Lesson #4: A lesson on sincerity taught to me by #1

#1 had to do an assignment on social causes. They had to choose 1 social cause which they feel strongly about and to give a speech on it. When I read it, I was flabbergasted.

Her choice of topic: INSINCERITY

Dear friends,

I’d like to address you as the insincere future of humanity which I unfortunately belong to. 

I have always treasured sincerity but the fact that it is a rarity among many, even amidst those close to me, has sent me into resignation. Let me relate a recent incident that happened in the security and comfort of my own home – a place where we should all feel safe.

I know I have introduced myself as the girl who hates band. However, when I was tasked with a possible solo piece, I suddenly felt important. Needed. Brave even. With my joyous news, I went home and shared it with my second sister, in the hope of receiving a genuine expression of happiness for me and perhaps admiration (if I was lucky). I shared the piece which was a recording of the segment that I was responsible for. What I received in return was unexpected. She grinned and in her most insincere, superficial and pretentious manner said, “Oh ya, cool! Very nice!” I was not prepared for the feelings of the aftermath. I expected a certain degree of sincerity from someone whom I seek advice from and the fact that she is my sister makes it that much worse. 

This brings me to the topic of sincerity, or lack thereof. When did people stop appreciating sincerity? When did people stop practicing sincerity? And when did insincerity become unimportant? 

One masterpiece of insincerity is known to be the ‘power hug’. Have you ever been hugged by someone with an ulterior motive? Someone who hugged you for the selfish reason of winning you over? It basically tears down your walls, leaving you defenceless. If you look at the position of the person receiving the hug, the body language of arms outstretched signifies acceptance and openness; it is symbolic of a person’s vulnerability. She seeks comfort in the hugger who then takes advantage of that unarmed emotional state and easily convinces you to do their bidding. 

Now, think about it. How often do you give sincere hugs? Think about the last hug you recently gave to someone. Did it mean anything? Was it to comfort that person? Was it a means of strengthening your friendship or was it out of pure insincerity? 

Insincerity is now so rampant that people might not even be concerned about the fact that sincerity is so rare in society at this point in time. I am concerned over the triviality of sincerity, and it’s unimportance in society is somewhat alarming. These insincere gestures, fulfilled by many, might contribute to the reason why families grow apart. An insincere comment from a mother to her daughter can hurt deeply. And if such comments are received all the time, it might very well be all it takes to make the child stop confiding in her mother. I want you to be completely honest and think about the last time you hugged your mother and meant it.

Sincerity should help you sleep better at night. You know that the hug you gave earlier that day was completely out of sincerity and that you only meant to provide care, concern and comfort. Giving your unconditional love while expecting nothing in return is possibly one of the most relieving feelings you can experience.

Today, I appeal to you not to give out that one insincere hug, refrain from saying that one insincere comment, and learn to incorporate sincerity into your thoughts, words and deeds.

All these might seem slightly idealistic but it is completely true that a little sincerity goes a long way. No man is an island and to receive, you must first give. As Confucius once said, “To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of the soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness. Thus, I pray that sincerity, appreciating sincerity, and practicing sincerity will not be cast aside.

Thank you.

S I N C E R I T Y

Wow. So many thoughts were floating through my mind while reading it. The idealism and passion of youths. The sensitivity and maturity of my eldest child. Has she really grown up? But the most nagging thought I had was “had I been insincere to my kids”? And the answer, sadly, is yes. There were definitely times when I was busy or had too many things to think about that when they were relating some long drawn out story about something that happened, and when they asked me a question at the end of it, with their expectant faces, I just answered them with a ” Ya!” although I hadn’t got a clue what they had just said as I was deep in my own thoughts. Or I would answer them with a distracted “Uh-huh”. How that must have deflated their ego and enthusiasm. Or sometimes if they asked me if something was nice, I just gave them an offhanded “Nice!”

So I have decided that from this very moment, if I am not 100% present to them, I shall quickly stop them, ask them to give me a minute, finish whatever I’m doing or clear my mind of my own thoughts, then return to them fully present to listen to what they have to say, and to reply with sincerity.

After reading her impassioned speech, I am equally proud yet humbled at the same time. Ah, I still have so much to learn from my children.

Other lessons (which I’ve learnt the hard way):

Lesson #15: What are we worth, mums?
Lesson #16: What do you do when you get sick of parenting?


Linking up with:

mamawearpapashirt

~ www.mummyweeblog – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

My bucket list

Following on from my previous lesson about not over-sacrificing and about sparing a thought for myself, I’ve been prompted to write my bucket list in detail. There were so many things I wanted to do over the past 10 years. But as my hands were full taking care of the kids, they were relegated to a ‘Things I want to do when the kids grow up’ list which I stored in my head. A year back, just when I thought #5 was finally going into P1 and I will have plenty of free time while they are all in school, along came dear little Kate. But since I’m hitting 40 soon, I had better start to look at my list seriously and see if I can do one or two things each year before I look back and regret.

1. Take my mum on a pilgrimage

The last pilgrimage she went to was more than 20 years ago and I know it is something she would love to do once more, but dare not even ask for. I figured that if I don’t take her soon, who knows what might happen in future? She’s already in her 70s and may not be able to walk so much as she ages. She has done more than her fair share of looking after the kids, and I think it’s time we show her our gratitude for always being there for us without a word of complain. There will be a lot of logistic issues to work out before I can go, but I’m sure the kids will step up to the plate.

2. Volunteer with Samaritans of Singapore

I’ve always wanted to be a volunteer with S.O.S. to man the suicide hotlines. However, volunteering on a regular basis is still a little tricky at this point in time. I can barely find enough time to spend with the kids especially giving them one-on-one attention, so it’s hard to justify carving out a chunk of time to commit to the training sessions and the weekly hours. Well, guess this one has to be shelved for a couple more years.

3. Volunteer with Make a Wish Foundation

I heard about this many years ago and found it so meaningful. To grant children who are terminally ill one last wish before they leave this world. Perhaps I can find out if we can do this as a family, although the last time I checked, it didn’t seem suitable for kids to be involved in this.

Pondering life’s meaning

4. Work in palliative care

Ever since I got acquainted with this aspect of Occupational Therapy as a student, I knew this was the area I wanted to work in. We were working with a lady who had a few months left to live, and she wanted to record down all the things she wanted to say to her little daughter. That touched me so profoundly, to be able to help somebody fulfil their last wishes and to have the privilege of sharing their last days.

(Baby step: I’ve started volunteering at a hospice once a week, till Kate goes to school and I have more time to work.)

5. Set up a cosy hospice for children 

There is a hospice in Melbourne where the children and their families can check in to a wonderful environment at the last leg of their terminal illness. Perhaps we can have a homely children’s hospice here too. A place where the best medical care is provided at a cosy non-medical setting. A place where parents can safely put their child at while they get some respite from the over-whelming burden of caring for a sick child. A place where there are volunteers to spend time with the siblings and extend care and counselling to them too, in their struggles in coping with losing a brother or a sister. A place where there is so much going on for the children – play, activities, fun, with a whole lot of love. A place where life is celebrated, no matter how short it is, and where the focus is not on extending life, but on bringing the most meaning to the last days of their lives. I don’t quite know how this would materialise, but still, good to have a vision!

6. Give talks

Not only do I enjoy writing, I very much enjoy talking. We used to get cold feet before a presentation, but once I got started, I couldn’t stop. When I was an undergraduate, I had the honour of giving a speech to the heads of departments of all the faculties in my university and I actually had a great time speaking to such an audience. Maybe I will look into giving some parenting talks but don’t know if anyone wants to listen to me, ha.

These are more frivolous things which I wish I had more hours in the day to do them.

7. Voice-overs

I was reading about this as a job, and I would get such a kick out of hearing my voice on some automated machine. Will try that some day, just for the fun of it! I’m sure the kids would have a great time laughing about this one.

8. Attend cooking classes

I can’t cook to save my life, but I do wish I could cook nice meals for the family. When they were younger, they were happy to eat what I prepared. But now, they can tell that their mum’s cooking skills are really amateurish (especially my eldest), although I’m slowly getting better with the help of cookbooks. I really like how in some families, the mums or grandmas can cook so well that the whole family looks forward to coming home to mum’s home-cooked meals, even when they are adults.

9. Attend talks and seminars

There are so many interesting talks and workshops going on, and I love to learn and open my mind. Be it in investing, health and nutrition, or lifestyle issues, I wish I had time to learn more.

10. Take up piano lessons with Kate and #2

I did pass my Grade 8 piano exams, but I was taught the boring rote learning way. All technical. I want to be able to play by ear, to really make joyful and exuberant music. I taught the kids some basics, and #2 seems to have a flare for it. If we have excess cash, it would be lovely to enjoy some good piano lessons as a family.

11. Stay at a wellness resort for a week

Something like Como Shambhala, with 1 or 2 close friends. The Bhutan location sounds incredible for such a retreat. How indulgent. My 45th birthday present perhaps.. when Kate would be fine with me gone for so many days.

12. Spend a weekend at a semi-silent retreat

In our lives, there’s just too much noise, too much distractions (especially with so many kids!) I really like the sound of silence, where I can think, contemplate, and grow my faith. And to listen to my inner voice. What bliss. Don’t ask me why, but I still feel guilty spending time away from the kids for my own pleasure. Sigh. Occupational hazard.

13. Take a trip on the Orient Express

I’ve always wanted to experience this since I was a teenager. There’s something just so charming about luxurious rail travel. Must be the great advertising. Someday, someday.

Ok, done. I will pin this up somewhere and like how they say, when you visualise it daily, it will materialise. 

Go ahead, write your bucket list. By penning it down, there’s a higher chance it will get accomplished. Don’t know about you, but I find great satisfaction in crossing things off one by one! And as life coaches will tell you, to make your goals happen, you need to declare it to people around you so that you will be held accountable. I’ve just declared it to so many people, hence they will surely be realised 😉 Let’s do this together, folks. Let’s live lives without regrets. Carpe diem!

“Our biggest regrets are not for the things we have done but for the things we haven’t done”  – Chad Michael Murray


Linking up with:
mamawearpapashirt
~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Lesson #3: Marriage is no fairy tale

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. It conjures images of smiling couples, flowers and hearts. On the streets and on Facebook, we are filled with messages of love. But is that what marriage is? Is it only about the sweet things and the good times? Lately, this topic has cropped up quite a bit around me, and sadly, the picture is not all pretty.

#1 recently went for a self-awareness camp. There was a sharing session whereby they were free to share their family’s problems to encourage compassion towards one another. She was very surprised that the majority of her classmates had parents who were either already divorced, are separated or are not on good terms.

It is a very somber and disturbing trend. Sometimes couples hang on for the sake of their kids when they are young, however, it is no easier for teenagers to go through their parent’s divorce. It is a time when they are searching for their identity and are looking to their parents for security and a role-model.

Some of us grew up with fairy tales and have high expectations of what marriage should be. We get the erroneous impression that after a big and beautiful wedding, we will settle down to Happily Ever After. Could that be why weddings are getting bigger and more beautiful? Perhaps Disney should do society a favour by launching a new series depicting the realities of married life, and equipping the princesses with conflict resolution skills. I’m sure it will go a long way to moderate young girls’ expectations of marriage.

The hubs and I did not have a wedding celebration at all although my SILs did throw #1 a huge party to celebrate her birth. (Speaking of which, she’s turning sweet 16 this year, can I count on you guys to throw her another huge party? haha… My, my, how time flies.) Oops, digressed. Where was I? Yes, parties.. and marriage. Perhaps when our marriage makes it to the 25 year mark, then that’s something to celebrate! 

My single friends look at us married ones and think that once they find the right guy, they can settle down, have a few kids and live a blissful married life. Simple. Ask any married couple, honestly, how true is that? I would say that if you have found and married your soul mate, you are extremely blessed.

In fact, I advise my single friends to solve their issues with their man before getting married and having kids. In the early years of marriage, it’s the honeymoon period. Thereafter, the daily issues, disagreements, and differences start to surface and it’s easy to think that the grass is greener on the other side. We see other couples looking very happy and wish our husband was more caring, more understanding, more generous, more whatever.

The reality is that they are also probably looking at your marriage and wish they had a marriage like yours! There is so much that goes on behind closed doors, and I’m sure every marriage has it’s challenges. Just as we need to pick up skills in parenting, we need to pick up skills to improve our marriages by reading or attending conventions to learn better ways of handling our marriages.

When I meet up with close friends, the subject invariably revolves around marriage and children, and the sad thing is that we see a lot of marriages facing tough times. Times when you question if you have married the right person. Times when you want to walk out the door but stay on because of the children. Times when you have to deal with an infidelity.

The answers are never easy and the vicissitudes of married life may sometimes seem too tough to face. In times like that, we need good friends to turn to for support, and perhaps a faith to see us through.

The truth is that marriage is not a bed of roses. And love is more than an emotion. It is a commitment. A commitment to forgiveness, a commitment to patience, a commitment to communication, and so much more. Before we even try to change our spouses, we should look at our own shortcomings. It is also helpful to recognise each other’s love language, be it words, deeds, gifts, touch, or time.

#4 made this pancake for me when she went for breakfast with her friend. Even with all it’s imperfections, I treasure it a lot. Would be a great way to think of marriage, wouldn’t it? 

S I N C E R E  H E A R T
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 


Here’s wishing one and all a very happy valentine’s day. May we all strive for a stronger marriage because only then can we have strong families. 

Linking up with: 

mamawearpapashirt




~ www.mummyweeblog – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Lesson #2 – Don’t over-sacrifice

Being a mother comes with a lot of sacrifices. Not only on a daily basis, but sometimes we even put our careers, our hobbies, or even our hopes and dreams on hold for our children. For years, I didn’t see the night sky as I stopped going out with the hubs or with friends for dinner because you could either call that prime time with the kids or ‘the witching hour’, whereby I had to see to dinner, baths and bed. And of course, after all that was done, I would be so exhausted that some days I would fall asleep while putting them to bed even before they fell asleep!

And because we have done so much for them, we get upset when we feel unappreciated or taken for granted. Worse, when they were around the ages of 8 or 9, sometimes they would say things like they liked daddy better because daddy plays Play Station with them and lets them watch movies and play the iPad. Here we are, doing all the hard work and sacrificing almost everything for them, yet daddy just waltzes in and is the favourite parent. Thankfully, I had a very good bunch of SAHM friends and we managed to laugh at the irony of it all as we were in the same boat.

Jokes aside, the greater issue here is that I have seen women in my mum’s generation who have spent most of their lives sacrificing for their families, and now that they are reaching the end of their lives, they could be silently regretful or even resentful. They may have given up their careers, their passions, or even hung on to an unhappy marriage just for the sake of the children. 

And if somehow their children end up being unfilial, or perhaps even filial children who might be faced with the constrains of taking care of their own families and have not enough time, money or energy left for them, they may feel very sad or bitter. But can they blame their children? After all, the children did not even know what had transpired and definitely did not ask their mums to give up everything for them. But as mums, that’s just what we tend to do. To put everyone else’s needs before our own.

S A C R I F I C E

I have a whole long list of ‘Things I want to do when the kids are older’. But I’ve come to the realisation that I should stop putting my life on hold for the children (after all, I’ve already devoted 15 years to them), and think out of the box to see if there are things I have always wanted to do that can be worked around the family, and start from there. Because I sure don’t want to reach a point when I am old and be full of resentment at my kids or angry at myself. And even if my kids end up being filial and try their best to make me happy, I might still be discontented as I was not able to fulfil all the things I wanted to do in life. Perhaps I’ll share my bucket list in another post.

So I’m going to seriously look at my list, and even though my hands are already full taking care of the 6 of them, I will spare a thought for myself. Because if I don’t I may end up being unhappy which will make my family unhappy, and even if they wanted to, they can’t turn the clock back for me. I don’t want to be on my deathbed with a heart full of regrets at a life half lived.

Other lessons (which I’ve learnt the hard way):

Lesson #15: What are we worth, mums?
Lesson #16: What do you do when you get sick of parenting?

Linking up with:

mamawearpapashirt



~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~

Lesson #1: What having 6 kids did to me

I was reading a post on a fellow blogger’s Facebook, about the struggles of having 3 kids, and of having parents or in-laws watch you barely surviving and telling you, “Want so many kids for what?”

So for those of you with multiple toddlers and struggling, this piece is for you. 


I totally agree that the early years are difficult, even torturous maybe. I remember the time when all 5 of them (plus the hubs AND the helper) were ill with stomach flu and were vomiting all over the place, day and night, over the course of 3 weeks.


I was so sleep deprived, tired and frustrated from cleaning up and changing sheets that I wished I could just walk away. But I couldn’t. I still had to be there for them. I learnt to find my inner strength.


However, that is just a season. It will be over before you know it (yes, even though it doesn’t seem so).

The wonderful thing is, do you know what are the 3 greatest gifts I have received after becoming the mother to 6 little human persons?

Happiness

1) I’ve got my priorities right

We race through life, chasing after so many things. This is just how our society is.

We don’t have time to pause to think.

But at the end of it all, did all those things bring us any lasting happiness?

Probably not.

Having so many kids, I didn’t have the luxury of time to do whatever I wanted. I had to scale down my lifestyle.

I was forced to sit down and think.

What exactly were my priorities?

What was important to me in life? 

I realised that it was to have family and friends around me whom I care about dearly and who care for me.


I used to take my parents and in-laws for granted, but after going through many challenges myself, I can understand what they must have gone through.

I now attempt to spend more time with them, to be more patient with them and to do what will make them happy as they are on their last leg of life’s journey.

Now, I also much prefer having intimate chats with close friends as compared to gatherings in big groups, as we share our lives and our struggles and we listen and support one another through the ups and downs of life.


I’m also trying to find time to do more charity work as a family and to help others in any way we can.

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer. – Jim Carrey

2) I’ve learned to live

Have you ever watched kids playing in the rain?

They look like they have absolutely no cares in the world.

They radiate joy and happiness, laughing and having so much fun.

Just by being fully in the moment and enjoying whatever they are doing.

So simple yet profound.

We as adults have forgotten how to live.

We are doing, we are accumulating, but we are not living.

And we think, when we have that, when we have reached that point of success, (or for some of my single friends) when we find the right person and get married, things will be perfect and we will be happy.

How wrong we are.

Life is in the now. 

After all the physical pain I have gone through with them; sitting with one at the A&E with a fractured arm, carrying one after an eye operation with both eyelids bleeding, rushing one to the clinic when an allergy almost killed her, all these re-focused me on what is important in life.

At times, I was so physically, mentally and emotionally drained that I didn’t know how I was going to carry on.

But you do, you just do.

And only when you are stretched, when you are pushed beyond your boundaries, do you grow.

Only by emptying of yourself are you fulfilled.

The irony of it all.

I have learnt that I have a capacity to love so deeply.

Having children makes you go beyond yourself.

Be it the ups and downs of life, the happiness or the sadness, I am now able to embrace all of it. 

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. – Oscar Wilde


3) I’ve found true happiness

Yes, having so many kids have limited what I can do at the moment.

With little kids, my life slowed to a crawl.

But it was then that I learnt to appreciate the simple things in life.

Marvelling at the beauty of a flower, watching the ripples in the pond, sharing a mug of hot chocolate with an easily contented child.

All of which I would have never had the time to stop and appreciate, if not for the kids. 

I dare say the memories of those precious times of sitting by the kerb, hearing the delighted voices of the kids sharing their joy of seeing yet another beautiful flower “Mom, look at this one! And this!” can rival my experiences of being at the Eiffel tower, sitting in a gondola in Venice, and even skiing in the mountains, all of which I did before I had kids.


It dawned on me that it’s not so much the place, but the people whom I am sharing the experience with, that counts.


I realised that true happiness comes from being with people you love.

And it comes from living for others. Your children, your family, strangers in need.

To be truly content, I only need my family by my side.

Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but also becomes richer and happier. – Albert Schweitzer

So take heart, as those early years are but a season.

A season where you struggle.

But in your difficulties, you learn to appreciate the simple things. I took so many things for granted before, even something simple like being able to walk, and it was only after going through difficult times that I learnt to appreciate the good times.

Before you know it, that season is gone.

No more constant cuddles and little feet climbing into your lap. No more “I wurve you mummy” every other minute.

No more having the cutest little face peeking up at you with some mischief up their sleeve.

No more hearing those belly laughs with no cares in the world.

My oldest is now 15, yet my job is far from done.

The early years of physical demands are over. Now it’s a mental challenge. Yup, the teenage years.

I hope that I can continue to raise them to be people of compassion, to have a good and kind heart to go out into the world and make a difference.

For them to embrace life, treasure it and go forth with passion.

To find their destiny and to fulfil it.

To grow into adults with the right values which they will pass on to their children.

That is the legacy I hope to leave behind.

I am far from it but at least I have charted my course and I will plod along one day at a time, never forgetting to pause and smell the flowers.

I am thankful beyond words to have the chance to enjoy another little being. I was too busy surviving to have really enjoyed the journey with the other 5.

With Kate, I will be more present to her.

Because I have realised that life is indeed made up of the little things.

Here’s to kids.

Here’s to life.

Linking up with Mamawearpapashirt:
mamawearpapashirt
~ www.mummyweeblog – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~

Discipline #3 – Never, ever, tell your child that you will go away

The early days were crazy days. As we live with my in-laws, it didn’t help that there were a total of 13 people living in our small condo apartment, so there was no space to take a breather and calm down. There were some days where I told them (and probably meant it then) that if they didn’t stop misbehaving, I would just go away. I was that near losing my sanity that I felt I had to walk away. I kept dreaming of rolling hills and green fields. There were days when I wanted to run away and be alone. I was dumbfounded when #3 told me recently that she remembered me saying that to them. She was probably only 4 or 5 then. I can imagine what those words would have meant to a child. It probably brought out all sorts of insecurities in them. It probably made them so afraid that one day they would wake up and find their mummy gone.

So no matter how difficult things are and no matter how much you want to escape from it all, don’t ever, ever, threaten your child that you will go away if they continue to misbehave.  It is better to remove yourself from the situation, tell them you need to go for a walk to clear your mind. If you don’t have the option of leaving the house, lock the bathroom door and have a soak in the tub. No tub? Sitting on the floor with some chocolate works too. But the best place I found to take a break from the screaming kids? The stairs right outside my house. I realised that if I locked myself in the room, I can still hear them quarrelling outside which doesn’t help me to calm down. Worse, they would sometimes keep on banging on the door (I’m not sure if it was to irritate me more or to see if I was still alive in there). So I would leave the house, shut the door, and sit at the stairs. That way, I got a chance to get away from whatever was driving me nuts and yet I was still close enough to know what was going on in there. And you know what? The kids will immediately stop their nonsense when they see mummy leaving. But before you walk out the door, tell them that you need to take a 10-minute break so they don’t think you are going for good. 

It is very important to take time out to care for yourself. We tend to keep on sacrificing and putting the needs of our kids above our own. Before we know it, we have turned into grumpy old women and I realised I was constantly simmering just under the surface. #4 who is very sensitive, gets upset when I’m in a bad mood. Now, we make a pact and she would tell me “mum, you are getting very grumpy” and that’s her sign that I need to chill. I have a good friend who goes away by herself once every year while her wonderful husband takes care of the kids. That is one smart husband, if you ask me!

But not everyone is so fortunate to be able to take a few days and scoot off. If you do have enough family support, checking into a hotel for a night would be a great option too. That was my birthday wish for many years, which never materialised. I felt that I couldn’t leave them and because there was always a child who needed me in the middle of the night, I never gave myself permission to put my own needs above theirs. And in the end, I was like a wound up toy that would jump at any slight provocation.

L O V E


So what do I do when things get really bad? Like when you are pregnant and 4 other little kids are sick or/and misbehaving and you are about to go mad? I take one day at a time and keep reminding myself that “This too, shall pass.”


And above all, always keep love in your heart. Only if you love yourself, can you love your family well. To all the mummies out there, you are doing the best you can, so give yourselves a pat on the back!

Other discipline tips (which I’ve learnt after having 5 kids):

Tip #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?
Tip #9: When the gramps can’t say ‘no’


Linking up with:

mamawearpapashirt

Discipline #2: Don’t go overboard in your punishment

Another terrible thing I used to do was to mete out punishment that was way beyond their crime. We had no consistent rules and their punishment was gauged not so much by their wrong-doings but by our disposition at that point in time.

When they misbehaved, initially I would punish them by taking away their toy or making them stand just outside our main door. I would tell them, “If you don’t want to listen to me, stand out there so I don’t have to see you or hear you. On some days, nothing I tell them worked and they will keep misbehaving, quarrelling over toys or throwing tantrums. By evening, I would be up to my ears and out of desperation, I will warn them, “You do this one more time and I will lock you in the bathroom”. 

So when they misbehaved again, I would take the child by the arm and put her in the dark bathroom. I forgot which child it was, but she was extremely afraid of the dark and pleaded with me not to put her in there. I was so angry, shouting at her that I had already given her a warning while dragging her to the bathroom. I closed the door and could hear her wailing inside. She was trying with all her might to open the door from inside but I was holding it tightly shut from outside. All the while, she was screaming and begging me to open the door. Thinking back, I can’t believe how barbaric I was. 

At other times, when they disobeyed me, for example, by watching TV for hours when I told them they could only watch for an hour, I would get mad and bark out a ridiculous punishment like “No more TV for a month!”. Which of course will not be enforced, which sends the message to the kids that mummy doesn’t mean what she says, so subsequently they will not abide by my rules because they are just idle threats. And it totally confuses them because they do not know when the rules will be enforced and when they won’t. And to make things worse, we both didn’t agree on the same rules. I would tell them that they can’t watch TV, but a few minutes later, daddy will say “Can watch, but just half an hour.” Poor kids. When clear boundaries are not established, the kids feel confused and insecure and they will keep trying to push the boundaries to see how far they can go. Till today, #5’s teacher tells me that he has behavioural problems and he will keep challenging what she says. Just last week, she told them that since they use their hands to draw, their mouths must be shut and they are not allowed to talk. He took the pencil and put it in his mouth and started drawing, and when she scolded him, he told her that since he can draw with his mouth, he can also use his mouth to talk. I feel so sorry for his teacher to have to deal with him day in, day out.

Now, I try to match the punishment to the misbehaviour and I will lay out the rules first so they know what is coming. For example, if they use their iPads past the specified time, I will confiscate it for a week. And I try to be consistent in the rules, the punishment, and the enforcement. (Still not easy, though). Because it is only when kids try to push the boundaries and know that mummy and daddy will always say no, only then will they grow up to be confident, secure, and happy.

C O M P A S S I O N


Just because we can punish them in any way we like doesn’t mean we should. Power comes with responsibility and should be executed with justice and compassion. 

Other discipline tips (which I’ve learnt after having 5 kids):

Tip #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?
Tip #9: When the gramps can’t say ‘no’

Linking up with: 
mamawearpapashirt

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Discipline #1 – Don’t scream at your child

My life as it is now is the best that it has been since I became a mom.

I can think clearly, function properly, and I am in the right frame of mind to enjoy my children.

I have come a long way.

I wanted to share more of my stories but have been busy writing about day-to-day happenings and never got round to writing about those challenging years.

I was reading a fellow mum blogger’s post on Life’s Little Lessons and was prompted to pen these lessons down which I have learnt over the past 15 years of parenting 6 kids.

Bit by bit.

Perhaps it would be cathartic to let it all out and slowly re-build the fragmented pieces of my relationship with the girls, especially #4.

She has such a sensitive soul that she was the one most affected by my horrible parenting.

As my words flow, I start to recall little incidences.

What was our discipline style back then?

It was a let’s-scold-them-when-we-can’t-take-their-nonsense-anymore style.

We didn’t know we had to be consistent.

As they misbehaved, I would tolerate and wait for their nonsense to stop. Which of course any mom could tell you, that’s just an absurd notion.

As a result, my anger would escalate and suddenly, boom!

I reached my threshold and unleashed my full anger on them.

I would rant on and on, and once, a neighbour even peered into my window to see if everything was all right.

Because you see, I have always been a very patient person. My old friends would tell you that I was the calmest and most patient person amongst us.

Somehow having the responsibility of taking care of 5 little people under the age of 9 turned me into a monster mom.

I was so busy trying to survive from day to day that I never stopped to think if there was a better way.

We had no siblings nor friends with kids to learn from or discuss things with.

Obviously I didn’t have time to read books nor surf the internet to gather some insight. Heck, I didn’t even know parenting blogs existed.

I just plodded along in my own crazy world. 

I vividly remember one incident.

I was driving the kids home after an evening out.

I started scolding #4 about something, and got so carried away that I was literally screaming at her.

Yes, in the confines of the car.

She recoiled from me and shielded her face.

My words were like bullets firing at this poor little child.

My child.

I must have been so exhausted and frustrated that I took it all out on her.

She must have been traumatised.

It was not the first time I had yelled at them, and definitely not the last.

And when you get into the habit of screaming at your kids, it just gets worse.

The first time you scream at them, it seems to work like a miracle.

They are momentarily stunned and would be on their best behaviour for the rest of the day.

I would finish yelling at them, then send them all to bed (it didn’t matter what time it was).

They would promptly fall asleep, probably in fear, and I got my hour of peace.

Subsequently, they got so used to my screaming that they did not fall in line immediately anymore.

What happens next?

I have to scream even louder thinking that somehow what I was trying to say would get into their little heads if I yelled LOUD ENOUGH.

It became a habit and I was yelling at them constantly.

So.

Please don’t scream at your children. Except in a dangerous situation.

Let peace prevail in your homes instead.

Other discipline tips (which I’ve learnt after having 5 kids):

Tip #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?
Tip #9: When the gramps can’t say ‘no’

Linking up with:

mamawearpapashirt