Many people make resolutions for the New Year. For me, I prefer to do reflection of the existing year. Previously I have made many resolutions and always fall short of it, so for a change I decided that reflection is more suitable in my case.
This year has been an exciting year for me in regards to parenting. I have implemented some positive things and also made mistake in some areas. As I reflect back, here are a list of hits and misses, and I leave it for you to decide what is suitable for your parenting style.
Starting a New Hobby together with your Child
I once heard a friend mentioned that the day you discovered that your dd/ds is running faster than you in 100m, you will know that you are getting old. When our children are young, we will usually beat them in many things. Be it a game of chess or a particular sports and sometimes to inculcate interest, we will pretend to lose the game, but this can be quite difficult because it is more of an Art rather than Science. I was pondering on this few months back and decided that I should start a new hobby with my dd, where both of us are not familiar with and we will learn it on equal grounds. If we succeed, we succeed together and if we failed, we learnt from our mistake together.
We tried out Breadmaking together. Baking might be an easy thing for the mummies, but for a daddy that has zero baking experience, it became interesting. For preparation work, we watch YouTube, read forum and bread recipe together. On actual baking day, both of us were helping one another on the ingredients and what should we put in first, etc. It was lots of fun and good bonding time. The 1st attempt came out alright but when one of the latter tries turn out to be a bit soggy, we discussed on how we can improve it. It was a good learning experience for both of us but more important we learn together and bond together.
Reading with your children
Every parent knows that reading is good for their children. Some parents may be like me, gone through great extends to hunt down interesting books for them to read and discovered that our kids are not very interested in them. I have always find animals books to be boring, so unconsciously while hunting for books for my dd, I naturally … conveniently ignore the animal’s books. When my dd starts to “reject” some of the books that I have chosen, I discovered that it is important to choose the genre that they are interested in rather than our interest.
Another interesting discovery that I found was reading concurrently with our children. Not only it helps us to “censor” the content but the ability to discuss with them about the books can be a very enriching experience for them. If we are able to bring on some real life discussion, it will also help them to widen their perspective in life, enlarge their general knowledge and more important, a good discussion can help parents to introduce good values into their life. For parents with kids that are not very into reading, reading together with them can also help to cultivate their interest in reading.
When I first got “suck” into the “Singapore Education Rat Race” (more like rat running on wheels), I did a lot of research and reading on providing the best for my kid in our competitive environment. In fact, that’s how I stumbled upon KSP and was happy to find many well-balanced parents here.
When we read the forums on good education materials or good enrichment centres, many a times we “dive” right into them without considering whether it is suitable for our kids. Some of us will remember the books or magazines that we bought for them are still lying around somewhere in our house collecting dust.
I am also guilty of recommending enrichment centres. What is suitable for my child might not necessary be suitable for others. Different enrichment centres are pitch at different levels and all have their strengths and weaknesses. It is therefore important as parents that we assess these centres and think whether it is suitable for our children – enrolled them based on suitability rather than popularity.
Putting high-ability children in a normal enrichment program, they will be bored. At the same time, putting normal children in high ability program can be too overwhelming for them.
Dealing with Failure
If there is only one thing that you can teach your children, what would it be? For me, it is to deal with failure. I believe many parents here have gone through some degree of failure in our lives. It is always unpleasant and many times the situations can be very very trying. As such, many of us would like to “shield” our children from such circumstances. We tend to forget that it is almost impossible to do that, somewhere down their lives they will encounter failure … it is only a matter of when. It may be their immediate future or their teenage years or in their young adulthood.
Personally, I think it is important to teach them how to deal with failure. All of us want our children to succeed, but more important we as parents need to know how to be there for them when they encounter failure. We must be there to support them and stand by them. Whenever we see possible signs of such situations, we should begin to manage their expectation on those situations and prepare them for the worst. If the worst really happens, we will need to cushion the impact of the “fall”, help to debrief them, learn from the mistakes, pick them up and get them going again.
Last month while reflecting on 2011, I did a quick mental experiment. I listed out my current circle of friends and colleagues and match their current status against their academic qualifications and academic training. Surprisingly not many of them are working in the field which they graduated in and almost all of them are doing quite well in life regardless of their academic qualifications. I am not referring to those leaving in a big landed property or driving a big car. Just an average Singaporean family staying in a comfortable HDB driving a 1.6L Japanese car, life is not that bad.
At our children’s age, sometimes it is easy to equate success and failure with academic results. But if you are to conduct the same little exercise that I did, you will discover that majority of the time it not going to be as bad as what we think. They will be able to find a path for themselves, so long as they are not knockout by failure and stay defeated.
Lastly, always be thankful. Sometimes things might not turn out the way we wanted it, but it happens for a reason. Always consider each failure as an opportunity to strengthen a particular area in our life. Failure strengthens our inner character.
As the year 2011 draws to a close, let’s hope for a better 2012 as we reflect on 2011. Continue to improve what we are doing right and rectify what we have done wrong.