thoughts

A thousand questions

This post from Karen Cheng (one of my favourite bloggers!) got me thinking. About parenthood, specifically.

This post is not about why one should become a parent (along with 10,542 reasons why having a child is the best thing on earth and beyond) or why one should not become a parent (sleeping-in late and not being a milk machine expressing milk every 1.35 hours). I’m sure we have all heard both sides of the coin, many times over.

This post is about why people have kids. And what happens after they grow out of their oh-my-god-you-are-so-cute stage, into emotional teenagers with their own mind (and 5,000 piercings on strange body parts) and further on, into adults.

I have to admit that when I think of having kids, I only picture them as cute little things, all helpless and cute in their rompers. The furthest I go is of (cute) kids sitting in baby prams and cooing at strangers who are at their mercy (for being oh-so-cute). Then the lovely picture stops. I rarely imagine my child (if and when we have one) as a (emo) teenager or – gasp – as an adult.

Do people have kids because it is the ‘right time’ and the ‘right thing to do’? I hear this a lot. Man and woman date, get married, have kid, have another kid, grow old and die. Is that the right thing? Who dictates the ‘right thing’ anyway? Are we then saying that singles are doing the ‘wrong’ thing along with childless couples?

Or do people have kids because having a child together is a product of husband-and-wife love? This is very nicely written by Yi-Lin in this entry so pop over to have a read. If this is true, why do I read of people who have a child to ‘save a marriage’? I have lost count of the number of posts I read on forums where a (sad) wife shares her thoughts about how she wants to have a child so that ‘my husband will return to me/spend more time with me/leave the other women/etc.’ When did having a child become a pawn in the game of life?

So assuming you decide to have a child for the ‘right’ reasons. Child grows up and becomes old enough to think and more often than not, do things that go against your wishes, many times over. Your cute little child with the chubby cheeks and angel face is now an ADULT and doing the opposite of everything you advise/suggest.

*insert big sigh*

What do you do now? Do you let go and let your offspring learn the lessons of life on his/her own, knowing that you have brought your child up in your best capacity? Or do you rein him/her in against his/her wishes (“because parents know best”), leading to shouting matches and general unhappiness all around. The age-old saying of how a child remains a child in his parents’ eyes ring very true here.

But, my question(s) are:

At what age should parents let go?
Will they ever let go?
Should parents let go?
Why can’t they let go?

Parents will always worry about their child, regardless of age, gender, marital status, etc. That is a fact. Worry about their health, their grades, their work life, their personal life, their finances, and the list goes on. In fact, the worrying starts the moment conception takes place. Will my baby be healthy? Am I eating right? Am I doing the right thing? Worry worry worry worry worry….

Will there come a day when parents stop worrying and let go?
A thousand questions, not many answers in sight…

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6 thoughts on “A thousand questions

  1. The answer is never. My mother still reminds me, every now and then, that I’m still her child. Before I got married, once in a long while, she would come into my room in the early morning and pinch my cheeks while I’m still asleep.

    The good thing about that is… you can always count on them for help because you’re never too old to need help!

  2. OMG, I read Karen Cheng’s post and felt positively exhausted after that – like there were 3 kids yelling inside my head.

    I don’t even think our parents have answers to these questions.

  3. I think children raised in Asia and in the Western countries are very different. From what I understand after interacting with friends from UK and Europe, it seems that parents are happy to let go of their children, to let them lead their own lives from the age of 18. The children move out, work to pay off their tuition fees and support themselves etc. The parents go off and travel and have their me-times etc. This is quite different from the general scene in Asia, I think, or at least in Singapore. I am fortunate enough and spoiled enough for my parents to help me pay my tuition fees when I was in university, and I was living with my parents right up till I moved to London. I don’t want to generalise, and I would say I am more sheltered compared to my peers here in UK, but all the same, our parents love us dearly. As for the questions, there aren’t any answers I guess, I think when we become parents one day, our parenting styles will differ based on how we were brought up, how we were educated and how we lived our lives.

    Good entry, by the way!!

  4. I agree with Rachel there. Westerners and us Asians are different when it comes to that. Whenever Me and John talk about raising our kids, his perspective is somewhat different from mine. Like Rachel said, they get kicked out of home at an early age of 18, some 16. Same as John, they had to take up vacation jobs while still at college/ uni to support themselves (i.e rent, food, car whatnot) I guess this is one way of teaching them how to be independent and fend for themselves. For us asian on the other hand, we typically live with our parents till we either get married or go oversea etc and likewise, they Westerners find it amusing that this is how the asian culture works. But having said that, i guess there is no handbook for parenting – you as a parent will learn along the way. As long as you know it’s morally right and that they will grow up to become decent people, i think that’s all that matters. And I guess parents will never stop worrying about their child, it’s built in them, it’s what makes them parents, no matter what age.

  5. Something I feel strongly about. I think one should not mistake attachment to their child as a right to control them. You instill the right values in them as children, and when they become adults, allow them to live their own lives, make their own decisions, make their own mistakes and learn from them. For some strange reason, Asian parents (though admittedly, not all) have a tendency to see their children as their possessions instead of people in their own right. Ultimately, if you did right by them as children, you should trust that they will make their own way in life, even if not every single decision they make is aligned to your personal values.

    My personal take on the matter.

  6. Wow, thanks for all your comments and thoughts ladies.

    za – I agree about that always being able to count on your parents for help but knowing Asian parents, most will then become too involved in parenting their grandchildren, leading to conflict? That’s always been my fear.

    Yi-Lin – Nope, don’t think anyone has an answer. It’s like, why did the chicken cross the road? 🙂

    Rach – Yes, Asians and the Westerners are very different in terms of parenting. You are right to say that regardless of planet you come from, parents will always love their children and will want the best for them. Best parenting style? I guess there’s no “one size fits all”.

    Jolene – So how do you and John come to a compromise when it comes to parenting? It would be interesting to see! An Asian brought up in a Western society might also have a different take on parenting compared to an Asian brought up in a traditional Asian way.

    Ling – Very well said and I *completely* agree. I have always told my parents that if they trust themselves to have brought me up right, they can then trust me to make the right decision. I am then responsible for the outcome. Did I mention that I used to write letter to my parents stating this view over and over again? I think they finally saw the light when I came out of my adventures unscathed. Ultimately, I feel that if you gain the trust of your parents (over a period of time, and not just lip service), they will come through. At least it worked for me 🙂

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