For the most part of my early childhood, my parents were hardly ever around. I was one of those people who grew up without the luxury of experiencing love from their parents. Worse, the people whom we ended up living with were not very generous with love. Instead, life was something akin to slavery.
I had a long history of ugly childhood which I'd rather erase from my mind, but the human brain is a strange recording instrument—I have often wondered, at times I have a hard time recollecting events which have taken place only a week or two ago; yet I can remember vividly the events—as ugly as they may be—from all those years ago. I have shared bits and pieces of them at one time or another, here in this blog; but it's not exactly my favourite topic.
Against such background, one would be fast to dismiss me as a person who is unqualified to talk about parenting. But please bear with me for a minute...
Events over the recent days have inspired me to put my fingers onto my keyboard to share my thoughts about parenthood. The thing about being a parent is that there is that instinct to love and protect one's offspring. In some ways, even animals have that instinct.
When I was a small boy, I could hardly ever get the things that I wanted—I longed for love, and I got very little of it, if any; I yearned for toys, and I got hardly any. And as for the things that I did get, I had to strive really hard to earn them. But maybe that was a blessing in disguise; it made me see life in a peculiar way—that one should learn to strive and earn the things one wants.
I love my daughter with all my heart, and I make sure that she knows that I love her dearly. But while it's so tempting to shower her with all the things she wants, I refrain from granting her all her wishes, even if I could afford to. I practise the reward system; she has to earn them! So she got her PlayStation recently, but only after she got first in class. And in some cases, a "no" means "no", no matter what. Therefore, she is not ready to own a mobile phone, even if she gets first in class.
I see people trying so hard to demonstrate their love for their children by granting them all that they ask for. The kids always get what they want! And when they can't get what they want, even the parents will be sad!
I know that is probably parental instinct on auto pilot, but although I don't claim to be an expert in parenting, I don't believe that is the right method to bring up a child. Unfortunately, life is not always a bed of roses. Along the way, there will inevitably be some rough patches, like it or not, and the sooner these kids learn that fact, the better off they are! It doesn't mean that if the parents do not grant the wishes of their children, then they love their children any less.
Seeing the children playing in a group, I couldn't help noticing that one of them had the tendency to dictate what game to play, when to play it, and how to play it. And when the rest in the group disagreed, not only the dictator was disappointed, but even the parents were disappointed too!
In a perfect world, perhaps it's possible to get everything that one wants; everyone obeys one's wishes without question; everything is black and white, cut and dried, exactly like how one wants it to be...
But alas this is not a perfect world; one doesn't always get what one wants; people don't always agree with one's views; they don't always obey one's wishes. There will be disappointments upon disappointments. I think it is just impossible to protect one's child from such reality of life.
So I think if you really love your children, then please do them a favour; expose them to this harsh cruel world and watch from afar. When they fall, help them back to their feet if you can; for as long as you can. Pray that they will become strong individuals. For I say this solemnly—retreating them back into their world of pretense where everything is perfect will surely backfire in the long run. One of these days, that world will come crumbling down, and all that's left is the harsh reality that they will have to face somehow...