Stepping into parenting means serious business. Yet there is no one parenting bible that fits all. Every human is unique and so does our child. As much as we try and strive to be the most perfect parents to our children, we may be too engrossed in our own way, forgo a little wisdom, hardly see what we could turn out to be. Are we going to be the most perfect parents only in our own eyes and our own mind?
Authoritarian parenting, fanatic parenting or perhaps what the Strait settlement folks in Penang and Singapore usually refer to – The ‘Kiasu’ Parenting and The ‘Kiasi’ Parenting. Kiasu or literally means ‘fear of loosing’ is a competitive style of child rearing. In other words, my child must always be better than my neighbors in every aspects. Kiasi that translates as ‘fear of death’, also sounds close to the authoritarian parenting to a certain extent. Or more precisely described as, a child is too precious to take any risks.
Before I begin, let me put down everything on the table. This tale is not intended to be a personal attack on any individual/group. Serves as a general picture, I hope it leads to uncover an interesting side of Asian parenting style.
Caring society is a great value in Asian culture. They love to share and so much, that at times tend to overly react to ‘educate’ a new parent. Bits and pieces here may sound like you and me, but they are purely a co-incidence. The philosophy here is “everyone is different in his/her own way and that’s what us special“. So read with an open heart and some sense of humor to enjoy my two cents .
First of all, we should thank the Kiasu parents for setting such a high standard in the rat race. Kids nowadays attend the enrichment classes as early as 18 month-old. Back in the bygone days or 30 years ago, going to pre-school for 2 years was a luxury! Today, it is a must otherwise, one can hardly catch up in Year 1! Toddlers these days learn how to read and count in classroom instead of plucking fruits in the backyard, hanging on the swing or jumping over the rope. With technology comes into picture, nursery kids are ‘encouraged’ to play ‘Angry Birds’ on iPhone or iPad so that their Kiasu parents can enjoy scrumptious dinner in peace. I thought everyone in the family should interact often rather than mind your own business? Winding back to infancy stage, Kiasu parents tell you that every cry means your child is hungry. You must feed him/her to be chubby (fat)! “Don’t you like a ‘voluptious’ baby?” quips the Kiasu parent. The Kiasu parents add that they feed their children with the best formula milk in the market. Hopefully they prepare it with the purest water since research reported boiling water does not kill all the bacteria, viruses and cysts.
Seeing you breastfeeding, the Kiasi parent asks “Is it clean to breastfeed?”. Opsh, sorry! (from me to all the women in world. I hope the woman who uttered this statement did not mean her nipples are dirty). The Kiasi parents also tell you that driving with your baby in car seat is not safe as the baby will soon crawl out of the seat. Instead, lap seat is the safest! Kiasi parents always ask their children to play the toys exactly like how they teach them to play. As long as the child follows like a robot, reward is on the way. No appreciation for creativity! Freedom to explore? The child is still too young to ask for that! Starting solid? Kiasi parents serve their young babies the sweetest (most delicious) food because they love the food that way!
If the Kiasi parents do not how to swim, they would tell you going to swimming pool is dangerous! You would be drowned, so never live in condominium with a swimming pool. While the Kiasu parents purchased a home with a large pool. They would send their kids for swimming lesson and make sure he/she master the skill before the third birthday because they could not swim.
What is the best food for your children? Kiasu parents say, “Buy imported vegetables and fruits. Everything, just buy organic, no chemicals ‘ma’!”. Kiasi parents then point out, “My neighbor said if you give your kids organic vegetables, later they will reject non-organic vegetables!”. Since I am doing perfectly fine without organic, why should my kids?
When someone asks about going to pre-school before third birthday? Kiasu parents says the more expensive nursery usually is better one. They teach your kids public speaking and they have a science lab too! The Kiasi parents however disagree. Sending kids to nursery earlier means they are prone to falling sick. What comes around goes around!
In general, Kiasu parents aspire their children to be what they always want to be or ever wanted to be. Whatever the Kiasu parents can’t achieve in their life time, they want their children to accomplish on their behalf. The Kiasi parents is more kind in a way, they only want their children to be exactly like them because they are best in the world. Just copy, like me!
Before entering parenthood, these remarks make no sense to me. But today, as I called myself a parent, I found these bits are interesting, worth musing. And some of them are hilarious! I guess it is too selfish to keep them only to myself . Back to our philosophy, read with an open heart and some sense of humor.
I guess the stories do not end here. I believe you have encountered some of this conversations in your life. If you have an interesting or unique case to share, please leave them here for everyone to enjoy. Parenting can be very tough at times, we need some loud laughter to keep us going.
~ Happy parenting! ~