Parenting requires a lifelong commitment of constant learning and adaptation but is filled with joy and lasting memories.
Parenting is indeed a lifelong journey as the role of a parent does not end when their child reaches a certain age. As parents, you’ll find that your child requires your guidance and support throughout various stages of their lives, from infancy to adulthood and beyond. Even as children navigate their own lives as adults, parents may continue to offer advice, support and love to them.
The chairman of Positive Parenting Programme, Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail says that in addition to providing ongoing support, parenting also involves being able to constantly adapt to new challenges and changes in your children’s lives. As children grow and develop, their needs and interests change, and parents will need to adjust their parenting style along the way. “Parenting is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach but rather a personal journey that requires ongoing learning and growth. Parents must be committed to this journey, which is challenging but can also be very beautiful and meaningful.”
Positive Parenting interviewed four parents, and it’s clear from their accounts that being present, doing fun things as a family, having a strong support network and working through challenging times with love and care, all add up to make the journey together as a family a healthy and happy one.
Watching them evolve
Dr Nurul Muiz Murad, 47, and his wife Jasmin Mohd Ramli, 44, have two children and live in Bandar Utama, Selangor. Nurul is a sustainability consultant and his wife works as a senior marketing executive in a GLC. Their kids, Ali Imran, 12, and Iris Soraya, 10, are in primary school.
Dr Nurul Muiz and family
“I am a ‘full-time’ father as my wife works full time. I often find it difficult to juggle my work and the children since I handle most of the logistics, which includes sending and picking them up from school and extracurricular activities, as well as cooking and cleaning the house. But they are happy kids because they have me around. I strongly believe that at least one parent should be with the kids as they are growing up because it is so important for their character development.”
Nurul says that his wife and he have developed a system. “It’s not difficult at all as we have been doing this since the kids were babies. My wife does a bulk of the cleaning on the weekends. I’ll do the rest. The kids often help out with the chores at home too.”
Nurul shares that watching his kids grow up in front of his own eyes has been one of the highlights of his parenting journey. “I have been with them since the day they were born. And to see them develop into fine young individuals from babies, to toddlers to tweens… that has been grand. I look forward to seeing how their personalities continue to evolve as they grow older.”
He is grateful that he gets support from Jasmin’s family. “If I have meetings outside the house, the challenge is usually to find a babysitter. Luckily, we have our in-laws nearby. So, I will send the kids over there if I need to run out for a quick meeting with clients.”
Hands-on all the way
Hailing from Petaling Jaya, Lee Mei Li, 39, is a stay-at-home mum with a pair of seven-year-old twins, Jacob and Joshua, and 15-month-old baby Joel.
Lee Mei Li and her twins
“I think being responsible for one baby as a first-time mom is hard enough… With twins, it was just all kinds of crazy!” Lee says, reminiscing about her firstborns. “The first year was tough because sometimes you need 12 hands just to take care of two babies. It was physically exhausting caring for newborn twins, but once we created a daily routine, which we religiously stuck to despite all the nap/sleep regressions and developmental leaps, it was that much more bearable.”
Lee says that while the twins are often a handful, there are a whole lot of good things that come with raising two littles ones who are of the same age. “When they started school, there was little to no separation anxiety because they had each other. Whenever they fall sick, they usually do it in turns and that helps tremendously for us parents in knowing what to expect,” Lee says.
When things get too stressful, Lee is grateful that she has her spouse, James Oye, to turn to. “He’s the one I complain to once he comes home from work, and also the one who never fails to listen to me talk about the kids, no matter how tired he is at the end of the day. I am blessed that I get to be so hands-on with raising our kids and I could not do this without my husband’s support.”
“Now, parenting my third child alongside my two older boys, there is never a dull moment in the house – the twins have a great love for their little brother and it really warms my heart whenever they try to co-parent too.”
Easier the second time around
Teacher Susan Thomas-Taylor, 39, who spent many of her growing up years in Subang Jaya, has now settled down in Fukuoka, Japan with her Canadian husband Joel Taylor and their toddler and baby daughters, Ziv Lucine, 3, and Thea Thomas, 1.
Susan and her kids
“When I became a mother, I knew that life was going to be very different. New schedules ruled my life and this tiny human was my boss. I enjoyed learning about all the different duties I had and I fell in love with watching my baby achieve different milestones. My whole world was flooded with more love, more smiles, more cuddles, more cries but also less partner time and less sleep for sure!”
Susan says that with her first child, everything was new and she was so fearful of everything, but quickly learned about breastfeeding, colic pains, sleep schedules, co-sleeping and baby proofing. “My daughter taught me to embrace change and adapt to survive,” she shares.
“When I was pregnant with my second child, the whole journey seemed very familiar to me. I had been down this road and was definitely more confident about this second pregnancy. Though there were real struggles with smells, sights and gestational diabetes, I was not crying about any of these things anymore.”
She says that the challenges she faces as a parent come in different sizes and volumes, which keep changing like a never-ending story. “With my three-year-old, it is one tantrum after another about a toy or food or which park we should go to… She is at a stage when she is pushing the boundaries. With my one-year-old, the current struggle is that we co-sleep with her and she still wants comfort in the form of night feeds which I am desperately trying to stop!”
Susan loves watching her children explore the world around them, falling in love with different sights, sounds, colours and smells. “I very much want to help them figure out what direction their lives will take. I want to empower them to be kind and authentic in all they do. I love that as a parent I have opportunities to do these things.”
Bonding in adulthood
Retiree/single mother Mary Nathan, 57, from Rawang, remembers having numerous battles with her daughter Ravena, who has just turned 30. “When she was a teenager, Ravena was such a handful. We had a close relationship but that didn’t stop her from being rebellious and wanting to try out many things like dyeing her hair, getting body piercings and tattoos, and going for heavy metal concerts way past her curfew!”
Mary remembers those tumultuous teen years as being the most challenging of her parenting journey. “Ravena was always very headstrong and she would insist on getting her own way. I remember having many arguments which ended with both of us in tears. And at that time, I was devastated and thought I had completely failed as a parent. I didn’t know where I had gone wrong because I had spent so much time nurturing and caring for her when she was young, even though I was working a full-time job then. Even after Ravena had turned 21, I still found it hard to allow her to go ahead and live her own life without imposing my own rules.”
Today, Ravena is married and has settled down. “Our relationship has really grown and we are able to get along so well as adults who respect each other, although we still have arguments every now and then. Ravena has flourished into a beautiful, caring, headstrong and responsible young woman. We call and chat with each other frequently, we share our problems, give advice to each other and look forward to holidays when we can spend time together again. Though the path was rocky along the way, I am glad that we were able to learn and grow together.”