Tailor parenting style to your child
My mother was strict with my grades and a disciplinarian, but she knew when to let me make my own choices
"At the time, I chafed at such rigid structures...
Yet, looking back, I realise how this sort of parenting helped me become the person I am today. The supervision, discipline and structure helped give me a form of security in my life."
PARENTS AND CHILDREN
By conventional standards, my mother would be labelled a strict parent.
Some might even call her a "tiger mother", a term that refers to parents who are demanding and push their children to attain success.
The term became popular in describing Asian mothers' strict parenting techniques, after author Amy Chua published her autobiography Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother in 2011.
My mother was always concerned with my grades. She wanted me to get full marks in all my spelling tests.
Before any Chinese exam, she would spend hours going over all the vocabulary words with me, emphasising that I could not get a single stroke of the characters wrong.
She did all this, even though she barely spoke Mandarin and also struggled with the language in school.
At the time, I chafed at such rigid structures... Yet, looking back, I realise how this sort of parenting helped me become the person I am today. The supervision, discipline and structure helped give me a form of security in my life.
One of my most vivid memories from my primary school days was my mother rushing around our home, cooking and cleaning and caring for my little brother, while using every spare minute ensuring I could do my mathematics sums.
With her pushing me and setting my academic goals, I did not need extra tuition.
She was the toughest tutor and I was her only pupil.
At the time, I chafed at such rigid structures. I wondered why 90 marks out of 100 was not enough, or why nine out of 10 in spelling brought punishment.
Yet, looking back, I realise how this sort of parenting helped me become the person I am today.
The supervision, discipline and structure helped give me a form of security in my life.
Even now, when things seem overwhelming, I fall back on creating structure for myself, such as planners, schedules and setting goals and targets for myself.
When I speak to friends who have had strict parents, they say it drove them away from their parents. It made them rebel and hide from their parents because they felt oppressed by the rules.
I think the difference is my mother knew when to relax and let me make my own choices.
My mother encouraged my love of reading.
She even went to my school to ask my teachers to let me do a rare pure humanities subject combination in junior college.
She supported me in my career choice even if it was not what she would have chosen for me. She even let me do English literature in university.
So, my mother is not really the conventional tigress. She had the mix of tough love and an acute knowledge of when to give me freedom to live my life.
Her uprightness gave me a sense of security that I could share my problems with her and she could help solve them.
She gave me freedom but also let me know she would always have my back, even if I chose the path less travelled.
Some say strict parenting is bad for a child, others say being too relaxed lets the child run amok.
Ultimately, as my experience shows, it is all down to tailoring parenting styles to what the child needs.
Parents choose whatever way helps them connect with the child.
All parents want to do is to love and care for their child the best way they can. They just want them to grow up and be the best version of themselves.
And that, I believe, is what drove my mother to put her career on hold when I was growing up, and give her all in being my tutor, disciplinarian and mother.
She gave it everything. And, it was enough.