Tuesday, April 30, 2013

be a parent, for better or for worse

"A parent (from Latinparēns = parent) is a caretaker of the offspring in their own species. In all human societies, the biological mother and father are both responsible for raising their young." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parent)

Last night the LAM and I brought baby JL to the PD. This PD is very popular so we always have to go early to queue otherwise it would be really late by the time we are done.

At the PD was this woman with 2 kids about 7-8 years of age - by the look of them, I think they were twins.  I have seen some Really Horrible Kids but these 2 could easily have topped my list.

All their antics aside, it was the behaviour of their mother that really got to me. In the 2 hours we were waiting at the PD, not once did she get up from her seat to stop her children from misbehaving. They were pushing kids out of their seats, sitting on the floor at the bottom of the slide so no one else could play, jumping on the merry-go-round and pushing it so no one could walk past, running, shouting...

It was unfortunate that Aden (our 3yo son) spilled his Smarties all over the floor. While I was trying to pick them up, one of the Really Horrible Kids came and stomp on a few of the Smarties, then deliberately walked around me so he could stomp on more. (Of course I had to bark at him.) But not once did his mother get up. Sure, she sat on her pedestal and offered weak instructions like, "Dear, don't bite your shirt!" or "Get up please, don't block the way." but it was her helper who was running around trying to prevent the kids from misbehaving, and of course, she was not very effective in disciplining them either.

When I was pregnant with our second child, the LAM and I discussed if we should hire a second helper. Our helper's job is to take care of the household chores - she only helped to take care of Aden for an hour or so at times when we were really busy. The LAM and I were worried that my mom (Aden's primary care-giver) would not be able to handle 2 kids at the same time. At the end of the day, we decided against hiring helper #2. We figured that we have muddled through one child, and there are in actual fact,  3 of us altogether, so even when Por Por is not around in the evenings and weekends, the LAM and I should be able to cope.

The thing is, the LAM and I have always believed that it is crucial to stop bad behaviours as and when they occur. Hence I was really appalled at how this woman had behaved. If a parent could not be bothered to get off her a** to discipline her children, then how will these kids ever learn what is right and what isn't?

Sure, she might have been tired, or stressed, or maybe she really liked her seat, but whatever her reasons were, those kids are HER responsibilities, not her helper's. And why would she think it is acceptable for her kids to behave so badly in a public place? Or maybe she simply does not care?

Unfortunately, there are so many parents like this woman in Singapore. How many parties or functions have we attended where kids have been left to run amok? Since when has it become acceptable for children to play in restaurants or supermarkets, regardless of whether they are supervised (usually ineffectively, by a helper) or not?

Parenting IS tiring. Kids have way more energy than we do, they get bored easily, and they are forever trying to test boundaries. All parents are tired most, if not all the time. But your kids are your responsibility, not your helper's, not some shop assistant's, and certainly not anyone else's.

Please, don't make your kids someone else's problem.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree! I always come across this when we're in the play room at church. Parents nowhere to be seen, or bo chup - and the helper just going outside her comfort zone, and job scope!!

    I just don't get it.