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Family matters

Natanga Smith

Family matters

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In a big family of six it’s hard not to trip over toes and step on people’s feelings but Warren Bettencourt and wife Kumarie run a tight ship and everybody gets along.
With four children of different ages, Warren says he has figured out most of his children’s personalities and likes and dislikes and wouldn’t want it any other way as he always wanted a big family.
Daughter Gabriella, 17, and son Johnathon, 13, are from a previous relationship; Yogaindra, 16, is Kumarie’s son from a previous relationship and Abella, three years old, is from the marriage.
The family that plays together stays together and while Warren and Kay (nickname for his wife) are entrepreneurs with various businesses, the weekends are family time.
“We go to the beach, we do barbecues, we have friends over to hang out . . . . Not one weekend passes that we don’t do stuff as a family. I love doing stuff with them. We plan a lot of family time. This is my way of spending time with my family since my wife and I work so much and the kids are all in school.
“Now that Gaby and John are by their mother more, I try to make sure every weekend we do family activities when they are by me.”
Married for 11 years, Warren and Kay, who live in Black Rock, St Michael, dated for two years before tying the knot and the five became a family. While dad went to work, Kay was a stay-at-home mum.
It was a decision she was okay with because she wanted to make sure the kids were okay and someone was “here when they came home from school”.
Warren said he wanted more kids and after talking about it he and Kay decided to have a baby.
“We didn’t have a child of our own and I wanted a big family. Kay was more about the baby than I was. All I did was my part,” he said, laughing. “If it was up to me we would have a boy and girl . . . . I really wanted both but we have Abella, so I’m happy.
“We wanted to know the sex of the baby because we planned everything down to the colour of the nursery and bought all girl stuff. If it wasn’t a girl we would be in trouble because everything was girl stuff,” he said.
Abella was late in making her entrance and Warren said it seemed all his children liked to be inside the womb: “All three were late; John was a C-section, Gaby was induced and so was Abella. Coincidentally, Gaby and John are four years apart to a day. He is March 6 and she is March 7. So you know the celebrations we have,” he said, smiling.
With Abella a little older, Kay has turned her love of cooking into a business.
“Since I was home with the children a lot, it was like a hobby for me and sometimes I would cater for small events. Now the kids are older, I am back out to work. I don’t get to spend as much time with Abella as the others but it’s a sacrifice I make.”
The family businesses are along the lines of owning a restaurant and a cleaning service and Warren dabbles in construction, having done many of the home improvements for his house, including doing a small backyard terrace complete with palm trees and various plants.
“The older kids are heavily involved in all the businesses. I want to teach them the importance of working for and having your own money. Yes, it’s important to focus on academics but also skills are important. I teach them work ethics . . . the value of education and the value of being an entrepreneur. They grew up seeing us working.”
Pointing out each of his children’s personalities, he said all of them are good children and he doesn’t have to raise his voice or punish them for indiscretions.
“We talk a lot. We have family time to talk one on one. No subject is off limits. I want my children to not to be afraid to come to me or their mother. Whether they do what we say is a different matter, but they know where I stand with certain stuff.”
Gabriella, a student of Christ Church Foundation, just got her driver’s licence and having sat her Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects in fifth form, she is looking towards going into sixth form or doing the business programme at the Barbados Community College.
“She is very helpful. She does her chores without griping. She also helps with the kids and does pickups and drop-offs. She is hands-on in the business in doing payroll and working out the VAT.
Gaby also has her own set-up as a DJ and plays on a small scale at friends’ parties and community events, going by the name “DJ Gabs”.
Johnathon attends Combermere and is into football and bikes. Dad says now he is into his teens he is “finding his way”. Yogaindra, a student of St Leonard’s Boys’, likes cooking and is very hands-on.
“He spends a lot of time with me learning stuff. He can do some stuff even better than me when it comes to the cleaning business. He helps his mum in the restaurant and is a great cook.
“He is not a time waster and in that he is more like me . . . . Now he is a teenager he likes to be with his friends more but once he gets his stuff done and homework out of the way I don’t have a problem with him.”
Asked who the disciplinarian is , Warren raises his hand.
“I am very organized and like things in order . . . . When I say no, they run to mum, but generally speaking I don’t have to say no. I give them breaks all the time,” he said, with mum adding, “we stand together generally.”
The proud dad, who also grew up in an extended family (mum remarried after his dad died and he now has 11 siblings from that union), says it is rewarding being a father.
“I am happy at how talented they are and how they have grown and using their talents. I want them to respect themselves and in so doing respect others.
“I can’t wait for them to have their own family and see all we have taught them they teach their own children. To me, nothing is more important than family.”