My 17-year-old daughter’s father still goes to school with her. He is never more than 100metres from her 24/7.
“My Daddy is the strongest man in the world!” She used to brag to her school friends. The subtext was of course, mess with me and you’ll be dead.
Apart from her father, she has her burly boyfriend, protective mother, godmother, brothers, sister, cousins and grandparents right behind her, willing to jump into her defence at the slightest provocation.
She is our baby. Though she is a big-sized, strapping teen.
Has she grown-up soft and needy and dependent from all that excessive love and mollycoddling? Far from it. She has always been ready to take on the world. Probably because she knows that she has a whole army behind her. She was a national taekwondo champion at 11, and now, despite not being academic, she is pitting herself against the best by applying to the best universities in the world.
We told her how tough it would be. And we suggested gently, maybe opt for something easier? “Naww, I’m not bovvered,” she said insouciantly.
This is my parenting philosophy: we don’t have to be tough with children to teach them how to succeed in a tough world. Love them fiercely instead.
Powerful photograph and words by Roderik Klimek to illustrate this. You can follow him on tumblr: