“It was a huge surprise as we were not expecting three. It changed how we thought about our favourite name. In fact it changed everythingâ€¦”
18 years later Martin Rosen still remembers the day he and his wife, Cynthia, found out they were to become parents of triplets. At the time the Rosens were living in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, where Martin was the general manager for a retail store.
“The triplets were born in 1988 and really it was, as it is for every new parent, not just those with triplets, a huge
change. Of course three in one go is a bit of a bigger change than one and we had to seriously adjust our lifestyle.”
What made it easier, however, was that the triplets – Jane, Emma and Matthew (Matt) – were cooperative. “And really still are,” says Martin. “They still handle things in a calm, mature manner. I think that we were, and still are, very fortunate that this is their nature.”
At times what was difficult was to, as parents, connect to three individuals. “This mainly because of the numbers. There would be three children needing attention and so I often felt like I was addressing a crowd. However, we tried to make them feel like individuals at the same time.”
“Not always an easy task, but my wife was great. She would take them to sports and their extra-mural activities. They were like waves. It was relentless.”
The triplets attended the same crÃ¨ches, primary and high schools. “These were also controlled environments that were managed and they prospered in these environments doing well in sports and also becoming prefects. They developed themselves and their identities. I believe that they are free and independent thinkers, with a strong bond between them. My wife and I feel that we nurtured and managed three individuals each with their own character.
“Each has their own talents. Jane writes; Emma is an entrepreneur while Matt is into accounting and cricket. This year Jane went to Grahamstown to study journalism at Rhodes University, while Emma and Matt went to the University of Johannesburg to
study marketing and accounting respectively. This is the first time that the three are not together.
“I think they miss each other as they seemed to have had a gang mentality and moved in packs. I mean they were always into each other’s stuff and they moved around together with each other’s friends.”
As a father Martin says he did three important things regarding his children.
“This is very important. You need to know where your children’s heads are and where they are. And there is no catching up later. Later is just that: too late.
“Secondly I believe that is it important to understand what food your children like and to share these with them. You can also share your tastes. It is important to share food and relate to food. The girls and I often discuss issues of nutrition, for example what is fattening, what is not, which pasta is good etc.
“Lastly you need to understand their music. If you can do this then they can relate to you at that level and it becomes
something you share and engage in. It takes away all the road blocks; no matter what your age or theirs.”
Martin also says they never allowed the children to have audio-visual equipment in their rooms. “They never had televisions, play-stations etc in their rooms. Instead we had a room with all that in. We also never watched television while eating, but sat around the table like a family.
“In fact this could get quite boisterous and often it would be difficult to get a word in edgewise. Especially for poor Matt. The girls really ruled the table and would take him out at the dinner.”
Martin believes that he had an advantage over other fathers being a wheelchair user. “My time was really divided between work and my family. Being in a wheelchair meant I was not off every weekend to play golf all day and then sit in the pub. Also, being in a wheelchair made me accessible to them, within physical reach so to speak as I was either in the chair or in bed."
“Fatherhood is a wonderful time and fathers of today, in fact parents of today, need to remember to not be impatient with their children. We are so busy with our lives and the world is so rushed that we forget our children. Most often today, both parents also work. But the secret of good parenting and happy children is time and patience.”
“And you have to do it while your children are young: from when they are born to the age of 7. After that it is too late. I urge parents to listen to their children and teach them good values.”
‘I would not have enjoyed my children as well if it were not for my wife. I could never have done it without her in the first place. Her role is irreplaceable. What also helped us was that we were a team. We approached situations in mutual agreement.”
“It is important to not argue about your children and their upbringing and this is a factor in helping them with general direction and discipline.”