‘I’m so sorry your feelings were hurt when I did…’ Or, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you properly when you were telling me about…’ Will change your world!

You are human. You’re flawed. You make mistakes. Allowing your kids to see this vulnerability will in turn change the way they relate to you, making both of your lives easier.

Parenting is a hard gig, man! Seriously draining stuff. But if you are physically able, and you got out of bed today, you’re on the right track! Even better if you managed to throw some food in the general direction of your beloved spawn!

And hey, you even took the time to read an article by some crazy mum on the Internet, presumably in the hope that you might learn a thing or two, I think you’re on the right track, and I hope you weren’t disappointed.

So let’s band together, let’s encourage one another. Let’s share our failures, and celebrate our successes.

Let’s do this thing!

Bek Curtis

[for some other posts on being a parent when it’s maybe not all that easy, click here]


So tbV and i do not have any children at the moment. And we are kinda hoping that moment lasts a lifetime. Which makes some people tend to weird out a little bit as if having children was the ultimate point of life. [SPOILER: It’s not!]

Having and raising children is an incredible thing and both a huge responsibility and privilege, but it is a choice that some people make and other perfectly normal people choose not to. We should get over that for starters.

However, having been around people with young children a lot during our three years in Americaland then lived with two families with young children for the first six months back in South Africa we have been able to observe many things, and one thing that is for sure – raising children is not easy.

The saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ sounds completely apt because it can be such a complicated thing to do as two people [with one working, or in some cases both] and even, in some situations, as one.

Complex aspects such as when your child throws a tantrum [both publically and at home], how to discipline effectively [when different parents may have different ideas or growing up experiences to draw from] and even ‘simpler’ things like ‘getting them to eat their food’, ‘monitoring how they play with other children’ and ‘losing games well’ can seem like mountains if what you try doesn’t seem to be working.

i thought it might be helpful to canvas some parents i do know who seem to be doing okay or whose children seem to be well adjusted, and to ask them for some tips, ideas or experiences from their life, that may help some others of you out there. Obviously each child and each family situation is different and this is definitely an area where one size does not fit all. But i also imagine that some of the time you are just looking for some new ideas that might be worth a shot and may even work for you.

That is what this series is going to be about, and if you think you have a parenting tip that worked well for you and may help out someone else who is struggling in some area, please don’t hesitate to email me at and see if we can add it here]…

Happy [and hopefully slightly more successful] parenting people…

4 Tips from a mum – Bek Curtis from Australia had so many things to share, she could not keep it to one

The Most Important Thing – frequent collaborator Candice Fourie shares some key tips for parents

Ten Tips from a motherhood that has stretched me – Melissa Hertz shares some skills she picked up as a mom

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