Louisa Claire

Read more posted in January, 2012

The Modern Parent: A Question Of Obedience

There’s a recurring theme that I’ve encountered in my (still limited number of) parenting days; its the idea that anything that imposes our will as parents onto our children ought to be banished. It says that reward charts are bad because they stop a child from being self motivated, that we mustn’t discipline our children because then they won’t feel loved; we must let our children develop their own sense of themselves and forge their own paths.

Does this backlash about obedience stem from our own days of childhood where we were expected to “just do it”, “because I said so”? Is it that we vowed never to be like that when we were parents and so, now we strive to parent our children differently, aiming to develop an internal monologue that guides them?

And yet, the rate of body image disorders and self harm rise every day. Children are lost and hurting…and it gets worse almost by the minute. I can’t help but feel that the more parents have lost the sense that they are the authority, the guiding light – loving and firm – in their children’s lives, that children have lost a sense of security that even impinges on their sense of being loved and worthy.

It’s not that I don’t desire my children to be self-motivated people, it is that I believe that being a disciplined person is a good thing and something being lost in modern parenting.

The other day I came across an article in The Telegraph about Amy Chua, author of the infamous book Battle Hymn of a Tiger Mother. I’ve read the hype surrounding the book, but not the book itself and so I was more than a little intrigued when the author said this

No wonder Tiger Mother gets lost in translation. It uses a vocabulary of self-discipline, striving and excellence that would have been utterly familiar to the wartime generation, but which, in two generations, has become politically incorrect.

What I’m wondering as I parent my ever vocal almost 4 is can obedience go hand in hand with being a person who can think for themselves?

I sure hope so (and really do think so) because I do expect my children to be obedient.

I believe that boundaries are good for children and that obeying their parents is a good discipline that will benefit them later in life.

Some people may interpret this to mean blind obedience, that I am going to raise children who a) can’t think for themselves or b) will rebel drastically in their teen years. I don’t think that’s it.

What does obedience look like (for me)? It means respecting me as the parent and as a person of authority (yes, authority) in their lives. I welcome their questioning and challenges however I expect them to be made respectfully, and if the answer is still no then I expect that to be accepted. It means not arguing at everything I say, every time I say it. I suspect my definition will grow and change as my children grow and change.

Of course all of this is a work in progress, I certainly don’t expect my 3 year old not to argue – however when she speaks rudely to me, I correct her and teach her a better way to speak. She is mostly a very polite little girl, saying please, thank you and finally(!!) learning to say “excuse me!” I don’t see teaching her these things as a form of tyrannical parenting but as a gift to her. A little girl with lovely manners is going to go further than a little girl who pushes, shoves and yells all the time. More than that, these are values that we hold as important in our family and so we expect our children to learn.

Does it mean doing what I say just because I say it? Sometimes, yes it does. However, I also believe that obedience is not just one sided. If I ask and expect my children to obey me, then I am greatly responsible for the way I speak to them and what I ask of them.

We want our kids to be able to make good decisions that embrace who they are – but how can they do that if they’re don’t have a model of it. A model of making and sticking to decisions, of taking responsibility for their choices and following through? If we don’t stick to our guns as parents, how can we expect that our children will?

If there’s one thing I am certain of its that my kids will be presented with,nor even seek out experiences that I would prefer they don’t have. In those moments, I won’t be there to guide them so I need to make sure I’ve prepared them in other ways for that time – to keep them safe, both physically and emotionally.

This year I have resolved to cultivate discipline in my own life and when it comes to the kids I don’t need to worry so much about whether my kids know they are loved – we are effusive in our language and behaviour, we actively listen and positively discipline. What I need to be sure about is that we don’t let our kids down by not helping them to be the best version of themselves; by not teaching them to be respectful, to be considerate and empathetic, to not teach them that they need to give their best to life – all of it.

I believe that children are not mini adults, nor are they just trying to “push my buttons” when they behave badly. Often they just want to understand – so yes, if I say they need to do x then that what’s I expect them to do, but I am conscious to explain to them the “why”.  It’s my responsibility to treat them with respect, to really listen to them and to apologisie when I am wrong. They are their own people, with their own personalities, strengths, weaknesses, passions and gift. A big part of my job is to see them for who they are and help them learn to deal with and navigate those things…with grace.

When I am met with strong resistance, in my better parenting moments, I will stop and think “is there something I could do or explain to help Bliss understand or accept my decision? Am I making the wrong decision here and do I need to change my mind and let her have her way?”  I don’t always get this right and I do expect that Bliss will accept my decision, even if it’s not the best one I could have made. She is only 3 after all.

This probably sounds really hardline, and it’s true that I do expect a lot of my children. I also shower them with love, heap on them words of affirmation and encouragement and fail every. single. day. at being the parent I dream of. Don’t we all? 

The language of obedience doesn’t sit well, it smacks of heavy handed parenting that stagnated children’s sense of self worth and zest for life. I hope you understand that the type of obedience I am talking about here is intended to help my children soar in life, to live fully the huge enthusiasm for life that they both have in a way that both brings them a sense of fulfilment and contributes to the community they are part of.

I believe learning obedience is a good thing, do you?

Just to prove I'm not an ogre - check out the fun Miss Bliss had painting herself and house purple!


 

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Welcome To Paradise

We arrived here, in Paradise, on Thursday evening. It was a long and wearying journey that saw me bursting into tears as we boarded the plane in KL and cry for the first part of the flight. When we arrived at the villa in Ubud after a 90minute drive from Denpassar airport we looked at a lovely white Villa thinking it was our home for the week.

It wasn’t.

It was the staff quarters.

Our new home was to be reached by and outside lift that carried us down into the voluptuous rainforest before depositing us on a quaint pebble path leading to something out of a movie set. No words can do justice to this stunning place.

The villa has 5 permanent staff, all here to look after our family of 8 during our stay. I’ve just returned from the kitchen where I found the night watchman. I didn’t realise the lovely man who made me coffee this morning, when I stumble bleary eyed from my luxury room into the outdoor lounge room by the pool, had been up all night. When I left the kitchen I noticed he wasn’t there anymore; I found him
again waiting just outside our room with a torch to help me navigate the steps back inside.

This afternoon I went for a spa treatment. I chose a place with good reviews on trip advisor more than willing to pay a bit more. Yesterday I saw a spa facility with a 60min massage for 55.000IRD ($5.50) or a package for a out 200,000IRD ($20) Today we paid a little more than that and as we left the lady commented that I’d given her too much. I’d left a $10 tip…what’s the appropriate amount when you’ve just paid $28 for a 4hour pamper?

This morning I bought a pair of sandals for $3. She’d been asking $15 but yesterday I saw the exact same for .90c. I’ll haggle but not over $2. The Architect bought some pants and left me to haggle. The starting price was $13, we bargained for a minute and then she said “you can afford it” and she’s right. I can.

I am so grateful to be here, I honestly can’t imagine a more idyllic setting. But from the comfort of my cool villa, I’m left with the uncomfortable question…What do you do when your paradise is someone else’s poverty?


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Taking Your Blog On Holidays

There’s a mantra in blogging circles that you should write for your readers, not yourself; Darren Rowse calls it, loving your readers. It’s sage advice and normally I’d take it.

Not today.

I’m writing this post from a rainforest cafe, by an idyllic beach at a 5 start resort in Langkawi Malaysia. I’ve spent the entire day in my swimmers, hanging out with my kids, watching them splashing in the water and generally relaxing. Am I telling you this because I think you’re going to be interested? Not today – listening to someone else waft on about the amazing holiday you’re not having is rarely my cup of tea, so I don’t expect it to be yours. I’m writing this because something amazing is happening to me…

I’m relaxing.

When the hours roll into days and you lose yourself in the full enjoyment of your family it’s…well, I’d forgotten just how special it is.

So today I’m writing this if for no other reason than as a little reminder to my future self – something that says “Hey Louisa, you know that holiday you’re thinking of taking? Do it!.


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Is A Break Simply Well Deserved?

I was emailing a friend today and started to say “Enjoy your break, you deserve it” when I stopped myself. Does she deserve a break? Yes, of course – but probably no more than anyone else, by which I mean – most of us work hard, parent thoughtfully and could all do with a bit of down time. Does that mean we take it when we can?

No.

What struck me about this particular friend is that she’s wise. Having a break with her family isn’t something she’s doing because she feels she deserves it, it’s something she’s doing because in her wisdom she realises it’s a good way to start the year; to rest and reflect but also to look forward but mostly to build into the relationships that matter most in her life – her husband and children.

None of this she told me of course, it’s inferred by the way I see her live and watch the choices she makes for herself and her family.

Today I’m thankful for this lovely wise friend for reminding me that taking a break isn’t something we ought to do because we deserve it nor is it some great indulgence. Taking a break is something we out to take seriously, because when we rest we reap huge rewards without ourselves and in our families and thus beyond those places – into our communities, work and friendships.

So, are you taking the time to rest this January? If you feel overwhelmed even by the thought of it (as I did when The Architect was planning this current holiday) then what one thing would need to happen or change in order for you to find the space to rest. Start with that question and see where you go…

With love and wishes for good rest.
xx


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Malaysia and Me

This is my third trip to Malaysia, and I’ve got to be honest and say that before marrying The Architect it had never occurred to me to come here – which would have been a shame as there’s a lot to love about this country – mostly the food and the shopping!

My first visit came a few months after we were married when The Architects grandmother passed away. We arrived early in the morning and upon arriving at the house the family decided they wanted to go for Roti Cenai at Devi’s. It was about 7am and we’d just gotten off an overnight flight – curry for breakfast was not on my mind.

It didn’t take long for me to develop a love affair of my own with Teh Tarek (a really yummy Indian tea) and Roti Cenai. Yesterday it was our first stop for the day, it probably will be again today!!

As it’s so hot here one of the main attractions are the shopping centers. Unlike it Aus where you wouldnt plan a family meal at a shopping center restaurant, here there are some great places to eat in the big centers. Last night we took the kids for dumplings and they were incredible!

(On the shopping front, they include all the main shops from the US and UK ~ Zara, Top Shop, Gap etc ~ and a few from Aus including Pumpkin Patch. The last time I was here I was pregnant with Bliss and a lot has changed since then- yesterday I found a whole mother & baby wing of Megamall which I’m sure I haven’t seen before.)

One of the curious thing about traveling to foreign lands is how even the little things are different. If you’ve ever been to America then you’ll identify with me about the bread – it’s really sweet, not at all like Aussie bread. Right now I’m writing this while drinking a cup of tea – it’s Twinings English breakfast with a bit of milk and sugar and it tastes really different because of the milk.

On that note it’s time to brave the day – it’s 7.10am here and the sun has only just risen.

Do you like to travel? What’s your favourite thing to discover in a new place?


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