"It's much easier to exhaust ourselves overparenting than it is to stand back and let maturation take its awkward, harrowing course. We hover, in part, to protect ourselves from having to see our children struggle, fail and have their hearts broken. We are worried, a little, that the selves they will become on their own may disappoint, and thus break our hearts. Whoever said a mother (or father) is only as happy as her most miserable child was probably the first helicopter parent." - Karen KarboIsn't this true of us Singaporean parents?
My dear friend, A, sent me the link to an article that my heart had been seeking for quite some time now.
The topic that comes up most often between my mummy friends is how our kids would survive the local education system.
In a elitist society like ours, most parents dedicate a lot of their time and money to ensure that our kids are going to the top schools, enrichment classes and tuition. It is highly stressed and most of the time, tiring and and financially exhausting for everyone.
And along the way, we've forgotten that kids need to be kids and have time time to play, be silly and just be.
I am guilty as charged.
I find myself threading a very fine line of raising healthy, balanced kids whilst managing school stress. I find that I am constantly reminding myself that life is more than grades in this competitive society.
As parents, our responsibility is let our children learn to manage their expectations and manage to seek their ways through life's difficulties. If we choose to be overprotective and not allow them to learn to stand up for themselves when they are bullied or when they fall. I personally feel that we have failed in one way or another as parents.
I am slowly weaving my way through the complicated web of parenting. It's been almost seven years but still it's a learning trip. My kids know a life of comfort. They have everything they need. Every year, they get to travel and do a whole sleaw of fun activities that we splurge on. They eat at the nicest places that we go to and mostly they get to do what they want.
But the line stops at the point of raising spoilt kids.
Whilst we ensure that these kids have more than enough, we will never allow them to take it for granted that things will be handed to them on a silver spoon.
The kids have been taught that toys are only bought or given when it's an occasion. You do not cry or throw a tantrum in the toy store when we are about to leave. Neither are you allowed to be rude or disrespectful. Homework and enrichment work must be completed. Or else, you will be disciplined.
The husband is one that doesn't dish out empty threats. He has a much firmer hand in disciplining these kids than me. That said, he would always observe how our kids react when they are in a situation with other kids who provokes them without intervening. Only, if the situation gets out of hand, or if the other parent aggressively yells at our kids, he would step in. Other than that, he lets the kid handles the situation.
My biggest fear is raising 'strawberry' kids. I fear that if I am too overprotective, I would end up shortchanging these kids the opportunity to learn to defend themselves, to think on their feet and to look out for each other.
And when the time comes when they will experience heartbreak, failure, and disappointment, we will be there for them but we will not run out to catch them before they fall. It will be hard to watch them learn from their mistakes and pick themselves up after. But it has to be done.
Life is indeed a roller coaster so these kids had better learn how to ride the ups and downs.
It's not easy but it's something that I remind myself, time and again.
Thankfully, I have my closest friends to keep me in check.