Wednesday, 28 May 2014

An Introduction to Parental Dendrology

Last week, Andel and I attending a Growing Kids with Character (GKC) workshop with Hettie Brittz of Evergreen Parenting, where we were introduced to the concept of 'parental dendrology'. We found the sessions so interesting and helpful, I thought it would be good to share with you all too.

What's 'dendrology'?
Ok, this is my own terminology, but it fits. Dendrology is the study of wooded plants, and based on GKC's model of temperaments, each person is an absolute or combination of four different tree types. I love that they use the analogy of trees because children, like trees, come in different shapes and sizes, with vastly different needs and temperaments, and if we desire for them to grow and thrive, we have to ensure that the environment in which they are planted is most suitable for their development.

So what are the tree types?
The tree types are based on temperament - a God-designed, purposeful and permanent natural bent that gives each person direction. Each tree type has characteristic attributes:
  1. Palm Tree - positive, affectionate, entertaining, social; experimental and attention seeking; they figure out who they are by how people respond to them
  2. Rose Bush - ambitious, independent, natural leader, early developer; feisty and intimidating
  3. Lollipop Tree - sweet, polite, sensitive; easy learners with high standards; they follow instructions and operate in justice (i.e. value fairness)
  4. Pine Tree - calm, comfort orientated, peacemaking, persevering, faithful, trusting and trustworthy; procrastinating, indecisive; hard to read
(please note: it is possible to be a combination of these types e.g. lollipine or rosepalm)

What difference does knowing your child's tree type make?
Tree types, much like Dr. Gary Chapman's Love Languages, help us effectively interact with each other. In the case of parents and children it is especially helpful to build relationship (demonstrate love, enjoy effective communication) and apply discipline (how to respond and provide teaching/correction).

How do we apply this?
If you are a parent/grandparent, or even an educator or facilitator, I'd strongly recommend you get your hands on a copy of Growing Kids with Character 2.0. It contains material to help determine profiles (from babies to adulthood) as well as lots of excellent guidelines on the different needs, challenges and approaches relevant to each. As a little taster, here are some intro tips for building relationships and fostering discipline:

Palm Trees need fun, attention and adoration, and are best disciplined with action (as opposed to words only), flexibility and humour.
Rose Bushes require challenges, trust and admiration, and respond to correction best when the parent is firm and calm, and provides them with options.
Lollipop Trees enjoy the process of talking, and being understood and affirmed. They like the structure of rules and are most open to empathetic, coaching-style discipline.
Pine Trees like quality time and attention, touch and appreciation, and need to be disciplined gently, with patience, ensuring that they are being partnered with, not isolated.

More and more, I'm learning to accept that, we are God's A-plan for our children, and so it's up to us to be best prepared to understand them, love them and prepare them for life in the world.

For more information on this, including resources of practical application, please go to Also, if you are interested in these profiles for adults and leadership, please go to

Monday, 19 May 2014

Can You Be Happy For 100 Days In A Row?

I once read a quote that went something like this: "The world is no worse than it ever was; the media coverage is just better" and I'm beginning to think there's some truth to that. I mean, I know that there are some bad things that are commonplace now, that were unheard of even 10 years ago, but on the whole, I do believe that the generations of people before us were just better at being happy and positive.

Being happy is a choice - one I'm guilty of not making a lot of the time. I guess we could all say we have our reasons (excuses), but really, most of the time, the truth is simply that it's easier to join the host of complainers and want to hold someone else responsible for our happiness, than make that decision to just be happy. We make ourselves believe that if we earn a better salary, find the perfect partner, have 2.4 kids, and own our own home, then life would be better, and we would feel better. So why is it that even when we get it, we still don't?

In my own life I have recently admitted that in my quest to better my life and that of my family, I'm often so busy future-planning/sacrificing/dreaming, that I neglect to acknowledge and appreciate all the blessings I have in my present. And I have plenty blessings to be thankful for!

The reality is: there will always be people who are better and worse off than you are. There will always be room for improvement, or even more to achieve. If we constantly only measure our happiness by the things we have accomplished in our lives, I fear we may forever be chasing after something that will always seem elusive.

So, with the accountability partnership of my bestie Tarrin (, today we begin our 100 Happy Days challenge. The premise of this is simple: there is at least one thing in every day that can bring happiness - the trick is just not to miss it! Lookout for our #100happydays updates on Facebook, and feel free to join us - if you dare!

for more information on this challenge, go to
and for a little musical motivation, click here

Friday, 9 May 2014

Mothers and their Mouths

Disclaimer: Before I receive any judgement for this post, remember, I am a mother, so I know, and I'm allowed to speak. This is my vent, so if you don't agree, or don't want to read, feel free to move along.

The mouth is a powerful thing. It conveys affection, enjoyment, congratulations and feeling. As mothers, we use it to whisper lullabies to almost sleeping children, smother flawless faces with kisses, tickle little bellies, taste (real and imaginary) treats, and speak promises that soothe, heal and love. Unfortunately, many of us also use our mouths to condemn and criticise - mostly other mothers.

"The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences"
~ Proverbs 18:21

Lately, I've heard of (too many) different stories in which mothers were/felt judged by women who, really, are part of this very special sisterhood. What is it with us? Do older mothers not remember what it felt like to be shopping with a screaming, tantrum-throwing toddler in tow, trying to get everything and get out as fast as you can, hopefully with something of your sanity still intact? How about not looking at others with that you-should-raise-your-kid-better face? Or these modern google-it-all moms (I confess, I google too) who feel the need to educate every other mother, undermining their - often fragile - maternal instinct.

I get the feeling sometimes that we think we're in competition; like the only way we feel good about their own parenting/homemaking style is to have a good go at everyone who's doing it differently to us, and it's just not on.

My own personal experience of motherhood is that it has been the most amazing, terrifying, fulfilling, totally overwhelming, loving and lonely experience of my life so far. As great at the good times are, the lows can be pretty low, especially when you've become a mom for the first time. All the Facebook updates, Instragram pics and Tweets don't tell you how tough it can be sometimes, and really, we just convey (and promote) this unrealistic picture of parental perfection, that, honestly, doesn't exist.

I just think that if there were more women/mothers speaking encouragement and support instead of reprove and disdain over each other, imagine how much better this awesome, privileged journey would be...

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen" ~ Ephesians 4:29

It is Mothers' Day this weekend, so why not, as a gift to all your mother family and friends, speak something kind and edifying to them, and tell them what a fantastic job they're doing/have done raising their kids!

Fluit, fluit, my storie is uit!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Finding Nemo

This may be surprising to some, but up until last month, I had never watched the entire feature film "Finding Nemo". Don't judge. It's not that I didn't like the film - I knew the story (more or less), and loved the characters and animation - I just hadn't needed to have watched it all the way through. Perhaps I knew what was coming would more than make up for it?

Zac is obsessed.

I don't know when or how it began. I'm tempted to blame my nephew Ethan, (three months older than Zac, and responsible for teaching him nearly every word and action he is able to do) who displayed a similar sort of fixation with this underwater world a couple months back. All I know is that, one day, as we got in after work and daycare, Zac fetched the tv remote, placed it in my hand and said, "Mama, Nemo".

We happened to have a copy of Finding Nemo, but it did not last long. It was not great quality, and it got stuck in the middle, so Andel bought a new copy. And our lives have not been the same since. We watch this movie (from start to finish) an average of seven times a week, and when we're not watching it (because we know that telly time needs to be limited for a toddler), we're reading it. Over and over again. Like when we were at the airport two weeks ago...

When the cousins are together they watch together. Zac sets them up on the sofas, and then proceeds to stand in front of them, between the sofa and the tv! They're happy to watch independently and clap enthusiastically for all except one scene: as soon as the shark scene comes up, everyone hops on the nearest adults' lap for some 'comfort'!

Whether he has company or not though, as soon as the screen fills with colour, and the characters come alive, Zac is absolutely captivated. Cap-ti-vat-ed!

So, with Zac's birthday coming up next month, unless I am able to entirely wean Zac from Nemo in the next few weeks (we are getting there slowly: I even managed a stern no twice this week without prolonged protest) it seems we are going to have an underwater themed birthday and cake. Again. 
Wish me luck!