Widower Wouter to raise his children

Claar, wife of Wouter de Kleyn (54), died in 2017. He was left with three children, Lucas (19), Max (17) and Catho (12). Five years later, the family is composed differently, with friend Frederique and her son James in the foreground and in the background. Wouter writes about his family life on JAN-magazine.nl in an honest and humorous way.

I am at school with one of my children, I will not name names. The classroom is empty and deserted except for the care staff from the school and one from the compulsory education. They have put four tables together in the middle of the room; our meeting table. I get a cup of coffee and the conversation can begin. The start of the new school year is more difficult than expected, and absence seems to be his only escape. But the school and compulsory education are not satisfied with that. Attendance is required after a gap year in order to determine the right study choice. There has been a lot of coaching and talking about ‘I-don’t-know-what-I-want’ and when his own company came into the picture, his eyes sparkled a little. But the point-and-shoot walking hours do not result in teaching hours. He can’t get it done. It lies deeper, but where? Is it his four letter behavioral discomfort or the way he fights it? Is it the reluctance of his youth, the grief for his mother, or a combination of all these factors? It’s time U, so I get everything and everyone involved and take turns with teaching duties, school, care and general practitioner.

It will be fine

I’m in one of my children’s rooms, I’m not naming names. He’s talking to me, but it’s not going well. He just blasted enemies furiously and I interfere in his mission with mine. There are no textbooks or homework on his desk, which for some time has been replaced by a big screen where Netflix and Call of Duty rule. Mister goes to work and full-time is his father’s condition to continue living at home. He wants to, but doesn’t know how. The plans are big and go from making quick money with his own clothing company to refurbishing and selling houses in Belgium and acting in the USA. But the first steps are often the hardest. Strange, because in the current job market you can work almost anywhere, but then you really have to work for it. ‘Shall we agree that you send me your CV today and text that catering entrepreneur?’ I encourage him. He mumbles ‘it’ll be fine!’ and switches back to the display. A ‘will be fine’ like that usually means the opposite, so I keep stalking him. A week of discouraging knocking on the door with little to no results eventually results in one phone call and a nice, well-paid job in De Ardennes. With a twinkle in his eye he tells me he already said it would be okay?

forget it

I’m in the waiting room with one of my children, I’m not naming names. We are going to the doctor in a minute to discuss how well the medicine is working to stimulate her growth. Getting an injection every day is no small thing, so we also want to have an effect. Three centimeters is the conclusion. We are happy to have it measured. A lot is happening. To the next school and to the next village. Distances grow, life expands and her father’s role shrinks, if the rolling eyes are to be believed. More and more clothes on the floor in her room and my crockery piling up – she’s already warming up bravely. Oddly enough, I clap the most. She has been very attached to me in recent years and it is time for her to care less about me and choose more for herself. But sometimes she rushes and lacks words and patience to explain. ‘Never mind’ is her solution, but I don’t think it’s good enough. She deserves tools to deal with the setbacks in her life and I can’t solve everything for her. It is still difficult for both of us, so we will shape it together under guidance.


My three children each have their own wishes, challenges and obligations. And that design is largely connected to me. I think that is a huge responsibility. I always tell sufferers to think of themselves first; get enough sleep, take care of yourself, relax, do fun things, because then you can be the best father or mother for your children. That’s what I’m trying to do, but what if the love for your children is greater than the love for yourself? Do they come first in order? I often do that, because my children usually come first. And sometimes even higher because of what she has taken.

Then I move too much and it doesn’t always help us. I have help from my girlfriend, who thinks with me. In the search for more guidance, we have even created a schedule of appointments for everyone. It feels a little strange to record the interaction with your children in such a cold excel, but it literally helps with the framing.

Everything under control

There is a man at my dining table writing, I will not name names. Friends and family sometimes worry. ‘How are you today?’ They almost take turns offering their help and expressing their concern. Very nice everyone. But I kind of have it under control. “I have many children,” I say jokingly. And that is how it is. My children walk a path full of detours and potholes, and I do the same in their upbringing. I’m no different from other parents there, even if it sometimes feels different and less orderly. I’m still confident in their dot on the horizon, but I wish it were easier. And further? Other than that, it shouldn’t have a name.

Every month you will find a new column written by him at JAN-magazine.nl. Would you like to read more about Wouter and his family? Then look at www.updateclaar.nl.

Leave a Comment