Assertiveness: Key to Better Parenting

I have always been aware of my number one weakness: non-assertiveness. But I have come a long way from the time when I couldn't say 'no' to a child molester and not understanding the importance of telling my parents.

At my first job after high school, I had the misfortune of working for someone who told me that I could have it all but with no questions asked. He said so clearly that there were women who slept their way up and I could do the same. He then started to hold me tightly and was already groping all over. I was too stunned to move in the beginning but I did try to push him away. Luckily for me, a security guard walked into the office.

Some guardian angels must be looking out for me. On both incidents, I could have been a statistic. I didn't have the courage to tell anyone but I made a promise to myself that if I should ever climb the corporate ladder, I would do it with my brains.

Unfortunately, my parents didn't have the extra money to put me through four years of university. I worked as a tutor to three kids throughout my tertiary years and with a scholarship loan, I managed to finish my degree in journalism with a second class upper.

I took on the first job that came my way: as a seminar organizer. Again the same old pattern emerged. For six months my boss didn't contribute to my retirement account. I was not aware that it was unlawful. Then she made me answer calls from all the speakers I had invited to give seminars for payments due to them. She had purposely delayed paying them for reasons only known to her. I couldn't see a good future with her, so I quit.

Many of my course mates had joined the newspaper and there was an opening for a cub reporter. I got in and was learning the ropes pretty well at the news desk. Six months later, I was transferred to the features desk.

It was all rosy in the first year and because I was getting familiarized with the work and all, I gladly took on anything that came my way. Not such a smart move really. Whenever my editor asked for a volunteer for some uninteresting articles, no one would do it. And because I had set the pattern for being the obliging one, or rather the one who couldn't say 'no' most of the time, I had to do the assignments. I had never asked for extension of deadlines and I was also the "secretary" who took phone messages for the others. When the time came for assessment and salary increments, I was not the favoured staff. After two agonizing weeks, I finally plucked up enough courage to speak to my editor about it. She merely said: "I was happy with your work. All I did was to recommend (the increments) but really, it was up to the management to decide!"

Would you stay on with a leader who wouldn't stick up for you? I asked for a transfer to the business desk where its editor was a known task master but fair and just.

Six years later, I found myself in a greater challenge. My five-year old daughter was a victim of a class bully at her kindergarten. From the many books on bullying that I read about, I had gathered that so long as the victims were not coached to be assertive and helped to build their self-esteem, the chances of them remaining victims continued into adulthood.

Since then, I have been trying to help my daughter increase her self-esteem. One of the many ways I learnt is to teach a child to love herself. Well, we are still working on her remembering to say: "I love you Mummy. And I love myself too."

I knew repeating this mantra would only help for awhile. One evening driving through a heavy traffic I made up a story to entertain my kids. It was about a six-year old girl named Lulu who would do anything for her friends because she wanted to be liked by them. Lulu didn't like herself much because she didn't think her kind-heartedness amounted much. "Now, if you were Lulu, do you suppose your friends would like you if you didn't like yourself in the first place?" I asked my children.

I was surprised even my two and half year old boy simultaneously replied no with his sister.

The story continued with Lulu being asked to pick some fruits from a tree by her friends. As she was climbing up the tree, fiery red ants bit her all over. But because she feared rejection from the others if she quit, she carried on. When she started to yank a bunch of fruits from a branch, she inadvertently dropped a beehive onto the ground.

The story ended with Lulu being hospitalized for bee stings but she learnt an unforgettable lesson about self-love and being assertive.

Now whenever my daughter needs a reminder about self-love, all I need to mention is Lulu.

Pat is a freelance journalist and a mother of two lovely kids. She enjoys writing and sharing her experience of being a mother. You can read more of her writings at KlinikOng.com

In The News:

Dark Parenting Styles  Psychology Today
Parenting in a pandemic  Bangkok Post
Parenting 101:  Trinidad Guardian

No Invitation Needed: Sacred Children Series - 3 of 3

I had my first two children on either side of... Read More

Sibling Fighting - Reduce Sibling Rivalry by NOT Keeping Score

Recently, a much-anticipated game of mini-golf with my children soon... Read More

The Long Journey Home

Once upon a time, I thought I had it all.... Read More

Keeping the Stress out of Single Parenting

Researched through personal experience!Budget Your Money. Even if you are... Read More

Send Your Child to College FREE!

College is one of the largest expenses through the course... Read More

Is Your Child Learning Nothing?

You send your child to school and the teachers teach... Read More

How To Be A Bad Mother

As I sit here and reflect on the past two... Read More

Parenting in the Kitchen ? Lessons in Cooking, Socializing, and Bonding

Kitchens are where everything happens. It's not just where meals... Read More

Math Facts - Try Some Fun Ways to Learn Them

Memorizing math facts is a necessary part of elementary school.... Read More

Are You Reading to Your Kids?

Over a number of years there have been issues raised... Read More

Parenting Your Teenager: 4 Dangerous Myths

MYTH: All teens have to rebel, and the teen years... Read More

Why have children? DINCs, This is For You!

First there were Yuppies (Young Urban Professionals). Then came the... Read More

Thirteen Values You Can Teach Through Homework

Are you a parent concerned about passing values on to... Read More

Can Mineral Deficiencies Lead to Behavioral Problems in Children?

A while ago I received this story from David in... Read More

Parenting Your Teenager: Kids and Money

Most teens go into the work world ill-prepared to manage... Read More

Parenting Your Teenager: What to Do When Your Teen Feels Left Out

On a recent Saturday evening, I noticed a young teen-age... Read More

Children - Blessing or Curse

You're trying to catch up on some sleep on a... Read More

Help Your Kids Learn More About Managing Their Personal Economy

Remember when cash was a tangible commodity in all of... Read More

Authoritarian Parenting, Permissive Parenting, or Loving Parenting

Angie was brought up by rigid, authoritarian parents who kept... Read More

Whats in a Name?

My cousin boasts five names and I confess that when... Read More

Best Tips for Stress Free Child Party Games

When planning a child birthday party, just a little bit... Read More

The Courage to Be a Loving Parent

Most of us really don't like it when someone is... Read More

When Parents Disagree

Moms and dads, are there times you think that parenting... Read More

How to Help Your Children to Blossom

I am writing this from the beautiful mountains of Western... Read More

Teaching Reading: Part 3, Whole Language Vs. Phonics

There are two methods for teaching children to read; whole... Read More