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Justyne Caruana MP

Justyne Caruana MP, with her daughter Josephine
JUSTYNE CARUANA, from Gozo is a 35 years old lawyer by profession and a member of parliament since 2003.  JUSTYNE CARUANA shared with RAMONA PORTELLI and kidsmalta.com readers her viewpoints about parenthood.
Interview conducted July 2010
How long have you been married?
Seven years

How many kids do you have?
A lovely daughter Josephine (with an accent on the first e) who is two years and four months old and I am fourteen weeks pregnant.
What were your first thoughts when you both got to know you're becoming parents for the very first time and what were your reactions?
We were so very happy and excited, but at the same time we were a bit wary and afraid due to my previous miscarriage which was very traumatic for both of us.
Did you experience any difficulties during your pregnancy?
I spent a few weeks in hospital due to complications which I encountered because I was not resting.  The problem was that I was very energetic and so I thought I could go on normally with my hectic life and since I was not feeling tired I had no need to rest.  I was very much mistaken and I ended up in hospital.


Justyne with husband Silvio
In your opinion, how do you describe a great parenthood?
Parenthood is a great responsibility and means giving the best upbringing possible to your children transmitting good and proper values and imparting skills.  Parenting does not only mean financial responsibility but also nurturing from the emotional side – children need to feel secure enough that their parents are present in their life and that no matter what, they can count on them.

Can you name one thing or more, that makes your child unique and that you won't forget throughout the years?
All children are unique and the way they perceive things is amazing.  Sometimes they can come up with their own expressions and the way they communicate reflects also how they formulate their thoughts even if with great innocence and simplicity.

You are a busy political person.  How do you manage to be a good mum?
Well, I am not a normal person due to my work, but I try to be a normal mother.  There are fixed times during the day and week that are strictly dedicated to my daughter.  I believe in both quality time and quantity – the time we spend together is never enough.  Although my mother is with her all the time, she wants and needs Mama` - and Mama` is there for her as much as possible. 

On a trip with Mummy and Nannu

Was there a difference in your relationship with your husband, following your child's birth?
To be honest we both did – our lives revolve around her and Josephine comes first.  From a young couple, we are a family now, so we became a lot more responsible.  The good thing is that we both love being parents and as a couple this made us stronger.

Are you planning to have more kids in the near future?
We are in fact expecting our second child !!!

Do you dream of something particular that you wish your child will do in their future?
I want my child to have strong family values and be strong enough not to go with the flow and be assertive about what she really believes is right or wrong.  Whatever she does, she needs to do her best and think about the consequences of her decisions and actions on others.
What suggestions can you share with us for a better childhood in Malta?
We need to listen more to our children and realize that whatever we do or say is being stored in their little heads and affecting them.  They are our most precious gift and treasure and we are failing to realize this more so often.

Josephine's first birthday party, with proud Mum and Dad
What is your favourite part about your children's school experiences?
These are pleasures yet to come.  My daughter will start school next February.
What do you think is the most important thing that the children learn in their classrooms?
Children need to learn that they all have their own and unique abilities which may be different from their classmates’.  They need to learn to respect themselves and others and what they learn is not only to pass the exam but to make them a better person.  Holistic education is very important.
What is your method of discipline as a mum?
This depends on the situation.  I am lucky enough to have a disciplined daughter.  She is articulate already so she tells you what she is thinking so I am in a better position to explain things to her.  I do not believe in physical punishments but considering my daughter’s character I think the best way with her is the negotiating method – it worked well enough with me and my father was a genius at is especially to make me study and do well at school and also to observe my curfew.
What are your child's favourite activities?
She already loves reading so we spend hours with books.
From your experience as a parent, what are the challenges that face parents of a child nowadays?
To be a parent and not only a friend.

In your opinion, how well prepared are local schools to educate children?
There is always room for improvement.  Our educators need to bear in mind that during school time they are replacing the family.  They are molding our children’s minds and character and both school and parents need to work more hand in hand.  I do not agree with the one size fits all approach and we need to cater for all abilities even if different from the mainstream.  Each and every child has the right to have his or her potential fulfilled.
Do you dream of something particular that you wish your children will do
in their future?
I think that the schooling system still emphasizes too much on academic subjects and a lot of memory work and I would prefer that they put more emphasis on teaching children how to increase their self confidence so as to be able to handle any problems that may come their way.
What would your advice be to others who are becoming parents very soon?
To be positive and be ready to put children first.

On a holiday with the family

Happy family
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