Little people
Little people
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop
Quite often, as I imagine many of you do, I wonder what my three children will be like as adults. It’s hard to picture them swigging cups of coffee before dropping kids of their own off at school and heading to work. Mainly because it’s hard enough to get them to remember to brush their teeth. But then sometimes I also look at adults and marvel at the undeniable fact that they were once children.

Some still are. Not in the sense that they’ve managed to maintain an enviable innocence and glorious creativity, but that they’ve never grasped the complexities of adult life. I look at the homeless people in my neighbourhood and wonder what happened in between them being cuddled by their moms and dads to this point in their lives where they trudge with shopping bags full of junk looking for a doorway or bush to use as a shelter for the night.

Now I know that many parents of older, even grown up, children shake their heads in wonder at how time has passed. There’s always the infant with messy hair and chocolate stains around the mouth looking back at them. You’ve probably been to weddings or 21st birthday parties where slide shows have been shown of the guest of honour as a child. The man who spends his days in a suit frowning at his colleagues in the boardroom is shown as a carefree toddler running through the sprinkler in his Superman outfit. The woman who is now qualifying as a doctor is reminded of the time she put on her mom’s makeup and sang with a hairbrush to Spice Girls songs in the mirror.

So picture it the other way around: Your baby choosing to ask someone out for the first time, or deciding which country will hold the best career prospects. The most terrifying thing of all? These things will happen before you blink.

So how can you help? Well, you can keep an eye on the future, and gently steer your child along the way. Help them to learn how to save money (or at least spend it wisely). Help them to learn how to respect others and be wary of consequences, so that when the time comes, relationships won’t end in rage and bitterness (or unexpected children!). We don’t really parent them to be better kids; we parent them to cope, ultimately, with this funny thing called life.

It’s not easy, because in many ways we sometimes feel like kids ourselves- if only we could spend OUR days digging holes to the other side of the globe, or drinking fizzy drinks just so we can make funny burps- and yet we take on this challenge, because we want those awesome moments to happen: when they are grown, and they look back at their own lives to marvel at how far they’ve come. From a happy childhood to a happy adulthood.

As for us, well, no matter what we’ve experienced, I like to think of life in the same was as Tom Robbins, who said “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood”.

What’s your favourite happy childhood memory? Send us your story to and you could win a R250 voucher.

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