updated 14 Aug 2012, 19:07
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Tue, Aug 14, 2012
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Parenting to a different drumbeat
by Geoff Tan

NEARLY every Saturday for the last nine months, I have spent an hour locked up in an enclosed room with no windows, listening to the loud beating of drums.

Before you jump to conclusions and send me condolences or earplugs for the agony that you think I am going through, I would like to declare that this hour spent at sgdrumschool is probably the most precious time of my entire week.

The reason for this is intrinsically simple.

I treasure this time as it is quality time when I bond with my son in a “cool” and relevant way.

Being a drummer and guitarist, I have always wished that Joshua would have it in his soul to embrace one or both of these musical forms.

My wish came true when he expressed his desire to learn percussion.

Too many times, I have witnessed parents imposing upon their children – without necessarily the children’s “buy-in” – a ridiculous amount of extra-curricular activities, just so that they can keep up with the Joneses – or the Tans and the Chans.

A friend of mine mentioned to me the other day that she had signed up her daughter for ballet, music, pottery and acting classes because she never had the opportunity to experience these when she was growing up.

Now that she is financially well-off, she wants her daughter to have everything.

On the one hand, she is quick to boast of her child’s new slew of right-brain experiences.

On the other hand, she unceasingly complains of her packed schedule, which involves ferrying her precious little one all over the island to partake in these artistic pursuits.

A question that always pops up in my mind when I encounter such situations is: Does the child like everything that he or she has been signed up for?

Recently, in a chat over drinks, a colleague confessed to me that her son seemed to be losing interest and getting bored with his violin lessons.

To which, I said jokingly: “Get him to switch to the electric guitar!”

My personal take is that unless the child is gifted with “virtuoso” potential, and has a good chance of becoming a concert violinist, learning to play a more hip and trendy instrument may better bolster peer connectivity.

The bottom line?

Are we as parents doing it for our children, or are we doing it for ourselves?

Gone are the times when parents could shove their ideals and beliefs down their children’s throats and know that the children will grasp them, reluctantly or otherwise.

Kids today need to be convinced.

And parents must strive to cultivate a coalition with their kids, so as to create a kinship that is both convivial and non-threatening.

My son and I have vowed to be BFF (best friends forever).

When I see him practising his fills, mastering syncopation and passionately interpreting Whitesnake’s Is This Love?, I experience a special connection.

The feeling is stupendous.

I must admit that this is not the only formula around and I don’t profess to have all the answers when dealing with life’s growing pains.

But Joshua and I are very happy living our lives to the beat of the drum!

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The writer is a senior vice-president of the Singapore Press Holdings marketing division.

For more my paper stories click here.

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