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IT TAKES TWO TO MAKE IT WORK

Dear Sumi,

I’m sorry to hear that you are having problems with Sue Nee. Teenage years are times of stress and storm. It’s the era of “The Tempest” and we need to deal with it as a “Comedy of Errors” in order not to go crazy. A little humour goes a long, long way. Ha! Ha!

It is sad to note that the family fabric in some homes is almost threadbare. Everyone blames it on the generation gap. Bridging the gap needs two parties to work together i.e. the parents and the children. And it is not impossible if both are willing to have a go at it.

Do you still remember ‘Sonnet 18’ taught by Mrs Brohier, our favourite Literature teacher? It’s one
of Shakespeare’s romantic poems. He did not write these poems to give to love ones on a specific day. He’d probably spin in his grave if he had known that people nowadays splurge lavishly on their loved ones only on Valentine’s Day!

Well, Valentine’s Day has been greatly exploited by companies. They hope to stir many a romantic’s heart so that he will empty his pockets on gifts and food for someone he adores. Such is the practice of so-called modern people. Do we need to show love and appreciation only on a particular day? I’m sure you know the answer.

Love should be expressed throughout the year, especially to our parents. We do not need to demarcate days into Fathers’ Day or Mothers’ Day. After all, they have toiled hard to bring us up. Say what you may but they have also given much unconditional love from the day we were born. So every day should be Parents’ day, right?

There are so many ways to make parents happy. Of course now and then you can take them out for a special meal. However, there are several other ways without making you any poorer. For example: helping around the house like washing the car or cleaning up the room; and the best gift of all is to obey them for they probably have reasons why they impose rules and regulations on us.

I remember what Esther told me about the answer her father gave when she, as a child, asked him what their religion was. Her father answered, “Listen to what parents teach you.” Do you know why? The word religion (kau in Cantonese) has a similar sound as the word teach. I thought it is quite rational. Parents would want their children to listen to them.

Coming back to the subject on bridging the gap, here are some suggestions on what we as a parent can do.
  • Respect the children’s rights to their own values and opinions which may be different from yours. At the same time, state your values clearly especially on matters regarding sex, smoking, drugs, alcohol, money and religious beliefs. You need to be firm in such areas but there is no need to nag on and on. You know we sometimes tend to go overboard.
  • Take an interest in the children’s activities without sounding like a kapochee (nosy person)! Get to know whom their friends are and ask your children to invite them to the house.
  • Listen actively to what your children say and clarify what is meant.
  • Find the right time to talk. Not after an argument with the children. Pick a time when they are calm and relaxed.
  • Focus on their behaviour and not them. Be specific in terms of issues and say how you feel. Remember we learnt this at a counselling course? We need to talk about our feelings using “I” statements? Also explore their feelings as well.
It takes two to bridge the gap. Now what can the children do? They also have to be aware of their roles and responsibilities as a member of the family.
  • They must do their share of household chores. Do not pamper them too much. This will equip them with some life skills for the future.
  • If they are given freedom to go out with friends they should come home at the designated time otherwise they should call to inform you if they have to return later.
  • Leaving a contact number and informing you with whom they are going out will enable you to reach them in case of emergencies.
  • They should return common household possessions to their rightful places after borrowing them from you or other family members.
  • If they borrow the family car, they should fill up the petrol tank if it is low and pay for damages to the car if they are responsible for the damages.
Very often, children especially teenagers complain that we parents do not trust them enough or understand them. They should be made known that we cannot treat them like adults if they act like children.

I came across an interesting piece of writing by Ann Landers – humorous yet it holds some truth. Perhaps you can share this with Sue Nee.

My Father When I Was
4 years old: My daddy can do anything.
5 years old: My daddy knows a whole lot.
6 years old: My dad is smarter than your dad.
8 years old: My dad doesn’t know exactly everything.
10 years old: In the olden days when my dad grew up, things were sure different.
12 years old: Oh, well, naturally, Father doesn’t know anything about that. He is too old to remember his childhood.
14 years old: Don’t pay attention to my Father. He is too old fashioned!
21 years old: Him? My Lord, he’s hopelessly out-of-date.
25 years old: Dad knows a little bit about it, but then he should because he has been around so long.
30 years old: Maybe we should ask Dad what he thinks. After all he’s had a lot of experience.
35 years old: I’m not doing a single thing until I talk to Dad.
40 years old: I wonder how Dad would have handled it. He was so wise and had a world of experience.
50 years old: I’d give anything if Dad were here now so I could talk this over with him. Too bad I didn’t appreciate how smart he was. I could have learnt a lot from him.

Like it? Anyway I’m glad you’ve given me this opportunity to share my thoughts with you. We must remember that good relationships not only make life easier (especially at home) but also makes both parties feel good. A harmonious home environment gives a sense of security to children and prevents them from indulging in undesirable activities.

Well, I’ve to sit down and have a pow-wow with Kiang. You know, he’s been offered an ASEAN scholarship and also a berth in National Service? Keep in touch. Your support group member will always be there for you.

Love,
Meng


Yeap Meng Chee
Penang Family Planning Association
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