You might think that running a business or climbing Mount Everest are challenging. They are pale in comparison to rearing a child. Not only you are to ensure the survival of this being when you brought her to life. You must also able to provide ample love, care, education, and opportunity for her to be successful in her future undertakings. Welcome to the world of parenthood. The task of making sure that the survival of the genes continues.
In the animal kingdom, the process of natural selection provides two pathways to rearing the young. If the odds of survival are low, the animals are given the ability to produce many offsprings and less care needed. On the other hand, if the parents are capable of caring for the young for a long time, then the number is much reduced but the children stay longer with the parents. It's a question of quantity vs quality.
We humans went through the same evolutionary phase. In the past, our ancestors had many offsprings because the rate of mortality was high. However, with numbers, the attention that was given to each child had to be sliced thin. The children will have to make do with the limited resources the parents can provide. Often there were siblings rivalry and domestic tensions that everybody had to put up with.
As we improve out social conditions, the society is seeing less number of children in a household but they are given better attention and care by the parents. Food is of better quality, each has her own space, and the kids are exposed to better skills to progress ahead. Every parent wants what is best for his or her children. Therefore these kids live the life of privilege.
However, because of the general wellbeing of a comfortable home, children nowadays become too protected. To put it bluntly, they are spoilt rotten. This is a bad omen of things to come. If you create and environment of dependency for your children, they will never learn to be independent. They will not be able to weather the rough sea when they grow older. A study on a chimpanzee that clung to the mother for too long showed that when the mother died, the adolescent chimp eventually died with her.
Some parents are only concern with the "hygiene" aspects of the children. These include food, clothing, comfortable shelter, toys, gadgets, and entertainment. They, however, do not include discipline, ethics, values, and the right attitude as part of the kids' social input. These kids, therefore, grow up to be inconsiderate brats. The most dangerous thing is to indulge these young minds with too much cash. It's true that some parents are well to do but in addition to giving a lot of money, the parents must instill the lesson that money has to be earned. Otherwise, they will never learn long after they leave home to start their own family.
It is OK to scold your kids if they break rules. They better get used to it. If not they will never able to connect the link between action and consequences. Some parents are afraid to discipline their kids. These kids will then become problematic students when they enter school. Later in life, they will have bigger problems with the authority.
It's also fine to express your love and care for your children but whenever they do something wrong, you must be able to set the record straight. They must be able to differentiate what is right and what is wrong as early as they are toddlers. A simple case as regular bedtime needs to be enforced. Kids require conditioning to grow into responsible adults.
Consider the mind of a child as an empty canvas. It's up to the parents to provide the colors for the child to draw her own pictures. Let her imagination runs free but not to breach beyond the boundary of the frame. The most important part of a child's growth is before she enters preschool. This is the stage where her cognitive mind is still developing. During this time her mind is fertile for input. Don't wait until the kid is in middle school before the conditioning starts. By then she already has preconceived ideas about who she wants to be because most of the external values and beliefs had already shaped her personalities.
In the house, there should be at least a disciplinarian. This person establishes the rules and he or she must be a respected figure. His or her word is law in the household. To be that person, your words and actions must be in congruence. You must be a role model for the kids to emulate. Also, it is important that this person is not the jabbering and ranting type. Nobody like a nagging parent. To discipline, simply scold the kid on the mishap, explain the consequences and then if you want to reprimand, do so on the spot. No nagging.
It is also important to show that you love your children. Talk to them daily. Have a meaningful conversation. Be involved in their world. Most importantly, see the world through the eyes of a child. When you talk to your children, let them be the focus of the conversation. If you don't talk to your children now, you will discover that you will have nothing to talk about when they become older.
Footnote 16/5/17: As of this date my youngest daughter Puteri Sarah was admitted to study Medicine in Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She got 6 A+ and 3 A in her final high school examination. Of all the right things I did in my life, this seems to be the best thing I ever done.
Sarah and I at her high school graduation day.