What would your tūpuna do?

Boy lying on the floor surrounded by polystyrene balls

Elizabeth Harte was interviewed by tākai (previously SKIP) to share a bit about tūpuna parenting, and to talk about the calabash whakatauki – a favourite one to share about our tamariki!

Below is a snippet from the article, but if you want to read the whole thing, go to tākai’s beautiful website, which is full of whakaaro and kōrero to support whānau. We love all the mahi they do.

Boy lying on the floor surrounded by polystyrene balls

Take a deep breath and talk it through with them

Elizabeth knows all too well the challenges that come with being a parent, but using tūpuna parenting ways with her own pēpi and tamariki has helped her navigate stressful situations.

Her daughter was just two months old when her three-year-old son broke open a bean bag while in another room.

“When I went to check on him there were polystyrene balls all over the floor. He was having fun, lying on his puku and pretending to swim through them. I’d just finished putting bub down for a nap, and I’d hardly had any sleep.” 

Feeling frustrated, Elizabeth took a deep breath and used tūpuna parenting to guide her through her next steps.

There’s a whakataukī that says “Tā te tamariki tāna nei mahi wāwāhi tahā – It is the job of the children to smash the calabash,” and what it means is that tamariki will make mistakes, break rules and be ‘naughty’ – that’s their job as kids! Our tūpuna understood that about them, so didn’t get angry at them for any of it.”

“So with the bean bag, I just talked it through with him – and it was just talking – I didn’t yell at him.” 

“I said ‘I can see you’re having a great time but we’re going to have to clean up these beans and you’re going to help me, you’re not allowed to go outside and ride your bike with your sister until you do’.” 

Elizabeth says it took a lot of patience, but it’s a good example of taking a stressful situation and turning it into a teaching opportunity.

“It took a while, but we did it. We picked up every last single bean.”