This column began with the belief that mums and dads  would be interested in reading about issues that affect them in their day to day lives as parents.

Some colleagues felt that people would find parenting to be a bit of a boring subject, especially if compared to my former immensely popular column on ‘Life in the Universe.” But I am glad that only a few months down the line, more and more parents are not only reading but they do want to talk with us as we share ideas on this important subject.

This week a reader and a parent wrote in responding to last week’s discussion about the difference between a parent bragging as opposed to being genuinely amazed by their children or simply making a point. A mother to a 10 months old boy, Keneilwe Tshireletso, writing via email says:

My son is turning 10 months old today and I think he is the most beautiful person around. He is smart for his age and he already has a good sense of humour just like his father. I am not bragging. I  am simply being a mother. Mothers talk about their kids,however annoying it might seem, this is who we are.I will never stop talking about my son because I am  proud to be his mom.Bragging is would be if I was to talk about the expensive toy that I bought for him.Thank you for sharing your experiences. Good column.

We need,as parents,to have a dialogue about the issues we come across. I am tired of having to buy South African parenting magazines. Your column was a breath of fresh air. I  love it because I can identify with a lot of the stuff you write about. Keep up the good work and keep inspiring us.


VICTORY IS SWEET: But the first can easily become the last in the race of life

In marathons, the last finisher receives the same cheer as the first. Spectators applaud as participants cross the finish line and complete the race.
Most aspects of real life in general and school in particular, however does not work like that and I ,like many normal parents out there want my children to do well, both in school and in life.

My children are still in preschool, so I can only imagine  how rewarding it can be  to have a model child who takes their studies very seriously and tops his class, and how embarrassing and frustrating it can be for a parent to have a child who is always bottom of the ladder.

But as much as I desire to have my children succeed, I wouldn’t want my boys to ever be scared to bring home a poor report card if they have to. In fact I  believe that no child for that matter should ever be terrified to bring back home a bad report card.

I never understood teachers who beat students for not knowing the right answers in class and parents who punished their kids, often by beating them for failing in school baffled me even more.
The thought of what I would do if one my children was to be the one to struggle through school, sprang to mind recently when an opportunity presented itself for my son and I to talk about the dynamics of winning and losing, last weekend.

We had a “Friends Day’ Competition at church whereby the person who brought five friends this past Sunday was to win a prize. My son, who is very competitive by nature immediately set his mind on the 1st prize and went about inviting all his friends in the neighbourhood.

But on our way to church on D- day, my son, who just had one friend honour his invitation, despite his spirited efforts to convince many boys to go with him, realised that he was not going to win the hamper of toys he had set his eyes on and the idea bothered him- A lot!

Noticing how sad the boy was as we walked to church, I asked him what the matter was and he shot back: “Am I going to lose this competition?” Trying to sound as loving and comforting as I could, I told him that, yes he had already lost the competition, but it did not really matter because he was still; “Mummy’s little winner.”

“But how can I be mummy’s little winner when I am going to be a loser? He asked, and the question struck me with a force of a blow to the head, making me even more uneasy as I struggled to explain to a five- year-old who loves to win and hates to win that losing one competition doesn’t make one a loser and that losing is not always such a bad thing after all, although I must admit I wasn’t sure whether I was putting the explanation across in a way that made sense to the little one.

I am a great believer in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s philosophy that our greatest glory is indeed not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. But  how does a mother teach this important lesson to a five- year -old son, who is obsessed with winning and gets upset about losing, without making him feel that it is okay to be complacent and not to make an effort to win some?

How do we teach them to strike a balance between the need to win and the need to simply enjoy life without worrying about whether they are going to excel and be number one at a certain task or not? Send in your comments, suggestions and responses to [email protected]

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