Cow Beh Cow Bu

Parents, This is How You’re Turning Your Kids into Inconsiderate Assholes

PAMELA LIM: It was just past 7 a.m. and the traffic was already choc-a-block at Raffles Institution’s gate. I was startled by a long horn let out by the blue car that was queuing to get out of the school. That driver was upset with the car in front for taking too long to turn right, holding up the busy school-run traffic.

I looked at the condominiums across the street and thought there probably were some babies sleeping in there, and some young parents needing a good rest before work started. So, I walked to his car, and suggested he be more patient, and explained the rationale.

He started wailing vulgarities not only at the car in front of him, but also at me. And then, I realized there was no turn right arrow, and no wonder the car in front had a hard time turning right and was holding up the traffic.

So. He was right. So. He had the right to horn as loud as he wanted. So. He had the right to scream at the person in front. So. He had the right to show me his middle finger. So. This is the kind of parent who will bring up our next generation of leaders? Wow.

What kind of society is one, where mistakes are not tolerated, where self-righteousness rules above all else, and instead of helping each other out of situations, we get impatient, and we are fast to criticize and judge.

In a country where progress and building monuments to commemorate our successes is of paramount importance, what is happening to the quality of our people? What is happening to the way we treat each other? What is happening to our next generation?

To me, Singapore is a country on steroids. While the exterior is developed and looks like an adult, the interior is still underdeveloped and adolescent. Or, like some said, we’ve worked so hard on the hardware, we’ve neglected the software.

While we spend time chaperoning our kids from school to tuition to sports clubs to music to art classes and invest time and money so that our children top the PSLE to get into elite schools, we don’t give a hoot about others or their children.

We justified why a Sec 2 boy should be humiliated by having his hair shaven as ugly as possible by a teacher. We are indifferent when a 16-year-old was sent to jail because we believe respect is more important accorded to a leader posthumously, we sighed and rationalized when a 14-year-old was treated like a criminal for a suspected molest case and then jumped to his death, and while we sympathize when we hear of youngsters taking their lives in the national service every now and then, we judge people for not serving their national service for whatever reasons and invalidate most reasons.

And so it is important that our kids get driven to a top school daily, but we don’t care that a baby is sleeping when someone gets in our way. If raising our own children well carries the promise of a good old age, then I’d argue it is as important to care for the whole of the next generation, or, other people’s children.

After all, these are the people who will make policies, govern, run schools, build our houses, organize and pay taxes when we grow old. If we raise a whole generation of monsters, then our future leaders will be monsters. If we raise people with empathy, with compassion and with wisdom, then we will get leaders who will lead with greatness.

It is not enough to just raise great kids, we must raise a great generation. It is the duty of the country as much as it is the responsibility of each adult. If we continue to violate the rights of children, they will grow up thinking they can do the same to the next generation and the next and the next. It just keeps spirally downwards. The reverse can also be true.

Instead of screaming at our girls in school, and reporting our boys to the police, perhaps we can lend listening ears and empathetic hearts. Instead of striving to be right, we can strive to be kind as well when dealing with kids. Allow children to make and redeem from their mistakes with compassion. We can spiral upwards.

So I thought about the situation at RI again, and perhaps I was a bit too judgmental. I walked to the car in front and told him that he could turn left instead. Now, now who said he could not turn right if there’s no ‘no turn right sign’? I stood there stunned, like a fool, and the only one who was wrong. Stared at by the security guards who did nothing except probably tried hard to hold their laughter in.

I guess, being nosy and being screamed and laughed at is probably better than having a monster society. So, you’d probably catch me doing that again. Yep. A small part. But all great things start small.


This story was written by Pamela Lim.
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  1. Tom Chan

    February 26, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Just want to say this. Many many teachers who are principled and hold great values such as honesty, integrity and all that have been maligned, abused and condemmed by the system. They have been subject to verbal and sometimes even physical abuse at the hands of parents.

    Why is it like that? Very simple. Nobody wants to be that ‘BAD’ fella. Nobody wants to take responsibility. So just imagine the state of discipline in our schools etc etc…who do you want to blame? The teachers? The Principals? Of course it’s the PARENTS. But blaming parents won’t solve anything coz these recalcitrant parents won’t be changing their fixed ways…they are always right and their children even ‘more right!’

    So the bottomline is this. Goodluck to Spore in the coming years and generations.

    I can safely say for most educators that we really missed the olden days and our own teachers who never let their guard down and who had the moral courage to teach us right from wrong without fear nor favour. Sadly, that is but a memory now…

  2. Serene

    February 27, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Please continue to do what you have done. You did well. Losing in this “right of way”, doesn’t mean you really lost. Imagine they probably live this way in their daily routine…, who’s the bigger loser in their own lives…? It only majles themselves easily grouchy and irritated and snap.
    I think Singapore is not as gracious anymore. Much arrogant and nose-up-high people. Always glum, upset, bitter and angry. Towards our own people even. Oh well, it’s sad.
    Before I get any defensive hate replies from public, I just state now: Not everyone are this way, of course.
    But anyway, I’m not there anymore. :)

  3. Wilson

    March 1, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    like what Serene said, just continue to be brave and correct things when they are not right. How they react is something we can’t control, but the deed itself greatly benefits our souls.

  4. Jeff

    March 4, 2016 at 12:42 am

    I’ve been saying for years and years that we are a nation of adult children. You see that in little things, like how almost nobody cleans up their own messes in hawker centres or fast-food outlets. You see it in other things like our tendency to walk in herds, taking up all available walkway space and forcing anyone unfortunate enough to be coming the other way to either get out of the way or forcibly shove their way through. And you see it writ large on the roadways.

    I used to joke about how, 35 years ago, we had a couple million people here, and maybe 50,000 competent drivers; and now, we’ve six million or so, of whom perhaps 20,000 exhibit the calm, courteous awareness that driving an automobile is the most dangerous thing most people will ever do in their lifetimes.

    Ultimately, as anyone who’s read Kant and others knows, this is the price we pay for living in a paternalistic, top-down-at-all-costs society where we’re taught since young that family and clan are all that matter, or at least, all that can be trusted. Perhaps by SG150 we’ll have outgrown our stunted national adolescence and moved past paternalistic fascism — if it doesn’t wipe us out first.

    Place your bets, brothers and sisters. The odds can only improve if we choose to take action.

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