Friday, July 19, 2013

The Role of Grandparents



A recent news item about a standard six-year-old girl who died while in juvenile remand in Murang’a County is quite disturbing. According to the parents, the girl had been sent by her teacher to the shopping centre to buy a book. Unfortunately, while she was at it, she landed in the hands of police officers. The teacher on the other hand, insists that the girl was in and out of school and even lived with the grandmother. The parents are seeking compensation for the loss of their daughter from the government because the standard six pupil died four days later in the juvenile detention centre.
                                                           Grandpa and Kids image by Debspoons from source


So many questions go through my mind about the young girl, the parents and the grandmother. I believe police officers would never take a child prisoner unless he or she has committed a grave offense. I stand to be corrected. My thinking is that the parents were hiding the offense of their child in their reports. In spite of that, did they have to wait to be called for her corpse four days later after their only girl child was held prisoner? Is it not natural for parents to worry when their child gets into such a mess? I know I would be worried sick if my precious boy was sent to the juvenile prison on the account he was hanging around the shopping center during school hours, in his school uniform. I would rush there and do anything in my power to get him out. Although the girl had gone missing only to be reported to be safe in the juvenile detention center, it is not okay that the parents were reluctant to go see her.

The poor girl was staying with her grandmother before she met this ordeal. On being asked why they allowed their only daughter to live with her grandmother, the parents said that the grandmother adored her. This is all right, but when do parents delegate their roles to grandparents to the extent of making them live with and educate them? Grandparents treat their grandchildren to all manner of goodies, stories and some maybe good disciplinarians but they can never be parents, period. Children need to spend most of their lives with their parents so that they can guide them. 

Although parents may argue that their children’s grandparents did a great job in raising them, it is not the same. The time and approach is different. Grandparents already have a mindset that they have grown children, who can make decisions on their own. When grandchildren are presented to them, they tend to forget this. A child needs love, care and direction from parents. Grandparents can give these too, but not in the same measure of parents.

While it is important for children to spend quality time with their grandparents, they cannot do it all their lives, unless the parents are dead. In my opinion however, when the parents of a child die, the grandparents still do not become parents but guardians. Parents understand their children best, their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. They are also in a better position to provide these needs, because they gave their children life. Grandparents on the other hand gave the parents life, for whom they can only be well accountable.

I am not saying that the above ordeal cannot happen to a child who lives with the parents, but if parents are truly involved in their child’s life, any deviant behavior can be corrected early enough and with lots of love. Parents should be engaged in their children’s lives on a day-to-day basis. There is no taking leave when it comes to parenting, no matter how your child turns out. The first 18 years are compulsory for parents to smother their children with love. It is from the smothering that any abnormal behavior is corrected and
avoided. Therefore, let parents not delegate their roles to grandparents.  

*My two cents on parenting*

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Keep Floors Warm for the Little Ones



                                                        My nephew Sean
You know its July,  one of the coldest months in Kenya, when children go to school wearing all manner of monkey hats, ‘boshoris’, gloves and scarves. Babies remain indoors overdressed and no baths are given, except for sponge baths, if necessary. You on the other hand sit in the office or at home with fingers and toes frozen. You can hardly move or work on your computer. If you work from home as I do, you keep fighting the temptation to get back into bed. However, the cost of time and opportunities wasted from doing this, which is huge, gives you the courage to embrace the cold, as there is still a long way to go since the month of August bears the same weather. 

God has a purpose in all His creations, a reason he put us in this part of Africa. As much as I love snow, I cannot imagine what would become of us if we experienced winter here. Most homes are not fitted with heating units and the portable kinds are luxuries for the common citizen. Having children makes the cold even more chilling as they like to run or crawl around the house barefoot and taking off their warm clothing any time you are not watching.




No matter how much you insist on warm jackets, I can assure you that some kids will not keep their socks on or wear the warm and fluffy flip-flops in the house. I know this for sure because my son doesn’t!  If you force him to wear, he will somehow get the socks wet or leave the flip-flops outside the house. The situation is worse for my nephews who are at the crawling stage. The floors are unbearably cold. Keeping them on the bed or seats all day is not achievable because they want to touch, walk or crawl to any item of interest.  Therefore, the floors have to be kept warm with carpets and mats so that they can be free.




My mother always insisted that cold floors could get us sick, but I always used to brush this idea as old school. However, when I got a son of my own, I adopted the same tale. Am I old school? I don’t think so. According to Chinese medicine, walking on cold floors decreases your positive energy, the Yang qi. This energy is responsible for what happens with your immune system. If the yang qi is weak, your body becomes susceptible to infections and pains. However, when it is strong, any pain in the body decreases and your body is full of energy. It is believed that cold enters the body through the feet to your waist. Therefore, from your waist downwards, you and the kids should be covered and kept warm throughout this cold season.


Since this is almost impossible for kids, I suggest having your floors carpeted or having the above rugs, mats if you prefer, on all their play areas. If you are in need of warm custom handmade mats  or carpets that suit your taste and preferences, which will enhance your overall interior decor call us on ( +254)0720 714 361 to place your order or email here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How Children Understand Death



                                                                Image by Nuchylee source
This year’s Fathers Day will forever be engraved in my memories because as a family, we celebrated it sending off a beloved uncle, my son’s grandfather. For a man who taught me, or almost did teach me how to ride a bike, because I freaked out when my leg was caught in the bicycle chain, I have lots of fond memories about him. He was like an age mate to me.  He was 10 years older than me, yet each time I spoke to him I could not feel this difference. His hard work and love for family touched me and I wish to carry it on. 

According to my Christian faith, I believe that one day we will be reunited again, in heaven. He has just gone ahead of us to a place we are all destined to go. Therefore, it is upon me to live a righteous life so that I can also make it there. However, for children, such beliefs may not make any sense to them depending on their age groups.


The fact is that children know something about death.  After all they see it on TV stations and act it out during play. Therefore, it is not new to them.  Faking stories about a departed loved one would only be doing more harm than good. It is therefore, important to be open and give all  age specific and simple answers about death to these groups.


1.    Pre-scholars


They think death is temporary and reversible.  You may have noticed if your child between the ages of one to five/six owns a water gun, he will shoot at you countless times and will even ask you to ‘die’. At this stage they are impersonal about death. I noticed the same thing with my six-year-old son, during my uncle’s funeral he would curl around my bereaved teenage cousin so he could rouse some play. The poor boy did not know it was not the right time to play. Even though I was open about what had happened and was going on, he was still distant.

2.    5 -9 years


This group believes that death is final for all living things. They may relate death with skeletons and even have nightmares. However, children in this age bracket can be reassured with the religious beliefs of the guardians or parents, such as mine, that one day both the dead and the living will be united in heaven. Healing for such children can only be achieved if parents are truly honest and communicate what they viewpoints on death. It is also important to let the children express themselves by mourning instead of letting them suppress the pain they feel.

Telling children that a beloved went to sleep may make them fear going to sleep for they may never wake up. Sometimes, answers such as your grandpa, grandma, dad, mum, auntie or uncle went far away or may never come back may invoke rejection. They may wonder whether the departed truly loved them if they are never coming back. Such children may also fear being left on their own. Children in this age group should be let to view the body of the departed only if they agree to it to prevent them from having nightmares.

3.    10 years to Adolescence


These lots understand death is irreversible and they could go about looking for the meaning of life in all the wrong places. Some teenagers get into drugs or become social misfits due to the loss of their loved ones. Therefore, family members should try to be as supportive as possible to this group by engaging in constant communication and by giving realistic directions in life.


Children understand death differently according to their ages. Therefore, parents, family, friends or guardians should never let children grieve alone. My auntie has a great task ahead with her children, but with the help of relatives and friends she will be fine. I pray to God she will be.






Thursday, June 6, 2013

Your Child’s Safety in Apartments


My heart goes out to a virtual friend who lost his son this week through a fall from an apartment building. It is not clear, how the boy fell off as the father works outside town, while the boy lives with the mother and other siblings in the city. The siblings watched helplessly as their brother fell from the third floor of the building where they live. With the help of good neighbors, the boy was rushed to hospital, but the doctors could not save him. The boy’s tender life was cut short unexpectedly.
                                                     
                                                        Image Source courtesy of Basketman
When I learnt about this, a cold shiver went down my spine as I imagined how many children are at risk in the urban areas, including my boy. Home ownership is a pipe dream for most families and not even the current home prices are encouraging. I wonder how many of us can afford to buy a home without taking out mortgage? Besides, with increased population in the cities, property owners have to make good use of their land by building high-rise buildings to accommodate as many people as possible. While such homes are cheaper, they also turn out to be costly as far children’s lives are concerned.

There are safety policies that property owners should go by, but they have not put them in place. Take the fire safety policy as an example.  I have only seen a few apartments with fire extinguishers, which are maintained regularly. When it comes to balconies, tenants are left to fend for themselves and their children. Although some property owners have gone ahead to put up barriers  on balconies of apartments, most land lords have either not thought about children or are bending a rule somewhere.

It is upon us parents to make sure that our children are safe at all times while living in apartments. We can make certain of this by doing the following:
  •  Children should play on balconies and patios under supervision of adults. When children are left on     their own, they tend to explore the most of dangerous things.
  •  Placing furniture on balconies could lead to children climbing on them. Hence, it should be avoided.
  • When searching for vacant apartments, it is best to settle for those that have full barriers on the balconies, that is, from the ceiling downwards. In case they are metal bars, the gaps between them should not be wide since a child can slip through easily. The windows should also have strong barriers as children love to climb on them to see the world below.
  • Staircases should be free from strewn toys and other objects as they can cause falls.
  • Installing a gate to prevent crawling babies from getting to the staircase is a good idea. However, it should be adjustable or be removed when the baby grows old enough to manage climbing on it.
  • Incomplete buildings pose greater risks of falls for children. Therefore, no matter how inexpensive they may be, parents should avoid them.
  •         Children living in apartments with elevators should be taught on elevator safety.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Teaching your Child to be Charitable



This year’s Mater Heart Run held this Saturday, is a success due to the many “little” people behind the scenes, including my son, who went door to door fundraising for the initiative for “little” fellows with heart problems. My son’s school had been chosen to take part in the event and boy, was he glad to be doing it.  You should have heard him ask all our friends and relatives how much they wished to give. In fact, he was not only suggesting that we give Kshs. 1000 or more each, but he even went ahead adding the amount besides our names. Talk about being generous. I was surprised because sometimes it is a problem to share toys with his friends. However, because their head teacher had given them a clear explanation about the cause, he was more than willing to do his very best. He had also developed profound compassion for the sick children.

                                                         Image courtesy of Artur84
Children unlike adults give without thinking about what they have to lose and this is perfect foundation for nurturing in them the spirit of giving, way into adulthood. If adults would give more, then today we would not have so many children sleeping hungry or not attending school because they do not have books or uniforms. Similarly, we would not have overpopulated orphanages because mothers would be willing to give all their love and support to their children in spite of their circumstances. The ball however, is in parents’ court to teach children on being charitable, so that they can grow up practicing the same. The goal is to instill compassion and turn them into a lifetime givers. Teaching your child to be charitable can be achieved in these simple ways.

1.            Talk about the Needy in the Society
There is no perfect timing to talk to your child about the needy people in the society. Therefore, invent the opportunity when you go to visit a sick relative, friend or when you pass by an orphanage. Similarly, passing by a homeless family would also be a perfect opportunity to introduce charity in your child’s life. This may sound a little absurd, but if you take your child on a tour to the Animal Orphanage in Nairobi, it is important to explain that just as those animals do not have parents, there are children without parents as well and rely on well-wishers for food and clothes.

2.            Let your Child Help the Elderly
If you never let your child go near old people because he or she might get sick, then chances are that your child will never learn to be charitable. Explain to your child the importance of helping the elderly with chores, picking their walking sticks, giving them directions and even offering them seats when using public transport. The same value has been imparted to older generations.  There is no reason not to do it in digital generation.

3.            Keep your Word
Never tell your child that some money or item is meant for charity, and then divert it elsewhere. Your child will not understand the need to be charitable. Furthermore, children never forget. They will remind you anytime you do not honor your word. You need be the best example on this one.

4.            Dive into Giving
Talking about being charitable to your kids is simply not enough. You have to get into it right away. Work on having a family program where your child donates books, clothes, toys and some savings as you do the same, on regular basis. You can choose a particular orphanage or institution or just be random with your giving. However, make sure that you and your child agree to it. It is also important to visit a children’s orphanage once in a while so that your child can have a true picture of the situation.

Well, teaching your child about charitable activities is easy as long as there is communication. The Bible says the Lord loves a cheerful giver. As such, blessings shower you and your child when you practice being charitable. Your child should understand this as well. 

My son and I will be giving books and clothes to RirutaShade Orphanage in Nairobi, at least annually, please work with us in this cause. Contact us here for details.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mommy Making Extra Money on Squidoo

                     Think you can't write but you can market? Sign up here first.


Okay, okay, lets talk about money. Every now and then am always looking for a avenue to make that extra coin that will afford my son a good life. By a good life am talking about school fee is paid, his clothes are trendy- every mother wants that, right? I need to have some savings or medical insurance in case he falls ill,  money for new toys, books, outings, and not forgetting that I need also to replace all the items he has damaged in the house, the broken cups, plates, and flower vase, #sigh#, this boy is too much! The list is endless on what one can do with money when you have children.

Borrowing from friends is a good idea, but only if you want to have a tag on your back, the beggar! And this gets worse if you cannot pay back in good time. Now, all those I owe money please don't throw stones at me! Being a single parent who works on freelance has taught me to be open to any money making opportunities that come my way. Legal and moral of  course! 

When it comes to writing, I go for anything that pays and exposes me to other experienced writers. There is no better place to gain exposure to global writers than over the internet. While writing on Squidoo you can find all sorts of writers from  fiction, non-fiction, poets, and even academics. Writers who are published not only online but also have their books selling in major bookstores across the world.

While writing on Squidoo you are not limited on the kind of topics for your content but it has to be helpful in one way or the other to online readers. In fact, if you have products that you would like to advertise to a global audience, this is the perfect place for you. On this platform, you get to interact with thousands of international people.You can also expect to be awed by alien cultures as well, the Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Irish, and Africans too, they are all here.


                Image courtesy of Graur Razvan Ionut source

If you have artwork, say quality photographs of wildlife, paintings, graphic design skills, or just writing skills among others you can easily market them on this platform. The sign up process is easy and free of charge.The site is also user friendly and has interesting features to make your writing online come out as you want it. You can also advertise your blogs, websites as well as products from other stores such as Amazon. In order to sell products from Amazon.com, you need to be under their associates program, something impossible if you are in Africa. It is also possible to make sales on Ebay and Cafepress and get paid through PayPal. 

So, you think you have the time and passion to write? You can self publish your writing online and sell products with it. Payments are made every 15th of the month. The first payout for newcomers, however, is done after a month and a half, but it is worth the wait.
 
Join me and let's make money online, to give our children the best things in life, because they come with a price tag. Squidoo is the place!

More online money making opportunities available here




Sunday, May 12, 2013

A New Dawn on Mothers Day 2013




Today being Mother's Day, am home alone :( Why? My son loves being outdoors.  It is okay though, because finally, I get to start working on my blog! As a six year old, my son has no clue about the fuss of this day. Earlier on our way from church, he asked me to buy him some ice cream but knowing it is a special day for mommy I told him he was supposed to buy me, and not the other way round. Of course, that did not go down well with him. 

                                        Image courtesy of Arztsamui source

That was the second time we were disagreeing on Mother’s Day. The first time we disagreed was this morning when I woke him up at 8.30 am so we could get ready for the 10.15 am Mass. He said he did not want to go to Church. My answer was, okay, even though I did not mean it. How could I let him continue sleeping on a Sunday? Would I have remained a responsible mother if I let him not attend Sunday school today? 

Anyway, I had to be stern to get him out of bed. As parents, we are always at cross roads on the right way to bring up our children. However, it is easy. Teach them values they will never depart from when they grow up. Christianity is one of the greatest values in my perspective, some people would think otherwise, I don’t know for what reason, but people are just different. Christianity, gives you an inner peace, which cannot be found anywhere else. Tested and tried…trust me!

My mother always insisted that going to church was compulsory especially on Sundays. My brothers and I would get a thorough beating if we dared defy our mother’s orders. My mother is the reason I am a Christian today, and a Catholic Christian for that matter. She ensured that we went through catechism classes, even though we did not understand at the time. She taught us how to pray the rosary, and we could tell that she loved God because of her devotion in prayer. 

I can remember, whenever we were praying together as a family, we would always insist that we say the prayers ourselves, because hers were long and we would end up dozzing off! Through her, I learnt that there is a living God who listens and answers prayers. A forgiving father who loves all regardless of how many sins they have committed. That same God I came to know and love through my mother, is the same One I want my son to know and love. 

If I bring him up in the light of the living God, am sure he will never depart from it. Already, I can start to see a few changes in him. He has taken interest in praying the rosary. He can sing a few songs, and he always reminds me to go to my Small Christian Community prayer group (fellowship).
                                                Image courtesy of Africa source

As for me, I learnt from the best mother’s in the whole wide world, my mother. I will forever be grateful to her for leading me to the light, the whole of my family actually, including my dad. I love you mommy and I hope that my son will say the same thing about me someday. That I made him the devoted Christian he will be, some day.

Do you want to instill confidence in yourself as a mother? The Confident Mom has some goodies to help you and more tips on motherhood, take all you can!


Want to know what your mother had to go through to bring you to this world? Watch this Funny Video.


Happy Mothers Day to all you caring ones!