Wednesday, November 28

Papers, Skills or Life Lessons?

Disclaimer: No negativity intended in this entry. No negative intention of offending anyone. All opinions are my own. 

Would you rather your child be equipped with papers,skills or life lessons? 

It's a question that every parent faces. Other parents love to ask questions like that. If no one had asked you before, then maybe it's time for you to think about it. 

I had this convo with Kingyo, my best friend a while ago and we both had the same answer. Of cos, it's a controversial answer cos there are many debatable points to this question.

I personally rather have Sophia be equipped with skills than papers. Of cos, if she can secure both, even better but every child has their strengths and weaknesses. I'm not a top grad but over the course of more than a decade, I've gained experiences/skills... I'm equipped with the necessary papers to back my skills up. I have seen top graduates with top honours, or whatsoever you call them, first class, second class.. trying to find a job in a tuition centre, working as sales assistants and admin assistant. It surprises me because of the "opportunities" that will be smack right into your face when you are equipped with the papers, as I was told. 

After I left secondary school, I remembered my aunt told my mom after her friend did some "fortune telling" crap for me.. I remembered every word she said to my mom right in front of my face.

"Your daughter will end up becoming a factory worker with no education cos she's so lazy and you will have to feed your daughter until you die. Your life will be miserable because of your daughter..." My aunt looked at me in disgust. I remembered laughing into her face and said, "Sure, that will be interesting... an educated factory worker... fast promotion!" She knew I was dead sarcastic. My mom then told me in tears, be it factory worker or sales person, "As long as you don't beg, borrow or steal, I'll be proud of you." I told her I will never go down that route because I'm better than that and I made her proud.

Growing up, my late maternal grandmother who was one of my pillar of strength often told me that it doesn't matter if you do not have papers or skills. What matters most are values, morals & character. Of cos, all those can't bring in the bacon. But I understood what she meant.  I live by her words. 

Yes, I have both, skills and papers. I did not continue with my studies because my family could not afford. I paid through my own diploma studies. As much as I love to continue, I'm not afraid to do it when I'm older, when I'm more financially stable. I'm not saying a graduate is useless. If you are a graduate, good for you. If you have a good job through that paper, even better. 

I've seen kiasu (competitive) parents all over Singapore and seriously, to a certain extend, it does piss me off. It's either they spend all their money on their child's enrichment programs or tuition programs. Golf, swimming, ballet, art, soccer, music, Chinese, Mathematics, 3rd Language, English and whatever you can think of. It's very scary cos the first thing that comes to my mind will be, "where's the childhood?" I know many parents who read this entry might probably think I came from the cave or something cos my mentality as a mother is screwed up. No, I'm not screwed. I'm a realistic parent who wants my child to decide what she wants, not what I want. 

Perhaps you would say.."My child wants to go for art class or swimming so I signed him/her up so how is that my fault?" If it's the genuine interest of the child, sure.. but if it's YOU who insists, seriously, have a cup of tea and focus on your purpose as a parent. I've heard the very same few statements & questions from parents over the years of teaching (in the local schools) and let me share with you some.

  • My eldest child studies is way better than the younger one and I wonder why.
  • Why can't my child study? Is something wrong with him or do I need to give him more tuition classes?
  • My child has to go for multiple tuition classes to do well in school so he can have a stable future in the society. 
  • Besides academic, my child has to know skills like sports and arts. It will benefit him.
  • What do kids know? It's our job as parents to guide them, not let them decide. They don't know how to make the right decisions.
  • Eventually, my kids will be grateful to me for making decisions for them.
  • If my child don't do well, she will be looked down and my family will look down on us. 
  • My hubby and I are graduates, if my child don't do well in school, others will mock him. 
Sounds familiar?

I have been through some interviews before and I know papers are important. But being the "bitchy" me, some interviewers asked me if I had any questions to ask them before the interview ends. I had asked some of them this question:

"Will you hire someone with skills with a tad lesser academic qualifications or someone with no skills but very fantastic academic qualifications and why?

Very often, I don't get a satisfactory answer because they don't answer to the point. 

Before marriage and motherhood, it doesn't matter to me if my salary is low. After marriage and motherhood, I make sure these potential employers know that I won't compromise with my salary. I believe in my skills and potential. Usually, I get the job. LOL! 

Take-home message: (quite a lengthy one..)

My intention here is not to preach, teach or tell any parents what they should or should not do. I'm just sharing my views and what I will do for the best interest of my child. You may want to look at things at a different angle and perhaps, re-evaluate what you have path out for your child, that's all. All parents want the best for their kids. But is it really about what you want for them or for yourself? Is it about face value? Do you want them to learn thru the hard way or u want to path the easy route for them? If things go wrong along the way, do you want them to learn or do you want to help? 

It's not about the papers, skills or life lesson. It's how we parents lay the foundation for them. Do we want our child to be useful or useless to the future society? If our intention from the first minute is wrong, the entire foundation will be screwed. It's very easy to know what kind of parents a kid has. Whether the kid's family is well to do, mid-income or low income, whether the kid has been forced to do something they don't like, or whether they are happy with their life, it's very clear. As a teacher for more than ten years, I've seen all kinds of parents of most of the time, it's jackpot, unless the child is special. 

For me, I would rather my child equipped with skills. Why? Paper chase is so competitive and it's never ending. Back then when I was still in school, graduates are looked upon. Now, graduates are no biggie. NO offense to any graduate moms or friends out there reading this, but it's the truth. It hasn't been easy for alot of graduates out there to get a job that they truly love. They have the paper, but they hate their job. Out of 10, only 2 will truly love the job they have. The others will probably find a new job after a year of gaining experience. So why would I want my child to be just studying and studying and STUDYING when she can back herself up with skills and get her butt off to the work force? Living in Singapore is not cheap, not easy and the multiples graduate cert may not even bring her a proper paying job? I would rather my child acquire a skill she truly, genuinely passionate about and excel in her job, than to sit in the office, with the multiple certs, with no direction. I won't enforce what she needs to have for a better future. I would advise her to excel in what she loves and make the best out of it. Be it a chef, make up artist, dancer, artist, photographer, zookeeper, (LOL!) whatsoever.. as long as she can excel and be happy, she has my 100% support. HOWEVER, she needs to keep her character, morals and values in check at all times. 

Of course, my child needs to have her important education, but once she reaches the age where she can decide what she wants to do with her life, she can decide what she wants to be. Being a supportive & understanding parent is key. What we parents want to see is our kids' ability to make the right choices for themselves, and we as the elders to give out two cents' worth of opinions. If they make the wrong choice, they have to stand up again and find the right one. If that happens, they cannot blame us. But if we path everything for them, they will have all the chance to put the blame on us. Why put ourselves into that kind of unnecessary misery? We need to just pray to Him to guide the child the right way. I believe everything happens for a reason.
Don't do to others what you don't like others to do onto you... even if it's your own flesh and blood. As parents, we cannot be worried about everything, or else nothing can be done. Our constant worry will add stress to our loved ones. We don't bother what others say about how we bring our children up. We make sure they are brought up the right way. No kids are perfect, no mothers are perfect. Mothers make mistakes too, you know. 

TO all mothers reading this, you have done a wonderful job thus far and give yourself a pat on your shoulders. We have a long way to go as a mother. Our job never ends. Some things just take time.


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