Moth­ers make mis­takes too

New Straits Times - - Pulse | Family - Elena@nst.com.my

Most of us Asian chil­dren grew up hear­ing that phrase “Clean your plate!” of­ten pref­aced by “Don’t you dare leave the ta­ble un­til...” The mes­sage that we’re lucky to have de­cent meals and that leav­ing be­hind un­eaten por­tions is waste­ful and dis­re­spect­ful has be­come so in­grained in most of us that we carry on the habit of wip­ing ev­ery­thing off our plates (and some­times, off our part­ner’s plate too!) right un­til our adult­hood.

Isn’t it any won­der that obe­sity is a prob­lem among adults these days, and even for some chil­dren? Nev­er­the­less, we’re all thank­ful for mums who slave away in the kitchen to en­sure we get our meals but say “nay” to fin­ish­ing up ev­ery­thing and in­stead, en­cour­age eat­ing in mod­er­a­tion and healthy bal­anced di­ets.

BOYS WILL BE BOYS Ah yes. Ever won­dered why there were two sets of rules gov­ern­ing girls and boys dur­ing our grow­ing up years? Boys could get away with rough horse­play, dirty clothes, no house­hold chores and later cur­fews. Af­ter all, they’re boys and there­fore, some rules don’t ap­ply to them.

God for­bid if girls trail in mud in the house look­ing like the swamp thing af­ter play­ing with their friends, pre­fer trucks to dolls, fail to make their beds in the morn­ings or do the dishes.

A new study from Net­mums, a web­site for par­ents in the UK, re­veals that 88 per cent of mums ad­mit­ted that they treated their sons and daugh­ters dif­fer­ently de­spite think­ing that this was wrong. Most wor­ry­ing of all, moth­ers are twice as likely to ad­mit to be­ing more crit­i­cal of their daugh­ters than their sons.

When ma­mas at­tribute bad be­hav­iour to “they’re just be­ing boys”, they’re un­know­ingly re­mov­ing per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity out of the equa­tion. Chil­dren need to be held ac­count­able for their ac­tions, taught that both sexes are equally em­pow­ered to achieve any­thing they want to, and that the same rules ap­ply to both boys and girls in or­der to coun­ter­act the neg­a­tive mes­sages that so­ci­ety some­times send. We’re grateful that mum­mies love their chil­dren un­con­di­tion­ally and want only the best for them, but say “nay” to gen­der bi­as­ness when it comes to rais­ing boys and girls.

GET YOUR AM­BI­TION IN OR­DER!

Who isn’t fa­mil­iar with the “doc­tor, lawyer, en­gi­neer” ex­pec­ta­tions most old-school Asian mums drill into their chil­dren while grow­ing up?

You want to be a hair­dresser? “Over my dead body!” screeches mummy as she waves the sci­ence book in front of you.

It’s all too com­mon to have mum­mies (and even dad­dies ac­tu­ally) force their chil­dren into meet­ing their ex­pec­ta­tions and not nec­es­sar­ily what the chil­dren would want to ac­tu­ally do them­selves. Per­haps it’s the idea that these pro­fes­sions are viewed as jobs favoured by the up­per ech­e­lons of so­ci­ety. Most par­ents in the past came from poorer back­grounds and strug­gled to give their chil­dren a de­cent ed­u­ca­tion. Per­haps it’s that strug­gle that drives moth­ers to en­sure that chil­dren lack noth­ing and that they should be given the best op­por­tu­ni­ties to go fur­ther.

How­ever, to pres­sure a child into study­ing or con­sid­er­ing a pro­fes­sion that he or she isn’t cut out for could merely en­sure his or her fail­ure at it. There’s al­ready enough pres­sure posed by the world out there that you don’t re­ally need more in the form of mum’s lofty ex­pec­ta­tions at home. And some­times, your child can be the best hair­dresser there is and achieve great suc­cess through his or her pas­sion.

So yes, we all have our mums who with their quirks, have some­times doled out dodgy ad­vice or coun­sel that we recog­nise doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily qual­ify as words of wis­dom.

How­ever, we’ve all turned out fine in the end de­spite the mis­takes and fum­bles that our very hu­man moth­ers make. Per­haps it’s be­cause we recog­nise that their ac­tions, how­ever mis­guided, have been backed by an un­de­ni­able emo­tion which has kept fam­i­lies to­gether no mat­ter the chal­lenges that come with rais­ing chil­dren. It’s called love.

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