Thursday, February 22, 2018

When good kids do bad things...

Taken from instagrammer
No matter how hard we try, we can never shield and protect our kids enough. And even if we did succeed at home, that doesn't mean our kids will be in that bubble in school. We just pray and hope that what we have enforced at home is enough to guide them through their choices in school. From deciding on what they eat during breaks, what they spend their school money on and more importantly who they hang out with. (And chances are, as a parent, you might disagree with most of their choices they make... it's normal. :P)

We managed to transfer A to a "better" Catholic school at the beginning of Primary 3. On hindsight, I didn't realise that cliques have been formed since P1, especially in a girls school, and unless my child is a Ms. Popular, breaking into these groups, would be tough. 
She did make friends though, just that the closer ones are probably not the ideal ones, but we thought that as long as she has friends, we really should just close an eye on it. Unfortunately, halfway through the year, we got a call from her teacher saying that A was called into the principal's office because of her friend's mischief... and A had become an accomplice.

We never believed in using the cane in our household, but of course that day, the mister was very tempted to use it. I was shocked and besides getting upset with A for this, was even more disappointed that I was really nothing but a lousy mummy.
What had gone wrong? D and I have a great marriage, so it can't be the kids are insecure that their family will break up. We are not rich but we are not depriving them of any opportunities, so they won't be left out. We have our family time, and I do spend every afternoon preparing their meals and revising their work. But when something had happened, no matter what the parents had done, it is just... not enough. (and yes.... even good kids can do bad things too)
We did talk to her about her choices and our thoughts on it. She seemed to get it and we left it as that.

Unfortunately, A came home using vulgarities one day. It started with "What the..."(of which we would always tell her to mind her language) but very soon that became "F^&K". (Great... how did my baby grow into a teenager within nine months)
Truth be told, in many of my crossroads in parenting, I usually turn to google first for answers. "How to discipline my child for vulgarities" or "My ten-year old is swearing... help". I did find comfort that I'm not the only parent having this issue (yay????) but the unfortunate thing is most do not have an 'answer' or solution for you. (Some even tell you that since you can't help it, why not swear in front of them too? Like... seriously?)

Both D and I were stumped. We tried taking turns to talk to her, we tried taking away "privileges" and I even had to explain to her what the word was about. Still, not long after, she progressed to showing her middle finger. (Kill me now...) All these time, praying to God to help me through this amongst the other hurdles of motherhood.

The message advert I got!
Finally, I think God pitied me and I received an sms from a mummy whose boy was in the same kindergarten as A. It was about a programme for girls who are aged 9-12 to meet once a week for an activity either like craft, culinary, sport or even community projects to the old folks home. It was initiated some time ago by a group of mothers who thought that they had wanted to come together with activities that could focus on virtues and values rather than societal norms. (God bless these mothers) They have one for older girls and another programme for boys only. If you are a catholic, you would be happy to know that every two weeks, a priest will be there to hear confession. 
IF you know me, I am one who plans the kids activities due to convenience and this was really out of my comfort zone since it's near Pasir Panjang, where NUS is. But because I really thought this may be good for A, I decided to go for this. 

I dropped her a few weeks back for the first session and stayed outside with some parents for some impromptu fellowship. When the session was over,  I was curious to find out how she found it. She actually loved it and didn't mind to go more! (In case you are wondering it's $10/session or $150/half a year just to cover cost). I personally felt that was my best find of the year, and I was really grateful that after praying for so long, I managed to find some sort of relief and answer.
The upcoming activity they will be doing! 
Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to say that this programme is the solution. A's behaviour is an ongoing test on my patience and possibly my reason to why I may go to heaven, but in the midst of my struggles and helplessness, God never left me, He just waited for me to be less anxious and humbler in my invitation to ask Him what to do.

So now, if you asked me, as a parent, what do we do when our kids keep doing something bad. Again, my answer isn't perfect but if there's one thing I have learnt is that during those months of us trying to discipline her for her "shortfalls", I only highlighted the negatives. Truth be told, any kid with some form of intellect, would know what is right and what is wrong. So me emphasising that is really pointless, though we do maintain that one of the rules in the house is no vulgarities.
However, on hindsight, I realised that instead of breathing down her neck on how she should behave, what values she was lacking on, 'punishing and disciplining' her on her misbehaviour, a better way was to highlight OTHER possibilities of how girls can behave well, how other people interact, what girls her age can do, how girls can carry themselves and possibly what kind of friends she could find.

This entry may also not be the solution you as a parent are looking for, but I hope you realise.. the secret ingredient in whatever solution you have is love... :)