Tag Archives: child

The Father’s Mandate: Support & Encourage

20 Jun

the father's mandate support & encourageDads, we hope you are enjoying The Father’s Mandate series! Moms…we trust you are sharing this with your gents because this is the literally the difference between him being a “Dad” or “dud”. Today we’d like to cover 2 roles that are very closely linked…

Role #4: Support you Child

When we talk about supporting a child in their failure, we’re not implying that it’s okay for kids to adopt a casual attitude to violating values and morals. As much as we like to believe that our children are angels, we know they are not perfect. You should expect your children to behave, but you cannot expect them not to fail. Failure is part of life; it is essential for learning and growth. We didn’t learn not to eat soap because our mothers told us not to. We learnt because we were curious one day and took a bite, or said a bad word and mom made us take a bite. We failed. We learnt. We grew. Fathers in particular play a critical role in using a child’s failure to teach them important lessons. Fathers can use these moments to share how they have failed and teach their children the lessons they learned in the process. Children need to know that failure happens, but that it does not define them as a failure.

Role #5: Encourage your Child

As much as a child needs support, they also need encouragement. They need to know that someone is thinking of them, backing them and rooting for them to succeed. Dads can do this in very practical ways like giving a high-five or saying something good about their child. A thoughtful note is even better. Your child will treasure it and look back on it when times get tough. Leave something physical for them so that they can reflect on it and remember your example even when you are gone.

Kids expect their mom to support and encourage them, but they THRIVE when dad does it.


Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net


The Father’s Mandate: Accept Invitations into Your Child’s Private World

18 Jun

father plays with childrenWe’re on to part 3 of The Father’s Mandate series; encouraging dads to live above society’s fatherhood-norms and be the best fathers possible. If there’s one main theme that is coming through this series, it’s the amount of time fathers spend (or don’t spend) with their family. Keep reading to see what hurried dads are missing out on.

Role #3: Accept Invitations into Your Child’s Private World

Have you ever had that moment where your child comes running to show you something super exciting and your first reaction is to yell at them about bringing mud into the house? Or when they are stammering on about something and you impatiently tell them to be quiet because you’re trying to listen to the radio or TV? You may have just missed a personal invitation into your child’s private world.

Children open windows to their heart at the most unexpected times. These are moments when your child invites you in to share advice, answer questions and clear up false impressions. It is in these moments that you will do more than teach your child to conform to expected behaviour; you will be able to train your child’s heart to love you, love others and love God. You cannot force these windows open. And when you react with impatience and intolerance, you may be shutting that window forever. If you don’t listen when your child opens up, they may not trust you enough to invite you in again. Imagine how much harder it will then be to understand your child when they are a teenager. Hurried fathers miss these opportunities, but fathers that make time for their children will be there to see these windows open.

Dads who are preoccupied with work, themselves and their problems end up distancing themselves from their children. Children cannot bond with a moving target. Successful fathers are not the ones with flexible time – they are the ones who use whatever recreational time they have to spend doing what their children or wife would like to do. Too many dads think that time with their children will be unpleasant or draining. They would prefer to spend time doing their own thing. What they don’t realise is that a child’s attention span is pretty short; sometimes you’re lucky if there is actually decent time for play. Jump at the invitation to be with your child, because in a few minutes they will want to do something else. Your child needs you to be present and involved. Try it and you will see those little windows open to their soul!


Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Father’s Mandate: Love Your Wife

13 Jun

Welcome to the second part of The Father’s Mandate series. This fantastic series not only honours fathers, but challenges them to a higher standard of excellence as head of their home. Last time we talked about a father’s responsibility in creating a family identity. Today we focus on another crucial role that a father plays in his family:

Role #2: Love Your Wife!

the father's mandate - husband love your wifeWhen we think about a man’s responsibility as a father, we tend to forget how his relationship with his wife affects his relationship with his children. No matter how involved a father is with his children, it will count for almost nothing if he doesn’t show love and affection to their mother. If a father isn’t spending quality time with his wife, speaks harshly to her or isn’t patient with her, his children will find it difficult to trust him and they will begin to develop habits of an unhealthy family model. I realise this example may be limited for more complex family units, but the point remains the same: Fathers need to love their children’s mother!

“Fathers are crucial in making men of their sons and women of their daughters. Contrary to the popular image, it is not the aggressive, macho man but the competent, caring, loving father who does this best.” – Faulkner

A father needs to represent the kind of man that he wants his son to be. Boys need their fathers to teach them how to conduct themselves as men; how to be responsible; and how to treat women. When a boy grows out of childhood, he inevitably lets go of his attachment to his mother and looks to his father for instruction and affirmation. If his father isn’t there, he will look for answers elsewhere and risk becoming a distorted version of what masculinity should be.

A father needs to represent the kind of man that he wants his daughters to marry. By being a good role model, his daughter can see how a man should look, act and talk. A father who is loving, caring and affectionate towards his wife shows his daughter how she should one day be treated by her husband; she should not want to settle for anything less. On the other hand, if a daughter has limited interaction with her father, or her father is unkind to her mother, she will struggle to relate to men and may end up in a cycle of abusive relationships.

So dads, if you want your children to grow up in healthy relationships and receive the love that they deserve, you need to model that picture for them. Surprise your wife with a bunch of flowers, tell her “I love you” every day, hug her, kiss her and dance with her. Make sure your children see your affection for her and make sure that, one day, they settle for nothing less!

What do you think dads? Challenge accepted?



Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Parenting Courses: The Gift of Confidence

6 Jun

I was a single mom with my first child. I didn’t know parenting courses even existed; and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t have gone to one. I wanted to be an amazing mom and have that “Gilmore Girls” relationship with my daughter. I wanted to do it all by myself.

As much as I believe in natural instinct, I soon realised that I was out of my depth. No, I don’t know why my baby is crying. I can’t always tell the difference between my baby’s cries! And no, my baby DOESN’T want the boob even though you insist she does Aunty Martha! [cue scream]

Although I eventually did learn the difference between my baby’s cries, I had major insecurities about what to do at times. Asking for advice was like admitting I was a useless mother with no motherly instinct. I didn’t want other people to think of me as incompetent. I was a great mom; I knew that. I just wasn’t as confident on the inside as I may have appeared on the outside. Every decision was double-checked and second-guessed until my brains turned to coleslaw. And at times I felt attacked and exposed when friends and family kindly offered suggestions. As much as I LOVED being a mom, I hated the indecisiveness and insecurity I was feeling.

I wish I had known what I know now!

When my daughter was 18 months I married Kegan – an amazing man who gave me a gorgeous step-son! Friends of ours raved about Growing Kids God’s Way, a parenting course geared for parents with kids between the ages of 2 & 8. We tried it. And I recommend it – whether you are Christian or not! It gave us fantastic tools to add to our parenting bag of tricks! So when I fell pregnant with my second child, we eagerly took their advice to try the Preparation for Parenting course – even though Kegan and I had both had babies before.

Desiree Haakonsen with her 2 children, Callum and Jaime

Me and my two beautiful children, Callum (left) and Jaime.

I don’t want to give away any details of the course…not now anyway! But I will tell you that it was life-changing in the way that my husband and I became a solid team. We had a game plan and we were in it together! As a couple (or a single parent), you gain a confidence that literally makes people stop in their pram-tracks and ask “how did you do that?”

I still believe that every mother has an amazing natural instinct, and I don’t for a second think I “got it all wrong” with my first child. I think I did pretty well in fact. The parenting courses just gifted me with a confidence in myself that I had clearly lacked before. It is a gift that should be shared with everyone. I would like to pass it on to you! I’m positive that when you have tried one, you will try them all. And when your friends ask you, “How did you do that?” you can pass the gift on to them too!

To find out more about available parenting courses from the Growing Families International curriculum, please contact Andrea at Baby Guardian Vaccination Clinic.

Please note that Andrea and Alastair de Wet facilitate courses in the Centurion/Midrand area in Gauteng, South Africa only but may refer you to other facilitators in the greater Johannesburg area.

A Working Parent’s Guide to Dealing with Sick Kids

22 May

sick child stay at homeIf you’re a parent, especially a working one, I bet you’re dreading the seasonal changes and the associated onset of common colds & flu. I’m already sitting with a snotty 2-year old, and before I can even say the word “tissue”, his face looks like five slugs have had a 10cm race across his face! Joy! Luckily for me I’m able to work from home so I can take care of him and make sure he gets the necessary medication and rest he needs. But I remember being in the office full-time. Flu season was disastrous! My kids always seemed to pick an EXTREMELY-important-office-meeting day to come to me with big bleary eyes and tell me they’re not feeling well. “Sniff, sniff”.

I hate to think that work would ever be a priority over a child’s health, but sometimes our impending deadlines seem a lot scarier than a runny nose. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your child is really THAT sick that they need to stay at home. A sore throat always sounds worse in the morning, right? If you’re a working parent and you can’t decide whether to take the day off work or send your child to school, here are some pointers to make your decision a little easier:

  1. Determine whether it is in fact a cold or flu and not just a sore finger or some ploy to avoid a school assignment!
  2. If your child starts showing signs of colds and flu, address it immediately with the proper medication. Find out more about Symptoms of Colds and Flu.
  3. The best option now is to let your child take the day off school and get some proper rest.
  4. Find someone who can watch your child for the day, like a granny, friend, family member or domestic lady. Be sure to let them know what medication your child needs.
  5. If you can’t find someone for the day, try finding someone who can watch him for the morning so you can work a half-day.
  6. If there’s no one to watch your child, then make that call to your boss and take a day off work. You are completely entitled to this and should not feel bad about it (sadly so many of us do), especially when it comes to looking after your children. You have your phone for emergency purposes! And if you have access to the Internet and email at home then use that to get some work done. Your child should be resting so you shouldn’t have to run around after him all day.
  7. If there’s no chance of anyone watching your child, and you simply CANNOT take a day off work then you could take your child to work with you. This depends entirely on what kind of environment you are working in and whether your boss will allow it.
  8. The last option is to send your sickling to school. This isn’t a great option because your child needs proper rest, and they could end up making the other children sick (putting other moms in your unpleasant situation)! But this is a last resort that many of us have to take, and I have to admit that I have done it before. If you send him to school, be sure to keep your phone close by; you might get a call from the school requesting that you take your sick child home.
  9. Make sure you guard yourself against any viruses by taking immune boosting supplements. Read 13 Ways to Avoid Colds and Flu for some more useful tips!

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions that could also help working parents deal with sick kids, please share them with us. We’d love to hear from you!

Things they DON’T tell you about having a baby (Part 2)

17 May

If you’re reading this and you’ve already read Things they DON’T tell you about having a baby (Part 1) then you seriously have what it takes to get through the early phases of parenting. You’re tough, eager to learn and are obviously suffering from “preggie brain”!

As I mentioned in Part 1 this is a look at some of the unexpected realities of having a baby. With the help of some delightfully honest mommies, I would like to help you prepare yourself for some of the more common, yet surprising, emotions and experiences that you may run into as a new parent.

Our list continues…

11. Having a baby changes EVERYTHING!

Your life will never be the same again…but that’s NOT a bad thing! Almost every decision you make will now revolve around your baby. Visiting friends and going to the shops will revolve around your baby’s nap time. Big things like priorities, conversations, interests and relationships change. Small things like restaurants, holiday destinations, shoes and jewellery of choice will change. And your relationship with your partner will develop to a whole new level – make sure to keep your partner a priority!

12. It’s not just the first few months that they don’t sleep through, but sleep routines constantly change, especially in the first year.

I was fortunate enough to have both my children sleep through by 3 & 4 months old; but I know many moms who are still playing musical beds when their children are 7 years old! Sleep patterns are tricky and it takes constant vigilance to keep a good routine going. I would recommend any parent to try a Preparation for Parenting Course. It is a very helpful guide to the kind of sleep patterns your baby needs.

13. What surprised me was how hard breastfeeding was, but I’m glad I stuck it out because it’s definitely much easier than bottles, once you get over the first month. I can really understand now why so many women take the formula route.

I completely agree that breastfeeding is the best option, but it is not easy. Some mothers and babies struggle while others get it right the first time. Even when your baby latches properly, it’s a painful thing to go through for the first few weeks. I know what it’s like to sit there for an hour in tears because your baby is hungry and won’t latch on properly. Eventually they do get it. Stick it out moms! It will be worth it in the end. If you are struggling with breastfeeding, Baby Guardian will happily offer you the support you need.

14. “Me time” is a rare concept.

When your baby starts crawling, you’ll be lucky to be allowed to go to the toilet alone! So enjoy that special time you have when your baby is immobile. There’s no going back after that.

15. Although I try not to, I compare my baby to every other child and try to see if mine is “better”, “faster” or…(heaven forbid) “slower” than they are.

It’s only natural to compare your baby with other babies. Motherhood is a great challenge that none of us want to fail at. None of us want our baby to be “the last one” to walk or talk or be potty trained. But the reality is that all babies are different. There is no exact science, only general norms. So if your baby is marginally slower, that’s ok. They won’t be the slowest with everything! If your baby is a LOT slower, then feel free to consult an expert and ease your concerns. And if your baby is better or faster in some areas, then well done to baby! Enjoy feeling like the proud mommy you are. Just don’t unnecessarily offend other moms with too much boasting; their babies are just as precious to them as yours is to you!

16. That I would compare myself with other moms.

In our efforts to have the title of “Best Mom EVER”, we naturally tend to compare ourselves with the other moms around us. One thing I’ve learned is that “the perfect mother” you see with her child isn’t perfect. Mothers I admire the most will often be the first to tell me how many times they think they’ve failed by saying or doing something “horrible”. The reality is that you NEVER see the full story of that mom and her relationship with her children. All moms have their moods and their moments. We are all learning! It’s natural to compare, but be careful not to judge!

17. That it hurts and I take it personally when someone says “No Kids Allowed” on the wedding or party invite.

Us moms need to stop reading this as “YOUR Kids Are NOT Allowed” and start reading this as “Mom’s Night Off”, because that’s closer to reality. I haven’t been to a wedding without at least one of my kids in the last 6 years because my daughter keeps being asked to be a flower girl. The next time someone asks, I’m saying “NO”! I WANT to have a party and not worry about leaving early to get my kids to bed a decent hour. Enjoy the night off mom!

18. You forget how to talk about anything other than your baby; and you take it personally when friends without kids actually DON’T want to know what your baby’s poo smells like or that she said “teddy” again or that she can now walk 5 steps without falling.

Your baby takes up a lot of your attention, you know your baby more intimately than anyone, you LOVE your baby; naturally you’re going to want to talk about her. But your friends without babies won’t understand you until they experience it for themselves. Then it will be your turn to listen to how cute it is when their babies try to crawl, what their poo looks like and how precious it was when they farted with a smile! Until then, turn on a radio or read a magazine and catch up on some news and celebrity gab.

19. Nobody told me that nappies don’t actually work half the time. And when small babies poo, it squishes out their nappies and up their backs. And that this will happen when you’re on a plane.

I laughed when I read this, because the EXACT same thing happened to me on a plane (see, you’re probably not alone even in the most arbitrary experience!). Breathe easy moms-to-be, this doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. Babies who are only drinking breast milk have very soft poo that may sometimes squish out the nappy. Be armed with at least 2 babygrows when going on an outing!

20. What about that moment (most likely between week 3 and 6) when you’re completely overwhelmed and are in tears out of complete frustration and exhaustion. You actually feel like throwing your baby out the window/against the wall/burying them in a very deep pit. You wonder if there’s a return policy on this thing and regret ever deciding to have a baby. And then you feel SOOO guilty about feeling that way.

It sounds horrendous but almost every mom I know has confessed to feeling like this at least once & feeling EXTREMELY guilty & shameful, even though – thank goodness – none of us actually DO it! Moms are secretly famous for experiencing extreme feelings of frustration, anxiety, shame, guilt, hurt and confusion; but we bury these feelings behind a smile because we don’t want other people to judge us and think of us as bad mothers. One bad moment does not make you a bad parent! You are not a bad mother for feeling overwhelmed. You’ll make it through and prove that you’re tougher than you ever thought you could be! If you think you could be suffering Post-Natal Depression then please speak to a professional and get the proper attention you need.

If you’re already a parent, I’m sure you’re identifying with what has been shared; and probably ecstatic to know that you’re not alone! If you’re a parent-to-be, I hope you feel a little more ready for the reality of what your precious bundle will bring! If you’re planning on having a baby, I dare you not to back down now. Parenting is something that changes your life and I promise you that your children will bring you more joy than you can imagine! So here’s some advice to be taken with a pinch of salt…you will be fine! If not, put some brandy on the gums and have a sip for you!

Things they DON’T tell you about having a baby (Part 1)

17 May

babies are cute

Babies are cute, that’s how they trick you!

This was some advice I received from a dear friend of mine about having babies. It came 6 years, 2 months and 1 day too late! I was the first of my friends to become a mom so I didn’t get this kind of advice sooner. And people of my parent’s age seem to forget some of the headaches of having a baby…or they just want to watch us young moms suffer by playing the silent game! Either way, through my 6 years of being a mom, and my friends eventually starting to join the “Mommy Club”, I have realized that there is a LOT they don’t tell you about having a baby.

New moms, BEWARE!

What you are about to read is potentially life changing. This is an unveiling of the raw, uncutesy, “what was I thinking?” side of having a baby. This is not meant to scare you, but rather help you to embrace motherhood with everything it has to offer. I asked a group of women about things they were never told or didn’t expect about having a baby. Listening to other moms is so helpful, because we often experience “abnormal” situations, emotions and reactions that are actually VERY normal. Here is Part 1 of some of the beautifully honest responses I received.

1. Childbirth is completely unattractive and undignified. There are no personal boundaries. But you don’t seem to care.

You will be poked, groped and prodded throughout the birthing process. Your cervix will be measured, you will receive an enema, your waters may need to be broken, you might receive an epidural, your knees will end up past your ears and your most private lady parts will be on display for all to see. The good thing is that you will be so eager to “GET THAT THING OUT” of you that you will eagerly go along with it all.

2. No one told me how the afterbirth works! You think when the baby is out it’s all over, but that’s not true. And it looks so awful too.

When you have a natural delivery, you will have to push the afterbirth out as well. And it’s not pretty. You should be informed about this and other birthing processes if you attend an ante-natal course.

3. A Caesarian is quite traumatic, especially when you’re expecting natural.

Many moms choose natural delivery. They want to have their baby the way God intended, when the baby is ready, and they want to enjoy a quicker and less painful recovery. But gynecologists/obstetricians are often concerned about the baby and insist on a scheduled Caesarian. Other times there is an emergency during the birth when the baby needs to be delivered by Caesarian. This can be very traumatic for moms, the body and baby too.

4. What I learnt by default is that not all advice is good advice, especially from pediatricians and obgyns!

The lady who made this statement followed it up with “The best advice I got that I cherish to this day – follow your gut!” – which I can only agree with. When I moved to Johannesburg I was 6 months pregnant and needed to find a new gyne. I went to a highly recommended one but didn’t feel comfortable with him. My internal alarms went off when I told him I wanted a natural birth. His immediate response was to list reasons why women may need Caesarian. Trusting my gut, I didn’t go back. I later found out from an intern at the hospital that he had not performed a natural birth in over 300 deliveries! I’m convinced he would have found some excuse to conveniently schedule me into his diary (between golf and a weekend away) and add me to that list. New moms are constantly bombarded with well-meaning “good advice” from their mom, grannies, aunties, friends, doctors, pediatricians, obstetricians, gynecologists, parenting books, magazines, TV shows, and (most frustratingly) the expert stranger who doesn’t know a thing about you, your child or your parenting capabilities apart from the last 2 minutes they’ve witnessed you trying to scrape your crying toddler off the shopping mall floor! In the end, go with your gut! I also recommend taking a parenting course. It will help you discover a method of parenting and solutions that you and your partner can agree on.

5. Your whole body changes and buying new clothes is a nightmare.

Don’t bother shopping for a new wardrobe soon after baby has arrived. Your boobs, hips and weight will be changing quite substantially in the first few months. I went shopping when my second baby was 6 months old, thinking my body was pretty much doomed to keep this extra weight (I lost my weight immediately with my firstborn). In the next 6 months I managed to lose 10kg and my new jeans didn’t fit as well anymore. Everyone is different when it comes to gaining and losing weight, but you can be guaranteed your body will change; so try not to splurge too much in the first few months!

6. Preggie/porridge brain is a permanent condition.


moms never rest

7. No one told me that you never get a rest, NEVER, not even when you’re sick.

Being a mom is a full-time job! Every situation is different, whether you are single, married or dating, have 1 child or 5, are working, working from home or a stay-at-home mom (which is a full-time work anyway). Moms never stop. Even when we’re sick, we’re still cooking (or picking up the phone to order pizza), cleaning (and trying VERY hard to get our older kids or partners to pitch in) and doing every other thing that doesn’t even exist in a man or child’s world.

8. You have to schedule in a shower!

As you have just read, parenting is a full-time job. When your baby takes a nap you need to prioritise which chores need to be done first. Washing? Dirty dishes? Sterilise bottles? Make fresh baby food? Feed the pets? Shower? Get that desperately needed nap of your own? If you’re lucky you will have a domestic lady or a partner to help you with chores. If not, get scheduling!

9. No one told me about baby reflux.

Urgh! Be warned…you WILL need burping towels with you wherever you go for the first few months. A smelly, unattractive accessory for every mom; and a huge reason for the necessity of scheduled shower time! Make sure you have spares and a plastic bag so you can hide the wet, smelly ones away.

10. That I would feel guilty every time I go out without my baby.

I felt completely naked the first time I went out without my baby and it’s only been marginally better since. To go from carrying a baby, nappy bag, blanket, burp towel, snuggly toy and perhaps even a camping cot to just a handbag is incredibly distressing! You have that constant feeling that you’ve forgotten something. And you have…your precious little munchkin that you’ve carried in your belly for 9 months who is probably lying awake fretting about how you’ve just abandoned her! This is not really the case (your baby will be FINE for a few hours without you), but it is certainly how it feels.

Keep a look out for Things they DON’T tell you about having a baby (Part 2)

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