“It is not always easy to be a parent, but it’s doable. The more a child grows, the more you have to equip yourself to be able to deal with your child’s developmental stages. You will then know how to deal with difficult behaviours.”
Important words to all parents from Nozuko Mtatambi, who has been working for GCF for an incredible 18 years. Her journey in the organisation started with a few months in the fundraising department, which further lead to child care work, coordinating and managing departments, as well as facilitating training for parents and others. If it is something she knows well, it’s families and parenting.
GCF has worked with vulnerable families for almost 30 years and has, again and again, concluded that children belong in families and that it is much one can do to strengthen and empower parents.
Nozuko has facilitated parenting skills training for parents in different settings, some of whose children have been removed from their care and are in the process of being reunified with them. She remembers a young mother without much support from others. Instead of being a stable haven for her children, peer pressure caused an irresponsible and rather destructive lifestyle. The mother was in tears when sharing how she believed that if she would have been equipped earlier the children would still be with her. She acknowledged the importance of the training in her life and expressed a wish that the other young mothers in her area would also get an opportunity to join.
Nozuko describes a healthy and stable family as an environment where someone feels valued, can partake in decision making and is loved and cared for. It is where needs are met, there is unity and support as well as warmth and comfort. Misunderstandings can be discussed and one can come to conclusions together. There is no judgment, but solutions. She continues to talk about how parents often inherit ways of raising children from their own parents without realising it. Many believe that children should for example not be a part of decisions that concern them. Making decisions together, where all agree, will make it much easier and frictions will be fewer.
An important parenting skill is support, according to Nozuko; “Needs, love, care, skills. Everything is about supporting children. A supportive parent will not judge when the child does mistakes. They will focus on the positive to overcome the negative.”
There is no doubt that Parenting Skills training is effective, but there are other ways of raising awareness for parents, which is exactly what Nozuko, as a representative from GCF, has done this year. She has been a regular speaker at UGU Youth Radio 94.4 FM on Wednesday mornings. The topics have varied and have included things like the importance of feelings and knowing oneself to be able to know one’s children, signs and symptoms of child abuse, rights and responsibilities of children, and protective behaviours. Nozuko mentions how she has chosen the areas of awareness from the challenges being reported in the areas where she and her teamwork.
It is no secret that parenting can sometimes be overwhelming. Be honest and reach out to your family members, friends, or when necessary, to professionals in your area. You are not alone, others have experienced what you may currently be going through. Supported parents have more strength to give their children a stable and loving upbringing.