The Way We Were

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Kids are a privileged lot nowadays. They are treated as individuals, and are given most things which we only could yearn for back in our days. How many times have we heard: "Next time, maybe when you're older."?

We looked forward to new clothes and new shoes during the Chinese New Year. We believed that Santa dropped by with a bagful of wishes come true. We learnt not to speak unless we are spoken to, and when there are adults around, children should be seen and not heard. We believed in everything that our elders told us, and never thought to question them. It is the way it is, because mummy / daddy said so.

It's a lot different now. Children are encouraged to question, to wonder, to exercise their minds and flex their imaginations. They are given guidance, and not merely told what to do. Baby talk hardly exists, except perhaps done by their grandparents and the older generation. They have new clothes or shoes to wear every other time Mummy spots an irresistible offer, and who needs Santa when there are indulgent parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles every day of the year?

With advancement in education levels, technology, and awareness, children are no longer only treated as assets in the household, or an extra hand to help around the house. Well... they are 'assets' in the sense that they are extensions of their parents, a symbol of their union and are borne of love. Further to that, they are neither seen as a 'financial retirement plan' for their parents, nor expected to contribute their dues to the family.

Back then, it was pretty normal for families to have a large number of children, regardless of whether you were wealthy or otherwise. For the rich, the ability to provide for a large family was a status symbol. Better still - have more than one wife to add on to the brood. For the poor, extra hands means extra income for the family, when kids are sent to work as soon as they are deemed able to.

As much as we teach a child to be independent, to observe, and to be his own little person, I do believe that there are a lot of core values that we were taught back then that still applies today.


For elders, for others, and for oneself. It all starts at home. When children are exposed to an environment where respect reigns and everyone's opinion is valued, they take it as a given and a way of life.


To mind our P's and Q's. To ask nicely, rather than demand. To listen without interrupting, and to be attuned to the needs of others. Teach them to care, and be empathic to others. To apologise when they have done something wrong or have caused hurt, even though it was unintentional.


As much as we teach our children to grasp the concept of sharing, we have to understand that we are all born to be selfish. As adults, we learn to fine tune this trait into what works in our favour, but in the kids' world, they are yet unable to control this emotion. Sharing is taught in preschool, and as parents, it is also our duty to emphasise this at home, although in a one child family, this can be extremely challenging. When we practise this at home, it will be much easier for them to then understand that they should be generous and share.

Honesty and Integrity:

We all learn to lie, at one point or another. Be it white lies, or full blown ones, or lying by omission. It is, however, important to teach a child that honesty does not even need to come into question when they have not done anything wrong. If we explain to a child the importance of honesty and assure them that we will always be there for them to listen in case they slip up, they will be encouraged to approach you during those times. There are also consequences for their actions, and it is also essential to explain to them that they have to be responsible for their actions. Never issue empty threats. If you don't follow through with what you say, they will see you as being dishonest. If you are dishonest, they will think it's ok to be dishonest too.


If children are not taught to learn to forgive, they will most probably grow up to be bitter individuals. There are different people who make up the world, and along with their different traits. There will always be instances where people do wrong, or may cause them pain, be it physically, or emotionally. We can't protect our children forever, so the best that we can do is to show them the importance of being compassionate by being forgiving. Sometimes the best way to deal with hurt is to encourage them to be the 'bigger person' and forgive, because if we carry the hurt inside, we tend to become perpetually spiteful and angry.

Above all this, we teach them Love.

I grew up surrounded by people who care for me and love me, and I think that this has made me who I am today. I will teach my child love and compassion because he was borne of love, and it is important that he knows love. When we love life, people and things around us, we are happier people because love fuels passion. With passion, we have the drive we need to propel us higher and achieve more.

As parents, we are their role models and we have the power to steer them toward the right direction. Our ancestors have adopted the 'yield and obey' method, and the challenge for us in this day and age is to inculcate these values in our children while still encouraging them to develop their own personalities.

We dream of changing the world, one child at a time. The change begins with us.



  1. I do agree that our kids now have it a lot better than us. But it’s also because we have it much better than our parents days too. And for working moms like us, it’s unavoidable that we try to make it up to our kids by showering them more materially.
    But yes at the end of the day, some things like teaching of core values can never be outsourced and we have to be the best model for our children. I wouldn’t want my daughter to turn back to me and say, but you don’t practice what you preach.

    1. Especially since children are so discerning nowadays!

  2. Teaching the kids about values and also about GOD are my main aims too. Kids these days may have it better physically but they too have different stresses of modern society.

  3. Oh you will be surprised how some parents don't enforce respect and manners nowadays! Kids are rude to their grandparents and maids and their parents allow it! My personal pet peeve is ill-mannered children.. that's why manners is something i strongly enforce in my girl.

    1. Talking about ill mannered and rude kids - I agree that the parents don't tell them off! Why ah? Till now I still dunno!

  4. Nicely written. Parenting is definitely the hardest job in the world.

    1. Thanks Kris! :) Yes it is... but someone's got to do it!

  5. Those that you mentioned are a MUST for me n DinoPapa to teach DinoBoy. I agree with Madeline, some parents do not enforce all if not the minimum Respect & Manners. And I'm glad to say that so far when other grandparents meet DinoBoy they are very impress with how well mannered he is.

    1. Tell you already... Z good la! No doubt thanks to you and Dan!



Powered by Motherhood