Diaries of An African HomeComer: Leaving Europe after 20 years or Audacious parenting Part Two

Diaries of An African HomeComer: Leaving Europe after 20 years or Audacious parenting Part Two



Yesterday I posted part 01 of this mini-series, marking the seventh anniversary of my “letting go” parenting model, which came as a survival strategy at a time when so many things seemingly went wrong in our lives. Leaving my two minor kids in Europe and moving back to Africa, my birth continent, to find myself was not a choice that came easily but one whose results continue to fill me with pride. Thank you so much for all the lovely and affirmative comments and feedback! I invite you to celebrate my son with me in this part two.

When I left Vienna on July 28th 2015, my son was 13, and his sister was 12. My move affected my son very differently compared to his sister. While she talks openly about her feelings, he is more of an introvert, the type that observes, analysis, seeks to understand and makes compromises where need be.

A few months before I left, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and struggled with his weight, and we had no idea what this diabetes meant and, least of all, how to manage it. All the doctor said was that it would require a massive change in our lifestyle as a family, and indeed it did. Besides that, he and his sister had also been diagnosed with dyslexia and consequently had many challenges at school. It is essential to add that my kids were the only African kids in the respective classes, and anyone who knows Austria knows what it means to be the only black kid in the school. So my son already had a lot to deal with. He was a kid who spent most of his time reading, and his room was full of books. The decision to move out of our home meant we had to give away most of his books. It also meant that he and his sister had to move to their dad and stay with a stepmother with whom he could not see eye to eye. That also meant he had a much longer way to school, so he had to wake up an hour earlier than he was used to getting to school on time. I am sure you are asking yourself why I left knowing he had all these challenges; well, I will tell you about that in part 04 of this mini-series.

Back to my son, faced with all these challenges, he knew he had to find his own solutions to survive. And that is precisely what he did. On his 16th birthday, he announced that he would move out of his dad’s place to live by himself, and that is precisely what he did on his 18th birthday and has never looked back except for the regular family visits, lunches and birthday celebrations with his dad and sister. In the same year, he passed his matric exams. To deal with the weight challenges, he signed up at the gym. Today he is a certified fitness trainer. To sustain himself, he took up various jobs, including dishwashing. Since moving out, he has been able to maintain himself without having to revert to us for financial assistance.

When the pandemic broke out, he immediately took up a job at the covid testing centre. While I was freaking out for fear that he might get the virus, he was thrilled to be working at one of the safest places in town, where he could learn more about the virus first-hand and earn good money while helping others.

Today at 21, he and his amazing girlfriend have saved enough money to afford their own apartment. On top of that, he now knows how to manage his diabetes more than I could ever in a lifetime, and that knowledge is helping him monitor his condition and lifestyle so much so that he does not have to go to the hospital all the time. The month he turned 21, he decided to give up his job to focus on learning for the entrance exam to medical school, which he plans to finance by himself, by the way. Like his sister, he visited me twice times already in SA and is planning his third visit with his girlfriend soon.

Needless to say, my son is my hero, a constant source of inspiration, and we also enjoy an incredible son-mum relationship. He and his sister are inseparable, and their bond fills my heart with pride.

I learned that our children are capable of much more when to stop babysitting them and instead encourage them to do things their own way, to find their solutions their way. Teaching them Independence and autonomy starts when they are still small. It is when we give them the space to try and fail if need be, to dare and learn and own their own lessons. It is when we finally step back and allow them to take the front seat while we continue to reassure them that we will always be there to catch them when they fall, with judgment. We CAN’T EXPECT THEM to suddenly become independent and responsible young adults when we get tired of having them around and need them to move when we have never given them the chance to understand and practice what it takes to be independent and autonomous.

What our for part 03 of 05!




Family & Home