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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Jun 5, 2011

Bringing Up Father

An article written by my friend WooWoo about his parenting experience has inspired me to share some interesting parenting on this blog to express.

The following is an excerpt of WooWoo's original article in Chinese which I have translated:


"My 4-year-old son is now at an age when he 'appears to understand yet doesn't really understand', and likes to ask "why?" about everything.

Both my wife and I found his questioning stressful, so we bought a VCD entitled 'Answers To Your Child's Questions Why'. Answers to various types of questions in different categories could be found in the VCD.

I thought that I could now leave it to the 'experts' to provide the answers to questions of a 4 or 5 year-old child in a simple, easy to understand manner.

However, this was not to be so.

A 4-year-old child is not really interested in knowing "Why an aeroplane can fly in the sky?", "Why are there clouds?", "Why does it rain?", "Why flu cause blocked nose?" and other related questions.

Don't know what I am talking about?

OK. For instance, when I was driving, my son asked, "Dad, why are you driving the car?"

"My good boy, its because I am fetching you to grandma's house".

"Dad, why do you want to fetch me to grandma's house?"

"Dear son, its because grandma have not seen you for a long time".

"Dad, why grandma have not seen me for a long time?"

At this stage, I was becoming impatient and replied, "Because you have not visited grandma for a long time".

My son was apparently enjoying the 'Question and Answer' session and his next question was "Why have I not visited grandma for a long time?"

He was endlessly finding questions to my answers, and I have to look for answers to his questions, endlessly.

In fact, my son doesn't care about my answers. He will just add 'Why' to my previous answer for his next question.

Although I had to focus my attention and "squeeze my brain juice" to reply him, he only treat it as a game and found it fun.

I had to be careful not to create difficult questions to answer.

Once, I became agitated by his questioning and said, "If you continue questioning, I will beat you".

In his innocent, cute childish manner, he asked, "Dad, why will you beat me if I continue to ask questions?"

I have no choice but to continue playing this little game with him.

"Because Dad is very angry".

"Dad, why are you very angry".

"Because you are asking questions non-stop ".

"Why am I asking questions non-stop".

"Because you are inquisitive".

"Dad, why am I inquisitive?"

"Because you are a child. You are really stupid".

"Dad, why am I a child? Why am I really stupid?"

Oh my God, who is there to help me...

'Why am I a child? Why am I really stupid?" .... what kind of a question is this? How do I answer him?

Really, each time I play this game with my son, I became exasperated. At the end of the game session, I am the one who feel stupid.


The picture which accompany this blog shows a wide-eyed child looking bewildered and helpless, wondering what was happening and why he was being punished.

Was he the 'whipping boy' for his parents to vent their anger over something that has nothing to do with him?

He was probably saying, "Please don't cane me. I promise not to do it again. Please don't punish me." He was kneeling down and pulling his ears to show that he was sorry and will remember not to repeat the mistakes he had made.

Does he deserve a punishment for being naughty? Or for playing a game which he thought was fun, as in the case of WooWoo's son.

As in all games, the best sportsman is the one who plays the game with skills and keeps his cool, regardless of whether he is the winner or the loser...not the one who gets angry because he does not always win.

But was punishment meted out by a parent in a moment of anger the best way to discipline a child?

Is the age-old adage "Spare the rod and spoil the child" the gospel truth?

Surely there are better ways to teach a child, with love. 

The important thing is that he will understand the lessons of parental love.

But it will need a great deal of patience and self restraint on the part of the parent. It is certainly not easy.

The answer is with the parent or teacher....not the child.

The parent or teacher are forever learning too. We remain as a child until we are fully enlightened (which I am not), a Buddhist friend once told me.

The lessons are from our own personal experience in life; because there were no straight-forward answers to every given situation and applicable to every individual person.

Someone once said, "Life is not a problem to be solved. It is a mystery to be unravelled".

Is it true? 

Someone please give me the answers. I am getting to become like WooWoo's son :)

I am fast approaching my 'second childhood' phase, I guess.



Blogger peter said...

What your freind described about his son is called SOCRACTIC QUESTIONING. It is the basis for learning. If there's no questions, you wont find answers. Acceptance of someone's answers show that we are lazy in our minds.

I am a practitioner of SOCRATIC QUESTIONING.

June 5, 2011 at 6:29 AM  
Blogger ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Ah yo, yo!

June 5, 2011 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger PChew said...

I had the same experience with a friend's son, years ago. I did not feel agitated or annoyed but I just wanted to stop him from asking further questions. So, I asked him 'why you keep on asking me "why" for all my answers?'. He was dumb-founded and could not answer me. That stopped the 'ding dong'.

June 5, 2011 at 2:10 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Haha Andy ; )

Thanks Peter and Philip for your input on this topic to express comments from an academic perspective for child speech therapy, child psychology and child development.

However, my friend writes as a new parent to share his experience learning new parenthood in experimenting parent-child relationship which differs every individuals as part of growing up. Interesting.

A child speaks like a child, but how do adults fathom the thoughts and perspectives of a child's world.

"Kids Say The Darndest Things" written by Art Linkletter and an American comedy TV series hosted by Bill Crosby in 1995 will make us laugh.

Do not rush the kids into the adult world too quickly. Enjoy their childhood naturally without forced feedings for child development.

A child will never remain childish forever. They grow. They develop and change in so many ways. See the children grow with love. God bless.

Its my second childhood on a journey and experience as long as alive.

June 6, 2011 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

Looks like the kid is just being cheeky and rude and not genuinely curious.

June 7, 2011 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Interesting observation Chun See.

The same kid had changed his behaviour after ten years and became well-mannered, polite and thoughtful. He cannot understand how he behaved in that way. Nobody really noticed these changes...apparently through teachers in school. No wonder teachers are molding the young kids' lives and future. who were talkative when young could grow up to be the reverse. Whereas the quiet kids became talkative, energetic and active when grown up.

June 8, 2011 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger sim hui hwang said...

James, the story of that boy you'd mentioned reminds me of myself when I was a child. My Mom used to get tired of my questioning. I remember I was living in a rented house at Lorong Limau and the owner of the house hardly came back to sleep in his house as he was with the British Navy or so I was told.

As a child, I was very inquisitive and when my Mom was cooking in the kitchen, I would be hanging around her kuali asking questions non stop. I remember my Mom comparing me to a character in a Teochew Opera. I think it is Su Liu Niang or Chen Shan Wu Niang. In that story, the servant girl, Li Jie (sister) was supposed to be a bright spark or a sharp witted girl. Apparently she knew a lot of stuff behind the scene. I am not sure what this Teochew Opera is about because I was and never am interested in wayang. When Mom got very flustered, she used to spill this phrase, 'How much do you want to know? You asked whether Li Jie's back door/gate was open or close.' Perhaps that phrase was meant to tell someone that she was a big kaypoh or busybody.

Until today, I am still a busy body and I asked far too many questions and that irk some people. It's like a compulsive disorder, I can't help asking till I get to the bottom of the matter.

I remember when adults visited us, Mom always shooed us away as we were not supposed to eavesdrop on the adults' conversation. Once I overheard my neighbour telling my Mom about this very lovely tau huey. In Teochew, the last character refers to a flower. For the whole night, I dreamt of eating this special flower that was smooth and silky. The next morning, I pestered my Mom for this tau huey. She finally gave in and when she showed me the soya bean curd, I nearly 'died.' It was such a disappointment to discover that the flower in my wildest imagination was but a bowl of white smooth slab of wobbly stuff.

Where is the flower? Can anyone tell me why is it called a bean flower or tau huey in teochew? I am behaving like that Li Jie again. What is socratic questioning mentioned by Peter? I didn't know I was doing this socratic questioning.Hahahah!

James, do you have a clever answer for my nonsensical question?

June 19, 2011 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Hui Hwang, thank you for sharing your personal childhood experiences.

Many things we learn from questioning different sources and different people from viewpoints and perspectives.

Most children who are curious and inquisitive are not necessarily 'kay poh' or talkative. Every person goes through various stages of questioning and learning.

The teacher's job is to be questioned...but the types of questions some students ask may learn them astounding from different background and understanding.

Silly questions I have asked when young was either forgotten but there was no right or wrong answers which I later found...isn't they interesting. Cheers!

June 21, 2011 at 11:58 AM  

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