Saturday, May 26, 2007

Beat First, Talk Later

I came across 2 posts recently whose topic is something I feel deeply about.
First, there was Mama Tang's bus ride encouter where one mom (not her) lost it when her kids misbehaved and caused much more drama I suspect, than what was on the Mobile TV in the bus.
Then there's The New Parent's post on an "almost scolding" episode, resulted by his daughter's spilt milk and how he managed to pull his handbrake in time and turn the whole thing into a learning experience for both adult and kid (interesting piece, go read it).
As Cairo slowly inches towards her terrible twos, I can no longer postpone acquiring some serious skills in child "misbehavior management" (dunno what the pros call it, I haven't hit the library yet) . I call it that because:
1) "Misbehavior" is in inverted commas as every kid has got rights & they should all be treated as innocent until proven otherwise. How many times have we found ourselves shooting strings of reprimanding, hurtful words and (god forbid) curses at them before we realised that we've jumped to the wrong conclusion? Or how about seeing who the real victim is after all the dusts settled?
2) "Management" is a word I bring home from work. I believe that as parents, we should be gently steering our kids towards the right path and not pull them by the nose. As Managers, it is up to us to provide them with the training, advice and opportunities to realise their full potential. None of us wants to work for managers who screams their heads off at the slightest of mistakes without offering constructive opinions. Then why are we doing it to our closest and dearest, who are "just kids"?!
Come to think of it, I do have the foundations on "Misbehavior Management". After all, I saw plenty examples while growing up. My parents, being old school (figuratively only as they got very little formal education) Chinese, would do the following:
1) requests to meet my form teacher (only twice in my life) = must have done something wrong = beat first, then ask teacher why. (My parents have a deep respect and trust towards teachers' judgment. And back then, teachers don't practice seeing parents every other week just to get to know their charges better.)
2) came home with a bleeding knee / sprained ankle = asked for it by being careless or naughty = scold and smack while applying medicine. (They were trying to mask their fear that I could have been dead or handicapped for life and the only way to vent the build up worry cum frustration would be the aforesaid methods, I guess :p)
3) some elders or adults in the street accusing me of having done something "notty" = scold louder than the accuser and add beatings if necessary. (Many chinese parents do this to "save face". Their theory is that if they scold louder and beat the kids harder, the accusers would eventually feel appeased, stop making more complaints and walk away, hence saving the parents from having to apologise in public any longer.)
There you have it. My parents' generation are firm believers of the saying "spare the rod and spoil the child". In fact, my only childhood exercise consisted of running around the house and threw our half a dozen or so canes out of the windows whenever I sensed something was stirring, as my dad would beat first, talk later, or beat while talking.
And part of the reason I took up fencing in school was so that I could tell people my "tiger stripes" were the markings from my dueling partner's blade :p
Anyway, what do I do now that I am armed with these knowledge? I will mirror my parents of course. Oh relax... Cairo is not in any mortal danger of being in the clutches of a serial abuser (my neighbours would call the police, I just know). By mirroing, I mean to do the opposite (Van Gogh's self portrait with its' wrong injured ear would make a very good example if you're so dense as still not get what I mean by now).
I would use my negative experience in a positive manner.
Hah, easier said than done. After all, no parent would willingly set out to harm their kids. "Even the cruel tigress would not eat its' own cub," so a popular chinese saying goes.
Perhaps what we really need to do is to take a closer look at our other problems in life. Perhaps that would spare the kid (aka the innocent straw that just happened to break the camel's back that day) from any wronged and undeserved abuses, physically or mentally.
So, my first stop now.... a book by Jo Frost (The Super Nanny) perhaps? And a $400 an hour psychiatrist to tell me that I can finally let of of my "childhood demons" and no, I must not "pass-it-forward", hahaha!
Have a wonderfully nostalgic weekend everyone. May your memory bring you much new knowledge, as did mine :p


alternative-mom said...

Hi, I came here from The New Parent's site and I like what you have mentioned at the end, that "we need to take a closer look at our other problems in life". That, I do think, is sometimes, the root to our reactions towards our child. I do realise that, too, when I often reflect on my parenting styles. Thanks for highlighting it.

jazzmint said...

well my dearest, I totally agree with you that sometimes things that happen in work we bring it back and we react on the kids. Totally not right but we do it without realising sometimes.

thx for reminding us parents ;). That's a really good post. Now pls go write more of these kekeke.....

I miss all your karangan lah

Mama Tang said...

That's a very interesting and very meaningful post. Thanks for the reminder. :)

The New Parent said...

Hi CM--your post is such a wonderful addition to mine and I love your insights! Especially when you ask how many times have we scolded only to realize we've jumped to the wrong conclusion. We can be so suspicious of our little ones and so many times they are either right or innocent!

Thank you for this interesting play between blogs on a theme--again wonderfully done!

papajoneh said...

OK, I'm the guilty one. I beat my son when i got so much stress at work and back home doing housewife work.
Man, im really the guilty one here when i asked my son to stop but he insisted he will do it eventhough i beat him many times. It really is a challenging task to care such active, monkey style child... Im really the guilty one here when at last i found out that he's correct and i was wrong. but guess what, my son alwasy come back to me and said, sorry papa... when in fact im the one who should have said sorry. Man, im really the guilty one here. Thanks for reminding me this. Great posting. great posting indeed.

papajoneh said...

Just wanna tell u that you deserved to be in my sidebar cool parents link. Thanks for good posting :)

cairo's mommy said...

alt mom:
hey thanks, i dig your site too (so much so that i've linked u hehe)

thanks but i dun think it'll ever happen to u la, ur so pulled together... don spoil the supermom image i have of u (since i was 15 cos u were sorta mothering us oredi hahaha):p

mama tang:
thanks but hey, u gave me the inspiration to write it :D

new parent:
thanks, i picked up the vibe from the good parenting blogs (yours being one of it) *wink*

cairo's mommy said...

aww don be so tough on yourself, we're all guilty of it to some degree (except jazzmint, she's a saint :p) dats why it is so important that we have this network of parenting support, yeah?
and thanks for linking me, i will be a frequent visitor to your site too :D

HMom said...

that's right - i realize that some parents have other issues, and the anger is taken out on the child

cairo's mommy said...

hey welcome!

wanted to leave a comment at your blog that day but blogger went bonkers... seems like one smashing party u had there :D

and ya, pity the kids when we vent our anger on them like that. no one is perfect and i think everyone is guilty of it to some degrees...