Interview with Super Granny aka Andalene Salvesen
Within 3 years the world has sat up and taken notice of phrases such as “Discipline vs Diet”, Peace in the Home, Empowered Parents, and “Boundaries”, all thanks to a not so granny-looking Super Granny, international Parenting Coach and Author, Andalene Salvesen.
In between her busy schedule we manage to sneak in some questions.
1. Tell us about the moment you decided to become a parenting coach?
I ran a mother and child group for 12 years and in that time started a play school. This I owned and grew from 10 to 80 children over the next 8 years.
Parents constantly were asking me the same questions over and over:
- What do I do when my child throws a tantrum;
- How do I do sleep training;
- My child wont eat vegetables and on and on.
I compiled a parenting course with the input of my brother who is a Professor in Psychology. Over the past 16 years the seminar has grown and been adapted as my research increased. But 10 years ago, families would ask me to come and observe what happens in their homes.
While watching the TV programme, Super Nanny, I realised with my heart racing that I was desperate to help these types of struggling families. “If she can do it, so can I”, I heard myself saying.
I also watched Tanya Byron’s programmes,”Little house of tiny tearaways” where 4 families would stay in one house together for a week while they were observed and helped by a psychologist. These programmes fascinated me and I realised I had the passion, knowledge and experience to also reach out and help desperate parents.
2. How has visiting 3 families a day changed your views on parenting?
Having theoretical knowledge is beneficial but experiencing the family dynamics and being instrumental in changing them is the most rewarding job you can imagine!
3. On which school of thought are your teachings based?
I have a variety of mentors and have combined many schools of thoughts; my strongest mentor over the past 40 years has been Dr James Dobson (Focus on the Family) and my brother, Prof Johan Mostert and for the last 20 years, Drs Cloud and Townsend (Boundaries).
Subsequently I have research materials from a variety of authors/books/speakers such as:
John C Maxwell,
Tim and Bev La Haye,
Bill and Pam Farrell and many more.
4. Do you have a personal mentor? If so, who?
I have had various mentors through my parenting years, but the ones that stand out for me are my cousin who had 6 children in six years and my friend Sherry, a wonderful mother of 7 grown children.
5. Favourite quote on parenting
“Rules without relationship cause rebellion; relationship without rules cause confusion.”
6. What is the best parenting advice you have ever received?
Maslow, “If you only have a hammer you will treat everything as a nail” Parenting is like that – you need many tools in your toolbox.
7. And the worst?
To fix everything by smacking
8. You have a twin sister, 4 children, you were divorced after 24 years of marriage, remarried 16 years and you currently have 9 grandchildren. Tell us about your own life and what your personal experiences have taught you about raising happy, healthy children and creating positive family dynamics despite life’s challenges.
- Trauma and challenges are part of life. Even though we would like to, we cannot protect our children from experiencing a spectrum of emotions nor pain. We have to prepare them, teach them how to handle those emotions and help them to build character.
- When trauma happens, to help a child feel safe and secure, boundaries have to stay intact so that there is at least something that remains predictable – parent’s love and their limits.
- I have never claimed to be a perfect parent, but I do wish to say that I have learnt some lessons on what to do and what not to do over the past 40 years of my own parenting and that of a parenting coach.
- I lived in the USA for 10 years of my life and had Afrikaans parents. It was a great opportunity for me to experience different cultures/parenting styles/family dynamics. Even through my childhood I remember making a mental note of, “I want to be a mommy like that” or “I don’t want to parent like that”. I was always curious as to how children were parented.
9. Do you believe that mothers should stay at home to look after their children?
I believe the mother plays a huge role in the life of a child. That famous phrase,”didn’t your mother ever teach you to…” holds a lot of truth. Where in the world is a better place to learn character traits like patience, kindness, gentleness, integrity etc besides with someone that truly loves you – not to speak of acquiring a taste for eating vegetables?
However, having said that, I know there are some mothers that really can’t stay at home due to financial stress. There is no guilt or judgement in that. I enjoy helping moms to come home after a full day’s work and teach them to parent in a “guilt free” way and enjoy the few hours they do have together, building happy memories.
But my passion is to also help moms that really want to and can stay at home, but cannot cope with the stress of children that do not listen, so they run away to go and work outside the home.
10. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing working parents today?
Having to deal with work stress, feeling guilty about not seeing your child and allowing yourself some “me time”.
11. What advice should we take from our parents and what should we ignore?
I think you should always be open for advice. You listen intently, smile and nod, and go home and do what works for YOUR family. Often parents throw the baby out with the bathwater and miss some precious nuggets that grandparents have to offer.
12. What’s your view on all the positive parenting fads?
There is a lot of merit in positive parenting. Encouraging children to make choices and suffer the consequences of their choices and never having to shout is the big positives that I have learned. Also being aware of and acknowledging their emotions.
13. Has there ever been a family you couldn’t help?
I can only help desperate families that want change. By the time I get the call, and they are willing to pay – they are definitely desperate. I am excited about the fact that a very high percentage of families have found the home visits extremely beneficial.
The only families I have “not been able to help” are the ones that would rather just talk to me and try to implement the methods on their own. This has still been helpful, but I would say the more dramatic change happens when we can do a home visit instead of just discussing what needs to be done.
14. How do you deal with couples who disagree on a parenting approach?
- Opposites usually attract, so obviously their parenting approach will also differ. During a home visit I speak to both parents and help them to see that their approaches both have an element of truth.
- One is not “wrong” and the other “right” – they are different.
- I try to point out that they both have the same end in mind – to be happily married years from now, with grandchildren they can enjoy; they both just have different ways of achieving this.
- My approach often incorporates a bit of each so its easier to buy in.
- Also its easier when someone else tells your spouse what you have been saying for so long….
15. How do you deal with people that think your advice is too good to be true?
If they have been to excessive amounts of therapy and had no results and doubt my approach, I will offer them a money back guarantee.
16. What’s next for Munchkins and Super Granny?
We have an exciting road ahead and we are busy developing on-line parenting courses, webinars and branching out by training up passionate people to become Munchkins coaches. This will free my time up more to focus on my next book!