Wednesday, September 28, 2005

"Are we turning our children into sissies?"

This article by Zainul Arifin in his "Intermission" column in New Straits Times makes a really amusing read. The first thing I thought was how am I going to highlight it in my blog and relate it back to education in Malaysia! But I guess, an article entitled above has to be related to the education we are giving our young, one way or another right? :)

The writer was quite rightly questioning the nature of society in the years to come whereby "despite our best intentions, producing a generation of sissies and weak-minded individuals to populate and power the nation in this 21st century?"

He asked the question whether we are so protective of our children from all "bad influences" from "bad people", to "poor hygiene", to reckless drivers to misadventures, such that "we are slowly turning our children into nerds and space cadets, whose only connection to reality is through nature documentaries, and well, umm, reality TV."

This quote quite funny:
I read somewhere that a greater proportion of our children now have poorer hand-eye co-ordination — a skill developed from an early age by running around, climbing, kicking and throwing things about — than,say, a few decades ago. But I am sure many of them have superior thumb-eye co-ordination, owing to prolonged exposure to video games.
One of the most disappointing by product of the above protectiveness is the disapproval of sports.
Many parents these days disapprove of sports, especially contact sports like football, hockey or netball. Don’t even mention rugby. Notice how many of the former school rugby powerhouses can still hold their heads up high.

The reason, if I may speculate, is that parents have become overprotective of their children and are not supportive of organised sports, in case they break a sweat, or worse, injure themselves.
Having been exposed to rugby in secondary school in Singapore (yes, squeaky polished Singapore), I'll definitely insist that he picks up the sport (if and when I do get a baby boy!). And I'll make sure that Xin Ying, my baby girl will make a half-decent athlete at the very least!

The reason is clearly stated by Zainul in his article, and I couldn't agree more:
Sports, as we know, builds character. Winning, and especially losing, instills values — how to be gracious in victory and how to pick yourself up from defeat. Failures offer opportunities for comebacks. Sports encourages teambuilding and comradeship and also teaches children social skills and tolerance, values they will take with them for the rest of their lives

If we as parents show such fear and concern, what kind of impact will this have on the minds of our children? Don’t stay out of the house, it is too hot. Don’t play in the field, it is dirty. Don’t play games, you might be injured.
I believe that the whole protective thing plus the whole top-notch food and nutrition thingie is one of the major causes why our little boys and little girls today are not only becoming "sissies", but also becoming more than just a little overweight.

I suppose this is one aspect that our schools may only be able to do "so much" to increase the "resilience" in our children. In this case, it's really up to the parents to do the right thing, and find the right balance between healthy risks and practical learning and experience for our children. :)


Anonymous said...

Hehehe.. sissies. Lucky for me i cycle to school daily and play various kinds of sports. Go me!

Anonymous said...

Sissy? I'd say physically weak instead of sissy.

We have to ask why are parents behaving this way? Why are parents over protecting the children? Is health and dont want to see them get hurt the mainly concerns? I think there are more reasons.

People may not realise it but this is what I see.

For me, sometimes I do prevent my child from playing outside if the sun is hot, because I know if she get sick, I will definitely have a restless night. However, if I were not as busy in my work that week, I will let her explore even when the sun is hot. Or play when the garden is dirty.

To have children that are physically and mentally fit, it's a question of how much the parents are willing to sacrifice in terms of time and effort.

Nowadays, most parents have less time looking after their toddlers and children. Especially when both parents are working. After returning home from work, they would not want to clean up mess made by the children, dirty clothes, hands, etc. Also, when children get sick, the parents will have a hard night, because of this phobia, parents tends to overprotect their children, not realising it's bad for their child growth physically and mentally.

In fact, more mothers than there are fathers that is the one who are over protective. It's not deniable that they love them so much and would not want to see them get hurt. But also the mother is the one who normally clean up the messes. When children get sick, they will stick and complain to their mother. Of course the father will bring the child to visit the doctor, but after that the mother is one who does the followup like making sure the child get enough sleep, take medicine, etc.

I didn't say everybody is like that, but this is normally the case. said...

Hi! I agree that nowadays parents are doing it all wrong. That's why I am trying hard to see that my four sons don't fall into the trap. Thanks for sharing this.