Raising children is not easy even when you are a couple but doing it solo is even harder. But Generations – The Legacy actress, Manaka Ranaka, makes bringing up her two daughters, Katlego and Naledi, on her own a walk in a park.
On the soapie, viewers know her as Lucy, a modern woman who is candid, bad-tempered and stubborn but behind closed doors, Manaka is a devoted mother who loves doing “normal things” with her kids.
A FREE-SPIRITED MOM
Although on Generations she plays a control freak of a mother, in real life, she is a free spirit, who believes in letting her kids be. “I was raised by very strict parents. My mother used to beat the hell out of us,” Manaka recalls.
“I was very naughty and always in trouble. When I became a mom, I promised myself that I would not be strict with my children the way my mother was.” She says even though she leads a busy life, she is never too absorbed by work. She believes that every mother should be a parent and their child’s best friend. She says she never wants her children to be afraid of her.
THE BIRDS AND THE BEES
“I am a pantsula mom. I speak about everything with my kids, including sex and dating,” she says adding that she started speaking about sex with Katlego when she was 10. “I was pregnant when I sat down with Katlego to explain everything about sex.
It was a continuation of a conversation she had with my family since she was younger. I do not want my children to hear about sex in the streets. I am very open with them because I want them to make informed choices in life,” she says.
Manaka may be firm in her parenting style but asserts that she does not like controlling her children because she doesn’t want them to rebel. “I tell them to choose whatever career they want to follow and to date whoever they want to date. It is their choice. In fact, when my daughter has her first kiss I want to be the first person she tells about it,” she says.
A GOOD PARENTING STYLE
It looks like Manaka’s parenting style works because she has not had any teenage-related issues with Katlego. “Katlego is such a sweetheart. I must confess that I am pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a nightmare because I was a big problem to my parents at that age. She has not given me any boyfriend drama and instead is a responsible child,” Manaka says, adding that Katlego is not sure about which career choice to pursue.
“She loves music and has an angelic voice but at some stage, she hinted that she wants to be a veterinarian. Lately she has been telling me she wants to be an anthropologist.” Manaka adds that she does not like listening to other people about how to parent her kids.
“I do not listen to other people’s opinions about what must happen with my relationship with my children. I am not about what the society expects from parenting. I am a cool mom and I do what works for me,” she says.
BALANCING MOTHERHOOD AND WORK
Like most moms, Manaka finds it difficult to strike a balance between a career and being a mom, often feeling guilty. Fortunately she has a great support system and doesn’t do it alone. She credits her parents and siblings for helping her navigate motherhood. “In my family, we stick together. We are almost like a gang. When things are not going well for one, another helps. When I was not working, they were taking care of me and my kids. My mother is the queen mother who looks after everyone,” she says.
Manaka is also a very hands-on mother even though she grew up as a free-spirited tom-boy who favoured boyish clothes, used to prank neighbours and built wire cars. ABSENT FATHERS Manaka says her baby daddies have been absent fathers since the beginning so she has learnt to do without them. She says she loves her children more than anything in the world.
“My children have different fathers but they are both not part of their lives. I don’t know where Katlego’s dad is and the last time I saw Naledi’s dad was 10 years ago. I am not bothered though because I believe that my children are my responsibility. Yes I do not like that my children do not have a relationship with their fathers but I will not beat myself up about it,” she says.
HER LOVE LIFE
On dating, Manaka admits she will never date someone without children. “I like dating in my lane. I do not want a man who has no children. I want a man who understands parenthood and who will understand that I am a mother before I am a lover,” she says. She adds that she has never hidden her relationships from her children. “I don’t hide my relationships from my children. I have introduced all the men I have dated to them. I do not want my children to hide their boyfriends from me. I want to know them so that I can advise them,” she says.