Let children be children


Parents have to be more cautious and keep a close eye on their kids to protect them from negative influences.

Naughty Teddy

Naughty teddy: A scene from Ted. Despite featuring a cuddly teddy bear, this is not a movie you should expose your kids to.

AFTER a hectic couple of weeks full of shows, I spent last weekend celebrating friendships, both old and new. I had a massive BBQ party for friends who had helped in preparing for the shows and projects to thank them all for their support, friendship and big hearts. The party was also a farewell of sorts for a wonderful and dear old friend of mine.

Due to my busy schedule, I’ve been missing out on much needed quality time with the important people in my life. As with all parties, not everyone was able to make it, but this didn’t prevent me from having a blast. It was fantastic to see everyone enjoying themselves, chatting, drinking and eating. Of course, saying farewell to my dear friend was quite heart-wrenching, but we still managed to share many laughs. Even my children enjoyed the evening playing with their old friends and making new ones.

Aside from the usual party banter and gossip about people we knew, lots of memories were relived; we caught up with current news and just generally had fun. One topic that seemed to dominate the evening was how fast our children were growing up. This got me wondering, whose fault is it really? Is it because of the advanced technologies they are exposed to these days … or rather the fault of parents?

I have heard horrifying stories of under-aged children – sometimes as young as 12! – who are having sex, often without protection, and their parents are OK with this behaviour. Some European friends say this is pretty common for them. In fact, research has shown that over the past 50 years, the number of teenage girls who are sexually active has quadrupled! Unfortunately, this kind of behaviour is no longer contained within the West and becoming more rampant even here in Asia. Personally, I cannot begin to understand this but it seems more people have begun to accept that it is normal for teens to be sexually active.

A while back, I was watching a documentary about traditional weddings, which highlighted arranged marriages involving children, especially among minority tribes. This documentary shared the story of four sisters who got married at the same time, the youngest of whom was only four! According to some traditions, if a boy of that age isn’t married yet, he will bring shame to his family. It’s sad to think that this practice continues to exist in this day and age.

I know for a fact that my grandparents had an arranged marriage. Grandma used to tell me how many of her friends back then were arranged to be married even before they were born. But circumstances were different then.

I guess in certain communities where marriage is seen as economic security for girls, things are different. But in societies like ours, where girls have every opportunity to create their own financial security, children are still maturing too quickly. And I feel both parents and technology have played a role.

Technology has become so accessible, allowing kids to be exposed to sites they shouldn’t be viewing. And parents are not monitoring what their children view online. I have even heard of parents watching pornographic movies in the same room as their young children! Children these days are smart and they learn fast.

They are also impressionable, and being exposed to this sort of film would make them think this behaviour is acceptable and that it’s okay for them to imitate it. Scary!

Even movies these days expose young children to unsuitable words and images. Stories that seem innocent enough for young kids are often laced with topics that are too mature for them. Take the movie Ted, which was released not too long ago. I actually contemplated taking my children to watch it because I was under the impression, from the posters that I had seen, that it was simply about a young boy and his teddy bear.

Luckily, I went online to check out the trailer and reviews. The movie was full of obscenities and actions that I definitely would not have wanted my young children to watch.

So, yes, in a way the Internet is great as it allows us to access useful information so much easier and faster. However, if not used properly, it can open Pandora’s box of elements we want to keep away from our kids. I was told by a friend that even adding filters to websites is not completely fool-proof. There seems to be no way around this one – we are living in a very advanced world where all sorts of data, including the unsavoury kind – have become very accessible. This makes the world a very scary place indeed, especially in terms of young children and teenagers.

Even TV channels, such as MTV, present girls in revealing clothes and seductive dance. Too many little girls will therefore think that dressing and behaving in that fashion is “cool”. It makes me sick when I see so many girls these days acting much more mature than they are. I also feel sorry for our children, the future leaders of our world, to have been injected with such unnecessary images in their heads from such a young age.

I’m not sure how we can help change this world to be a better place for our children. It will definitely be a tough mission, but it’s vital that we try anyway. We just have to be more cautious and keep a close eye on our kids’ daily activities to protect them from negative influences.

It’s important that we show them happy movies and stories, and preserve their childhood for as long as possible. Childhood is the most carefree and happy time they will ever have. Let’s not rob our children of this wonderful, innocent experience.

It really is difficult being parents today, but we can only try.

Mel’s Place by MELINDA LOOI

Award-winning fashion designer Melinda Looi tries to marry consumerism and materialism with environmental consciousness, and believes her greatest creations are her children. Follow her on Facebook or write in to star2@thestar.com.my.

Are you raising selfish kids?


Most children are egocentric, more so in these modern times. There are ways to get them to see the world beyond themselves.

YOU often hear parents complaining about how today’s children are not as obedient, thoughtful and polite as those of previous generations.

This is especially true in Generation Y and Z kids, who are also known as “Generation Me”. Generation Y and Z includes those born in the digital age and who have been familiar with using smartphones, the Internet and digital gadgets from a young age. There are varying opinions on when exactly the generation began. Some say those born in the 1980s onwards while others point to the 1990s or even the noughties.

Gen Y and Z children have a greater sense of entitlement, demand for instant gratification and generally disregard others’ needs. In simpler terms, they appear to be more selfish than kids in generations before them. It used to be family first, community’s interests, and country’s pride. Now, it is “me” first.

 Get this: The GoGetter — Land & Water puzzle will be yours if you come up with the best story on ‘Games/puzzles my kids love to play’ for June.

With all manner of advertising being thrown at us these days, it is not surprising that children don’t always know how to separate wants and needs. They seem to think they need a lot of things, with some even believing they have the right to demand for materialistic possessions. Parents who overindulge their children will give them the impression that they are entitled to these luxuries.

If a child is selfish in nature, he or she will not know how to care for others and this will eventually lead to social and relationship problems.

ParenThots shares some methods to ensure your child sees the world beyond himself or herself.

Book reviews

Geronimo Stilton is the Famous Five of the 21st century. The comforting news is that the English in the book series is sound, the stories set in various countries offer lessons in Geography and culture, and at least your kids are reading! Definitely recommended.

Childhood Allergies is written simply so that parents can get a clear idea of what allergies are about and what symptoms to look out for.

Bully stories

There are quite a few bully stories this week, including one from a man in his 60s who says he still can’t forget what happened when he was six years old as well as a letter to bullies from a former victim.

The voting for the best bully stories ends tomorrow. So, do click on Like at the end of the story or on the post about your favourite bully story on the ParenThots Facebook page (facebook.com/parenthots).

Father’s Day contest

This is the last week to win a netbook computer for your dad through the Dad Deserves An Asus contest. Just log in using your Mystar ID, answer the three objective questions and complete the sentence: “Dad needs an Asus netbook because …”

You can enter to win for your husband, father or even yourself (if you are a father). The prize should go to a father. We will check!

The contest closes June 3.

Win a puzzle

If your child loves puzzles and games, you will want to know about the Win A Puzzle promotion. Just write in about the topic of the month (the topic changes every month) and you stand a chance to win a puzzle. There is only one puzzle to be won every month. The puzzles are sponsored by educational toys company BRAINet.

For June, the title to write on is “Games/puzzles my kids love to play” and the word limit is 700. The prize for June is the GoGetter – Land & Water.

The last day to send in entries is June 20. Go to ParenThots for more details.

Related posts:

Jun 29, 2011

‘He is a good father’, man chained kids!


The man may have chained kids out of desperation

BUTTERWORTH: The man accused of shackling his children in a bathroom is not as cruel as he had been made out to be, according to his neighbours and police.

Breaking free: The chains on the girl’s leg being removed at the house in Jalan Raja Uda. — GARY CHEN / The Star

“Their relationship is very close.

“The children would give their father a goodbye kiss whenever he leaves the house,” said a neighbour, known only as Lee.

Lee said the man had been under much stress since his Thai wife left home about a month ago.

Another neighbour, who wished to be known only as Gan, said the father was a friendly man and he seldom scolded his children.

“I am not sure why he decided to chain the kids, but I guess he was at wit’s end on how to take care of them,” said Gan, who runs a plastics shop next to the double-storey shoplot in Taman Mawar on Jalan Raja Uda where the family stays.

The two children, aged two and six, had been chained inside the bathroom of their home on Wednesday.

Authorities broke into the place after being alerted by neighbours who heard them crying.

Their father has been detained while the children have been warded at the Seberang Jaya Hospital.

Gan said the children were usually left in the one-bedroom home on the first floor when the father went out to deliver goods to customers from 3pm to 10pm.

“He is very busy as he runs a shop on the ground floor while his children live upstairs,” he said.

Asked about the children’s behaviour, Gan said the two-year-old boy was naughty and had thrown toys and chairs out from the balcony.

Another neighbour, Soy, said that she would give the children some bread when she heard their cries.

Penang police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Wira Ayub Yaakob said the community must play its role and help the family instead of blaming the man for his action.

“We must not just look at the case from the criminal aspect.

“Obviously, he was under a lot of stress and he needs help and support from the community at this point,” he said yesterday.

Meanwhile, Raymond Tan, the uncle of the two siblings, has stepped in to take temporary custody of the two children.

The North Seberang Prai district Welfare Department will apply for a court order to grant temporary custody to Tan, pending the outcome of investigations into the case.

Penang Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said Tan had agreed to temporarily care for his nephew and niece, and they would live with his family at his home in Bayan Baru.

He said Tan told him that the children’s father had expressed remorse but explained that he had no choice as his son was hyperactive.

“Sometimes, the child would throw things around at his home and the father decided to chain him as he was afraid that his son might run out of the house,” said Phee, who visited them at the hospital.

Both the children were in good health.

Tan said his 40-year-old brother worked as a chemical supplier and that he was a caring man who loved his children.

“My brother has never done such a thing before and I was shocked over the incident.”

Tan said his Thai sister-in-law, who is said to be two months’ pregnant, had gone backto her hometown in Bangkok to visit her family.-  The Star

Kids home alone and chained

By M. SIVANANTHA SHARMA, KOW KWAN YEE and FONG KEE SOON north@thestar.com.my

BUTTERWORTH: Two children, aged two and six, were left home alone for hours and worse, they were chained in the bathroom.

Their father, a despatcher in his 40s, left them chained in their house in Jalan Raja Uda, apparently for “being naughty”.

The girl and her younger brother were left without food for about four hours before they were finally rescued on Wednesday.

Sorry state: The two-year-old chained near a toilet bowl in the bathroom of the house in Jalan Raja Uda.>>

North Seberang Prai OCPD Asst Comm Zulkifli Alias said neighbours who heard the children’s cries called a volunteer patrol team, who then alerted the police and Welfare Department.

“The authorities broke into the house through the front door and freed the children,” he said.

When met at the Seberang Jaya Hospital where they were admitted to, the six-year-old girl said: “I was scared and hungry so my brother and I began shouting for our father.”

When asked whether she or her brother was in pain, she said no.

The girl, however, seemed unable to answer when asked whether they had been chained previously.

She said there had been no visits from relatives since they were sent to the hospital.

ACP Zulkifli said the father claimed that the children were naughty, so he chained them and left them without food as punishment.

He also told police that his wife left home about a month ago.

Police picked up a man at a shophouse in Taman Mawar shortly after the children were rescued at about 8.40pm. He has been remanded for four days.

“Initial investigations revealed that the children were chained before he left for work at about 3pm,” ACP Zulkifli said at the district police headquarters in Bertam, Kepala Batas, yesterday.

A neighbour, who works as a mechanic, said he heard the crying while he was at his workshop, which was next to the shoplot near Jalan Raja Uda where the children live.

“I heard them crying at around 2pm on Wednesday. I did not think much of it as I thought the kids were just quarrelling,” said the neighbour who declined to be named.

“So I was shocked to see Rela members at the house around 8.45pm. I only realised the kids were chained when some of them showed me the photographs,” he said.

He said he often heard the children crying since his car workshop opened for business about a month ago.

A Chinese vernacular newspaper in its evening edition quoted the father as saying that he was forced to chain his children because they would dirty the house if they were left unattended.

Penang Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the children would be placed under the custody of the Welfare Department for now.

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