Thursday, May 08, 2008

On Parenting

I read an article this morning in the NST (Hands-On (Off) Mums) on how times have changed, and how, when it comes to parenting, values or traditions have taken a leave of absence or been substituted by something else. I find it amusing because just the other day, we were discussing about this among friends over lunch at the cafeteria.

Children these days are such a lucky lot. They get to do things that we didn't get to do at that time of our age, eg. pegi rock concert, holidays in London, Paris, Bali & what have yous, expensive handphones & handbags etc. My first concert was when I was 19 (itu pun masa student kat London) ~ my daughter's first concert was when she was in Std 6! My first holiday abroad was after I got a job (with my own money!) ~ my kids: as early as 7 months old dah pegi London/Jakarta. My first branded handbag was bought with my first duit gaji ~ my eldest stepdaughter got hers when she was still in Primary school!

So, how do you beat that? I don't blame them. It's the way they were brought up. Parents these days have the means to provide all that for their children, unlike my parents dulu. So I didn't get all those priviledges. I never questioned what was given to me by my parents, never had a choice on what to eat during meal times (whatever that was served on the dining table, itu lah yang di makan. No complain. No such thing as, "Can we have Japanese today? Pizza tomorrow? And Korean the day after?" )

And I was so afraid of my parents; my mother especially. My ultimate aim in life was to please my mother. That's all I wanted to do. Tapi sekarang dah lain. Parents dah jadi macam kawan. Some mothers talk openly with their daughters about their boyfriends, love life, problems etc. Their children can freely bring home their BFs or GFs, and lepak2 like nobody's business in the room/living room, and it's ok. Parents tak kisah. Parents said, "better di depan mata I dari dia buat di belakang mata." But for me, that is unacceptable.

At home, I do talk to the girls about love, men, sex and so forth. Things they don't know, they ask me (but they know quite a lot already). However, when it comes to their love interests, somehow I just couldn't bring myself to talk about it openly. Entah lah, I just feel uncomfortable. Maybe because I wasn't brought up that way, or maybe because I don't think they should get themselves lost in love yet. I don't know...

My two girls are home are 17 & 19. They are at their prime, I must say, and of late, I noticed they've been acting rather secretive. Kalau texting on their handphones, macam sorok2, but I tahu coz tangan tu macam tak lepas2 pegang handphone. Or, kadang2, out of the blue, one would suddenly jump up excitedly and screamed all the way to the kitchen after an SMS came in, while the other two girls (my maid included) would circle her and they would also scream in excitement after that. If they were in the study room and tiba2 I masuk, they would quickly close the page they were looking at (or pictures), and jerit2 excitedly, "Cepat!! Cepat!!" (konon tak nak I nampak gambar siapa they all tengah tengok...).

These are signs, you see, and we all know that (eh, kita dah lama makan garam, kan?). I know they are going through this phase, and it's a nice feeling indeed. Kadang2 tu, I teringin juga nak tanya, "So, who's your BF now?" (konon2 nak pretend macam jadi dia punya confidante lah), tapi mulut ni macam berat je nak tanya. I don’t want to be caught in a situation where she’ll be all excited telling me about her boyfriend, and I would be gritting my teeth trying to control myself from saying anything nasty. By right, I should just be a listener, but I cannot bear listening to my daughter talking about her boyfriend (how much she misses him, what nickname he gave her etc) at this age! It's just so awkward!

To me, kawan2 boleh, cintan2 nanti dulu because I want them to focus on their studies first. Karang, dah pandai bercinta, habis semua lupa. MrNordin shares the same view with me, andI'm glad for that. I guess he was brought up that way too. Perhaps, they'll go through the same experience as WanShana, who knows? But WanShana & HH were innocent then. Kids these days are more advanced, hoi! Itu yang takut tu!

Just the other day, my eldest stepdaughter Nabila, was invited by her friends to attend this dining ceremony at their college. These are the Hotel & Catering students, who cooked the dishes and let their friends/family become the food critique. She wanted to go, so we let her go. A male cousin was supposed to pick her up at 7pm and send her home at 10.30pm. That was the deal.

After she left, I sat down thinking, "Wow... how times have changed!" Dulu, masa zaman kita muda2 dulu, mana ada chance nak keluar malam macam tu, and boys pick up pulak tu (well, that's her cousin, but still, he's a boy!). Nak mampus?! Nak keluar siang2 pun susah, ini pulak nak keluar malam. But now, "Baba... my friend invited me... Subang... 8 pm... D is picking me up.... bla.. bla... bla... ". And the Baba said, "Ok". And then when she came home, kita siap tanya dia balik, "So how was the dinner, sayang.... how's the food.... ramai orang tak...did you have a good time.... bla.. bla... bla..." !!

Ada tak anda pernah mengalami pengalaman yang sebegini dengan your parents dulu? For me ~ never. Not even in my widest dream! That’s why, as the article rightly pointed out, “the old school of upbringing, whereby kids are merely seen and not heard, has gone with the afro hairdo.

MrNordin & me are now at this stage where our daughters have reached that age where they are going into adulthood. Slowly, they are steering us towards loosening our grip on them and seeking more freedom to do things that adults do. Kalau dulu, setakat pegi tengok wayang at KLCC je and then balik, now ada kawan lelaki nak datang pick-up from home & pegi minum2 kat Craven (most of her friends dah ada driving license). So whenever such requests come up, we’ll be torn. Nak bagi ke tak nak bagi? Kalau tak bagi karang, tak cool pulak. Kalau bagi karang, kita pulak yang risau…

Most of the time, we allow her to go, tapi after a lengthy interrogation from the father lah. But our rule is simple, don’t abuse it and pandai2 bahagikan masa. So far, she has been quite consistent. Kata balik pukul 6, dia akan balik pukul 6. Kalau lambat sikit, she’d call. So different from masa dulu (during her Form 4 & 5) when dia buat ikut suka hati dia je. Always extended her outing time with measly excuses, which always riled the father up. I guess she has become more matured and responsible (after her 1-year stint in Gopeng) and I’m glad for that.

Parenting is not easy, huh? Each child ada different perangai. I've gone through all those teenage tantrums syndrome, have gotten worried sick about the children's studies and behaviour, and have cried so many times when my patience was pushed over its limit. But alhamdulillah, I survived it all and the children are still with us. We are still learning about each other day by day, and my only wish is for my family to stick together and live in harmony as I grow older.

9 comments:

MA & Brood said...

Raising teenagers with raging hormones is not easy. My teenagers are 14 and 16 respectively - and like you, I am a conservative mother.

I sent my daughter to an all-girls school with anticipation that she would not have boys as classmates, so kira "selamat" la sikit. What I didn't realise was (at that time) the all-boys school across the street!

So now I just doa banyak-banyak and hope that with her better judgement (and my hawk-eyed monitoring), she will know how to jaga diri.

Or else.....!

Emma KL-Lite said...

Hi MrsNordin. First time here. My dad is one garang dad during my teen years, even after dah keje twenty-plus pun kol bertalu2 kalo balik lambat around 11 camtu. Rimas & tak cool..I feel mistrusted psl other than kuat berjalan..im not wild or trying stuff. Neway..I think its hard to be a parents sebenarnya. Serba salah.. what if anything happen kan? Menyesal pulak.

wanshana said...

Yup - bercinta at that age nowadays is SOOOOOO much different than during our times. I agree with you.

My eldest daughter is 12, but her hormones are beginning to run wild, I tell you... At that age, it's relatively easier to control - dok la kat rumah, jangan lepas ke mana-mana without us following. But 17 above...very tricky!

And MA,

We send her to an all-girls school jugak. But, yang menjadi masalahnya - her friends' brothers lah, their brother's friends lah...yang dok mengorat coz' their hormones also running wild!!!

Sigh...good luck to us all...

MrsNordin said...

Ma,

If you've provided them with the right guidance from the very beginning, I think they'll be ok, be it sekolah campur or sekolah all-girls. The friends they mix with pun are important coz they listen to their friends more than to us.

Children are basically attention seekers. If you've given them full attention & love at home, they wouldn't look for it elsewhere. But of course kena monitor jugak... just to be certain...

Susah kan? Emak kita dulu tak payah lah nak risau2 pasal benda ni semua sebab masa tu kita tak terpikir pun nak buat perkara2 yang tak berfaedah ni. Bebudak sekarang... macam2!

MrsNordin said...

Hi Emma,

I'm glad you realised that parenting is tough job, and you understood why your daddy did what he did. Good girl!

I know... memanglah rimas bila kena control macam tu. That's why, when I was studying last time, my main aim was to graduate quickly and get a job in KL cepat2 so that I don't have to stay with my parents anymore. I wanted to be independent. As long as I'm earning, my parents tak kisah.

With my kids, I think their father would still call up and check on them even after they all dah kerja, like your dad lah. Bukan apa... just worried and dia sayang kat you all. That's all I have to say.

Thanks for dropping by!

MrsNordin said...

Shana,

Anak dara you semua lawa2, memang lah ramai peminat! Tapi like what I said to MA, kalau dari kecil kita bagi dia the proper guidance, they'd know what's right or wrong. Most of the time, they're just testing us, because they themselves don't even know what they're doing. Lepaskan sikit2, lepas tu pull back. But you must never let go of the string!

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

mrsnordin,

I am a 30+ mom with 3 girls and a boy. When I look back at my 'wild days' in uni with my then boyfriend and now hubby, ayoooo... even if my kids do half the things I did... MATI!!!

My hubby dah cakap dah... our kids nanti tak boleh belajar overseas like us... kena kat M'sia so that we can keep our EYES on them closer, but do you honestly think it'll work? Kalau dah naughty tu, naughty jugak, kan?

Well, I suppose didikan agama tu penting, and like you said, the love and attention they receive at home have to be sufficient to guide them thru'.

All the best to all of us!!!!!!

MrsNordin said...

Anon,

I share the same feelings on this!! But look at it this way: if we survived it, I'm sure they would too!

Take care!

emma said...

tapikan i would like to add... although i wanted more freedom dulu, i am glad i have limited or rather closely watched outings. now i am married..i cherish marrying mr hubby cos i get to do so many things tade sape nak marah..dgn boy pulak tu! so tade la i komplen2 bandingkan life dulu yg lebih happpening(like some frens).. i think now is soo much bettah!