Saturday, March 24, 2012

Parenting with heart

One thing I love about working in a school environment is meeting other parents. It's great to be able to share stories, tips, to get to know them and their children better.

Before I became a mother, I have very defined ideas of what kind of mother I would be. I have expectations of what I would react to certain situations or what an 'ideal' parent should be. But all that went out the window when DD was born. Understanding why DD do certain thing determines my reaction to it. I also realise there is no one ideal way of parenting. Every family has its own circumstances which shapes the way they manage the family. Everyone tries their best, and it is presumptuous for an outsider to judge.

Now I appreciate the support that parents lend each other, the stories and advice we trade far more.

A parent wisely told me that whilst it's great that the program seeks to provide mental and physical stimulation for a child, she enrolled because she sees it as an wholesome way to spend quality time with her child and for the child to learn at the same time.

I also met a very lovely mom who is a speech therapist. She was just telling us how it's always harder to practice what you preach. In her work, she always recommend that parents spend more time communicating with their child but when sometimes she forgets with her own child.

Recently, Dear Daughter had been acting up. I said no to something, explained why and she had a non-proportionate reaction and laid on the floor kicking. This was the first time she had such a meltdown. This happened again shortly after.

To be honest, I was caught off guard because DD is usually a happy adjusted toddler. Our principal commented that she could have picked up this from another kid in the existing daycare she goes to. Or that there is a deeper underlying reason why she is behaving this way.

It got me thinking. She could be missing her grandparents who just left town on Monday. It could be that her current daycare is having some staff turnover. It could be that both Dear Hubby and I have been busier in recent months (but why react now?). It could be that I'm weaning her from breastfeeding these past weeks.

I felt guilty (ah, that mother guilt that always spring on so quickly) immediately. DD has gone through so many big changes in her life in her 17 months - from relocating, house moving etc. DH and I have always tried to give her undivided attention when we are with her, but March had been crazy busy for both of us. A good wake-up call it was for me. No matter how busy we are, DD still needs quality attention. This is something we should not shortchange her.

In the last few days, DH and I switched off from work when we are with her. We spent a couple of hours with her every evening before her bedtime, enjoying dinner as a family, role-playing, cooking dinner together, light exercises (she loves her kids yoga), reading, gardening and playing with the fishes (btw mother fish just gave birth again!). Oh and remembering to squat down to talk to DD at her eye level. The effect is immediate. DD is back to her smiley-giggly self, saying her please and thanks, showering us (and strangers) with affection.

It heartens me to see DD happy. Ok DD waking up, time to have breakfast at our fave joint. Followed by a day of swimming, baking, cooking and chatting with grandparents. :) 

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
~Diane Loomans

P.S. If you have a child, do give your child an extra tight hug after reading this.

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