SINGAPORE: Giving Our Children Roots and Wings

SINGAPORE: Giving Our Children Roots and Wings

As parents, we desire to raise successful kids. But often the measurement of success can be so vastly different depending on our backgrounds, experiences and expectations. In Singapore, academic success is one of the top measures.  Parents will sign up their kids for every enrichment and tuition centre in a heart beat, if it promises to improve their child’s grade.

For some, it could be developing their kids’ full potential in the area of music, art, or sports, and sending them to take every class to discover their talents from a young age. For others, it might be simply equipping their kids with the life skills to get them through whatever life throws at them, the kind of smart I prefer, “street smarts.”

Over the years, Singapore’s education system is slowly steering it’s direction from just developing book smart students to being more holistic, realising that there is more than one way to recognise our kids’ abilities.

I’m really glad about these changes as my daughter will enter formal education next year, and to be honest I wasn’t an ace student. Many times I felt that I was judged by how well I scored on my exams and if I disappointed my parents and myself when I didn’t achieve fantastic results. But over the years, I discovered that I have other talents and gifts that are just not related to how book smart I am.

Though I think my daughter’s pretty smart (okay, I’m a biased mom ), I know these changes to the education system gives me greater assurance that she will thrive when she starts school. But as a parent, I also have an responsibility in shaping who she is and my role is to give her roots and wings.

Roots and Wings

Just like a tree, in order for it to reach it’s fullest potential and stand strong to withstand the different elements, its’ roots must go deep and be firmly planted. These are the qualities I wish most for and I try to instill in her:

1. To be rooted in her identity
I want my daughter to be deeply rooted in the knowledge of her own identity. I want her to love herself for who she is and not strive to be someone else. I want her to recognize that she’s uniquely her, complete with her vivacious and vibrant personality, her sense of humour, and heart of gold.

2. To be rooted in character and values

Peer pressure will be a very real issue in school and that’s when our kids’ character and values are put to the test. As a parent, we have to ingrain values of honesty, compassion, integrity, kindness, responsibility, perseverance, and the list goes on. The best way to teach these to our kids? To model them ourselves.

3. To soar on wings of exploration
Besides having deep roots, I hope that my girl will develop wings to seek out the world. To be filled with curiosity and awe with a hunger to know more. I want to be the parent that says, ” That’s an interesting question, let’s find the answer.” and never to stop her from asking questions.

4. To have wings of independence

Our kids will grow up no matter how much we wish for them to remain cute and small. And the key is to ensure that they are equipped with life skills to see them through their days. As a young toddler, I’ve roped my girl to help around the house from picking up after herself, clearing her plate when she’s finished her meals, or loading the laundry.

As she gets older, she knows she has to be responsible for her belongings and pack her own bags. We’ve taught her what to do if she ever gets lost, and now she’s learning how to count money, an essential skill needed at the school canteen soon.

I also intend to teach how to manage her time wisely, budget and save,  and maybe even cook. We can start from frying an egg!

As parents, it won’t be easy for us to let go of our kids when they eventually grow up, have their own ideas, friends and all. But when that day comes, we’ll be glad that our children are ready to soar high with their wings, knowing we’ve provided them with the skills to navigate the skies!

How do you help your child(ren) develop roots of responsibility and wings of independence?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor, Susan Koh from A Juggling Mom in Singapore. 

Susan Koh

Susan is from Singapore. As a full-time working mom, she's still learning to perfect the art of juggling between career and family while leading a happy and fulfilled life. She can't get by a day without coffee and swears she's no bimbo even though she likes pink and Hello Kitty. She's loves to travel and blogs passionately about parenting, marriage and relationship and leading a healthy life at A Juggling Mom.

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NIGERIA: Taking Responsibility

IMG_0758Taking responsibility for our actions is not always easy to do. It is funny how you see someone go on about the enemies in her life, who have denied her the success she so deserves.

People spend more of their time and prayers focused on their enemies than on themselves. They cast and bind those enemies. They go to all lengths to unravel their enemies when all they need do is stand in front of the mirror and recognize the enemy before them. When we blame others, we become our own enemies.

We should learn always to take responsibility for our actions. When we take responsibility for our actions, it means the solution lies within us, but when we blame somebody else, it means that only the other person can find a solution to the issues.

If you fail at anything, accept it; learn from it. If you do not get a promotion, or even lose a job, find out what you did wrong.  Learn from it to help you get the next promotion or to keep the next job. Do not blame your boss, your stepmother, half-brother or sister, the old woman in your village, your neighbor, your in-laws or the most-blamed devil. Just accept responsibility.

If we are not taught to take responsibility as children, we grow into adults who won’t take responsibility.  Most of us struggled to get  where we are today, and we want to protect our kids from the struggles of life–forgetting it was those struggles that helped make us who we are.

As parents, we have to allow our kids to be responsible for their actions. We have to allow them learn from their mistakes. There is no ideal world. They have to learn from the UNIVERSITY OF HARD KNOCKS i.e., LIFE. We cannot protect them from life; we have to allow them to live life.

A friend, whose 2-year-old son had broken his favourite cup, went to great lengths to find him a replacement, even to the extent of meeting the person who had given him the cup as a party favour.

I pointed out to her the need for allowing her child to be responsible for his actions. He breaks his cup, he loses it, and he learns that to keep a cup, he has to be careful with it.

I pointed out that unless there is a place where one can total one’s car and walk in and get a replacement free of charge, then she should let him learn by not providing a replacement.

Failure, they say, is not falling down.  It is staying down.

People who take responsibility for their actions learn from their failures, and you rarely see them complaining. They are the ones who look as if everything goes smoothly for them. They never seem to have any problems.

So, the next time you feel the urge of blaming anyone else or making excuses why something is not going the way you want, just remember when you blame another you take away the power of solution from your hands.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our new writer in Nigeria, Aisha Yesufu.

GUEST POST:  Raising Children in India

GUEST POST: Raising Children in India

Indian kidsMotherhood is one of the most beautiful experiences of a woman’s life. Raising children makes life full. I am raising my children in India and I feel that the environment in India helps a lot in inculcating a strong set of values.

I read a lot about the many ways children are raised in various parts of the vast Indian subcontinent. Here are some of the enriching reasons I find raising a child in India so wonderful:

1. Family Help: India is a country where the joint family system is prevalent. Children grow up having a lot of fun surrounded by generations of Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts and Cousins. This helps the child in her personal growth and instills great concepts like teamwork and adjusting to different kinds of people, with different mindsets. It also helps a child understand how to receive and give unconditional love.

Sadly, the joint family is breaking up nowadays and giving way to nuclear families. The nuclear family comprises of just the husband, wife and children. Sometimes, the husband’s parents come to stay. This helps build a strong bond between the children and the grand parents, which should be encouraged. The child will learn to respect traditional values which are an integral part of the Indian social fabric.

2. Learning to Respect Your Elders: Indian children are taught to respect their elders and extended family at a young age. Being around so many family members, children learn to show respect and love to one and all when they grow up. Some communities in India make it compulsory for the young people to touch the feet of the elders as the mark of reverence.

This custom is rarely found in any other culture across the world. This custom is instilled in the child’s mind from a very young age and it becomes second nature. This custom hasn’t changed even after western ideas and practices stealthily crept into India.

3. Kids Are Taught How to Save: Children in India are taught to save and not spend unnecessarily. Due to the conservative economy, Indian children learn at a very young age to prioritise their expenses. They learn to buy things which will give them value for money.

Nowadays many banks offer the option to open minor accounts for very small children. Instead of having children save their pocket money in piggy banks, they can save it in real banks. This teaches the child banking procedures at a very early age. Children can even maintain a separate copy for calculating the total expenditure. This will teach the child that it is not good to waste money.

4. Family Values: Children are inculcated with strong family values as they grow up among numerous family members. These family values help develop strong moral fiber. In the long run, they help in creating a strong personality which helps in their growth.

5. Character Development: Character defines how the child leads a holistic life. Parents in India work hard on character building for their child. Since all parents’ desire that their child grows up to become an honest and good human being.

6. Spiritual Discipline: Indian children are raised with enormous spiritual discipline. India is the land for spiritual growth and developing the spiritual qualities in a child helps him/her grow up to be a better individual. Children are taught about the importance of religion and customs. They are also taught to respect other religions as well, since the common idea of all religion is to achieve peace, moral strength and happiness.

7. Freedom When They Play: There is no requirement for an organized play time. A child will always find a group of children playing outside his house. So they can always find fun. They can step out any moment and experience a joyous playtime. Open spaces or children’s parks are still there and are not encroached by developmental activities and high rises.

8. Sharing and Caring: There is a lot of sibling bonding in Indian families. Parents teach children tolerance towards each other, love and patience. By sharing and caring for each other, this turns them into well-adjusted human beings.

9. Celebrating Traditions: India has one of the richest cultures which dates back more than 5000 years. So India is a land of festival and colors, cliché as it may sound, it is true. These celebrations are elaborate. All the kids are involved in the celebration of the festivals with the other children in the community. The children celebrate the festivals with their families and extended families.

10. Healthy Eating Habits: Emphasis is laid on eating healthy food. Children are allowed to eat junk food once in a while, but mothers cook at home. They are happy to feed the children with home cooked food. This makes the child health conscious. Mothers teach their children to choose healthy fresh fruits and vegetables. This also increases their knowledge about what is good for them.

The above stated facts hold true for a small portion of the Indian population, as the phrase goes ‘the privileged few’. Economically, India has progressed considerably in the last 60 years. The bigger picture, however, is quite different: a farmer hangs himself from a tree because he cannot provide for his family; a child is shunned from temples and public places due to his lower caste label; the rampant poverty in villages and lack of health amenities lead to reduced life expectancy; more children are seen carrying bricks and working in factories than in classrooms. These are children who don’t have access to formal education at all.

But for increasingly more kids, growing up in India is a blissful experience which helps them develop into amazing individuals. The calmness of spirit and the enriching environment in India is what gives these children an opportunity to explore life and themselves. The liveliness of the child is based on the amazing cultural forum that the Indian child inherits.

In contrast, malnourished children peddle the streets and somehow make a living. They are deprived of things that my child claims as basic rights. We have small children selling chai when they should be drinking a warm glass of milk instead. Yet from children like these, a leader has emerged – Narendra Modi. The contradictions and ironies of my country keep me enthralled. I trudge forward in earnest hope that my child will triumph in all spheres of her life.

Also, the technological development and fast paced life have made us so busy that we are finding less and less time for each other but still Indians never forget to smile at one another. Children brought up in India will never lose heart, since they have learned to struggle and attain victory in all fields of life. But to make that happen, we need to remember the wisdom Dr. Seuss imparted:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” — The Lorax

The image used in this post is credited to Ryan Ready. It holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

This is a first-time, guest post from Aradhana, a mother in India.  Aradhana also is a passionate writer, who focuses on topics like yoga, wellness, health and lifestyle. She has contributed posts to Natural News, Wiki How, MomJunction, and Elephant Journal. Through her writings, she hopes to motivate people to develop healthy habits and adopt natural ways of living to achieve sound health.

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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