ParenThots - Features - Preparing kids to navigate pitfalls of life

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Preparing kids to navigate pitfalls of life

Members of the Bites Of Delight children’s music theatre performing at the Children4Change launch ceremony in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month in conjunction with Universal Children’s Day. - Bernama photo


On Nov 20, I had some very special guests in the studio. It was Universal Children’s Day and I had Michelle Wong, director of Childline, and also two sisters, Arya and Alya, in the studio to talk about a forum that took place a couple of days before.

The forum was called Children4Change. It was specifically for children, by children, reporting on topics they felt needed addressing. All the fantastic young people who attended this project discussed issues that affected them all and then put forward many pragmatic ideas and solutions to how these “problem” areas could be fixed.

During the interview, I discovered one of the pivotal turning points in the girls’ lives that set them on this path. It happened to be their father. He was the one who insisted that both his daughters take part. At first they did so, grudgingly, then passionately, after realising how empowering this project was.

These young women are 14 and 16 years of age. Over the course of a couple of weeks, they went from being decent young individuals to titans of courage, opinion and solutions – claiming the power of their own voice and demanding their rights alongside each and every child that got involved.

I was brought close to tears when they both thanked their father for gifting them with this chance at a new perspective on life and for helping them become activists for their own rights.

We talked about some of the areas highlighted in Children4Change; bullying, Internet safety and relationships, to name a few. Some of the solutions were so simple that I felt acute distress that they were not already being implemented.

One such solution was the basis for so many problems. There is not enough transparency and open dialogue between parents and children. The lack of an honest two-way communication meant that kids were ill-equipped to handle backyard bullies, sexual boundaries and safety or even harassment or abuse.

The bottom line is this, the kids want to talk to us adults. They need us to be there for them, to listen to them, to know what’s going on and help them navigate all the social ills they are not yet ready to deal with on their own. They need us to step in if a teacher at school is being unfair or turning a blind eye
to bad behaviour, do something about their friend who comes to school with bruises, teach them how to be safe on the computer, and how to respect their own bodies whilst exploring the world of young love.

We are failing them over and over again. We need to teach our kids how to be safe when we are not there. To know also that when they come to us with problems, our reaction won’t be punishment or abandonment but loving guidance and a support system.

It is our fault that young teen girls are getting pregnant before their time. First of all, we sit in denial about our kids being active. Then we decide not to teach them about sexual health or safety at home or at school. Then the girls are ostracised for getting pregnant, invariably the boys get off scot-free. And now even 12-year-olds are getting married as a solution to prevent a problem that should not be happening in the first place.

Do they even know how damaging it would be if that 12-year-old girl gets pregnant? What it would do to her body, her mind, her life?

Adult men have been allowed to make a decision that allows a female child to be raped within the parody of a consensual marriage. What self-respecting adult or parent would provide the perfect scenario for a child to have their youth and innocence ripped away with no going back?

The last bastion of preservation for the child’s innocence should have been her parents, her own father, the very man who married her off and in doing so has failed her. The decision to make a child marry an adult is reprehensible.

Listening to the girls on my show reinforced my own viewpoint that parenting will be so much easier in the future if I am an open book to my Little Man.

The odds of maintaining a healthy relationship and being able to protect my child depend on me being at peace with the fact that one day he will fall in love, get online, be offered drugs and cigarettes, want to learn how to drive around the same time he might discover beer. I want my son to enjoy sex with someone he really likes without contracting syphilis or getting her knocked up.

I also want my LM to keep doing what he’s doing now, telling me about his life, about the class bully, the girl who likes him and bugs him or the fact that his feelings got hurt because a kid laughed at him.

No one wants their “baby” to grow up faster than they have to. We live in a fast, cruel and crazy world and things do happen before their time. What happens next to rectify the situation and bring it back to balance depends on us.

So thank you, Alya and Arya, for reminding me to be vigilant about protecting the rights of my child and ensuring he can protect himself when the moment arises.

Asha Gill put her globetrotting life on hold to focus on the little man in her life and gain a singular perspective on the world. You can tune in to Asha’s show Eat, Love, Play on Capital FM 88.9, Mondays to Fridays, 10am-1pm. She’s always looking for stories to tell and ideas to share, so send her an email

Kesimpulannya, kita sebagai parents kena build up relationship kita dgn anak2 sehingga anak2 boleh cerita apa sahaja dlm kehidupan diorg dgn kita. No limit.
That is very challenging sebab my own relationship with my parents is not like that when I was growing up. Hahaha.... I did not share everything with my mom, but somehow I feel she know every single thing I did even though I live at hostel. Scary kan.... hehehe.... 
Jadi persoalannya sekarang... macammana nak jadi kan anak2 boleh bercerita apa sahaja dgn kita ?? Rasanya hubby and I dah develop both our kids (2 lah kan...zahira belum berckp betul lagi) to talk anything and everything ( I assume) sampaikan kadang2 diorg boleh bercakap non-stop for hours.... really really really nonstop ;) tahan je lah telinga kan... hahahha...
so what else can we do to develop them like that? Any suggestion?


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