• Nathira Salim

Separation of Task

Welcome back to my blog peeps.

Today as I sit at my usual spot at home and type out this post, I am also thinking if I have been parenting well.

After almost ten plus years of parenting our only son, my hubby decided to take the parenting ropes from me because I was not doing a good job of it. ( Like duh!) After two plus years of taking over, our son has lost a few kilos as well as the interest to study his mother tongue and gained more distance points from the father. And a couple of days earlier, I took the ropes back from my hubby unofficially.

After PSLE, I don't think I have the strength to hover around my son anymore. It may seem to people that I have been a helicopter/tiger mum all my life, but its not so. Junior is not academically inclined and lives in his own world where I think life is normal for him, but it looks slow mo from my end. I mean, from my perspective, he does work around in a really slow manner. So I had to nudge him and sometimes push him to get things done. He seem to be distracted all the time.

He is already 13 but there are a lot of things we need to work on - his hygiene, attitude towards others and his studies and so on, but I am not too bothered about it yet. But when you look at it from my hubby's perspective, everything about the kid is a mess. I had my nephew over for a month and during that month - my hubby had to bring forth the idea of discipline constantly at home. Hubby doesn't necessarily whack the kid, but he has raised his hands before and that too when he has run out of patience.

Don't get me wrong, my hubby loves children and he's wonderful with them and he's the favourite uncle and person in all his family ( thats about more than fifty of them), but when it comes to his own kid - though as much as he loves his son as every parent does, his parenting style reflects his own dad's - something he was not happy with when he was growing up in Chennai. Hubby wants respect and discipline and being Asian, I think he is right theoretically, not so when it's practical. Constantly badgering the kids, lecturing them for hours and threatening them, etc doesn't seem to work.

By prohibiting the junior from having his own mobile phone, watching TV and playing games, we may have unintentionally created more mess rather than solving the current mess.

The prohibitions were necessary because he was caught watching restricted content on the mobile phone, watching anime non stop and refusing to move his ass when watching tv and when playing online games on the laptop. But by not having his own device, he was almost a pariah in his class and was the most pitiful person there that his teacher suggested releasing the device to him during the parent teacher meeting online.

I am not saying the junior is innocent, but he too needs some form of discipline and enforcement in his life. Kid is now a teenager. Both of us cannot be micro managing him anymore for both of us are busy and tired and it didn't seem to work all these while. So every time hubby was about to scold the kid or go into some long lecture I come in between and settle the dispute. Post cancer - I have taken a different approach with my son.

I recently read a book on Adlerian psychology** in which the concept of life tasks were mentioned and truth be told it was an eye opener. Basically what it means is that we need to sort out what our tasks in life is. In my son's case, his life tasks include personal hygiene, studying, packing his bags and stuffs before school and etc. Let's focus on the studies. It is true that his task is to study and revise his subjects for exams. But who ensures that it is done? I thought it was me. I was supposed to ensure he does his work, his homework, revisions, pack his bags and all. But according to the Adlerian psychology, thats not my life task. My life task is to provide guidance for him when he's stuck with his home work and guidance will only be provided if he asks for it.

It's my son's life task to do his homework and ensure it's done. If he does not do it, he faces the consequences at school and I will be involved as well - but it still cannot make me do his work for him. According to the book, studying is the child's task. A parent's handling of that by commanding the child to study is, in effect, an act of intruding on another person's task. We need to think with the perspective of whose task is this and continually separate one's own tasks from other people's tasks.

To tell whose task whatever is, we need to think, Who ultimately is going to receive the end result brought about by the choice that is made? When the child has made the choice of not studying, ultimately, the end result of the decision- not being able to keep up in class or to get into the preferred school for instance - does not have to be received by the parents. Clearly, it is the child who has to receive it so in another word - studying is the child's task.

Any Asian parents would think - that the parent who is more experienced in life and also acts as a guardian, has the responsibility to urge the child to study so such situations do not arise and since we are doing it for the good of the child, its not considered intruding. While studying may be the child's task, getting the child to study is the parent's tasks.

The parents often say that we are doing it for the child's good - but they are clearly doing so in order to fulfil their own goals which could be their appearance in the eye of society, their need to put on airs or their desire for control for example. So in other words - its not for the child's own good, but for the parents'. And because the child sense this deception that he rebels.

The latter paragraph - I understood well. By trying to get my kid to study - i want him to get good grades and go to good school and by going to good school, I mean by going to some popular school so that my ego is fed. I can brag about that to everyone. Forcing him to do something he's not comfortable in will only bring about more hatred to his parents and society as a whole. There are many young adults who have mental issues because of the way they were brought up. Kindly note this is not related to the River Valley HS incident. I am not commenting at all about that incident.

Of course, if I am not pushing my kid, he will fail his exams, waste a couple more years roaming around the Singapore education system without a clear purpose, find some menial job that doesn't pay much somewhere, find some girl who is not smart and from a lousy family background and give birth to stupid kids and live on rental support either from the government or parents. He will end up as a burden to the society and not someone who contributes. But I cannot control this. I cannot control something that has not happened yet or what has yet to come. But I also know that kids will find their way if they are guided.

This is my task - to guide my son when he needs guidance in his studies and life. If need be, I can arrange for tuition, apply for some online class and buy notes and assessment books for him - but only if he asks for it and he needs it. He cannot blame me in the future if he fails in his academics for I know I have done my task and he - his.

This is a tough one to follow but I am trying for the past few days to implement this. At the moment, not successful. because we have clearly not separated the tasks yet. I will do it soon and monitor from there.

** The Courage to be Disliked - The Japanese phenomenon that shows you how to free yourself, change your life and achieve real happiness - Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

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