Parenting 101

When we signed Raeven up for the cooperative preschool, we thought we knew what we were getting ourselves into. The working once a week. The active participation in her schooling. The cleaning.

What we didn’t know was that these guys were also serious about teaching us, the parents, how to raise our kids properly.

Today, Lokes and I went for our first parent-teachers meeting at the Redmond Cooperative Preschool, which is a prerequisite to Raeven getting a place at the institution. Held once a month, this meeting is where the school teacher and the parents who’ve committed to ‘working’ at the school (and their spouses, if they’re interested) discuss work schedules, the school’s program and – surprise, surprise – spend an hour learning from the teacher, the basics to better parenting.

I, for one, was pleasantly surprised at the agenda. For $65/= a month, preschool is turning out also to be a rich learning experience for mommy and daddy!

I mean, WOW. These guys are serious about parenting! Lokes and I certainly came away with precious knowledge and experience that’s definitely worth more than $65 a month. And these aren’t crazily overprotective, perfect supermoms. They’re just ordinary people trying to raise good kids.

Makes me wonder: How many Malaysian moms and dads worry about that?

This is understandable (and perhaps what we need as a society of young parents). Americans just don’t have the support system we Malaysians seem to take for granted today, with our parents and our maids. As such, support from schools and other parents is essential to knowing if you’re doing a good enough job.

I found it inspiring AND worrying. If I’d never come to Seattle, I would’ve missed out on all this. What kind of parents, then, would we be?

In Malaysia, we have Khusus Perkahwinan and ante-natal, pre-natal classes for first-time parents. But nowhere can we find a class to give us Parenting Education.

How are we supposed to learn to be parents? From our own parents? Times change. Books? Not everything can be learnt from books (and not everyone reads).

You may think “well, we’ve survived this long without classes, so…”. But don’t you want to know what other parents and teachers of preschool kids know? Don’t you think you NEED to know more than just providing food and love? For example, how do you deal with a disobedient toddler? How do you make him stop jumping on the bed, or get him to pick up his toys, or wear his socks? Thanks to tonight’s discussion, we now have several ways to deal with Rae when she gets naughty.

Of course, the big question is, even if our government were to implement parenting classes for after hours, would we actually attend them? 

I think not. We’d just make excuses about being too tired to go after work or some such reason. We’ll probably say to ourselves, “We’re working to put food on the table and our kids in school, and so that we can have vacation in nice places. That’s doing enough.”

Are you?




  1. Jo said

    with all these parenting courses, why then are the american kids more teruk than asian kids in general?

  2. blake said

    The lost secret to parenting: the cane!

    worked for me wat. look at how i turned out. lol.

  3. jenntai said

    I wondered about the same thing Jo. Maybe we’re not so teruk BECAUSE of the support structure (grandparents, relatives, surrounded by strict Asian values from family, society’s expectations). Remember your mom was around, and even tho my parents were working, my Ku Ma was around.

    Notice how that is deteriorating now because of two-income households of the 80s. And we have yet to feel the effects of our maid-brought-up kids 20 years from now where parents don’t really care about how their babies/toddlers grow up because they think it doesn’t matter, or that money is more important.

    Perhaps in the US, that’s why there are parenting ed classes now (maybe there weren’t before). Parents are also becoming younger here, so the classes are not a luxury anymore. They are a necessity when your mom is 17 yrs old. 2-3 of the moms in my class were in their early 20s (means they have three-year olds!).

    Also, we can’t just blame bad parenting here, than we should, on the LACK of parenting. A lot of kids here come from broken families, divorced parents, single parents or no parents at all. In Malaysia, those numbers are still much less. Fact may be that they are rising.

    Compounded  by popular culture, too much freedom too early, peer pressure, that overwhelming need to be COOL. That’s when we need to pay more attention, not less. That’s why they have these “Above the Influence” tv ads now, where teenagers are encouraged not to succumb to peer pressure.

    Physical punishment aka violence: the thing with this is, if you’ve dealt them the worst (i.e. pain), what worser punishment is there if they do more wrong? And pain may have worked for us last time, but not for kids todaylah. They’re too smart. I’d use spanking as an absolute last resort. For now, the prospect of losing her toys or play time is enough to make Rae toe the line. Sometimes my silence is already bad enough!

    I am worried that parents of young children in Malaysia are less interested in raising their kids, than they are in HAVING them. It’s a little scary to realise that we don’t really know what it means to bring a kid up you know?

    So I’m just glad there are classes here for that here that we are MADE to attend, to have someone share with you something they’re formally trained to do, plus experience from other older parents. The insights are just amazingly simple that you wonder, shit, how come I never knew that!

    You’d think common sense is all you need but it takes more than thatlah…

  4. jenntai said

    Another thing is this: face. Asians, especially Chinese, are all about face and pride of the family name. This is drilled into our heads from young. From bad grades to a drug habit to getting a doctorate – all these reflect on our ancestry and family name (even if the brains and bad attitudes are our own). Being
    saddled with the responsibility of never EVER tarnishing your family name brings out the best – and many times, the worst – in us.

  5. Wena said

    been a long time since i’ve read your site *blush* but now that i found it again, am plugging it into my RSS reader so that i don’t miss it.

    what u’re writing about reminds me a bit about my childhood. i grew up in an oiltown in malaysia with a huge community of europeans present. these mothers would usually help out in the private school i was working it or in the various charity organizations because by malaysian law, as their spouse has the working permit, they are not allowed to work here (stupid law actually).

    these mothers were amazing when it came to motivating their kids and helping them out. a lot of them were mostly teachers for younger children or they have children with physical or mental disabilities. my Scottish neighbour once tutored her dyslexic son for years.

    a major problem is the stigma from the Asian society where competition is just too rampant. if the child is known to have a problem or is slow at picking up studies, society would immediately spread harsh rumours about the family to the point it’s like being boycotted. although it’s not as bad as in my grandmother’s days, it’s still very much so an influence on today’s parents. probably this more than anything else that makes it harder for asian parents to cope with the stress of bringing up kids of today.

    having said that, i’m a single person who just happen to have too many family members with kids running around. *tongue in cheek*

  6. Amy said

    well, being a young person myself (not married, no kids) , and as an editor for a PARENTING magazine, I hear of stories about parents spoiling their kids silly. Mostly to make of lost time with them, and guilt. I’ve already planned to hide out in the suburbs when I’m married and the kids have no way of going to KL until they are 20! Haha! Kids nowadays pretend to be innocent, and it scares the bejeezus out of me.

  7. jenntai said

    amy, u shld do a story about whether today’s parents are doing the right thing leaving their kids with maids, especially those who are barely adults themselves!

  8. Amy said

    That’s a good idea…Will see how that goes! 🙂

  9. nurul iman said

    dont u think it is a necessity for parent or to-be-parents to go parenting courses. It brings benefit to everyone, so why ignore it. Parents do love their parents but how many know the right way to handle them. Do we have enough experience to do that. Learning from mistake is costly. Do you want ur first child to turn a bad apple before u could realize your mistake and try to correct it with ut second child and finding errors and more errors…

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