Thursday, February 2, 2012

Growing years

Parenthood seems to make you nervous for the rest of your life. We do our best to give our children the opportunities to realize their full potentials because we want to prepare them for a good life ahead. Children grow up as separate individuals whose aspirations are not necessarily similar to their parents’. I shy away from commerce seeing how my dad led his life as a businessman although I was grateful that he had sponsored my tertiary education. I wanted to have a career and was rather  undomesticated seeing how unhappy my mother was as her life centered around her husband and her children.

In bringing up my own children, I care most about two things , “ Intuitiveness” and secondly “ Self Esteem”. I only hope that I have not said or done things that will affect their emotional well being and their self confidence. I believe that all of us grow up with baggage and issues, some have more baggage and issues than others.  Some of us spend most  of our adult lives working through some of the damage we have suffered growing up and gain a perspective  of things in general while others  carry on living and oblivious to how their particular behaviour may have been affected by some experience they encountered during their growing years.

Recently I watched the movie “Atlas Shrugged” Part 1 and was interested to read the novel upon which the movie was based on. When I was told that we had a copy of the novel at home, I looked through our collection of books on our book shelf in search of the novel written by Ayn Rand. I did not find the novel but to my surprise, I own books like “ How Your Child Learns and Succeeds” and “How to teach Your Child to Read”.  I must have bought them in my quest to be a competent parent.

Though my life was not exactly like the protagonist, Kate Reddy in “ I don’t Know How She does it” by Allison Pearson, amid all the school runs, errands and last but not least, court runs, my adrenalin juice was constantly flowing into my veins. I tried to read in between my errands whenever I had the time even if they were just  a few minutes while waiting for children to come out from classes. However there were certain books which never got to the finishing line. While I might have good intentions, I found myself getting lost in the wilderness as I ploughed through manual like “How Your Child Learns and Succeeds”. To my defence, I would argue that my girls were growing up and I should bask in those moments observing them rather than bury my nose underneath some parenting manual. I fetched the book “How Your Child Learns and Succeeds” from the book shelf and discover a bookmark inside the book. The book mark was drawn and made by my elder daughter for  Mother’s Day (around  ten years old then)  who obviously knew what her mother needed most. Bookmarks, plenty of bookmarks to mark all the half read books and still hope to reach the finishing line one day

As I flipped through the book“ How Your Child Learns and Succeeds” written by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias,  I fervently hope that  I had not done too badly as a parent since I had barely covered one sixth of the book. It is interesting how the author characterized people with different personality traits and accorded them with different learning styles to describe how our minds work. It is useful to identify the characteristics of certain personality traits with a view to understand the individual’s  innate abilities and learning styles. If I understand correctly the description according to the chart in the book, I identify myself as the Dominant Concrete Random type; according to Tobias, what makes sense to these people are inter alia  : using insight and instinct to solve problems, working with general time frames rather than specific deadlines , trying something themselves rather than taking your word for it. Dominant Concrete Random is often stressed by excessive restrictions and limitations and forced schedules or routines. I do get easily stressed when I am expected to conform and I still charge ahead with certain tasks  despite being advised against doing them. The book by Tobias is an interesting read that gives one some insight into our respective learning style. 

Since I feel passionate about reading, I really was eager to instill in my children the reading habit hence the book “How to teach Your Child to Read”. As a new mother, I was sold the idea of getting a child to read before  the child turned  three years old. It was amazing how these sale agents had a way of knowing that you had just recently given birth and you would be interested in any programmes relating to the child brain development. Besides going through the flashcards provided by Glenn Doman reading set, I was zealous to the extent that I actually made flashcards out of manila cardboards with words which were definitely not relevant to a two year old. It was a tall order to get a curious and restless toddler to sit still for a couple of minutes while you flashed the cards with red letterings. Apparently words are supposed to be like pictures and by flashing the words, the child learns to read as he or she identify the word like the way he or she identifies a picture. It was hard work for both mother and child and I did not persevere in building a  word bank which included words that were not applicable in my children’s world.

As prosperity and greater material success appear to be the common utilitarian goals, modern life has become increasingly competitive for the young generation. Employability  is  a criteria when  pursuing a particular college degree rather than passion and an  objective to broaden one’s mind;  getting top grades to gain a place at a reputable college or institution is an urgent task. The baby boomers did not have the same stress as what the current generation are facing. Not sure if it is the desire to live vicariously through their children for their unfulfilled dreams or the need to prevent them from living in regrets, the more educated parents (baby boomers included) seem to micro-manage the affairs of their children more closely than ever. We must know that even if the young ones  make any mistakes, they might not be the same ones as the ones we have made. We do not want our children to grow old before their years by emphasizing too much about  the importance of practicality and worry about what their future holds. As we try to impress upon our children not to take for granted the passing  of their youth, each child must learn to be truthful to himself or herself; he or she must also  become  self reliant without being self absorbed and we hope that he or she will have the courage to venture beyond the comfort zone with enough sense and sensibility.

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