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Joycelyn Indrani Sieunarine-Teeluckingh is a name few may know, but this humble retired teacher is the driving force behind the well known Teelucksingh family.
Her husband, former Independent senator Rev Daniel Teelucksingh, and her children University of the West Indies lecturer Dr Jerome Teelucksingh, DPP prosecutor Angelica Teelucksingh or medical doctor/TV personality Dr Joel Teelucksingh are widely popular, yet the matriarch of the clan, Sieunarine-Teeluckingh remains unassuming.
It could be considered a deliberate act on her part given her at times shy persona, but Sieunarine-Teeluckingh, 69, of Riverside Drive, Lange Park, Chaguanas, is every bit a free-thinker and independent spirit as the other members of her family.
As millions celebrate International Women’s Day today, it is easy to identify her as a woman of substance and a beacon of hope for all, having raised three successful children and inspired one of this country’s most vocal clergyman.
However, for all that she has accomplished Sieunarine-Teeluckingh remains grounded and is pleased with the way her family turned out.
“I always wanted well rounded children and worked hard to make sure that they would be good citizens of this country and I could only do that because I had the co-operation of their father.
“We had the same ideals and we worked together and cooperated in raising them,” she said.
Now, even as the former English teacher enjoys her new role as grandmother and the joys of retirement, she remains committed to her faith.
She is involved heavily in the Presbyterian church and makes it a point every Sunday for her entire family to attend church. The family can be found sitting side by side at St Charles Presbyterian Church, Chaguanas, which her husband leads.
This, she said, is not a new practice. She said when her children were growing up they were all firm in their religion and she would ensure that they maintained their connection to the almighty.
“I saw a very important goal in my life was for my children to be educated, to get a good education, but to also follow the christian way of life. I would have prayer sessions with them and we still do that,” she said.
The Teelucksingh family could easily be described as a successful family, but as Sieunarine-Teeluckingh disclosed, it was not always an easy task for her managing a family and a career.
Sieunarine-Teelucksingh, who has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Sociology and a Diploma in Education from University of Alberta in Edmonton, taught in both primary and secondary schools during her career and believes the key elements to her family’s success was communication and cooperation from her husband, whom she married in December, 1971.
“We (the children and her) also used to have chats all the time,” she said.
“What I also used to do is I used to write letters and notes to each one of my children. If I feel chats or talks were not enough I would write a letter and I treated each one special, each one was special, they each have a special place.”
She said she also ensured that she made time for her children, especially during their examinations.
“There was no sibling rivalry in our home. I made sure each one was independent and that they felt loved and cared for and they did not feel overshadowed at home. They were each raised to be an independent thinker,” she added.
She said she always put her family first and job second.
“I never brought my work home. I would use my break time to mark papers.
“Instead of being a social butterfly and going out with the reverend when he had all his functions, I stayed at home with them (the children) and I intentionally did that so I would be home when they were doing their lessons or whatever they would be doing we would be together,” she said.
Advice to mothers
While Sieunarine-Teelucksingh is proud of how far the women in T&T have reached in terms of their careers and independence, she still believes the family unit is suffering.
She said often jobs are placed before children and they are not given the love and attention necessary for well-rounded growth.
Her advice to working mothers—prioritise.
“They should realise that their homes and family must come first if they want to have children who are well rounded and that they would be good citizens of the country,” she said.
Sieunarine-Teelucksingh said she did not agree with corporal punishment nor did she beat her children.
Parents, especially mothers, she said, should not resort to beating as a means of discipline. Positive reinforcement, she added, is highly effective.
“People think that you have to beat children to discipline them, for them to learn and to behave well but that does not work.
“The children have to be grounded in a religion and faith in God and that helps,” she said.
“If your child is self-disciplined you would not have a problem with their studies, their behaviour and their attitude,” Sieunarine-Teelucksingh said.
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