Parenting Lessons (May 24): My parenting style is right. Right?

This is part of a monthly series where I share parenting lessons I learned on this journey.

I procrastinated writing this for a long time, partly because of post-vacation blues from Malaysia and partly busy school holidays. Still, mainly it’s because it was a painful lesson – when our parenting style is not as right as we think.

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The Incident

When I brought my daughter to her annual eye check-up, I was preparing myself for a pat on the back. She wore myopia control lenses and I was diligent – bringing her outdoors, limiting screen time, and resting her eyes. Then the results came out – and it hit me like a tonne of bricks. Her degrees increased more than normal! And a double whammy, it’s only been 10 months since the last eye check because I pushed the appointment earlier.

When I heard the news, I felt helpless and almost in despair. It’s not life or death but it’s an issue I prioritise. That’s because myopia affects the whole life and now from such a young age.

My Reflection on Parenting

What went wrong?

What did I not do right?

What did I not do enough?

I did what I knew. I did as much as I could. Yet, the results did not show. What’s more, I felt like a laughingstock. I was anal in her screentime, yet now she’s wearing spectacles earlier than those around her. Was I wrongfully uptight? It’s like non-smokers dying younger than smokers, so why so anal about not smoking, just enjoy and smoke.

I thought of tiger mums/dads who drill their children rigorously, only to find other people more successful or emotionally healthier than their children later in life. Then there was another case in point that happened in May. There was a big hoo-ha over the crazy behaviours of a Taiwan celebrity’s son. The celebrity mother was criticised for her parenting style – online commentators said she is 慈母多败儿 – a mother who loved her son in such a permissive way that led him to fail in life. She thought she was parenting the right way until results showed otherwise.

The thing with parenting is that sometimes we don’t know we are doing it wrong until it’s too late. The “harmful” effects don’t appear in the short term and are sometimes not even visible.

Sometimes we blame our parents for their parenting – but they parented as best as they knew. Resources were limited then – they learned from their parents, unlike us now with online opinion pieces, and scientific research. Extrapolate this into the future — and tables will be turned. Our children will know more than us (with AI?) and might blame us for certain parenting actions.

Divinely, I came across a few articles in line with how the best parenting practices we are adopting now might not be the best. I quote from an article from CNA,

“But in seeking to parent the “right way” we not only put pressure on ourselves but we forget that everyone’s realities are vastly different. A 2011 study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology suggests that parents should tailor parenting styles to fit a child’s personality as it is better for their overall well-being.”

My Conclusion

With my limited knowledge, I can only do so much based on what we learn from books, other parents’ journeys and other “experts”. Even then, these experts can make mistakes – like how some popular parenting theory in the past is now debunked by updated research. Or that optometrist who told me to clean the spectacles with gentle dishwashing liquid. Later I discovered, that this destroys the lens’s protective layer and renders it ineffective. So… we spent so much on a myopia control lens for nothing! 🙁 Imagine a doctor instead of an optometrist – the outcome might be more dire.

With my limited power, I cannot control other environmental factors affecting the outcome – like inborn traits, hereditary illness (myopia included!), people the child interacts with, etc.

With my limited control over my child, I cannot bend the child’s free will. Even if I did, it would snap back in a bad way.

With my limited control over life, I cannot control the cards dealt to me. We try our best to learn how to parent from books, the experts and other people’s journeys. But the outcome is not within our control.

But our response is within our control. Learn to accept life is full of surprises and anomalies. When rain suddenly pours, we can cry, use an umbrella, or dance in the rain. Remember, we are not perfect humans and hence make mistakes. Apologise to those we hurt (children included) and move out of condemnation. Forgive ourselves and not be trapped in guilt.

For Christians, I am dishing out this cliche advice for you and me, but sometimes gold is in the old sayings, and we tend to forget: trust our children with God, we are just stewards of their young lives on earth. Pray for wisdom and partner with God in bringing them up to seek first His Kingdom and God will take care of the rest. Take heart, Father God in heaven loves them more than we love them. He has plans for each of the children – better than ours, all the time.

With my limited vision, I cannot see the whole big picture of my child’s life. God can.

That’s about it, thanks for journeying with me on this parenting journey. Before you go, you might want to check out my other posts on parenting. Leave your parenting tips, comments or questions below. Love to hear from you. 🙂

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