Friday, November 30, 2018

Parenting with Love: Values

With the recent MOE announcement on schools having fewer exams and assessments, there’s an attempt to have a shift in focus on academic results. The rigour in our system has been an ongoing discussion for a while, with an MP raising if PSLE should be abolished during Parliament earlier this year.

The academic pressure has also been much discussed within my own circle of friends. However, something that I feel we need to look into is values. A friend of mine recently posted up on her FB about witnessing a child jumping queue and the parent condoning it. More than that, apparently when my friend spoke up, the parent got nasty.

Dumpling as some of you would know, participates in Netball as a CCA. On most days, her position is that of a midfielder. One thing I’ve often advised her is to just take on and try various positions, even when it is not one that is familiar to her. There was an occasion this year where she was tasked to stand in as a shooter, a position she is unfamiliar with. Needless to say, Dumpling did not score any goals. After the session, one player (let’s call her T) called Dumpling a loser. Dumpling (good on her I must say!) told that girl off. What was disturbing was that Dumpling shared with me the girl’s mum heard their squabble and confronted Dumpling, asking her “what is wrong with T calling you a loser?” Thankfully Dumpling stood her ground.

As Dumpling is in the so called "top class" in her school, I often "marvel" (can you detect the sarcasm here?) at some of the parents' teachings and reactions, and wonder if all they are concerned about are grades. On a recent occasion, Dumpling was placed in a project group where each of the team mate has a part to research and write on and the slides were to be collated at the end of the project timeline. Dumpling was “chasing up” with one particular team-mate who was unresponsive and refused to email / save her part in the thumb drive. Towards the end, that team member shared that her slides were ready, but her mum refused to let her email / save it lest the team “tries to copy them”. So apparently, team work and, respect and collaboration are not ranked high on her list here. 

A few months back, Dumpling was also hit on the arm by a classmate with a pencil case. This same classmate also threatened to step onto Dumpling’s violin not once but twice. I had to raise this to the form teacher as the incidents seem to be ongoing (these were not the only few incidents but the more “recent” ones). The girls were purposely separated to reduce chances of interaction. Some days later, Dumpling told me that the girl told the teacher her mom has also told her to stay away from Dumpling lest she (the girl) gets blamed by Dumpling again. So clearly, hitting and threatening someone is not something which the parent thinks is wrong. 

In the past, if my parents were to get a call from the school, my mom would hit the roof and start questioning and punishing us first. I recall my younger days where my mum would cane my brother and I so badly that my classmates would point and stare at the marks over the next few days when we attended school.

In this day and age, it seems that the tables have turned. I am not sure if the pursuit of academic excellence causes a downplay on values; after all, our society is meritocratic. It is almost like these children can do no wrong and I can almost hear parents rebutting with a “well, Thomas came in tops for his recent Maths exams”; that good grades are all that matter.

Dumpling has on some occasions told me that I am the worst mum ever and she hates me. Yup, in those words, especially when I come down hard on her for failing to complete her stuff or not taking responsibility for her choices and actions. My reply was (and I still stand by this) that I am first and foremost, her mother, a parent. If we end up being great friends along the way, that’s a bonus. But my main duty in life is to ensure that she grows up being a “good” person – one that is kind, responsible, has compassion and understands the value of good old hard work; one that is willing to speak up for what is right and understands the value of respect and collaboration. So if that makes me a bad parent because I am anal about some stuff, then so be it as I am trying to raise a child with good values, not someone with just great grades. 

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