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The Sound of Music, or how to reach a comfortable compromise

9 Mar

After much discussion, where my husband and I disagreed on whether we should go or not, we compromised and decided not to go to the theatre to watch the Sound of Music. I was the one rooting for ‘not going’. It wasn’t that I did not want to go – I love the theatre, any kind of show: ballet, opera, plays, musical, one-man show – but rather, it was the financial exercise that was more of a stumbling block. My husband calls me stingy. I like to think of myself more as a ‘conservative spender’.

Killian, baffled.

Killian, baffled.

My daughter and I have been to the theatre together before. We used to take her to the ballet every December, we went to Potted Potter last year (which we absolutely loved loved loved!!) and recently we went to Sleeping Beauty on Ice (freebie tickets, mind you) What a thrill!! But my boys have never experienced the theatre yet, except for children’s theatre. My reasoning for not taking them to Sound of Music was that I was not convinced I wanted to pay R300 for a ticket to take them to a two and a half hour play, and have them moan half way through the show because they are bored, tired or both. Call me stingy, I don’t really care!

Then, a friend gifted us with two tickets to go and watch the Sound of Music. What is that? Didn’t my friend know that we had found a comfortable compromise already? My husband and I had reached a decision to ‘not go’, but now the discussion was back on the table. “You go with one of the boys” I said, being totally selfless and loving and kind. No, the husband said. I really think we must take all the kids. ALL the kids? ALL the kids.

Matt, all dressed up.

Matt, all dressed up.

So reaching a new settlement in deciding to ‘ALL go’, we booked three extra tickets. Given that we couldn’t book the three extra tickets next to the gifted two, I nagged enough and we chose seats that were slightly more towards the back and therefore cheaper. I also convinced Phillip that the three boys should sit together while the two civilised girls will watch the show peacefully (thank you selfless husband).

I was so sure that this theatre experience would backfire on us him, that I even agreed to forfeit a previous bet prize if I was proven wrong in thinking that the boys would not cope. That’s right, my husband owed me – or so I thought.

Thursday 8pm came and excitement rose. Many questions were asked (what, where, when, how long, who and why), they were asked more than once (thank you ADHD child for testing my patience at every corner). And finally Artscape, here we came.

The show was amazing. The singing is breath-taking (the main nun… what a voice!), the acting is of a very high-standard, the decor is very well done and the story is beautifully arranged. We laughed, we cried, we clapped, we stood up and clapped some more. The boys’ first experience to the theatre could not have been better selected. I’m so glad my husband knows better than me, sometimes. Words can not do justice to the show and, if you can afford it, and if it won’t create discord within your family, spoil yourself, go and enjoy this show. You won’t regret it!!

Léa. Waiting in anticipation

Léa, waiting in anticipation and reading from the other spectators’ program.

Did I mention that I forfeited a bet?? Well for this time, I didn’t mind being proven wrong.

Just this time.

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Full of grace, seasoned with salt.

7 Oct

A couple of weeks ago, a blog post was written about the attitude of young girls on Facebook. The writer described how teenage girls’ selfies are a stumbling block to her growing sons and that sadly, (girl)friends on Facebook who will display inappropriate photos will have to be unfriended. Her blog post went viral and created mixed emotions around the world. It certainly generated discussions in my neighborhood and was a main topic at my daughter’s birthday party (among the parents, not the children!)

The writer’s intention was not to hurt anyone’s feelings nor to be judgemental. Her intention was not – but the impact was unfortunately not what she intended. Her post was considered by some to be unkind and judgemental; for me, it made me reflect on whether it truly reflected who we want to be as Christians.

Part of our discussion here in my house was around the question: how would you have done it? Was it just a matter of tone? Should she have chosen different words?

My initial reaction when I read her post was to be angry and frustrated. I am a Christian woman and a mother and I have real concerns over what is accessible on the internet. I have two young boys and the idea of helping and teaching them to keep their mind pure is, at times, overwhelming. I have a daughter and the task of teaching and showing her to ground her identity in Christ and not in the fleeting values of this world is, at times, overwhelming. I too, feel my blood pressure rise when I see teenage kids doing the exact opposite of what I would want for, or what is helpful to my own children. I too, feel like walking up to them and say “really….???”.

But then I go back 20 years ago, and I remember that teenage girl that wore tight pants and low-cut tee-shirts. I remember that teenage girl that would have done anything to attract the boys attention, just because it felt good, just because she needed to be accepted and loved and she didn’t know any other way of doing it. She didn’t know that there was a God who loved her a thousand times more than any man looking at her with lustful eyes. If somebody had said to her “If you dress like that, you cannot be friends with my family”, she would have felt judged and misunderstood. She would have felt alone and angry. She certainly would not have tried to understand where that somebody was coming from. She would have been taken away from an opportunity to know Jesus – the one who accepts even the prostitute.

The day I gave my life to Jesus was the day I understood that He had always loved me unconditionally. And on that day, I was probably wearing inappropriate clothes.

So how would I have done it? Was it just a matter of tone and different words?

There are no words kind enough to reject the outsider based on his behaviour. There is no tone gentle enough to judge the outsider. 1 Corinthians 5 puts it so simply: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside”. The word of God has so many beautiful things to say to those who still try to find love, acceptance and purpose in the things of this world.  I have been given a precious gift to share with the girl who is selling herself so short on her public profile. Would not the knowledge that the Lord loves her as she is be more life-changing than the knowledge that her clothes are too skimpy? It is tempting to enforce our moral compass on the people outside our faith, but how disastrous an effect it has on them.

The Lord has not called me to control their behaviour. He asks me to control my own, and He has given me the responsibility to teach my boys how to control their own. I cannot blame the girls’ dressing code for my boys’ lustful thoughts.(Would that not be a lost battle anyway??) No, my boys need to learn to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. They need to know deep in their heart that the lasting beauty of a woman does not only lie in her bosom (because let’s be honest, some of her beauty is in her bosom!) but more importantly in her heart where she nurtures Jesus.

I know that the responsibility is on my boys’ shoulders. However, I also know that, until my boys reach a certain level of discernment, I will monitor their online presence, unfriending people with questionable profiles if it helps them. I want my boys to grow to the point where they find the quiet confidence to detach themselves from the girls whose selfies make it too hard for them not to stumble in their thoughts. I want them to know in their hearts that the Lord values women so much that He would hate for them to have a distorted view of them by looking at their ‘sexy’ pictures and lust after them. Until they are mature enough, I have the responsibility to guide and encourage them.

If my responsibility to outsiders is to present to them how wonderful the Gospel is, a lot of thought is to be put into my online presence.The widespread online media makes it that much more difficult to act and react in a way that brings glory to the Lord’s name. Social networks are a knife with a very sharp blade. Sometimes we cut more than we intended. Most of us have good intentions for doing or writing the things we do. But sometimes, good motives aren’t enough. The only stumbling block to someone’s view of the Lord should be the Lord Himself, not our pet-peeves and rantings.

Let us be bold of the Gospel, of Jesus who forgives, of the Lord who loves, of the undeserved gift that He freely gives us.

His word will bring conviction and repentance.

Not ours.

Pets: when you can’t say no anymore

6 Oct

We are not a pet family. In almost 13 years of marriage, we barely had a forced cat-adoption, a mutant bunny and a hamster that mysteriously disappeared.

I feel that I need to insert a disclaimer at this point to make sure you don’t think that we hate or hurt animals. Our dear cat chose to come stay with us and abandoned her previous owners (surely that speaks well of us, right?) and puberty had the better of the bunny who nearly removed Phillip’s finger before escaping. As for the hamster, while we’re still wondering how he got out of his cage, his body was discovered floating in our pool.

With our kids growing up, we get the occasional “Can we please have – insert flavour of the month – for a pet?”, to which we obviously respond with a “Hmm, let’s think about that” (which means over-my-dead-body). It usually quickly gets forgotten. However, lately, Léanna has been persistent with her idea of having a dwarf rabbit (I guess all this talk about being perseverant did sink in. Darn it!) Fortunately, in spite of my recurrent bunny-from-hell nightmare, I’m not entirely against the idea of owning a Thumper. So we eventually agreed that she could have one for her birthday.

Some reeeeaaaaally cool people in our Bible Study (they’ll be so happy to be mentioned here, they’re my biggest only blog-fan!!!) love DIY jobs and are really good at it. In the same way that I take a book to relax, he builds things in his garage. Besides, they are also bunny-lovers (they don’t have kids, that’s why…) and lately he’s been building rabbit-hutches for Africa. So naturally, I’ve asked politely, in my very non-subtle French way if he would perhaps build a hutch for us; and because they are such great people, they freely gave away their entire Sunday afternoon to come and build with not only the most non-DIY people in the neighbourhood but also with our two boys “helping” – and by helping, I mean “hindering”.

Now by now, you should know that I sometimes exaggerate. So no, we are not completely hopeless, my boys are not so bad and they are not that cool!!

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Miko, a very patient (and a little cool) teacher

Miko, a very patient (and a little cool) teacher, with my 2 kids in front and a 3rd one hiding behind, all posing very proudly.

So here we are, with a rustic homemade hutch. I love the rugged look: planks are not completely straight, there is a gap at the back and the roof is not fixed but I would have it no other way. The boys were very proud of their work, Léa was very excited and I am very thankful to Miko and Mary for making this project happen.

All we need now is a bunny… but more of that in another post!

Drama party

28 Sep

Léa has been doing drama for a few years and it has become one of her highlights in the week. Last month it was her birthday, and going from a superhero party (don’t ask me where it came from) to a hamper party (which excited her – and me – as much as going to the dentist) to no party at all, I finally had a lightbulb moment and thought of a drama party! It turned out to be the easiest party to organise and probably the one that she enjoyed the most.

The idea with our drama party was to put into practice everybody’s acting skills. Most children are drama queens anyway, so it was  a matter of putting structure around these theatrical little people.

We started with a few rounds of charade to get warmed up.

Stella acting ‘going to bed’,

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Léa acting ‘catching a big fish’,
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Rachel acting ‘a hook’,

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and Kiera wondering how to act something that seemed to scare her 🙂

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Our second short game challenged them to line up first according to height, then in alphabetical order of their first name. All that without being allowed to speak! They struggled a bit with all the ‘Ks’: Killian, Kaira, Kiera, Katie!!

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They clearly needed some fresh air by then. We went outside where they had to act according to how they feel about words I told them.

Here they are expressing their feelings about ‘bananas’: one happy chap, others…not so much,

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their feelings about monsters (not sure about Léa here),

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and their feelings about birthdays.

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We then moved on to acting different emotions. Rachel and Kaira being sad,

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Kiera, Dayna and Léa being tired,

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Killian and Matt being angry (my boys are familiar with this feeling as you can see by their great acting face),

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Cass and Kaira being bored (to death for Kaira it seems),

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and Katie showing surprise.

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After some well-deserved refreshments, the part that Léa had been looking forward to for weeks and weeks was a showcase of a short scene. She wrote a script of an argument scene between four people (a convenient writing assignment for school taken care of). The kids were then split into 2 teams and each team had to prepare and perform their scene in a different style.

Here they are preparing their lines (so professional).

Team 1: Léa, Kiera, Kaira and Rachel

Team 2: Dayna, Stella, Katie and Cass

Team 1 was given the style Downton Abbey – british and aristocratic (Yes, Léa might have watched an episode or two…).

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Team 2 was given hip-hop style – the yoyo-dude and what’s up-sister style. They definitely looked the part!

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They really had a lot of fun all together, a real creative and teamwork outlet for a 10 year-old birthday party.

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‘Tis the season…

14 Aug

The season of birthday parties has started. And by ‘season’, I mean ‘curse’ (probably an exaggeration…).

My youngest has turned 7 in June. That in itself is a curse. What’s up with that? It would be a totally depressing time if ‘having no kids under 7’ did not come with some advantages.

Here are 3 benefits from having kids 7 up:

1. This birthday party was a total pleasure to organise because I didn’t have to organise it. A couple of weeks ago, my 3 children went into their room and became very quiet. Like an other parent would think, I assumed they were up to no good and prepared myself psychologically to what the extent of the damage might be (they hit each other with bats, they dissected a dead rat, they made a homemade explosive device… who knows? The possibilities are endless!). No! They sat down and organised Matty’s party all by themselves: the theme, the cake, the games, the program of the day.  Is this what comes with children older than 6? Bring it on, I say!

2. It seems that my friends are desperate to give us more board games. I think they know I barely handle them but they want to challenge me  – who needs enemies with friends like them, right? We received 2 ‘family games’ this birthday. And you know what? It ain’t that bad. I developed a hatred of board games over the years simply because my one child is unable to cope with the frustration of losing. It makes the experience for everyone an absolute nightmare. But I’ve noticed great improvement. It gets better. It does!!! We’ve played Go Fish, Rummikub, Monopoly, 30 Seconds and Mille Bornes (a French card game that brings me right back to when I was 10, camping with my cousins!!) and we all came out almost unscathed! Be encouraged!!

3. Having kids older than 7 also means that if you play it right, they can be your mini-slaves. “Can you bring me a glass of water”,  “Please won’t you fetch my phone. It is … somewhere in the house” or “Let’s see who can carry the most logs of wood… and while you’re at it, fill the fireplace with them!” have become recurrent phrases in our home. And they can do it, without breaking the glass, come back empty handed or with a splinter in their hand. Almost every time.

4. I couldn’t come up with a 4th benefit.

Let’s be honest: while the 7 and up stage brings its fair share of exciting moments, I miss not having to carry any of my babies anymore.

French kids don’t have ADHD? Well, mine does.

22 Jun

An article from Psychology Today was published last year. It was called “Why French kids don’t have ADHD” and it resurfaced a couple of weeks ago on Facebook.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/suffer-the-children/201203/why-french-kids-dont-have-adhd

Now you might not know me at all or maybe just a little but you should at least know these 2 things about me:

1. I’m french.

2. I have a kid with ADHD.

Obviously, it appears to be a shaky start for the writer of this article because I am the living proof that French kids can have ADHD. Maybe it is because we live in a plagued-by-ADD South Africa, or maybe because we are the exception to the rule – since French love exceptions. 

A few of my friends shared that article with me and wanted to know whether it’s true (Don’t they know the first 2 things about me??) My first two reactions were:

1. Mwahahahahahahahahaha! (after reading the title)

2. Roll of the eyes (after reading the article)

But being french with an ADHD kid, I felt compelled to look deeper into the article.

Marylin Wedge, the writer of the article, starts by comparing how ADHD is labeled differently in the US and in France. On one hand, the US  call it a biological disorder, treated with medication like Ritalin, while in France, it is considered a  psychological disorder, treated with counselling. The difference is ‘treating the symptoms’ vs ‘treating the cause/ root of the problem’, the difference between ‘chemical’and ‘psychological’.

I don’t really want to dissect the article (you’re disappointed, I know!) because the topic of ADHD is so vast and so controversial that even after reading up so much on it, even after living with an ADHD boy for 8 years, I don’t feel like I have enough knowledge to do it justice. However, reading the writer’s observations about the french way of raising children (2nd-hand observations, taken from a french book), it made me think about what I observed; first, as a French person raised the ‘French way’ and second, as a mother of an ADHD precious boy.

The part of her article that makes me uncomfortable is when she states that French kids are better behaved than American ones.

French kids are awesome. I wish I had one.

French kids are awesome. I wish I had one.

I would argue that it is debatable. The French society is without a doubt much less permissive than the American one. When I go back to France for holidays, I am always reminded (‘shocked’ is a more accurate word) of all the rules – said or assumed – that my children are expected to follow. Starting with wearing shoes (winter or summer), not walking more than 3 feet away from me, not climbing, jumping, leaning over or reaching for anything higher that their knee-level, sitting quietly at a restaurant, not speaking too loud or making sudden moves… I find that often kids have to live through the old adage of ‘being seen, not heard’. In my observations, the discipline that the writer mentions is not a thought-through decision taken for the sake of the child but rather a discipline enforced when the child’s behaviour becomes inconvenient for the parents.

Every child is off to school from 3 years old until 18, 8.30am to 4.30pm, 4 and a half day a week. If they are not ‘Sage comme une image’ ( literally ‘as well-behaved as a picture’), they’ll quickly learn. The way kids were brought up 50 years ago is the way that they are raised today because, after all, why change something that worked so well at the beginning of last century?

It might seem strange that I would take a stab at the french way of raising children. Being French myself, I’m sure that I have – consciously or not – adopted some of the French behaviour, even when it comes to raising kids. A friend of mine has been incredibly helpful when my kids were younger, reminding me that it should be an age-appropriate discipline. In other words, expect a 2 year old to behave like a 2 year old!

The writer seems to imply that this strict discipline is what saved France from the ADHD that afflicted other countries.

For me personally, I rewind a couple of years: the year my son turned 5, the year we took the decision to try out Ritalin for our ADHD son. A decision not taken lightly, a decision that came after taking him out of his preschool because the teacher asked us to, a decision that came after having him assessed by a paediatric neurologist, a decision taken after realising the impact that his behaviour had on the rest of our family, a decision taken not just for my sake, but also for his.

When parents – and I include myself – find that no strategic parenting style seems to work the way it should, when your child is unable to sit still long enough to learn, when his relationships with friends, siblings and parents suffer because of his lack of impulse control… when these parents turn to the help of Ritalin for the sake of not only the ADHD child but also everyone else in the family, I cannot but roll my eyes at this kind of article.

I do not know whether the french society has less ADHD kids or whether they suppress their symptoms and spirits through rules and punishment. What I know for certain is that there is a place for Ritalin for those overwhelmed children who suffer academically, socially and emotionally. I know for certain that Ritalin brought balance into my son’s life and into our home and I know for certain that he is grateful that there is a medication out there to help him control his emotions.

I know what I aimed to achieve when I put my son on Ritalin. I am confused as to what the writer aimed to achieve with her article.

Compared To Her

19 Feb

This is a re-blog from another blog (Yep, no shame!) called Reflection Therapy and the article was written by blogger Kate Motaung, a fellow homeschooling mum. This is a book review, a book called Compared To Her, written by Sophie de Witt, a Brit who relocated to Cape Town a few many years ago. The reason why it caught my eye is that even though Sophie is a friend of mine and I really found her book helpful, I never thought of writing a review – let alone an interview. Why not take the opportunity of someone else’s hard work and share the article! So Kate Motaung, if you’re reading this, thank you very much! I enjoyed reading your blog post and I also think that Sophie is someone worth knowing and worth reading 🙂

Back to the book, if you are a woman, you are most likely suffering from CCS. If you want the remedy, you need to read this book. This is a GREAT read, not to be missed, not to be taken lightly.

Enjoy the article!

 

Compared to her – an interview with author Sophie de Witt [Book review]

In her new book, Compared to Her: How to Experience True Contentment, Sophie DeWitt describes what she has labeled CCS – Compulsive Comparison Syndrome.  Perhaps the title alone strikes a chord with you.  Within the pages of her book, Sophie helpfully points out how most of us as women struggle either with a ‘looking up comparison’ or a ‘looking down’ version of the same sin.  She explains the symptoms, effects, causes and treatment to overcome a life of compulsive comparison and move to experience true contentment in Christ.

In my opinion, this book hits the nail on the head.  It cuts straight to the heart of many of our inward thoughts as women – as we walk through the grocery store and compare ourselves to the clothes, hair, make-up and shoes of other shoppers; as we enter our friends’ houses and compare our own tidiness and décor to theirs; as we sit at dinner parties and compare careers, husbands, achievements, and parenting techniques to other guests.

The component that I most appreciate about Compared to Her is the way Sophie so clearly articulates the centrality of the gospel throughout each chapter.  I wholeheartedly recommend this as an excellent, easy, thought-provoking read – one that I have already bought as a gift for several of my own friends, both Christian and non-Christian.

I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Sophie and her lovely family in Cape Town over the past few years, and recently had an opportunity to ask her a few questions about her new book.

The last book you wrote was on one-to-one discipleship.  Of all the subjects you could have explored for this book, what made you decide to delve into the topic of comparison?

Primarily my own struggle with comparison over many years (being the middle of three feisty sisters didn’t help!), coupled with the apparent lack of biblical material specifically engaging with the issue of comparison and rivalry.  I got the chance to speak on the subject at a couple of women’s events in 2010 and it seemed to touch a nerve with so many women (both at the events and others I spoke to about it).  The more I continued to wrestle biblically with the subject, the clearer it became to me that the gospel has real practical help to offer sufferers like me of what I’ve called, ‘Compulsive Comparison Syndrome,’ and I was encouraged by friends to write about it to encourage others.

How did the compilation of this work help (or challenge) you personally in terms of your own spiritual life?

I think there’s nothing like ‘naming and shaming’ a sin to intensify your own battle against it!  It has been quite a hard process to analyze the depths and layers of my own sinful heart on this issue  …  and  to see how very ugly it is.  It’s all about wanting to be at the center, and I’ve seen more clearly than ever how incredibly proud I really am and how much I still trust in worldly things for my significance, satisfaction and security (like I know I’m going to have to fight the temptation not to let book sales figures or feedback affect my sense of significance in any way)!  Positively, I have found myself growing in contentment in Christ as a result of the thinking and praying I’ve been doing – it’s been so liberating to grasp that it is in Him alone that we find true and lasting blessing, for this life and eternity.  So, overall it’s been a great opportunity to grow in Christ-likeness – which is always both a wonderful and a jolly hard experience, isn’t it?!

On page 39 of your book, you write, “There is a way to know, to experience, to feel contentment.  And it doesn’t come from CCS.  It comes from finding a way to live without it.”  For those who haven’t yet read the book, what encouragement can you offer to those desiring to break free from a life of constant, compulsive comparisons?

Measuring ourselves against others based on our criteria of choice, in order to determine our ‘position’ in life , seems to offer us hope (“maybe, just maybe I’m not as much of a failure/as ugly/as sinful/as I think I am”).  But the result of these comparisons tends to be either a temporary and very vulnerable sense of satisfaction or a gnawing sense of dissatisfaction – actually often both senses together, but for different areas of our lives.  So there is great deception involved:  the higher position we crave won’t deliver the security, satisfaction or significance we think it will.

Breaking free of this destructive compulsion involves seeing through the deception and trusting that it is in Christ alone that we will find true and lasting blessing.  My prayer is that the book will help the reader apply the gospel to the problem and learn to live a life of contentment in Christ, able to truly celebrate difference and diversity rather than judge or envy it.

You’ve dedicated this book to your daughter, Molly.  What practical steps do you hope to take in your role as Molly’s mother to steer her away from the rampant scourge of CCS as she grows up?

A good, and very tricky, question!  She is now five and at pre-school and CCS is increasingly taking a hold of her.  She wants to do the extra-mural activities her friends are doing.  She wants this girl’s outfit, that girl’s puppy, the same scooter as her best friend, and so on.  We are just waiting for her to start saying ‘at least I’m better at this or that than her…’, or ‘I wish I was prettier/thinner, etc’ and then we have a full-on case on our hands!  Depressingly, this is actually inevitable because at the heart of the syndrome is a sinful, proud heart that wants self at the center and looks to idols or false gods to satisfy its desires.

When the first comments came, I told her that we all have our own lives to live and that we couldn’t afford to do the same extra-murals and that she shouldn’t be greedy wanting the same toys as her friends and she just had to be grateful for what she has.  But I realized that wasn’t actually a deep enough answer for her if I really want to introduce her to the only source of true contentment.  So I’ve started teaching her that Jesus is our Creator and our boss and He gives us all we need in life.  I’ve told her that it won’t make her a better or much happier person if she goes to sports or has a dog; God loves her and forgives her and she must live a life that makes Him smile.

But I ’m always listening out for and appreciate any help from more godly and experienced moms who have been helping their children deal with this issue for many years!

What role do you think accountability could play in combatting CCS?

It’s tricky – on one level, it’s a very personal struggle and requires lots of open-hearted wrestling before the Lord as we examine our own hearts and motives. It’s also quite a shameful one as the truth of our pride and idolatry comes to light.  But the Bible does say we need to encourage one another daily because of the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13).  We are to spur one another on to love and good works (Heb. 10:24).  We are to speak the truth in love to one another (Eph. 4:15).  So yes, accountability in the sense of sharing the struggle with another Christian friend or two is a great idea if it helps us to do this sort of honest, gospel encouragement better.

My husband helps me a lot, but it’s also great to have those friends who will call you up on your CCS when they notice you succumbing to the deception again.  “Wow!  Look at that birthday cake – she’s really raised the bar for us all.  How depressing!”  How might you help your friend at that point?  “No, friend, it’s not a competition.  She has a creative gift; she probably loves doing that sort of thing; maybe she has more time to spare.  Who knows?  But remember that this cake really is irrelevant for your child’s birthday celebrations.  Fear God not man!”

Having been raised in England, and now living in Cape Town, what do you enjoy most about South Africa, and what do you miss most about the UK?

I really love the vibe of South Africa – I love the way it forces you to engage with profound life questions and doesn’t let you get away with superficial answers.  The issues such as politics, poverty, vulnerable children, housing and sanitation, and racial reconciliation are so complex, messy, challenging and yet draw out amazing responses from individuals and communities.  It is so inspiring to see how people have stepped up to the plate here and been creative and sacrificial in addressing various needs.  It’s also inspiring to meet so many individuals who have been through so much hardship in their lives and yet still keep trusting and serving the Lord, and who are able to forgive those who have wronged them.  These encounters have enriched my life greatly.

Also, moving out of your own culture gives you an amazing opportunity to engage with the gospel and its application to our lives in a fresh way.  You realise that you have been holding on to some things and not engaging with other things, because of what is ‘normal’ around you, and this realisation gives you a great chance to grow in your faith and how you live it out.

It helps that Cape Town is probably THE most beautiful city in the world with so much to offer in terms of fun days out, arts and culture, food and wine (no, I’m not on commission from the Tourist Board – I just genuinely love the place).  Apart from missing beloved family and friends in the UK, I miss the supermarkets, free health care and central heating most I think (yes it gets very cold here in the winter, but the summer weather does compensate for this more than adequately!).

Sophie DeWitt is the author of One to One: A Discipleship Handbook andCompared to Her: How to Experience True Contentment.  She used to work with students in London, and now lives in Cape Town, South Africa.  Sophie is married to a South African pastor and they have three children.

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