Friday, November 04, 2011

Rules are (not) meant to be broken

Someone called me a Tiger Mom. I gazed at her in amazement because I don't do the Amy Chua thing. The drill sergeant with a cane, sit and write or whatever for hours on end. Then she said she meant it in the traditional way instead of the Amy Chua way. Meaning that I was very strict and particular with my children. Ah, that, yes.

Some have actually suggested that I should ease off a bit and let the children be children and enjoy childhood. It's hard for me to be an easy going parent because my parents weren't entirely easy going with me. Very big on early bed times and manners, that has translated to my style of parenting too. And I don't really see it as depriving them of a childhood.

The Rules that govern the Tan children are as follows (and I am sure grow as they grow)

  1. You must always love each other, help each other and take care of each other. So, no shoving, hitting or biting (for the case of Muffin). If one falls down, you must help comfort. If one gets told off and is upset, the rest console (not us, the one who inflicted the punishment)
  2. Saying a loud hello with eye contact and a hug to all grandparents is a must. If deaf Bob Grandpa cannot hear you, you haven't said it loud enough. When Papa leaves for work, everyone must kiss him, give him a hug and say good bye.
  3. You are always to be helpful. So, you have to set your own table and come get your food from the kitchen. You must clear the table after their meals. You are not to expect everything to be put out for you. You are to bring your milk tumblers back to the kitchen in the morning and dump your rubbish in the bins and dirty clothes into laundry baskets. If you can't get whatever you need, you are not to demand but to say please and thank you, nicely.
  4. Whatever mess you create in the house, you are to clear it up. Even though we have a helper, you are to clear up. If you don't clear up, you don't get to go out. Remember how we called Evan's bluff and left him at home because he didn't clear up his blocks. And we have given away your toys after we threatened to give it to children who will love the toys more than you will since you leave it all over the floor.
  5. If you break a toy or have lost it because you have been careless, do not expect a replacement. No number of "But I want!" is going to get you a replacement.
  6. Dinner is to be eaten at the dining table. Not on the floor and not on the coffee table, in front of the television. Unfortunately, this rule often gets flouted by those who also feel that with the television on, eating is a fast and painless process. I will refrain from commenting.
  7. Eat whatever is put in front of you. Do not ask for noodles if rice has been given. Do not chuck a fit because the broccoli can be seen. If the meal is not eaten, do not expect something else to be made in its place.
  8. No sweets or chocolates if Mommy's permission is not sought.
  9. Television is only to be watched for half an hour on weekdays after dinner if there is time. It is not an entitlement. It is a treat.
  10. Bed time is non-negotiable. 1900 hrs means all activity is to be stopped, toys to be put away, good nights and thank yous to be said before all retreat to the bedroom.

It's strict and hell to stick to. It's easier to give in to them, especially when they become loud and unreasonable and tantrumic and you just want the screaming to shout. But we are seeing the fruits of sticking to our guns. More independent, responsible children. Even though it requires a lot of nagging and policing.

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  1. Please, keep doing what you've been doing - I'm seeing enough 13-16 year olds who've grown up 'enjoying their childhood' who are (in my opinion) rather irresponsible and self-entitled. Glad to see there're still parents who're fighting this trend!

  2. Hi Ondine, I've been a silent reader of your blog abt the children. It's wonderful!

    My baby is soon to reach 1 and when I see you write abt Muffin, I sort of 'prepare' myself.

    WOW! And how do you keep to the 1900 hrs bedtime?? Most of the time, I've just reached home then! And after my bath, dinner and settle down with my baby, it's almost 8pm.

    Please share!

  3. Louis, I'm trying! It's an uphill battle though!

    Saroette, we don't really have a 7pm bedtime. We have a 7pm shutdown time. All activity shuts down and all the kids go shepherded into their bedroom. I think they sleep closer to 8 now. It's Muffin that keeps everyone up because he's the one that has managed a nap sometime in the afternoon. Even then, we still make him go to bed the same time as the twins.

    We are blessed and able to do that because we are teachers and get home relatively early in the evening. I suppose if you work late, it is much harder to enforce.

    Whatever it is, do what you feel is right. But whatever is best for your baby. My rationale for getting the kids to sleep early was because we got up early anyway and I preferred good mood kids in the morning to hang with than cranky kids up way past their bed time.

    I think what is most important is that your baby gets adequate amount of sleep because that's when they grow. And that when your baby goes to school, what would be the ideal sleep schedule?

    Hope this helps!

  4. I think it gets harder the older they get though, especially as they mix around with more friends who might have comparatively lax parents...