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Published: Friday March 13, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday March 16, 2015 MYT 6:36:57 PM

A little more kindness for all parents and children

This mother intervened because she couldn’t stand by while a child cried in misery.

I have been a mother for a dozen years and I have always been reluctant to tell other parents how to raise their kids. I try not to interfere and I typically try to raise questions rather than provide answers.

However, all this changed recently. I was boarding a flight from Miri to Kuching. While we were waiting to be called and even as we were queuing to board, I could hear a child weeping and asking for her Mama.

Crying children and flights are not a great combination. Prior to having children, I would mutter under my breath about daft parents and their lack of control over their offspring. When my children came along, I heaved sighs of relief knowing that flying did not faze them as they could always breastfeed during take-off and landing.

I also developed a deep compassion for mums who could not console their babies as I watched them try pacifiers, sweets, rocking, singing and everything else in between. Becoming a mother made me a better person in so many ways, truly.

The crying child on this particular flight turned out to be approximately two. A stern-looking lady, who repeatedly admonished her for crying, was holding her. I wondered about possible child trafficking but then noticed a younger woman, looking sad and forlorn trailing them.

Snippets of conversation in Mandarin, which I do not know very well, revealed that the aunt was insisting that mum should not carry the child. After almost 15 minutes of her pitiful keening, I asked the younger lady, “Are you hurt? Why can’t you carry her? Can I help by carrying your bag so you can carry your baby? She is so very, very sad.”

The aunt instantly began to challenge me. “Do you even have children? I have three! Do not interfere in our family business,” she said.

Then, she started yelling at the child more aggressively, blaming her for my interference. Her younger sister pleaded with her and asked to carry her own child but backed down at her sister’s hard glare.

At this point, I called the older woman a bully. I told her to stop and I told her she was mean.

She shot back that the child was spoilt and too clingy. She would never learn to be independent. I retorted that there were better ways and more suitable occasions to teach these lessons.

I turned to the child’s mum and said, “You alone are her mother. She is so upset she is shaking. You know what is best for your child.”

Then I stepped away and tried not to cry. My husband laid a comforting hand on my arm and thanked me for trying.

A split second later, the mum reached out for her child, and the sobs and keening ceased. The aunt said that as her sister had defied her, she would never, ever raise a finger to help her again. I silently thought this would be a blessing in disguise but held my tongue.

A man who stood just ahead, and had witnessed the entire debacle joined the fray, “Why are you so fierce to such a small child? Let your sister carry her baby and don’t be so angry.”

He smiled briefly at me and turned away. The child was perfectly behaved for the rest of the flight.

So, for the first time, I am offering advice to fellow parents.

Be kind to fellow parents and all children. Being right is a fine thing but being kind is immeasurably wonderful.

Every parent is doing their best and most are fully aware of their own shortcomings. They do not need your censure and judgment to add to their burdens. If you want to help, approach the matter from a position of compassion, not superiority. It will make all the difference.

Every child is a combination of the parenting and care they receive and the personality they are born with. Some are more needy, some are independent, some reckless, some cautious.

As parents, we are not required to mould them into uniformity, but to help them overcome their weaknesses and maximise their potential.

A needy child does not have to be denied comfort. She needs to become certain you will be there for her so she can grow wings, fly and always be assured of a warm welcome.

I do not know if the child on the plane was clingy and needy and I certainly do not know if her mum was over-indulgent. However, all in all, these shortcomings pale in the light of the of the aunt’s behaviour.

And in my determination to be kind, especially to those who need a different point of view, I will stand up and say my piece.

I will call you out on your bullying attitude and I will stand by my conviction that to be kind is better than to be right.

Tags / Keywords: Family Community, Parenting, Mother, Advice

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