Monday, September 27, 2010

Do we do it for ourselves, or for them?

I used to write at least once a week. Recently I've more or less lost steam on several fronts. I've stopped gaming altogether and blogging is taking a hit as well. 3 modules is taking its toll on me and I'm trying to tie up loose ends here and there at the workplace before I tender in December.

A topic which has been running wild in my mind is the type of life I want for my children. In HK I'm used to hearing how the pace of life is driving parents to fill their children's life with lots of activities. Activities which the children may not like, or too young to know how to reject. I know of one case in which the son has developed mental issues and the mum seems to be going the same way.

Holidays are filled with homeworks and overseas study camps. Normal school days are filled with activities that would have driven me crazy. French, Traditional Chi, Simplified Chi, English + many other activities filled his day. All this even after he has gone mental. It had gotten so bad that he actually told his grandma that he wanted to die.

What was in it for the mum? Was she ashamed of telling her friends that her son cannot speak a 4th language or cannot play the violin or cannot swim 3 different strokes? What's wrong with letting a kid have a childhood? I always thought that there is a rather thick line between pushing a kid to his/her best effort and pushing him/her overboard. But somehow I've been proven wrong time and again. Or rather there's only one way of pushing and that is to make sure the kid is being pushed to the edge of the line.

I hope the kid gets well. I know he never had fun all these years and I'm afraid he will never get any until he manages to escape from his mum's clutches... poor kid...


Gweipo said...

we think we're doing it for them, but I'm not so sure. I've resisted so many things that everyone thinks we "ought" to be doing so that my kids and I can stay sane. But we're in an insane world. Every term the school has their achievers booklet, and kids like mine who are not in it, feel like they're failures. I keep trying to tell them that life is a long time and there is no point in peaking too soon. But the peer and school pressure is harsh!

WhiteDuskRed said...

Most parents do it for their children. But too often we are all being dragged along in this rat race where non-conformity seems like some sort of crime. I feel that as parents, our job is not only educate them but to prevent them from blindly following these rat races.

Why should they feel like failures? You define their achievement, not some money- hungry institution. A parent's recognition is way more important than school.

As for peers, you win some you lose some. High achievers doesn't mean a thing if they don't have memories of playing at the nearby playground or doing some thing on the spur of the moment.

"Just Me" said...

I'm not a parent so I cannot say for experience. However, I think most parents these days go about raising kids the wrong ways, doing things that is more for themselves than for the kids. Back in our days, our parents verbally remind us the importance of doing it well but left it to us to "make it"...they provide the best opportunities that life can offer but its up to us to take it...these days, parents seemed more concerned about what their kids are losing out, rather than what the kids are losing.

I think to a certain point, it is important for parents to enforce something on their kids - discipline, persistence to seeing things thru regardless if they "like it or not", but I think its a very thin line blurring between doing for the real need for the child, vs the needs to satisfy the ego of the parents. Not saying that all parents pushes the kids because they wanted face, some did it out of the necessity that they didnt want their kid to blame them for not providing them anything...its weird.

I saw a HK tv program and this mum says she still pack her son's bag, help him change his clothes, carry things for him, basically do everything for him except sleeping. She said her husband told her to stop it but she felt that as a mum, she is happy to do everything for her son as long as she can. I was appalled at her over indulgence, and she knew it was wrong but she cannot help but do what she did...parenthood is such a strange makes a sensible person do strange unexplainable things because they love theirkids too much.

Parents are more knowledgeable these days, so our fear of this world also get compounded..they fear for their kids and underestimate their kids all the time.

My fren posted something about his 5 yrs daughter. He said he was surprised that she wasnt afriad of the huge dog at his friends place, even though the little girl was hesitant at first. His first instinct was to take her away, to shield her from possible "threat". Yet her reaction defies everything he thought as a parent. She had a great time with the pet leashed dog abt her height. He didnt understand why she didnt scream or cower in fear.

I could be wrong. But i told him that most kids are "fearless" of new things. Their fear are often thru bad experience, or passed down from the "warnings" from the parents. So without the preconceived notion that dogs can bite, she was able to take teh first step to explore the new animal before her with anticipation as her parents sweat by the sidelines thinking it wont pan out...Plus, I am sure if they had forced her to interact with the dog before she was ready, she will prob shut down and turn away...

So The point I am making is, as a parent, the key role is to guide them, expand their horizon, engage them and encourage them to take on challenges at their own pace when they are ready. You just have to work with your kid based on their unique temperament.

And lastly, only when they fail, will they understand the meaning of success.

When I reflect back about my childhood. It wasnt those shinin crowning moments that I was being pat on head for a job well done that I rem the most, it was those moments that I didnt do as well as I like, or didnt achieve what I want which motivates me on in life later. So if they feel like failure at times, it doesnt mean its a bad thing, at least it means they are hungry for some level of recognition and its up to the parent to help the child thru the rough patch that is more impt i suppose.

Gweipo said...

interesting comments. I was talking about this to someone yesterday and they said that they're like us in trying to minimise the activities and other parents make them feel guilty for "depriving" their children.
Is it that the other parents need to feel that their own choices are justified?
It's hard to defend one's own choices without it seeming like you're passing judgement on other people's choices ...
and people have WAY to much disposable income to spend on their kids!!

WhiteDuskRed said...

Hi Nomad and Gweipo,
We are just facilitators. End of the day we must let them choose what they want in life. Be it career, religion or marriage.

I believe in giving a chance to try everything possible within my means but without sacrificing my comforts in life. If the kid asks I will provide. If the kid wants nothing I will choose for him but I will cut it short if I feel that the kid is in torture.

Childhood should be fun. My childhood was fun. I got lots of times to day dream, play make-believe, bum a bit and was left to my own to finish my homework.

I wish my mum gave me a chance to try more stuffs but she was a single mum raising 3 kids. But I learnt stuffs like how to be streetsmart, a bit of fighting and fending for myself, made some good friends. Stuffs you don't learn in school aye~

WhiteDuskRed said...

Gweipo, why should your friends be made guilty for so-called depriving their kids? The guilty ones should be those who overload their kids with all sorts of activities. They are the ones depriving their children of a childhood.

If you ask me, those parents are just taking the easy way out. Sending the kids to everything instead of finding out what is really best for their kids. Send them to everywhere so they themselves will not feel guilty in future?

Rats running!

Nomad said...

If parents provide everything, what will the child want to work so hard for?

Back in my school where I was surrounded by mostly rich kids, I was the minority who didnt have a driver to wait for me. Did i fel deprived? Not at all. I didnt come in school with branded shoes, nor hold parties in bungalow houses. Neither did i feel deprive.

Their parents provided them with the best resources - from tuition to extracuriculm lessons to holidays which can only exist in my fantasy back then. I couldnt join in special educational trip because financially, it would be a burden. Yet, I didnt feel like I was missing out on anything. And does it make me a lesser person than all those children "who had everything?"? No it doesnt. Does all the shortage makes my single parent inadequate because I lose out in exposure and lose out on a headstart? I doubt it.

Just because parents doesnt provide doesnt mean the child will not be as successful or happy in life later.

The only thing that is truly important but often taken lightly is family bonding, letting teh child understand as a parent you are trying your best or have your done your best.

A child who has seen a supportive parent struggling to provide the best opportunities will appreciate and cherish everything ard them more and try harder in life than another child who has it easy and thinks that their parent will alway be their safety me old school but I truly believe in that.

I agree with you whitebuskred, that a childhood should be a happy one. As a parent, no one can dicate, or pressure another to do something. if one feels pressuried, then the problem lies with your own insecurities and not stemming from the child;s insecuirties.

At the end of the day, A child will always emulate the parent in speech and in behavior, so at the end of the day, lead by example. Think of how you want your child to be as an adult in life, the sort of values you want to impart. Like the saying goes, once you have build a solid foundation, everything else will come naturally.

WhiteDuskRed said...

Hi Nomad,

Frankly speaking I really don't understand how money has driven us to this stage. I say money because I simply cannot think of anything else...

Sending kids to expensive schools? No money no talk. Extra-curricular activities? Money helps. Want your kid to feel better among his/her peers? Buy a car and send them to school... and not a Honda Jazz, must be an Alphard or like.

Some of them are so rich that their offsprings can be average and still not worry about their livelihood. But yet they torture their ward into mental institutions...

I believe I am part of the middle-class. Even so, I think I have accumulated enough resources (and loan-debts!) to make sure that each of my child will have a mortgage to inherit in future. It may not be completely paid up but I've already given them a headstart.

Of course if they prove to me that they will be a bum in future I will demand rent from them to stay in those apartments!

My mum did that (paid 5% downpayment for my first apartment) for me and my siblings and I think I will do that. It's traditional Chinese custom to leave something for your offspring.

Why did I write all of the above? Because I feel that many parents these days are worried that their children cannot afford properties in future. They hope their children will be able to buy one of those mid-hill apartment and move out (especially HK parents). And to do so they must be OUTSTANDING~ = earn lots and lots of money~

For me, its fine if they are not outstanding, just average honest hardworking citizens~

HKP said...

Well put WhiteDuskRed. And there's nothing new about this hyper-parenting phenomenon--I suffered years of mandatory extracurricular activities and burnt out around 6th grade. The backlash was intense (I took up surfing) and to this day I harbor a deep disdain for organized activities. It's a shame to deprive kids of that carefree time.

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