My husband and I are very thankful that people think our boys are well-behaved. But they do not know the hard work that goes behind developing our parenting style and the doubts we have on ourselves too. On a day where we usually scream and discipline the kids, we will always talk it out late at night after the boys sleep if we had been too tough. What could we have done better? What should we do next time? Are the boys displaying any odd behaviour?
So when we get these compliments, again we wonder if our parenting style is really on the right track. We did not read any books. If we do read, it’s usually some viral parenting articles on FaceBook. Our parenting style is purely based on values that my hub and I believe in. We are not trying to raise goody-two shoes, or yes man. I would never want my boys to feel repressed. I’ve seen far too many friends with controlling parents and ended up making the stupidest decisions after they gain freedom in adulthood.
Then I start to question myself. Do they behave well in public because I’m an assertive mom who believes in schedules and discipline. Are they feeling stressed? Are the boys happy? Would they think back to their childhood days and remember happy memories or sad ones.
So, I think back to what I want my boys to be and also what I want to achieve. This formed the basis of my parenting style. Definitely, I want the boys to be happy and enjoy their childhood. After all this is probably their most carefree days.
In order for them (and myself) to be happy, I need a system. This system is not a rigid, step-by-step guide to raising children. Instead, my parenting style is something I designed with my husband to train my boys to expect what they should do and what would happen if they did not do it.
Everyone has a different way of raising children, and this just so happens to work best for my family at the moment. I’ve no help from the boys’ grandparents and no helper. I’m usually handling the kids alone since my husband is overseas for a few days every two weeks. The boys attend a 3 hour pre-school everyday and I’ve to fetch them back and forth daily. When I’m alone with them, all kind of things can happen. Hence, it’s very important that my kids listen to me well and focus on their tasks.
I’ll pre-empt the boys what we are going to do when we leave the house or just about anything that we are going to do. For example, I’ll tell them. “Ok, we will take a small train to the school” ” When the train door opens, I need you to take a big step across to the platform.” I don’t sugar coat my words. No baby talk. I talk to them like young adults.
If the boys start to misbehave, we put them in the corner, squat down to their eye level and talk to them – at home, outside and even when at parties with friends. When the boys are naughty in front of their grandparents, I’ll scold them. Even if the grandparents try to interfere, I continue to discipline. To the grandparents, I’m harsh and fierce to the kids. But they feel proud when other relatives compliment on how well-behaved the kids are. Honestly, I don’t get them. They want well-behaved kids but without setting rules and boundaries.
I do fear that the way I bring up my children will cause me to become a Tiger Mom. It’s such a fine line. I’m constantly asking my husband to tell me if I am.
While we seek discipline, I also want play for my boys. The boys have no enrichment classes in the weekends. It’s just pure family bonding time. Whenever we are at a park, we always tell the kids to run as much as they can, swing as long as they want, and climb as high as they can. Weekly, I bring them to my parents’ place where they do sandplay. (Yes I bought sand from Mothercare. Awesome stuff). Whatever toys or books that the kids want and we find value in it, we usually get it for them either immediately or at a later date.
I think at the end of the day, there’s no perfect parenting style. You got to look at your kids’ character. Travis is the cheeky one and he needs someone to kick his tiny butt to get him to listen. Whereas emotional and sensitive Keane needs lots of explanation and you got to win him over when he starts a challenge. And how we behave as a parent changes as our kids grow up too, so again no one style fits all kids!