Growing Up Children 

The most important responsibility of parents is parenting. Bringing a new life, pure and innocent, into this world is not as challenging as the journey of parenting. Carrying the life for the whole pregnancy and giving birth is just for a fixed period of time. The parenting part is lifelong.

How time flies…as if it was only yesterday I’ve been awarded the status as a parent, a mom at that, for the first time. This December shall be my 19th year. In a job, I would have been a senior and well-experienced employee at least, if not a master of it. However, in parenting, why does it feel as if I’m still a newbie? 

At each year of growth, I continuously experiencing differences and changes in parenting style. My summary on this is, what used to work for a certain stage does not apply anymore for the next. What worked for the boy doesn’t necessary work for the girl! 

When a lovely young lady enters my son’s life, I guess it is normal to feel a little apprehensive. Will he be a better person, will he respect her and be kind to her, will he take care of her heart and well-being and will she be and do the same to him?

I can only pray and hope that my dear son will remember the family values that’s been instilled in him thus far. Respecting other ladies as he would his mom and sister. Oh well…I just have to let go and let them be. I’m sure they are in good hands. Of course, studies come first (*hint*). 

I wonder how other parents deal with it and still stay cool about it. I heard that some freaked out, some tried to act cool but feeling otherwise, some resorted to stalking the children. I am fine as long as I can see some positive change in him. And no, I didn’t freak out..hahaha.

As for my teenage daughter, she’ll come to have deeper understanding of friendship year after year. People grow up and change along the way. Feeling is ever changing so does the environment. The only thing constant is change. Embrace change for the better. My gentle advice to you, dear daughter, is do not hold on too tightly to things or people. Let it go if you have to, let it pass. New things will come along. Receive it while you learn to adapt and accept. The choice is yours. Therefore, choose your thought and action wisely.

My dearest children, no one has the power to determine your happiness except yourself. No one has the power to make you angry or sad. It only applies when you permit it. You are your own master. If you feel down or angry, validate the feelings. Allow the feelings to flow in you (don’t try to stop it) then wipe the tears,  get up and move on. Always remember if you don’t have the energy to get up, reach out for help. I promise you that I’ll always be there for you no matter what or when. 

Life is neither easy nor difficult. Just a bit complicated. No ones knows the answer to everything. Not even I. We learn from our mistakes and become wiser. Just ensure we don’t repeat the same mistakes. If I may add, don’t even try the “bad stuffs” in order to learn from the mistake. Some mistakes can’t be turned around so easily, for example drugs. Some grave mistakes don’t come with second chance, for instance, road racing, drink and drive and anything that is against the law.

Children, when faced with uncertainty, always think things through. Do not let others force you into making rash decisions. You’ll be able to make sound decisions when the mind is more calm and steady. 

I enjoy watching the children grow and grow up well, not perfect…I’m proud of them as they are. Walk tall but be kind and humble. Carry yourselves well, speak well and always be mindful of your action. I’m so blessed having you by my side. You are my pride and joy, then, now and forever. 

A contented parent,

Alice N.

Parental Control

To what extent do parents wish to impose parental control over their children’s action and thoughts? To what extent would you as a parent influence the behaviour of your young ones?

Noted that we cannot control another human being who is able to think independently for him/herself. However, do we realize that we can indirectly influence their thoughts and actions? If you don’t believe this, think about your own childhood growing up. How much has your upbringing shaped you? How much has your parents’ speech and action influenced yours? Have you at any one point discovered that you actually sounded and/or acted just like your parents?

I’m not implying that parental control is not good or irrelevant. There are good values which we must live by and pass on to the following generation(s). Same goes to our family culture, with or without slight improvement or adjustment. Throughout my life, I have many teachers, life teachers, that is. The first of course, being my father. He gave me almost total freedom, except for those that might jeopardize my well-being and safety. I was allowed to choose my life direction, right from which school I wanted to attend, at the young age of 6, all the way to adulthood. It was my mother who tried her best to instill more discipline on me, as to what a girl/lady should do or say and what shouldn’t. I guess that provided a good balance, growing up. I must admit that I’m more grateful now than before.

Now that I’m a parent, a mother, I try to give some degree of freedom to my children. Allowing them to make their own life decisions while I provide a check and balance, when necessary. I have always preached to them that we shall always be responsible for our own action and choice that we made. However, we do impose parental control or rather rules here, when it comes to their well-being and safety.

They’ve been told repeatedly that life is impermanent. My presence here is as temporary as theirs. They will have to think for themselves; dare to make decisions; dare to make mistakes and to learn from them; dare to speak up while at the same time stand to be corrected; they are not perfect but many times, they made great decisions on their own, some of which I might not favour but they turned out well, better than I expected!

I always come across this : when a child (be it very young or an adult) did something greatly unacceptable, people are quick to judge and blame it on the parents. In my humble opinion, yes, parents are to be blamed in a way (if they one way or another, contribute to this delinquency) but if the child is a thinking young adult or adult, he/she has to assume the full responsibility. No excuse to pass the bug to the parents. Why? Simple because, we have the capability to think for ourselves, analyse any given situation and then come to a decision before acting or not acting upon it. If we get it right, bravo! If not, learn from it and make it right the next time. I always believe that all actions would have been thought of carefully before one acts upon them.

With or without parental control or guidance, there are people who made it in this world. What I mean by “made it” is that they live by a good set of principles and values. Some through the hard way of trials and errors in life, whilst some have the privilege to full family support and proper guidance. Regardless, it balls down to self; self-discipline, self-control, self-conscience…..

Dear young children/teenagers, when you have restricted or no passes to some thrilling actions and places, do yourself a favour, ask to understand why they are imposed on you. By having better understanding, you will be able to make wiser decisions in the future. You will know how to analyse situations and better choices. If you feel and think that your choice is right but different from that of your parents, have a discussion with them, while keeping an open mind.

Parents might know more but that doesn’t mean that they know everything and that includes you. Communicate openly with them so that they can understand you more and truly see for themselves how much you have changed and grown. Bear in mind that they are not trying to make life difficult for anyone, especially you; all they are concerned about is you and your well-being. Making them see your points is as important as you giving them a chance to present theirs to you and then come to a compromise.

Just remember, don’t rush to grow up. You have ample time to live your adult life. Enjoy your childhood and being showered with attention and adoration from your family members even though it might irritate you to your bones. Count your blessings that you are a receiver of such love and attention. Enjoy while it lasts, with a pinch of parental control. It’s not all that bad, really.

~ Alice N.


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Outward Bound Camp Experience

This is a continuation from my last posting, “Loosening The Apron String”. It’s finally the 10th day since the last time we parted with our son at the Outward Bound Malaysia (OBM) campsite. It was a 10-day camp and worth every second of it. Well done, OBM!!!

On the 9th evening, we had BBQ Nite where parents/families were invited to great food (mushroom soup, BBQ chicken thigh with brown sauce, coleslaw, salad, mashed potatoes, fruits) and entertained by all the participants, as young as 10 year-old. You’d be amazed by their talents! I was, and on that special evening, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my son could rap so well! Yeah, one proud mom and dad here 😉

A huge contrast to the first day of registration. The once shy and timid Tweens and Teens had been replaced by confident and excited young ladies and lads! The hall was filled with joy, warm and strong fellowship. If you were there, you could feel the strong bond amongst them. They no longer hanging around their parents but preferring to be with their buddies instead. At the same time, I could feel a tinge of sadness in the room as they knew that they’re left with one more night together before they part in the morning with each return to their own homes and lives.

On the final day, the closing ceremony was carried out in an orderly manner. I must acknowledge that OBM carried out their activities with much care and professionally too. On this glorious morning, all parents were punctual for the closing ceremony. During such time, parents would take every opportunity to snap as many pictures of their children with their friends. Same here…

On our way home, I was most glad to hear from my son that he enjoyed himself so much that he wished to attend the YAC again next year. He didn’t mind the “inconvenience” which came with it as he loved all the outdoor activities such as kayaking, setting up his own tent, rock climbing, jungle tracking, cooking together, etc. He even missed his dorm already. Upon hearing that, my tween daughter also echoed her brother’s wish. Great, we shall do that again come 2012!

Deep down, I hope from now onwards, his experience will bring positive changes to his life, besides the wonderful memories from this 10-day camp. I also encourage him to keep in touch with all his new-found friends, via Facebook, emails or occasional meetings for chats and catching up.

All in all, I’m most glad that we made that decision to register him for the YAC at OBM. Thanks to our dearest friend/brother, DKA who initiated this idea. He attended this camp when he was younger and it changed him for the better, to who he is today. Do you know that OBM has been on our land for the last 57 years and still counting?!

Cheers to Gayong YAC28!

Alice N.


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Loosening The Apron String

Nope, it’s not about cooking today. I must admit that I’m not much of a cook or a baker, but if you want to swing by for a simple meal, I believe I can manage that, if you dare try…(LOL!)

Today, I want to talk about parents and their children. Usually parents, mostly moms, are painstakingly protective over their growing children. I can attest to that, as I was one before. You know, modern parents these days choose to have fewer children. All they have are one, two or three, especially city folks, with both parents working. They are able to shower their children with abundance of love and attention that they sometimes fear to let go.

When I was planning to send my dear son to the Outward Bound Camp (OBC), I did mention to a few friends about it. They wondered how I could let my son participate in such a camp, three and a half hours away from home, with total strangers and for a period of ten days?! Well, feelings wise, I’m no different from other moms. Just that, when the time comes, I know I have to let go, bit by bit for his own sake. I must allow him space to grow up to be an independent young adult. He can only do that when I’m not around to “mothering” him around. I know very well that I can’t keep him under my wings forever, as I won’t be around that long. Yes, I do worry about him being out there but I consoled myself that it’ll be fine and he’ll be enjoying himself with his newfound friends. At the end of it, he would have learnt some life skills which we could all be proud of. I had been to many such camps, from young to adult life, and I ended up better off each time. I know what it’s like. The same shall apply to him. Who knows, he might want to go again next year?!

All I could do before we parted was to re-assure him and advise him to listen attentively to his instructors. I had to put on a brave front and be cool about it. Because I know, if I display any sign of anxiety, he would feel it too. That would make him more nervous. That was what I witnessed on the registration day, the scene of over-protective parents asking endless questions and anxious children tailing behind their parents! Poor kids.

As our children grow up, we must not keep them under a golden shield. Otherwise, they will depend on their parents for literally everything about them – making life decisions, expect parents to act for them, not being pro-active (always waiting to be told before doing something), etc. Should we leave permanently one day, what is to become of these children! They would be like lost lambs or like a kite with broken string! Terrifying! Oh no, I’d rather teach them to fish than to fish for them.

Of course, when offering freedom, I wouldn’t give all out. It’ll have to be bit by bit, to gauge how much my child can handle. If it is too much to handle, I’d pull some back. If he can handle more, I’d allow more. When we love someone, we must accord him/her some freedom by simply letting go, by the inch or yard. It is totally up to you. Just like one wise friend once told me – in any relationships, holding on tightly will stop it from growing and eventually breaks it apart. As in fishing or flying a kite, sometimes you let go and sometimes you apply a bit of pressure to bring it closer, then you let loose again.

Coming back to the camp : I was told by many that after the OBC, I’d expect drastic changes to my son’s behaviour. He’d be “tougher”, more disciplined and confident. Sounds good, right? Sometimes when a mother hears all that in one shot, she would be having mixed feelings like, glad but terrified. Glad because her child has grown and able to take on more life challenges; terrified because she might not be prepared for it. That’s how I felt initially, after listening to many mothers talking. Fortunately, my brain took over and did some analytical thinking, weighing the pros and cons and finally, the brain won! Yeah, it should do more good for him than harm. It’s gonna be alright….

He is old enough to learn to rely on himself and to trust his own judgement. Assuring myself that I’ve made the right decision in convincing myself and my darling husband, to let our son attend such camp at this age. Yes, I have a good feel about it from the time I completed those application forms, took him for his medical examination and the days which followed after we parted at the camp site. We’ll be seeing him again real soon….can’t wait!!!

For those parents who are still wearing a tight apron around their waists and still “mothering” their teenagers, try to loosen it a bit to avoid suffocation. After a while, you’ll get used to it and be proud of your children’s achievements in life. Been there, done that and still going from phase to phase. I’ve survived thus far and so would you!

Cheers,
Alice N.


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Dear Children,

I have always wanted to be your friend. To speak words which are soothing to your ears, words you like to hear. To agree with you, to please you. To do things your way. To agree instead of disagree. To earn as many star ratings from you. But…..

My wonderful children, as much as I wanted to be your best pal, I am also your mother. I don’t want to choose either one. I want to be both with you; I choose to be your MOM and your FRIEND. There is no hard and fast rule which comes first or second. Depending on the situation, my role will switch from one to another, where applicable.

By being your MOM, naturally, I shall set some boundaries. I don’t enjoy being strict on you, but I have to, sometimes. However, I do allow certain degree of freedom as long as you can handle it. I shall always discuss with you when I decide to take away any benefit. It is only temporary, my precious. When I feel that you’re ready for more freedom, rest assured, you will have it. Please don’t rush to grow up. Every bittersweet experience you go through now will form the firm foundation to your adult lives. I shall hope that you would cherish every single day of your life.

As your FRIEND, when you are hurt, upset, angry, disappointed, frustrated, afraid or in doubt, I shall always be there for you. Just call and I’ll come to you; lending you my ears to listen to your troubles; offer my shoulder to lean your tired head on; a warm bear hug to comfort you; sitting next to you, accompanying you in silence till you are ready to talk about it; or to brainstorm the issue together, if you wish. I shall first allow you space to handle the situation on your own, unless you ask for it and when I feel that my intervention is appropriate, then I shall step in. Of course, the mother in me would do anything to chase away the blues to see that sweet, heart-warming smile and listen to the lovely tune of your laughter again. But, I must prevent myself from jumping off my skin and start taking over from you. You must at least try first, okay?

As your MOM and FRIEND, when you are wrong, I must let you know and give you the chance to make it right. You will surely learn from the experience, my sweethearts. Please understand why I choose not to be too protective over you, for your own good. Also understand why I want you to learn to be independent. As I’ve said before, I won’t be with you forever. For as long as I’m with you, I shall guide you as walk along your path of life. In short, I shall teach you to fish, instead of fishing for you. That way, you’ll Learn to survive well with or without me.

Children, all parents wish for the best for their young ones. Likewise for me. There will be times when you are confused or even puzzled over some actions or decisions I made. Please feel free to ask; no question is silly when you seek further understanding. It is best to get the right answer than to make a wild guess. You may get it right, you may not. If not, it may cause unnecessary misunderstanding. We don’t want that do we?

So my lovely prince and princess, always remember that you can count on us to be there when you need us, your Daddy and I. We love you always ❤

Love always,
Mom

BFF vs WFF

In the Sunday class yesterday, my fellow teacher talked about Friends and Friendship. Everyone has friends and most, if not all have BFF (Best Friend Forever, a term made popular by Paris Hilton, I think).

What makes a friend a BFF? He/she must be one who likes you for who you are, respects you and your differences, not afraid to voice out when you are not right, loyal to you even in your absence, a good counsel to you, be there when you need someone to lean on, sympathises with you, is a ‘helpmate’, etc.

As opposed to BFF, there is the WFFWorst Friend Forever. Who are these people? These are the ones who used to be your friends or once upon a time, your BFFs. They know enough about you but have either betrayed your friendship or hurt you deeply, which resulted in them being your WFF now.

Who are WFFs? They are :
#1 The ‘leach/robber’ – who appropriate a friend’s possessions and give less but ask much,
#2 The sweet-talker – who talks how good he/she was in the past and future, tries to gain your favor using empty promises,
#3 The flatterer – praises when you do evil, disapproves when you do good, speaks well in your presence but bad in your absence,
#4 The ruin-bringer – indulges in intoxicants (alcohol and drugs) and worthless activities (gambling, “lepak”) hanging out till wee hours of the morning (clubbing constantly).

When you are judging your friends whether they are BFF or WFF materials, look at yourself too. Are you a BFF or WFF to your friends? We cannot be a TAKER all the time. We must balance it by being a GIVER to our friends too. Then, you’ll enjoy having a harmonious friendship with your friends. No one likes to be taken for granted, which we unintentionally do sometimes. It is alright if you realize it soon enough and make it up to your friends.

Friendship is such a beautiful relationship amongst friends. Let’s not be ‘fine-weathered’ friends only. Let us be ‘all-weathered’ friends to our buddies. Meaning, we’ll be there for them through good and bad times. We need a friend most when we are down, to share our sorrow or disappointment. Who will be objective to help us see the truth and think with us for a solution. Someone who understands our sorrow and sympathizes with us. During good times, we enjoy sharing the joy with such good friends too.

If you have such BFFs, treasure that friendship and grow with it. Take care if it, nourish it with love and attention. Life is little bit more difficult without friends, especially quality and genuine ones.

Cheers to Good Friendship and BFFs!

~Alice N.

Have Faith

Being parents, when friends come together for a chit-chat, we can never escape the topic of our children. Their diet, well-being, education, current issues, etc.

When they are young and living with us, we would watch over them. Though not the wholesome 24 hours, at least part of it, everyday. We try to teach them as much as we possibly can to prepare them for the world, like what to do when meeting strangers, making new friends, school, making choices, taking responsibility, so on and so forth.

Now let’s fast forward several years. These young children have grown older and leaving home to further their studies. Many parents at this stage shared their apprehension; what if they mix with the wrong crowd and learn the wrong things?! Mothers are usually the worry warts. All they can do is pray hard and hope that their children will remember what had been taught to them all this while.

I am thinking aloud if I may; if these children have been exposed to their own faith since young and been instilled the right practice, I dare trust that when they are away from us, their faith will be there to guide them. When they are faced with challenging situation, their conscience will kick in, sooner or later.

Having faith is like having a compass with you throughout your journey of life. If they ever stray from the right path, I would like to believe that they won’t go too far off course. When they are in fear, one of the ways to calm their nerves is to say a prayer. When you communicate with God, somehow or rather, you’ll feel this sense of security and hope enveloping you. When the mind is in a state of calmness, you tend to see things more clearly and make better judgement.

Right now, as they are still young, we may not see much result from our “teachings”. Of course, we must do what we preach too. We are after all their first role model. Do continue to expose them to religious teachings and right practices as much as possible. All these will internalize over time and will one day emerge, in time of need.

This is my personal thought and I speak based upon what I heard, observed and experienced. I trust that besides family, faith also plays an important role in our daily lives. Faith is like a walking stick we use to help us walk along this uneven life path.

Having faith makes one more confident and independent. It makes us become brave enough to reflect and make adjustments in any situation we are stuck with. It also makes us aware of consequences to our every action.

If you think otherwise and have different experience, do share with us.

~ Alice N.

Teenage Dating

It seems like only yesterday your baby was born then, learning his/her first words and steps. Given the chance, I think, many parents would like to keep their children as young as possible and remain that way (LOL!).

I have heard so much being talked about teenagers and dating. I’m sure these kind of talks have been around all the time. I wasn’t paying attention to them as they didn’t sound relevant to me till I have one under our roof. Then, my ears started to pick up signals of such talks and boy, was I so interested to listen to more of them. We all know – some parents find dating a big NO NO! To some, it is alright, but with a few rules to follow.

Why big NO NO? Many parents feel that their teenagers are too young to fall in love and it may distract and disrupt the children’s studies. I also read of a few possibilities that when teenagers started going steady, they would surely want to spend as much time with their boy/girl friends, having long chats on the phone or Facebook, they may neglect family members and other friends, they may get hurt and don’t know how to deal with it.

For those parents who said it is fine, they understand that children at this age will start to be curious about forming special friendship with the opposite sex. Through these relationships, teenagers learn to respect and care for another person, other than him/herself and family members. They also learn to be more understanding, tolerant, about success and failures, happy and sad moments.

Parents have to learn to let go, but of course, must first set guidelines and let teenagers know the consequences when guidelines are violated. No matter what, teenagers still need their families’ attention, love and guidance. Let them know that you will always be there should they need you for a heart to heart talk.

Teenagers and Dating, at what age do you think is appropriate for them to start going steady? Your say or vote below….

~ Alice N.

Your 13 is not My 13….

It’s about AGE actually. I’m sure we’ve heard more than enough of such remark, referring to a teenager’s 13 years of age today is not the same as his/her parents’ 13 years of age, decades back. The landscape of our lives has been constantly changing, from the days of boxed TV to today’s LED HD TV, from brick-like handphone to light and slim smartphones, from a mini computer to iPad2, from few hours black and white TV programmes with two channels then to colourful 24 hours multiple channels today, from writing diaries to writing blogs, etc.

A scene from our teenagers’ lives today : Everyone older would tell you that he/she had gone through your growing pains before. Before you retort that their younger days were different from yours, read on. In my opinion, the emotional journey has always been the same. Let me demonstrate a few examples : When your BFF said something carelessly, you’ll feel hurt and upset, isn’t it? When you like another person, you feel happy talking endlessly with him/her. There are times when you feel that your elder siblings are out to bully you and your younger ones are pests, always get you into trouble with parents, don’t you? You might also think that you are weird, and have a weird family. You are moody but don’t quite know why. You secretly wish to be popular in class or school. If you are popular, you wish people would just get off your back and leave you alone. Mostly, you complain that your parents can’t understand you at all.

Would you believe that I had gone through most of that when I was at that age? I must admit that my 13 was not as complicated as yours today. Peer pressure wasn’t so bad then. We didn’t have extra distractions like cellphone, Facebook, YouTube, internet, Worldwide 24-hour TV shows. Our after-school activities were much lesser as compared to today; you have a string of tutorials, skill development activities, loads of homework, leaving less time for outdoor games and sports with friends and family members. We spent more time outdoor than indoor then, which is a reverse today. We used to play police and thieves, “congkak” made of wood or we dug up holes on the ground to play the game, whilst the boys would play with marbles, tops, “lastik”, hand-made kites, lanterns made out of condensed milk tin or milo tin, fishing with self-made rods by the river, climbing trees, etc. Some of these may sound foreign to you. Today’s 13 year olds play with their PSP, iPad, iPhone, on-line games, spending lots of time on Facebook, YouTube, tumblr.

Deep down in our hearts, we are the same 13. What makes us different is just the time zone and the environment we are exposed to. We need to recognise such differences before we can move forward to having more open and honest discussions with each other. Teenagers may treat your parents as your friends when it comes to sharing your emotional issues. You know very well that your parents won’t laugh or judge you. Nor do you need to speak or act to impress them. You are after all, their beloved child and they only wish for the best to you.

Seek to understand then be understood (7 Habits – Stephen Covey). Try to see things from your parents’ perspective too. Take for instance, if your parents do not allow you to go to the mall, they have their reasons. Find out why and try to understand their fear. I’m sure most issues blew up because of lacked understanding. People get mad, upset and hurt mostly because they do not understand the actual situation. Many misunderstandings can be avoided when we can explain well and clearly to the next person.

As for parents, do recognise also, time has changed and technically, today’s 13 has its own challenges and degree of complications, which may be foreign to some parents. Do listen with an open mind and stay relevant, to encourage your teenagers to talk more often with you. If you provide a good platform for them to voice their thoughts, there is no other reason for them to turn to someone else or to feel lonely and sad in this world.

Having said that, shouldn’t we start the ball rolling by respecting each other’s points of view? I’m sure we can find ways and means to bridge those differences. When the situation calls for parents to be teenagers’ friends, be their buddies. Conversely, when a situation calls for a parent to be a parent, do it. Parents need not go all out, trying hard to be your teenagers’ buddies. Let me elaborate : when our teenagers need an emphatic ear, listen patiently and from your heart, feel behind those words. When they seek guidance or advice, be their life coach (more on “life coach” in my past post).

Another important point for parents : Always be there for your teenagers when they need you. Know where they are and who they are with. Get to know their friends too. Trust me, it’s worth every single second spent with them. For my dear teenagers, please don’t assume that your parents are always busy, when they appear to be busy. Ask to speak with them and tell how important it is to you to be heard. Don’t be quick to dismiss when you see your parents are engrossed in something. If it is very important, you may interrupt. If not, you can ask for the right time and come back to talk about it.

Remember, it takes two to make your lives simpler and happier. Work on it. Talk about it, K? Always remember you don’t have to be lonely, if you choose not to.

~ Alice N.

Dealing With Some Life Issues…

Past week, the sweet harmony of our family was challenged again. I was at my wits’ end having to deal with IT once again. It is most tiring for both my husband and I. We are just a simple family who always welcome friends, including children’s friends, to our humble home. We treat everyone the same, with concern, kindness and sincerity.

Family harmony is extremely important. I trust that all parents think alike; values that we parents want to instill in our children is to avoid harming others, physically and emotionally, and to help them as much as we possibly can, so that we can all live harmoniously with others.

That brings me to a sensitive subject, which I promised myself, two things I would not write about, Politics and Religion. But, the latter is inevitable because some insensitive people have invaded my peaceful fort again! Yup, this is not the first time. As parents, we will always protect/defend our children when they are threatened, in any ways. As a result of that “invasion”, my poor child became confused, critical and lose interest in his studies! If you were in my shoes, you would be on hyper-protective mode too.

Religion should not be forced on anyone. Today, when we sent our children to school, they are not only faced with challenges from peers, academic achievement, growing pains, they are also bombarded on daily basis with kind invitations from classmates, to their places of worship with them! Since when schools became recruitment ground for religions? Pardon my choice of words but it does look like MLM (nothing against MLM) recruitment! Seems to me that these students are more concerned to achieve “brownie points” on religious issue than learning the right thing in school. Please don’t be amazed when I tell you that these students are as young as seven years old!

As we live in multiple-cultural and multiple-religious society, it is inevitable to have such encounters. When I asked my students in my Sunday class about it, 90% of them told me that they have such experience all the time in school! So, we are not alone…but WHY? I thought we go to school to gain knowledge not to do God’s work to try to convince our friends to convert to our faith! YIKES! Where and what has gone so wrong in today’s world? Is it the world or it’s just us? (sigh)

What do we do if our children are the “victims”? I think, we should prepare them by discussing the fact that people have different beliefs and thus mutual respect and tolerance, for one another, are important. Do not let religion separate what could have been a great friendship. If you find that your child is being enticed or pressured to convert to his/her friend’s faith, you should intervene early on. Describe ways in which your beliefs and values can help your children dealing with daily life issues. We have to teach them how to answer to their friend’s questions about their own faith and how to think for themselves when faced with such challenges.

If you are the one encouraging your children to influence their friends to embrace your faith, please stop this minute for everyone’s sake! You have to set your priorities right when you send your children to school. How would it make you feel if the table is turned. Instead of you trying to convert others, it’s now your children’s friends trying to entice your precious children to join their faiths. How would you react to that? I sincerely hope that your answer will make you more sensitive towards others. Please set the record straight for your family, especially the young ones, before your children take the blame for lack of guidance from you. Always do to others what you want others to do to you. We are all human beings, with very little difference, actually. We should respect one another’s religion and culture. We must be the role model to our children so that they can live and respect people’s differences. Tell our children that every religion is good and is to be respected. Do not try to tarnish something so pure and holy with your lack of understanding. Get to know our own faith well and adopt the right practice.

If you feel that my choice of words are inappropriate, I shall not apologize for them. These are words from my heart, as a mother who will do the right thing to protect her youngs. If you could witness how my child had changed, I think you would encourage me to say more and use stronger vocabs. Like I said, we are just a simple family who knows very well who we are and we don’t have to shout to be heard. So long we do what is right in our lives, I strongly believe God will pave our paths with firm, level surface to walk on. We respect people and their differences. We can accept people around us to grow freely and make their own choices, and in return, we don’t expect any lesser from others.

Remember, don’t let differences separate us all. When we learn to respect and tolerate all these differences, we can live harmoniously with one another and be best of pals too. It’s exactly like back in time, some three decades ago! Everyone lived in peace and harmony, respecting one another’s differences. Share that sweet moments with your children and make them understand; it happened before (living harmoniously) and it can still be so today if we do what we did back then.

I hope I make sense after all….

~ Alice N.