updated 15 Jun 2012, 19:16
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Sun, Jun 10, 2012
New Straits Times
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How some parents impart coping skills

The problem today is that many young parents either have their own parents or a maid to care for their children, says mother of two, Shashi Netto.

"With the grandparents around, children are smothered and pampered because everything is done for them. With maids, children take advantage of them and expect them to do everything from washing their school shoes to their plates."

Growing up in a large family with eight brothers, Netto says her late mother trained all of them to do house chores.

"There were no maids to depend on and we all had to work together as a family to keep the home running. We all turned out to be good adults with our own families now."

She says her own children learnt to be independent from a young age as she was a working mother.

"They were latchkey children since my daughter was 11 and my son was 8. I used to wake up early and prepare food for them, get them to school and get myself off to work.

"I had to train the children from a young age to clean their own room, wash their toilets and clean up after a meal. Today, I can say that my children have grown to be good, independent adults.

"And we still practice having all our daily meals at the dining table where stories are shared and memories are built.

"Parents need to make their homes conducive for children to come back to and most importantly, they must be happy in whatever they are doing with our guidance and patience."

She says unfortunately, parents are spending less time with their children because of their careers.

"These parents have substituted their children with electronic gadgets, television, expensive gifts and almost every tuition class possible.

"Even when parents decide to take the kids out, the maids are seen caring for their children.

"I wish today's parents would learn that their jobs will be there tomorrow, but time with their spouse and children cannot be retrieved like a computer file."

Shashi's daughter, Melissa Stefanie Netto, 28, says being independent was by far the best lesson her parents taught her.

"I started doing chores on my own when I was 10 years old. Both my parents worked and my mother ensured that I could take care of myself and my brother without depending on others, be it maids or relatives."

Mother of one, Debbra Lee, also believes that many parents do not spend enough time with their kids.

"Kids need quality time with their parents. It's this channel of expressing themselves which allows parents to perhaps guide their kids on how to deal with everyday life. Kids will learn to cope with life at their own pace, but parental guidance will make the process a little easier.

"Unfortunately, many families rely on their maids to do everything, from tying shoelaces to carrying bags, both of which I find rather extreme. Domestic helpers are there to help, not to do everything.

"Our domestic helper only cleans the home and does the laundry; she's neither a nanny nor a cook. We do that and we also tie our shoelaces and carry our own bags. As a result, our daughter spends lots of time with either me or my husband.

"It's during these times which we talk about what's going on in her life and we give her our take on the situation, and perhaps some advice on how to deal with it. But at the end of the day, we want her to make the decision herself."

Lee says she has passed down a few coping skills to her daughter, directly or indirectly.

"I've always encouraged my daughter to keep a diary. This is a good way for her to get her thoughts down on paper. Both good and bad events are recorded down every evening, and she knows we are always there for her.

"I've also taught her to be up front and honest with people, and told her not to waste her energy on things beyond her control.

"Above all, I've taught her that coping is about being positive and always seeing the glass as half-full."

While parents should be involved in their children's coping process, some kids see things differently when it comes to private matters.

Although Sukor Azizi, 22, has his parents to provide and care for his needs, he is more comfortable speaking to his friends about personal problems.

"I know my parents are always there and we are quite close, but I can't tell them if my girlfriend and I had a fight. I don't think I'm the only one who feels that way.

"None of my college mates talk to their parents about relationship stuff -- it's just not Asian, I think.

"But my parents, especially my mum, notices when I'm upset about something. She tries to be extra nice to me but I would rather talk about how I feel on Facebook -- that's why they are not my 'FB friends'."

readers' comments
There is no such thing as quality time.
Its just an excuse for parents to spend less time.
There is only time.
Kids cannot be switch to "quality" just bcos parents do not have time.
Posted by richardz on Mon, 11 Jun 2012 at 06:42 AM

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