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Not in front of the children

Stuart White

I grew up in what people call today a ‘blended’ family and a few years ago, before my father died, my elder brother (born from a different mother) sought answers from my dad about the death of his mother some fifty five years earlier.  Even the most basic of facts – what did she die from – had eluded him.

My father explained that by saying nothing they were trying to protect him, as if such a massive event could be swept under the carpet and forgotten. I am not sure about the rationale but in my father’s mind at the time not talking about it and carrying on ‘as normal’ seemed the best parenting response.

Yet when I found myself running around doing more than I should to help one of my children the other day, it occurred to me that in the bigger scheme of things, I wasn’t helping at all. As I mentally justified my action convincing myself that if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done, I had to wonder if it was a similar male equivalent of smother-mother love driving my behaviour?

If I had to describe my parenting style I would say disciplined, focussed, loving, kind, visionary – but that’s in my dreams. I am easily manipulated, undisciplined, erratic a push-over and all of this is on one of my better days and I have never mastered the concept of tough love. 

How many times do I pick up the mess in their bedroom; clear away the dishes in the kitchen sink when they promised to put them in the dishwasher; feed the dog; hand out more cash when they blow their pocket money month after month? How many times have I allowed them to walk away from their responsibilities because daddy makes it better?

Maybe it is history repeating itself because tough love is not a lesson I got from my parents.  For the most part they also really did spoil me, not in the material way but by allowing me latitude like few restrictions and plenty of freedom. They bailed me out a few times and although I was very grateful, my personal responsibility lesson only came when they weren’t able to.

When I reflect on my own child-rearing style it is been one of loose discipline with actions and decisions designed to protect and shield my children from discomfort whist I forget that those experiences are unavoidable and nothing to be feared. This isn’t a good thing, but have I discovered this too late and created two spoilt brats who don’t know how to cope for themselves with minimal skills to deal with life’s ups and downs?

To wrap your children in cotton wool is to lie to them about the world. You create a false sense of security. We subtly communicate to them that the outside world is a big bad place but don’t worry – somebody other than yourself will protect you and sort it. Parenting in this style makes your children dysfunctional and poor problem solvers, lacking in assertiveness and probably self-discipline.   

There is one school of psychology thought that teaches about positive affirmations and building self-esteem. But what good does it do if we tell little Johnny that he is a wonderful singer and then when he auditions for the school play everyone is in hysterical fits of laughter because he is so bad? His parents haven’t told him because they didn’t want to hurt him. Now with this lie he is devastated and subconsciously it’s his parents who have betrayed him. 

According to Scott W Peck, author of The Road Less Travelled, “for parents to feed their children a pack of white lies is not only considered acceptable but even thought to be loving and beneficent”, but little Johnny in this instance hasn’t benefited in the slightest.  We believe we are protecting our children, even from the truth, so we tell them they are fabulous when they are not, talented when they have two left feet and can’t hold a note or amazing when they are average.

Have I betrayed my children because I haven’t taught them how to manage money?  When I have threatened to ground them for a month for bad behaviour and I cave in after two nights because I can’t bear the fact that they are ‘suffering’. What responsibility do I take for not teaching that actions come with consequences and how does it affect the dependability factor when daddy can’t stay true to his word?

Many years ago I divorced. Obviously events leading up to this were far from smooth on the home front. Now that my children are older they remind me of how they saw the signs of a broken marriage. They asked ‘are mommy and daddy going to get divorced?’ and like my fathers before me, I avoided the issue.

That’s the crazy thing about our lack of openness. We rationalise it on the basis of a loving desire to shield and protect our children from unnecessary worries but according to Peck most of the time this is unsuccessful. Children know a lot more than mommy and daddy realise. The result then is not protection but in actual fact we deprive them.

We deprive them of the truth, we also deprive them of the reassurance they might get if the topic was discussed. We deprive them of honesty and openness. We deprive them of the very thing they need to prepare them for real life, the real world and the mean streets – tough love!

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”


Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”


Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.


Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)


Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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