Another Krista Parenting Talk this morning, and as usual it was great! Well, except for the fact that we all had to endure more than an hour delay because of the matter with the stage curtain.
Anyhow, all was well after the wonderful kids started to sing and dance and perform acts. They were all so fabulous! I'd initially been a bit reluctant to go coz this would've been the umpteenth time that I'd attended a Krista Parenting Talk, since all my 3 boys had gone here and Damascus and Marrakesh having both started at age 3. But, because Marrakesh was performing, I couldn't not go to see my darling bunbun (bun for buncit!)
Overall, the talk stressed on building strong relationships with your kids, something which I am so grateful I have, Alhamdulillah. Then came the Q&A session which caught my attention.
A father was concerned that the iPad he bought his daughter may start to cause more harm than good. A mother asked about how to teach her child to manage/avoid being bullied in school. Another mother was worried that her son was watching too much cartoons at home, while a couple's issue was that both their kids still sleep with them. There was also a discussion on sex in early childhood education.
iPad. I believe that if parents want to give their kids iPad or let their kids use iPad, the parents must also be willing to closely supervise their kids' usage of the iPad, work with them properly and not just leave the iPad with them to explore on their own, especially kids below 12. Personally, I do not agree when parents use the iPad as a replacement attention giver. The worst I've seen was a toddler, sitting in the restaurant's high chair, enjoying the program on the iPad placed nicely in front of her, while her parents enjoyed their dinner and talked between themselves. Is this respecting your child, or treating her like a "thing" you own? I believe that if you want to go out to some nice place and enjoy some nice meal, and you don't want the hassle of minding your child, don't bring the child. If you have no option coz you don't have anyone to mind the child for you at home while you're out, then don't go out. Isn't this what parenting is about? The iPad is supposed to enrich us, not substitute our parenting role.
Bullies. I tell my kids to just play it cool. If they think they can't handle the other kids, then just leave it alone, even if it means their egos get bruised. Better their egos than themselves! At the same time, I also tell them that this world is made up of so many things and so many people, and that they cannot expect everyone to be the same or think, feel and be like them. They must learn to accept people as they are. If they don't harm you, you don't harm them. If they are good to you, you be good to them. If they gel with you, you gel with them; if not, then just carry on minding your own business.
Cartoons. My kids watch TV ALL the time. But when I tell them to stop, they stop. My opinion about TV is that it's only bad when you lose control of it. I know that when my kids watch TV, it's because they expect to learn something new, eg. from Art Attack, Fingertips, Waktu Rehat, Phineas & Ferb. They also want to watch MTV coz they want to catch the latest hit songs, but this I must supervise closely, and my kids know what they can and cannot watch because we have given them strict guidelines which they respect.
Bedtime. I've been putting my kids in their own bed since they were each 1+ months old, after confinement. Yes, it required a lot of work waking up and walking that 10-15ft distance from my room to theirs each time they awoke or asked for feeds, but it was an effort worth taking. Some people say it was easy for me coz I didn't breastfeed. But what's easier about bottle feed? I had to clean and sterilise bottles, fill up the flask and water bottle, make sure formula is always in stock, and get the milk done. Easier? And a baby that age still needs to be cradled when feeding. Easier? Well, darling husband was also very supportive, when I couldn't gather the strength, he'd feed the boys. He still does, pour milk for each boy before bed :) And whenever we traveled, we'd get 2 adjoining rooms, unless rooms are not available or budget does not permit. But most times it'll be 2 adjoining rooms or no travel. Our boys are all manja; they'd still get in bed with mommy and ayah if they're not well or after they're awakened by a bad dream, even 11 year old abanglong; or ayah would sleep in the boys' room while mommy nurses the sick offspring. Marrakesh however, still has some attachment issues, maybe coz he is the youngest; or maybe coz when he was a baby we had a day maid who used to "gendong" him everytime everywhere, and when she stayed over to babysit she would let him sleep with her coz it was easier for her to manage. But all in all, my kids sleep in their own room. About being afraid to sleep on their own because they're afraid of the dark or ghosts, we never had that issue coz we never encouraged them to be afraid of ghosts and we didn't tell them ghost stories; we always tell them that God is always with them, and He has angels always watching over them to keep them safe. When they grew older they would recite Al-Fatihah and the 3 Quls and then go to sleep, after their bedtime story of course, something they expect to get :)
And fyi, my mother breastfed all 3 of us, my sister, my brother and me, and we never slept with our parents after confinement.
Sex in early childhood education. This is something I really need help with. I could read and google about it all I can, but it would be best if I could hear it first hand from someone with ample knowledge and experience.
At the end of the talk, the speaker circulated feedback forms and among the questions asked was, what I would try to do next to improve my relationship with my kids? 1st, have more patience; 2nd RESPECT THEIR EXPECTATIONS.
I'd like to reiterate an incident.
My dear friend Lee Kuen had invited us to her kids' violin concerto at MPO. I was so thrilled coz I wanted my kids to appreciate classical music. Esfahan had previously been to several piano concertos at the MPO concert hall, and both he and Damascus went to see Barbar The Elephant & Peter The Wolf there with their music class, and all 3 had been to stage performances at Istana Budaya. So, I thought they would enjoy the kids' violin concerto and they would know how to behave appropriately. Oops! Big mistake, HUGE! And it was MY mistake. I was enjoying the concert, all those talented kids playing violin so well and they were all so wonderful! But my boys were getting ULTRA restless. They like Jay Chou, Adam Levine and LMFAO. I always remind them that before they can play or create music like that they must learn the basic music first, and classical is the root of all good music; and I'm always telling them that Jay Chou majored in classical music before he started creating his own rap and pop music. But their restlessness was getting out of hand; they started to argue about who's sitting where, running from aisle to aisle, swivel their seats and at one point Marrakesh just swooshed out of his chair! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! Then finally Lee Kuen pointed out that my boys were just too restless and she suggested that I should take them out for a breather. AAAAAAAAAAA!!! At that point I felt like I was the worst mommy of all time and that my boys were the biggest monsters on the face of the universe! AAAAAAAAAAAA!!! We left the hall and never returned.
I texted an apology to Lee Kuen and she was very forgiving and understanding. Thank you Lee Kuen, XOX! When we got home I punished my boys for BIG TIME BAD BEHAVIOR! I sent them to bed without dinner; but only because they had had some food before the concert earlier. I justified that. Then I cried.
I was alone coz darling husband was away for his annual company trip. I started to think about what had actually happened. I was angry with my kids because they were acting like monsters in the concert hall. But why did they behave that way? Why were they restless? While I was enjoying the music, did I bother to ask them if they were enjoying it too? Or did I just simply selfishly want them to enjoy and appreciate what I believe to be good for them? Did I try to shoosh and sheesh them to sit still and be quiet and enjoy the show just because I wanted them to enjoy it? Then I realised that, I didn't actually care about what they thought of and how they felt about the concert. I realised that I just was angry because they refused to obey me when I told them to sit still and enjoy the concert. Can I really force them to sit still and enjoy something that doesn't interest them that much? Yes, they were familiar with some of the songs, but were they really enjoying it? Did I care? No, I didn't care, I was just angry because they didn't obey me and they did not submit to my demands. I didn't get what I wanted, so I got angry. They didn't get what they expected, so they became restless. I didn't respect their expectations. I must learn to respect their expectations.
Having said that, I must also instill some discipline in my kids. They must know that they can't just run around making noise everytime they get restless and not respect others around them. They must observe common courtesy and the generally accepted behavioral practices. :)