Parenting is a humongous task. Even more so if you want to do it right. It is often said that we shouldn’t blame our parents for the mistakes they made in parenting, for there were no available parenting manual that one can use as guiding principle in the old days. The book is subdivided by categories of rules. I’ll share a few rules that I like in each section of the book:
Rules of staying sane: Templar says that ‘I don’t want to alarm you by giving the impression that keeping madness at bay is the main occupation of parents, and that you’ll be spending the next 18 years balancing on the edge of sanity. I had given up trying to take notice of every misbehavior of my sons, instead as Templar advised that “really good parents expect their children to be noisy, messy, bouncy, squabbly, whingy and covered in mud.’ and that my children is going to blame me for something, no matter how hard I have tried to be a good parent. It is fine to be irritated by other people’s children. Children are not always adorable. It is normal to try to escape from parenting once it gets too much.
Attitude rules: Nobody said parenting is going to be easy. “You took on a big job when you had kids, and it’s going to be hard work for the rest of your life. No good thinking all you have to do is love them and you can tick the ‘I’m a great parent’ box. Letting them do what they want when they want is not good for them so you have to get involved and that means your blood, sweat and tears.” Always look please to see them and genuinely enjoy their company. Being tidy isn’t as important as you think, and yes I have given up picking up after my boys of the toys strewn all over my living room.
Everyday rules: I had to remind myself that mood is catching at home, because ‘parents who yell at their children have children who yell at them’. And that we set clear targets by not giving vague instructions such as : ‘don’t spend too long in the computer’, rather it should be ‘spend only 2 hours a day in the computer’. I help co-worker set objective Key Performance Indicators as my daily work, why would it be any different with my children? My mantra is never nag, after 3 warnings, I took my action. Whether it is dragging my son to bath or bin their toys. That way they’ll take you more seriously.
Discipline rules: Focus on the problem not the person. Never label your child.
Personality rules: Their attitude is as important as their achievements. They should be praised for achievement but even more the things that deserve most praise for are to do with their attitude, not their achievement. This one I probably struggle with. It is an oriental far Eastern culture, that you get praised only if you had achieved good result. If you did not achieve, it is never good enough. But because this, we see a lot more downtrodden, low self-esteemed adults or high achievers who had bad attitude. I think we need to reward and praise good attitude and behaviours more often, good values matter most.
Sibling rules: Recognise that squabbling between siblings is healthy. Never compare children with each other, which my the-other-half often do, which I had said that it is not healthy. Under no circumstances should you ever reveal who is your favourite child to anyone. Never ever! Spent time alone with different permutations of the family unit, i.e. Mom with son 1, Dad with son1, Mom with son 2, Dad with son 2, Mom and dad with son 1.. you get the idea.
School rules: We should be reminded that schooling is not education. Schooling of your child is the responsibility of the teachers, education of your child is the responsibility of the parents.
Teenage rules: As we get to the teenage rules, things look a bit grim. You are supposed to respect for the things that they cared about, and they are not necessarily what you like. Your teenager had to live with their choices, and that is ok. (Well, I don’t think that is quite ok to be honest). You are not expected to look under their mattresses, respect their privacy, and you are supposed to talk about sex as if you it is the most natural thing in the world. Tough.
Crisis rules: Teach them to fail successfully. Something that Asian parents are not good at. I remembered when I do fail, other than suffer the guilt of not doing well, I felt myself going into panic attack anticipating the worse that could happened should my father found out about it.
Grown-up rules: This rule talks about how you could treat your adult children. You don’t stop being a parent, but your roles are different now. Obviously you need to treat them like an adult, learn to back-off! Your kids needed the space to be separated from you, so it’s not fair to expect them to be your best friends – well, this bit is hard for me to agree with. Your kids owe you nothing, so don’t guilt trip them. Despite of being a good parent, there is a possibility that your child may turned out bad, so don’t beat yourself up too hard. The final message is : Once a parent, always a parent.
Read this book, if you plan to have children at some point in your life, or you already managing a madhouse of boisterous children, or you want to be a better parent. It might make you a more effective parent as an outcome of reading the book, or it might deter you from being a parent. 🙂
What I like most about the book:
If you are sick of thick and wordy books of “How to be a good parent?” or “How to raise good/ optimistic / well-rounded kids?” Richard Templar’s 100 rules of good parenting principle ruled any day. The key word is principle, no one could prescribe a set of rigid rules that parents should follow, not even the expert, because children are not all made the same. All the stuff that I had read before I had kids, were thrown out of the window when I had my own children. Dip-in to the book, devise your own tactics, put some of the principles in practice, I am sure it would yield better results than prescribed rules.
What I like least about the book:
This written not specific to any cultural context. While most of the principles are workable, there are small proportion of the rules I don’t buy it (see list below). Rules can be contradictory. The writer is quick to say, “You don’t have to follow every single rule.” You are a level headed parents, you can make your own judgement.
List of Rules which I don’t buy (mostly come out from the School Rules section):
- Fight your child’s corner (against the school). – The institutions and teachers need to be respected as well.
- Put up with friends of theirs you don’t like. – No, I don’t have to.
- Remember you’re their parent, not their teacher.
- Let up the pressure, in the end, it has to be their choice how hard they work. (huh? They are not in the right state of mind to make their own decisions at a younger age. Given a choice, hardly any kids would want to work hard.)
- They have to live with their choices (and it’s ok) – it is not OK!