Melentur Buluh Biar Dari Rebungnya (Bend A Bamboo While It Is Still A Shoot)
That is how the Malay proverb goes. Parents are expected to shape the character of their children while they are still little. It takes 21 days of continuously doing something to turn it into a habit, and 6 months for it to become a lifestyle. If you condition your children to you giving in to their demands, you will suffer later.
However, as a divorced parent to four kids, enforcing some things can be somewhat difficult, but not impossible to do. I have three daughters with a son as the third child. Apart from the youngest daughter, the rest have had some form of discipline built into them; her mother and I were divorced when she was 2 years old. I was very firm and stern with them when they were growing up, but as they no longer live with me, some diplomacy has to be included so they won’t shy away from me. The other reason is I have another set of kids, though not biologically mine, but my wife’s kids live with me. And the last thing I would want is for my kids to think that I favour my wife’s kids over them as the former spend 24/7 with me. But little do they know that I am stern and firm with my wife’s children as I was with them, because I believe in the proverb above. Those who don’t know will accuse me of having double-standards, but it is easier to discipline kids who live with you, than those who think you abandoned them to love other kids.
With my absence, discipline slackens. My ex is the lazy, short-cut seeking type. If she has to do something that does not benefit her, she won’t do it. Even if it is for the kids. She would only cook something that she wants to eat, not what the kids want to eat. It can be Pulut (Glutinous Rice) with Sardines all weekend, or Nasi Lemak with sambal for the whole week, from breakfast through dinner, every single day. Don’t even attempt to step into the bathroom where she lives because you would end up tip-toeing inside.
Yes, that lazy.
She gets RM2,500.00 per month for the children. She doesn’t have to pay for the house. She doesn’t pay for electricity and water. She doesn’t pay for the gated-community security. She doesn’t pay for my children tuition fees, school fees and whatever fees that you can think off. Whenever my kids want to buy books, they’d ask for money from me. And she doesn’t really cook. She prefers to eat out. On my kids’ birthday, she would ask my mother’s maids to prepare all food and drinks and would ask my mother to transport the food and drinks from Shah Alam to USJ.
Yes, she is that lazy.
Once a month she would drive back to her hometown in Kedah. By mid-month, she would have spent all RM2,500.00 don’t ask me on what. She would ask for additional money from my mother, well, she used to; until my mother got fed-up, and for the past two months, she’s been asking for some money from my father as well. Every time my mother nags about it, she would complain to my mother’s maids.
Whether or not my second daughter goes to school is not of a concern to her. My eldest daughter told me on several occasions that my second daughter had been skipping classes to be with her friends. The latter would also disappear on weekends, sleeping over at friend’s place and so on, and the mother won’t even open her mouth to ask the where and the how long for from this daughter of mine. What shocked me even more is the fact that this daughter of mine had told my wife that her mother encourages her to become a model and attend photoshoots, which she finally did two days ago, approved and unaccompanied by my ex,and I was in an absolute state of indignation as a result.
My reaction would have been to give her a good belting for skipping school and going to a photoshoot, but my wife and I agreed that the root problem is my ex, and that root problem has to be addressed. Therefore, I will have to make arrangements for my daughter to be transferred from her current school to a school near my place and live with me, since my ex is not competent to bring her up.
I went to see my daughter yesterday, took her for lunch as she had not eaten anything because the mother did not cook anything for them. I watched her eat to her heart’s content before I started lecturing her in a soft tone. The initial reaction of course was stone-walling; we adults have gone through that before, except that during my time I did not have a phone screen to look at to pretend that I was sending text messages to people. I kept lecturing her about the importance of education, about the dangerous world we all live in now – the stone-walling continued.
Once we arrived in front of the house, I alighted as she did, and went around the car to say goodbye to her. I gave her the usual hug and told her to remember what I had said. She just said, “Okay, Ayah. Bye.” I never let go. I just hugged her more and told her that I won’t be around for much longer, and that I want her to study hard so she would have a good life and be a good daughter. At that point, she hugged me back and cried, and promised me she would try to be a good daughter and study hard.
The message finally sunk in.
There are times, when dealing with teenage children, that you can be firm, and you can be otherwise but always mean what you say; but nothing will work at that point if you do not bend the bamboo while it is still a shoot.