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  • Hey Na, have you ever felt tired of having such a highly disciplined and strict lifestyle?

This is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from those around me, especially close friends and siblings. Many people even think that if I live so strictly and disciplined, then how on Earth my child and husband will be able to bear it.

Every time someone raises this question, I let out a little “Ah ha!” accompanied by a slight laughter, as if to say, oh my, do they really think that if I am strict, no one can live with me? Don’t forget, my dear ones, my beloved husband is very fond of me!

Just teasing you for fun, today I received another question with a similar content, so I thought perhaps people think I am very fierce, very “tigress-like.” Let me tell you this story, and then you can “consider” it with yourselves again then!

Earlier this year, my daughter participated in a camping trip organised by her school, and as it was her first time going camping with the new elementary school, she was incredibly excited. That morning, our entire family hurriedly got up to have breakfast, then we prepared to accompany her to the school gathering point on time. Interestingly, her school is only a few steps away from our house, yet she was so thrilled and exhilarated that she jumped and skipped towards the school, completely forgetting that her parents were trailing behind, panting and pulling the suitcase for her. Normally, she would do everything on her own, but that day, her joyful anticipation of experiencing her first camping trip at the new school was so overwhelming that she wanted her parents to escort her all the way there.

Although that morning my daughter seemed a bit sluggish due to the recent unfavourable weather, I handed her a bundle of ginger candies to keep her warm and prevent motion sickness on the journey. Her feet eagerly trod as if determined not to miss out on the camping experience. I had some concerns about her well-being, fearing that she might overexert herself and fall ill upon returning. However, to my surprise, my little one skipped around cheerfully and came back even stronger and happier.

When my daughter returned home, eager to hear about her experiences during the camp, I immediately asked her about what she had been up to during those days. Prior to her departure for the camp organised by her school, I had also heard about the services they would provide, which piqued my curiosity. However, when I inquired, my daughter shared that her biggest dissatisfaction was regarding the food service. She expressed that the meals were not well-prepared and lacked flavour, resulting in her and many of her friends primarily consuming vegetables and being reluctant to eat meat. They often found themselves in a state of hunger and quickly became famished.

As I listened to my child’s account, I was quite surprised because, for me, anything related to children or any vacations and outings involving children, I always prioritise their needs, especially ensuring they have ample food and drink. If we go on a long trip, I would always prepare a “Plan B” to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. Furthermore, when at home, I take great care in providing my child with a well-balanced diet, ensuring they consume all the necessary nutrients and maintaining a balance between main meals and snacks.

“So, did the school prepare snacks or other food for the kids?” I asked again to ensure more certainty about their food intake at that time.
“No, they didn’t,” my daughter replied.
“Then what do you think about the school’s services? Do you want me to call and complain to the school?” I inquired.
“No, Mom. I don’t want to,” she replied.
“Why not?”
“I think it’s already in the past, and besides, I don’t think it’s the school’s fault. It’s the service provider who was not attentive enough,” she explained.
“Okay, dear. I respect your opinion. However, I still want to emphasise that organising a camping trip or even just a simple outing with children requires careful attention from adults to ensure their well-being. There should always be a ‘Plan B’ ready when needed, and that responsibility falls upon the school, the accompanying adults, who should be more adequately prepared to minimise any unpleasant experiences for the students.”

After explaining thoroughly to my daughter, I still asked her again if she was absolutely sure that she did not need her parents to voice our opinions to the school. However, she firmly maintained her stance of independence. I respected her viewpoint, and no further calls were made. I understand her decision, and understand that she chose to do so because she did not want to make things difficult for her teachers, and she also wanted to maintain a positive and harmonious relationship with her new school.

Having gone through the schooling years myself, I truly understand the feelings and thoughts of my child during that time: always wanting to maintain happiness and harmony with friends, and not wanting to become the centre of attention among peers, especially when their parents consistently provide feedback to teachers about certain school matters.

Furthermore, from the past until now, I have always taught her in a manner of “Anything that can be overlooked, should be tried to be overlooked.” Fortunately, up to the present, my little one has been able to apply this approach quite well.

One of the principles I consistently practise when teaching my child is to always listen and respect their perspectives, desires, and innermost wishes. Except for matters that significantly affect their health, well-being or safety, I rarely go against their opinions if they have not consented to it.

Even when my daughter told me about being teased by some friends at school, I simply explained to her the intentions behind their actions and guided her on how to handle such situations. I had no intention of intervening deeply or reporting the matter to the school, because I understood that children will always have moments of teasing their friends for fun, without any malicious intent. I rarely want to make things more burdensome; instead, I accompany and instruct my daughter on how to confront teasing from her friends.

However, you know what? It is not always the case that I find like-minded individuals who share the same perspective. I know that some parents tend to be overly protective and overly concerned for their child, to the point of making them feel ashamed or losing out on childhood friendships, all due to the parents’ excessive interference in their child’s life.

The following story serves as a clear illustration of what I have just said earlier, and perhaps you may have encountered or will encounter it yourself, especially when you have a school-aged child at home:

There were two little girls I knew who were in the same class at their new school, let’s call them A and B for now. Although they had not been acquainted for long, they began to develop a close bond, understand each other and spend more time playing together. However, one day, A approached B and said, “My mom doesn’t allow me to hang out with you anymore, so we probably won’t be able to play together as much in the future.” Her words were accompanied by a mix of sadness and guilt evident in her eyes towards her friend.

For some context, this happens due to a small incident that occurred between the two friends before they became close. On one occasion, B playfully teased Friend A by collaborating with another classmate to pass around and toss A’s hat. It happened only once, and right after carrying out that action, B realised it was not the right thing to do, and felt really sorry for A that they immediately went to apologise to A, and promised to never repeat such behaviour. At that moment, A happily accepted B’s apology and they were friends again.

Upon returning home, A casually mentioned to her mother what had happened in class, including the incident with B and the other classmate taking her hat, but how B had apologised and A had accepted the apology. After hearing the story, A’s mother remained silent, without showing any particular reaction.

However, surprisingly, a few months later, A’s mother called the school teacher and “accused” the two children of bullying her child. What is even more noteworthy is that during those few months, both A and B had become good friends, happily sharing many things with each other, yet that mother abruptly “accused” them and claimed that the playful act of B and the other classmate was bullying her child. It forced the school to intervene and address the situation more seriously.

One of the things that I found both adorable and heart-wrenching when hearing that story was that A sincerely “confessed” to B in class that A’s mother had called and accused B, despite A not wanting it to happen. A spoke the truth accompanied by a remorseful and utterly helpless gaze.

From the perspective of an adult and a mother, I truly do not agree with the actions of that mother. Because when I learned the underlying reason that led A’s mother to report to the school about an incident that happened months ago, it was simply because B’s mother had “declined” to be close friends with A’s mother. From that point on, A’s mother harboured dislike and used that incident as a means to prevent her child from playing with B, despite being fully aware of the deep affection and closeness between the two children.

Just because of the dissatisfaction between adults, it is truly unwarranted to make the innocent child sacrifice their pure and joyful friendship, and put the child of others on the school’s “blacklist”. Meanwhile, even though B’s mother is not close to A’s mother, she has never forbidden the two children from playing together. In fact, after understanding the whole story, B’s mother even told her child to continue playing with A if they enjoy each other’s company. She also encouraged her child to offer help if needed and advised them not to be concerned with the adults’ issues.

If we objectively evaluate the situation, it is clear that B was the one at fault, as they initiated the “incident” with A’s hat, but you promptly realised your mistake and sincerely apologised to A. However, since A’s mother did not want to overlook the matter, B’s mother had to caution their child to be more careful when playing with friends, as it could displease A’s mother and even potentially affect B’s disciplinary record. When expressing these concerns, B’s mother faced difficulty and hesitation, fearing that her child might not fully comprehend the intention. Fortunately, B listened and understood her mother’s point, continuing to play with A but refraining from going “overboard” in her actions.

As parents, would you feel saddened if your child encountered such a situation? While they were happily enjoying the innocent friendship of their school days, they suddenly found themselves entangled in calculations and interference by adults.

The actions of that mother have indeed inflicted harm upon the friendship of the two young children. Especially for A, who will never dare confide in her mother about school matters or friends, for fear that her mother might act similarly as she did with B, causing the child to feel immense shame and guilt towards her friend. Alternatively, as the mother becomes more restrictive and judgmental, the child tends to hide and engage in covert behaviours behind her back. Furthermore, when other children learn about A’s mother’s actions, they may also be hesitant to approach or befriend the child. The excessive control and interference of the mother unintentionally pushes her child into a state of loneliness at school, as classmates may fear that they will suddenly find themselves on the school’s “blacklist” for reasons unknown.

Therefore, just because of misunderstandings or disagreements among adults, children are forced to bear the “consequences” caused by us adults, which is truly unfortunate! We should never, for our own personal reasons, deprive our children of the right to have close friends, don’t you agree?

One of the principles that I will never change when raising my child is to always allow them the freedom to live in their own space, regardless of their age. Let them be their true selves in every of their own thoughts and decisions. They need to experience everything happening around them, even if it involves the silliest of games. Loving a child properly means allowing them the “right to make mistakes” in certain situations! Because once they realise their mistake, they will have the consciousness to correct it. If they are not aware of how to fix it, then at that time, parents will be the ones to guide and provide suggestions for them!

Ever since childhood, my little one has always been raised with this approach by her parents. Whenever she makes a mistake, even if it was warned by us beforehand, she will immediately realise, “Ah, my parents were right. Only my parents are the most tolerant towards me; there aren’t many people outside who can be as forgiving.” From that point on, she will be able to draw lessons for herself and refrain from repeating the previous errors.

Strict but not prohibitive. Disciplinary but not interfering in your child’s affairs, always allowing them the freedom to choose and take responsibility for their own choices and actions. These are the things that I will always ensure to do when raising my child. I always want to be closer to my child as a friend, sharing and guiding them instead of taking the role of a mother who only uses authority to mould them according to my own will!

Perhaps that is why, despite me being a super strict and disciplined mom, my daughter still loves and wants to have me by their side! By being with Mom and Dad, she can surely feel respected for her opinions, given the freedom to make decisions, and provided with personal space. That is my simple secret. You can try applying it to ensure that your child can always be happy and have trust in you, my dear friend!

P/S: By the way, I think I have answered the question at the beginning of the article already.

Much love,
Truly Inspired

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Hold firmly onto my hand, and I will show you the greatest gift that God has given and hidden somewhere deep inside you!

Much love,

Truly Inspired.