updated 21 May 2011, 17:52
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Tue, Nov 30, 2010
The New Paper
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Parenthood is a box of chocs
by Ng Wan Ching

THERE is nothing in the world that quite prepares you for parenthood.

From the moment the baby is born, one is thrust into a whirling, chaotic world of sleepless nights, milk bottles and diaper changes which might seem endless at first, but before long, is replaced by all sorts of pre-teenagery angst, followed closely by its scarier cousin...the dreaded teenage angst.

How one navigates through these stormy waters depends a lot on the relationship one builds with the child right from the beginning.

There is no manual for this. Each time you become a parent, it's a new experience. Because every child is different.

Children need their space to grow and experience the world in their own way.

The problem is when a child's ideas of experiencing the world clashes with the parent's ideas or expectations.

There's also the clash between the child and how society views good or acceptable behaviour.

Barring outright illegal activities such as stealing, drug abuse or gang fighting, we have always allowed our children to be and become themselves while steering them towards what we consider the right values.

Work in progress

Daughter number one was born kicking and screaming after a delirious 14-hour labour where the epidural failed.

I was overjoyed. My mother was overjoyed. At last, a grandchild.

She was lovely and completely spoiled. Yes, I read books on how to bring up a child, to set boundaries and so forth. But she's fearless and challenged everything.

We encouraged it in the beginning. Now, the monster has been unleashed.

Thankfully, we had also taught her the values we deemed important - love, family ties, loyalty, truth.

Through the umpteen clashes we have had with her, from her selfish behaviour to her resistance in taking instructions and inability to process what "no" means, we are finally seeing some calmer waters. Sort of.

Daughter number two is a totally different creature. She was born most serenely. I didn't even break out in a sweat, the epidural was that good.

She was a serene child. Disciplining her was much easier.

Until she hit Primary 4.

She's stubborn and has amind all her own.

She's the child who rebels, not because she's not in the water, but because one toe is in the water. In her mind, that means she's in the water, even though we said no going in. She's growing out of it. Sort of. Then, there's our son.

He's a budding anthropologist. His subjects of study are his older sisters and us, and how we interact. And he uses his observations, sometimes against us. He tends not to follow instructions when we are not present to enforce rules.

There are, of course, a whole host of other issues.

I explain, I cajole, I tease, I scold, I shout, I threaten, I do whatever it takes. I don't cane.

One day, they'll understand. My mother always said: "Wait till you have your own children."


This article was first published in The New Paper.

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