April 11, 2008

Good Mother, Bad Mother

Crying ChildA week ago, I was at Chadstone for the launch of the Zac Posen collection for Target. After my stint at Target, I was just browsing the shops, when two young mothers (probably in their early twenties) were walking past me with their daughters. The daughters were around 6 to 8 years old, and one of them was fretting and crying. The little girl wasn't wailing at the top of her lungs (I hate it when parents who allow their children to scream and shout in public places); she was merely sobbing.

The mother dragged her along, pulling her arm, and kept shouting at her "shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!!". When her daughter wouldn't move, she forcefully pulled her arm, and kept telling her to shut up. It was a very unpleasant sight which caught the attention of many, but they just moved along as if nothing has happened. The friend did not even react; it was as though the shouting at the child was the most natural thing in the world.

That got me thinking. Oh my God, what if I turned out like that? Would I be a horrible mother too?

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not pregnant, and I don't intend to be, not in the next couple of years anyway. We're not financially and emotionally ready to have children just yet. This works well for me because to be honest, I'm just not into kids.

I don't know what to do with them. I cannot stand screaming babies or children. I don't know how to talk to them. I don't know how to even be with them. I'm not comfortable with children around because I just have no idea when it comes to them.

Those close to me know how hot-tempered I can be. I've literally beaten my lil' brother up when I was much younger. I don't know if I'd have the patience to teach my own. It's a very frightening thought, putting myself in that mother's shoes, screaming at her own daughter to keep quiet.

It is not a surprise that I grew up with the rotan (cane). I can't remember the number of times my mum whooped my ass when I was younger. I bet I wasn't the only one. As long as you're Asian, you would have had your ass rotan-ed when you were growing up. My mum would whack me just on my arms and legs, and never on my bottom. Her rationale was that the marks could not be seen on my bum, but they were visible on my legs. That way, I'd really learn my lesson when I was questioned by my peers about the cane marks. Believe me, it worked. Nothing shamed more than the jeers of your peers at that age.

Now that I'm living in Australia, and would be starting a family here, the use of a cane would be out of the question, lest I want child services knocking on my door for alleged child abuse. Would I know how to discipline my children in any other way other than with the rod? I don't know, I really don't. Would I be a horrible mother if I used it? Would I be better or worse if I don't?

It's a thinker, all right.

Nevertheless, in time, I know the maternal instincts will kick in. I just hope it won't take too long.

Note: This is not to scare you into keeping your children away from me. I won't beat them up :)


L B said...

Yeah, I bet you'd eventually make a wonderful mother... 5 kids..

beetrice said...

err...want to practice on your niece and nephew first then? :D

but honestly, sometimes I felt those horror tantrums should've been used in birth control campaigns - "if you're not careful, you'll end up with one of THESE screaming kids" (more effective than threatening STDs right? children are PERMANENT!)...*ROFL*

Adino said...

I'm reading a lot about this topic, since my very own baby is on the way.

What we need to practice is not so much of discipline (i.e. rotan and smacking), but of training our children (think of training your puppy).

If you child is well trained, then there is no need to discipline.

Discipline by using rotan may be necessary sometimes, but it is just a 'tool'. It is not the entire process in itself.

Having said that, it is more dangerous to use your hand to smack a child than using a rotan. You transfer more force using your hands, and you may cause bone / spinal damage.

There is a fine line between child abuse and discipline. The books teach me never to hit a child while in a state of anger.

Discipline must always be given out methodically, calmly. Not when you are in a fit of stress induced rage.

Hope I can put to practice what I've read in theory!

Trinity said...

Hm... being a mother can be hard and need patient..but what you saw is merely one bad moment of mother's life.. hehehe... there are lots and lots of grateful, memorable, fun, moments that wait for you to enjoy by being a mother..believe me...

your children voice, face, smell, words, deeds... are simply adorable! I think it's one of the best gift God have given me... my hubby and children!

Jemima said...

Not that I've any experience but I believe that one's maternal instincts develops when one is good & ready for motherhood.

You'll make a wonderful mum to some lucky children, Tine. I know 'coz I trust my instincts.

Mummy said...

Before we have children, we have our ideals of what we want our child to be like, or how we want to bring the child up. It is only when motherhood strikes, every moment cannot be a perfect moment. It is very easy to be judgemental & say that "I hope that that I won't be a horrible mother too" like so and so. Perhaps others would also throw judgement and say why another mother is not disciplining the child, or perhaps why her friend is interfering, if both had reacted in the exact opposites, in another scenario. Until we become mothers, we just bring the child up in the best that we hope to be, but there will be moments where one may totally lost the plot too.

Susan said...

I'm not into kids too... but somehow we had some programs in TV how to make a good child out of a wild child (somehow it was very similar to the same program, but about dogs :-)) You may read some psychological books about raising a child and there should give you advice how to punish the child without being hurt. Like when it is crying because he want something, only let it cry and when the child see that you do not react on it, the child stop. At least it should... :-)
By the way, my mum sad, that she was not into kids too, but when she was pregnant, her mother instincts woked up :-)

Mrs Top Monkey said...

Since I'm on my way to being one, I really liked this entry. I too worry about whether I'll be a good enough mum and what I'm going to do when the kid starts throwing tantrums the way kids always do.

I never wanted kids, didn't want them when I first met my husband but something changed later and now I'm ecstatic to have one on the way. You may feel that way someday to, Tine!

littleComma said...

I came across some mummies like that too.. with some even worse, and it's really sad. Having said that, I, myself will just try my best to be good mummy even though at times it's rather challenging. :)

parisb said...

I'm no authority but I'm sure you'll be a good mom. After all, a good mom or not depends on perspective yes? Don't worry unduly. :)

Andie Summerkiss said...

My sister's inlaws don't believe in beatings. Their children were so naughty running here and there. But they turn out ok grown up. Much better than children who were disciplined physically.

That was kinda a big question for me too. How come ??

Andie Summerkiss said...

My sister's inlaws don't believe in beatings. Their children were so naughty running here and there. But they turn out ok grown up. Much better than children who were disciplined physically.

That was kinda a big question for me too. How come ??

Kimmy said...

Maybe you can try working in a nursery or getting involved with giving tuition for young kids. It's not the same as having your own but can be a small step in practicing motherhood ;).

I bet you'll be a great mother just like yours.

Tine said...

Oh good Lord, no no NO! What am I, a mother pig?! :p

That would be fantastic birth control.

"If you think sex without protection is fantastic, try screaming children!"

Err the niece and nephew ah? Err I think you know lah :P

You know, when it really is my turn, I'd be reading lots and lots and LOTS of books on this :)
When I was in the UK, I was in a foster program where a couple of friends and I were attached to a Scottish couple. They were fantastic with their children. They were polite and well-behaved. When one of them started to fret, all the father did was firmly say NO. No shouting, no screaming, definitely no smacking. And everytime the children did something for the parents, the parents were quick to thank the children and praise them for a job well done.
I'd love to do that.

Btw, I think you'd make a fantastic dad :)

God I hope so. I wouldn't know until I start experiencing it, eh? :p

Thanks for having faith in me, my dear :)

You know, that is exactly what my mum would tell me :p Anyways, yeah, I don't expect every moment to be perfect. In fact, I'd expect a lot of imperfect moments. Just need to see the good before getting overwhelmed by the bad.

I don't know if I'd be able to have the heart to leave my child crying and not bother about him/her :p But yeah, I know what you mean. I think the instincts will come in when the time comes.

Mrs Top Monkey:
Fingers crossed, Mrs Top Monkey. Congratulations on the upcoming new addition to the family :)

Little Comma:
From what I read, I just love the little things you do with lil' Ivan. I think I'm learning from you :)

Thanks for the faith :)

Andie Summerkiss:
It's amazing, isn't it? I guess it's the environment in which they were growing up in. Maybe not at home, but school could have played a role in the disciplining. Or maybe the parents secretly wallop the kids? :P

Good Lord, even reading about giving children tuition or working in a nursery is giving me the creeps! But thanks for the compliments on my mum :P