While looking through my news feed on Facebook yesterday, I came across a video of an Indian lady who speaks Mandarin really well and while on camera, she said she didn’t speak a word of Tamil.
I later realised that this lady happens to be my friend’s Aunt.
From what I know, my friend’s family used to live in a kampong (village) where they were the only Indian family, while the rest of the families in the kampong were Chinese. My friend’s Aunt explained in the video that growing up in the kampong as a minority, they couldn’t expect others to adapt to them, and hence, they adapted to others. The entire family went to Chinese school and studied Chinese throughout their school days. And so, they became a Mandarin and Hokkien speaking Indian family. I met my friend’s grandma at her wedding and it was the same with her. Grandma spoke all Hokkien and Mandarin, which was also why I was told to host the wedding in Mandarin and that I didn’t need to translate anything into English.
What my friend’s Aunt said in the video made me think about how environmental factors can shape us as we grow.
Children pick up accents based on the environment they grow up in. Phoebie still speaks with a bit of American accent now. Some of my friends’ children who came back to Singapore from the US before we did had “localised” and adopted the Singaporean accent.
Habits that children pick up are largely influenced by their surroundings too. If you teach your child to always wash her hands before meal time, she would eventually do it without reminder because that is how she is shaped.
The habit of reading is passed on to children when parents read with them and even read in front of them. They may not know what they are reading at first but as they grow, they learn to recognise words.
Communicate methods are also shaped by the environment that children grow up in. How we show our children love is how they will learn to show love. How we talk to them is how they will learn to talk to us. How we listen to what they have to say is how they will learn to listen. When they see quarrelsome parents all the time, they think quarreling is a norm, or that yelling is the way to talk.
Speaking of yelling, I think as parents, when we are caught in the moment of being mad at our child, it can be quite a challenge raise our voice at the child sometimes. But it isn’t impossible. Someone shared this article that talks about the important thing about yelling, and after reading, it made me think about the times I yelled at Phoebie because of something she did. Do I really want her to think that it is okay to raise my voice just because she did something wrong? More importantly, what am I trying to instill in her when I yell? Fear? Respect? Knowledge of what is the correct thing to do? What?
There are a lot more examples I can give of different environmental factors that influence a child. But what is important is what kind of environment I am striving to provide for Phoebie.
Do I want to shape her in a positive environment or a negative one? Do I want her to think it’s okay to shout when I am angry? Do I want her to think I only love her when she does well? Do I want her to always be afraid of new things and not dare to explore on her own? Do I want Phoebie to think that the only way to entertain herself is with gadgets and toys?
So many things to think about.
Parenting isn’t easy and will constantly challenge us. I would like to think that it can be especially difficult for SAHMs because we practically face children 24/7. We are blessed if our husbands offer to help when they come home from work and we can have a quick break. But let’s face it, when the husbands are at work and we are alone with the child(ren), it can be frustrating sometimes.
The good news is, the internet is filled with parenting tips these days, and while parenting styles may differ, there is bound to be something out there that someone has tried and may be suitable for you and your child.
So to provide an environment that is conducive and positive for child rearing, isn’t impossible. It just takes some searching, refining, and practising.
Encourage a fellow Mummy today, because she may really need a pat on the shoulder. Hey, Mummies are affected by their environment too, aren’t we? 😉