Been recommended to parenting programmes or groups a few times. These recommendations did not appeal to me and here’s why…
I was a teacher for young children and youths, and later became a trainer for adults. Now, I am a Learning Designer in an institute of higher education. These roles have many common areas. One of the common areas is to begin your lesson design with the end in mind. We start designing the lesson/course by first asking ourselves what we want the learners to take away from the course (i.e., we develop what is sometimes called the “Learning Objectives” or “Learning Outcomes”). From there, we plan the types of learning activities or teaching methods to use, then we sequence them and add the necessary transition instructions into them so that learners can flow along and have the opportunity to assimilate new ideas into their current schema.
As a teacher myself, I prefer to deliver a lesson based on my personal beliefs and personality. When the lesson goes live, I adapt the lesson on my feet according to the class’ “personality”. Hence, when I became a Learning Designer working with university faculty to design their lessons, I take into consideration each faculty’s personality and beliefs as well and do not bulldoze my way through even if some techniques are proven as best practices for anyone with any personality.
It ain’t too different for parenting.
I’m no perfect parent cos I’m not a perfect and flawless human being in the first place. But considering the hectic lifestyle we have in Singapore, I have to choose if it is worth my time attending and reading parenting programmes.
I chose not to attend (but I do read a little) because many a times, the methods may or may not work on my child. In the end, it is about what I believe about child development (taking into consideration but despite what research says), and it is also about what I want my children to grow up to be and the kind of relationships they have with us parents (akin to “Learning Outcomes”). From there, I decide what methods I will use to guide her. And as I go along, I learn about her personality and adapt accordingly.
There are 3 main things as to how I want my child to grow up. (1) Strong and healthy, (2) safe and sound and (3) beautiful on the inside and on the outside.
The first would lead me to guide her to eat a variety of foods and minimise her intake of junk foods; I would also try to make sure she gets to go outdoors once every day to get active and get some sun and fresh air – it’s also good for her eyes/other senses.
For the second, we teach her to avoid unsafe behaviour (e.g. climbing onto tables and jumping off from there). Of course, if she were to go into tougher sports in future (e.g. unarmed combat), she may do so but have to bear in mind safety measures. We also teach her to be buckled up in the car. As she grows older, we would probably provide her with tips for travelling overseas and such. In fact, soon, when she is able to understand more, we will teach her “good touch” and “bad touch” and to not trust strangers too easily.
For the 3rd… I rely a lot on prayer because more than 50% of her waking hours are with others and not with us. Teaching your child to be beautiful takes opportunities… which means I must be around when the opportunity arises so that I could talk about an event with her. For e.g. when someone you are playing with falls, what do you do? You help check if he/she is ok and help if necessary. The less I spend time with her, the fewer such opportunities I have. Being a full time working professional, such time isn’t much. Even if I had the time, I sometimes didn’t have the energy or may not be in the right frame of mind to do it. Hence, the reliance on God.
There are people who think quality time is what matters, not quantity time. But for my husband and I, we both agree that without quantity time, there cannot be quality time. Quantity has to come first.
Without quantity time, there cannot be quality time.
There is one very important aspect in our parent-child relationship I hope to have all the days of our lives together on this earth… that we have open communication no matter what our difference in views are and no matter which stage of life we are in or where we are located… that we know and understand each other well… and always feel at home with one another.
There is no plan to “teach” this because living it out teaches best… we live it out between husband and wife… and of course want to raise our children such that they will still come to us to talk about their most intimate things (e.g. a crush, a career decision or some trouble they got themselves into) even after they are all grown up.
With the “Learning Outcomes” as my guiding light and God and His Word as our pillar… my husband and I work out plans along the way… food plans, discipline plans, communication plans… very customised. Hence, I don’t see a need for the programmes… at least not for now.