Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tough Love

When it comes to the kids' academic development and character building, I am the tiger mum and the daddy is definitely a typical Western parent.

Though E is also a Chinese, having lived abroad with such different experiences, I don't know if he will ever fully understand and appreciate the expectations and motivations of a typical Chinese tiger mum. There is always this tension between us that needs a lot of mutual understanding and trust to resolve.

While I don't object to play dates (unlike Amy Chua), there is a rule in my household which I chant: there is a time to play and time to work.

I don't believe in entitlements, only privileges, which I have no qualms of withholding if one doesn't deserve them. I consider gaming time on iPad and Xbox a privilege that needs to be earned with good behaviour and hard work. Bedtime is non-negotiable and can only be brought forward, not delayed. Chocolates should be treats and not daily breakfast (you know, the darn Koko crunch and the likes). Just to name a few of my other rules.

The kids grumble and complain about them, but I see these rules as the necessary evil. Structure. Order. Routine. All good stuff until the kids are older. It is about instilling good work ethics and teaching them to prioritize. And of course a lot to do with character building. Insisting that they do what is good for them even if they disagree, because mummy knows better than they do, at least for now.

In this respect, I definitely worry much less about their current happiness than E does. To provide a child with a blessed childhood doesn't mean giving him all the candies and chocolates he asks for, for he doesn't yet know that the sweetest treats are not always good for him. In Chip's case, the chocolates and Milo are causing havoc in his body, fueling the endless rounds of phlegmy coughs which last for months. I can only imagine the damage they have caused his lungs, but it appears I am the only one who could imagine.

My days will be so much rosier if I just give in and be the more agreeable parent who hands out whatever the kids want and ignores the consequences, or at least live in disbelief of the possible consequences. I don't need reminders that life is short and childhood is even shorter. So how about this?

Revision sucks? Ok, forget it. Go read your comics.
You are too tired/sleepy/hungry/lazy/just can't do any more (but fine to watch tv/play)? Ok, go play. 
More iPad time? Alright, just 2 more hours. 
Hate fruits/vegetables?   Fine. You had your slice of apple last year.  

There were days when I tried to close one eye, and sometimes even both, to take deep breaths and just let go. But it didn't last long. I just know letting go this way will also kill me slowly. This is just not my way to express my love for the kids. Loving them as a parent, to me, means doing what it takes to prepare them for their future, to make them strong, in every sense of the word.

It is tough and I can only imagine it getting tougher as the kids grow. But if I have to be the only one to dish out tough love, so be it. I just have to be strong enough.


Anonymous said...

gosh.. I'm like u.. many times being criticise for being too strict, inflexible.. Thank God i not alone :)

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. As parent we can see a bigger picture than the children. Children need proper guidance and only parent can pass to them.
Many parents around me want to give the best to the children and I look a bit stress on setting discipline life style to them.
Anyway you are super beautiful mummy that I respect.

k said...

Exactly. I have often been criticized as being too 'anal'. Now that the kids are older, I can see the positive results of me being anal. I don't regret it one bit.

Anonymous said...

Hugggs, I share your feelings, can totally resonate with you. I guess our partners are opposite to compliment us and make life interesting....

It's always a dilemma on what to reinforce often times in the process exhausting ourselves. Hope to gain wisdom and more support in your quest of parenting.

Domesticgoddess said...

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts. I just had to vent and it was comforting to know that someone else shared the same frustrations. Over the years, I have learnt to pick the battles and save my energy on the bigger issues.


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