Is there a more bizarre way of encouraging independence in your kids?

Is there a more bizarre way of encouraging independence in your kids?

As parents, we all want to encourage independence in our kids. I’m pretty sure of that. In fact, some of us get pretty creative in our efforts to make our kids learn to do things for themselves and stand on their own two feet.

But one woman has taken it to a whole new level. In her effort to encourage independence in her young daughter, she made up a horrific lie to convince the girl that she wasn’t her real mother and kept up the lie for over an entire decade.

A woman surnamed Shen, a resident of China’s Shenyang city, married a wealthy man and had a young daughter named Cheng Cheng. Their family was well-off, and about 13 years ago, Shen began to fear her daughter was becoming spoiled and arrogant. To stop this behaviour and force her child to be independent, Shen adopted a particularly unorthodox parenting tactic.

“Your real mother died a long time ago,” Shen told Cheng Cheng, who was about to enter fourth grade at the time. “I’m not your real mother. I’m just providing for your education up until you finish university. After that, don’t count on my help anymore.”

Cheng Cheng did not believe her mother’s words at first, but after Shen remained adamant in her claims, the young girl became shocked and confused.

This confusion was only temporary. Soon after learning her “real mother” had died and Shen would not be around to provide for her forever, Cheng Cheng began studying harder, and her academic performance improved. Her arrogant traits also began to disappear, and the girl became “sensible and obedient,” the Shenyang Evening News reported.

I am stumped, speechless. At a time when a child needs the love of a mother most, this woman chooses to push her child away in the most cruel fashion. Imagine the shock for the poor child to find out that the person she’s loved and trusted all this time suddenly isn’t who she thought and that her happy life of being loved by her mom has just ended… poof! just like that! How does a young child deal with this?


I mean, there are any number of ways to teach a kid to be independent and this sounds like just about the most cruel and unacceptable way to go about it. First off, I’ve never believed in lying to a child to get them to behave or obey. What kind of message would we be sending the child? That it’s okay to lie? That it’s okay to trick someone into doing something we want them to do?

I can only speak for myself and some will disagree, but this whole making up stories and lying to a child and threatening that evil will befall them if they don’t obey is not going to benefit the child. At age 9 or 10, as this child was, kids are able to understand reasoning and logic. They’re playful, sure, they may need more pep talks than we have patience for and countless reminders to drill in the idea, but isn’t that why we call them kids?

Eventually most can be taught and will learn. There’s no need to go into this sort of elaborate scheme to turn a child’s life upside down. What does this achieve? In the long run, I think keeping the communication channel open is a far better way for parents to come out on top and to win their children’s trust and respect. That’s how I do it anyways.

What’s more, childhood trauma has a way of carrying over into adulthood leaving emotional scars that can be hard to erase. Later in the article, the mother is triumphant that she has raised a daughter who is successful in every way – super achiever, high-flying job, good husband, happy ending? I’m no psychologist but I can almost bet that deep down inside, this young woman harbors deep emotional scars and who can say she won’t perpetuate her own negative experiences on her own children later?

Right, I think I’ve said enough. Read the full text here if you’re interested and tell us: what do you think of the woman’s parenting style? how do you teach your kids independence?

Decluttering project

Decluttering project

We’re into week 2.375 of Project Declutter. It’s back-breaking work. We complain a lot about the heat mostly. We’d rather be surfing the net but since everyone’s home, there’s no better time to get down and dusty. Motivation is a major challenge though.

But here’s the trick. We reward ourselves not for the job we’ve done, but for the job we’re about to do. It throws the psychology completely off but it works. Every morning, we head out and treat ourselves to a good lunch. It’s like charging our batteries.


Right after we get home from lunch afterwards, the kids don face masks and gloves, roll up their sleeves and turn the house upside down, sorting through old toys, books, clothes, … to be boxed, given away or sold. Lots of oohs, aahs and OMGs as they discover old and treasured favorites, long forgotten.

It’s taken a few afternoons to sort through the truckloads of Lego we have. It’s really hard to discard anything because the pieces are still in such good condition and you simply can’t get Lego made in Germany any more. We checked out the Lego store the other day and the quality is definitely not what it used to be.


Same goes for many of the toys. They’re all sturdy plastics and many of the mechanical parts still work. So unless they’re broken, faulty or unwanted, everything stays. To be honest, I find it pointless giving them away because some people are so rich these days they buy everything new. I once gave some perfectly good kiddy stuff to my estranged SIL and she probably tossed them in the trash the minute we turned our backs because I never saw any of it again.

Then there are the books. Considering that House Rule #289 says we are only allowed to buy story books during book sales, we’ve still managed to accumulate a huge collection. I think we’re going to end up keeping many of the cherished favorites the kids grew up with. The English and story lines in the oldies are way better than the newer series out there.


So here we are. Obviously we can’t keep everything or it won’t be a decluttering project. The stuff that’s really hard to part with, we’re taking pictures to keep for remembrance. We’re doing a little every day. It’s hard to decide what goes and what stays. But we’re taking the time to laugh and reminisce. There really are so many, many fond memories associated with each and every piece.

Is it OK to pick food off your friend’s plate?

Is it OK to pick food off your friend's plate?

I saw this question/poll recently on the Today Show, and thought hmm, this is interesting. See, I used to lecture my kids – constantly – against sharing food and drinks, and of course, as all controversial topics go, there’s always a story to tell.

I used to meet a group of moms for potluck breakfast after our morning exercise. Everything was fine until one day, one of the women brought a bowl of chicken curry. She scooped a portion into a smaller bowl and pushed it to the middle of the table. As if on cue, everyone started dipping and double dipping their bread into the bowl.

sharing food (image credit:

I will be honest. I shuddered at the sight of those teeth-marked bits of bread going back into that pool of germs over and over again!

To avoid the obvious, I decided to scoop some onto my own plate to dip from. As luck would have it, the bigger bowl had, by now, been relegated to the opposite end of the table which meant I obviously had to get up and walk over to said end to grab a little curry for myself. It was going to be just that simple!

Except Mrs Curry had eyes of a hawk. And a tongue like a Komodo dragon’s.

“Why don’t you just dip into this?” she lashed out sharply, pointing to the smaller bowl. “Why do you have to go over there?”

Certainly not an acceptable tone of voice to use on another adult but then again, Mrs Curry isn’t exactly your most refined type. I didn’t know her well but it’s hard not to notice that she was often loud, crude and openly confrontational and she had a hold on the rest of the moms. Instantly I became the target of 6 or 7 condescending glares.

Unlike them and many others, I have an aversion to sharing food – people expecting me to dig in with them, or diving into my plate, or asking for a bite or a sip or a sample, sometimes without even asking. The moment someone touches my food or drink, I’m done, I give up and they can have the rest of my serving.

For me, it’s about basic hygiene, that’s all. My philosophy is very simple: I don’t touch your food, you don’t touch mine. With close family, it’s okay to share but with friends, there’s no way. Just the way I was raised is all.

So that’s me. How about you?

How to save your Google Reader feed subscriptions for migration to a new reader

So Google Reader retires July 1 and most of us will be moving on to a new reader of our choice. There are several options out there that you can consider before the big day comes.

  • Newsblur
  • Feedly
  • Netvibes
  • The Old Reader
  • FeedReader
  • Bloglovin’ (you can follow me here)

Follow on Bloglovin

For those of us who have spent years accumulating a list of blogs we love to read, we certainly don’t want to lose all our precious feeds when we move to a new reader. You could do it the hard way and resubscribe to each feed manually.

Or do it the easy way by grabbing the OPML file that contains all your feed subscriptions. Regardless of which reader you eventually choose, if it allows you to migrate your feeds, you will need this OPML file. So the first thing you want to do is go to your Google Reader and grab that file.

  1. Log in and go to the Reader’s settings window.
  2. Click on the Import/Export tab.
  3. Select the option to download your list through Google Takeout. Wait for the compression to finish. It doesn’t take long.
  4. Download the .zip file to your local drive. Inside that .zip archive is the .xml file you want.

With this file, you’re ready to easily migrate or import your feeds into your new reader.

Now then, which reader will you be using? Have you decided? What’s your new reader like?

The easy way out

The easy way out

So I took the easy way out with our reunion dinner. I decided to do what any smart modern woman would do. I set the chefs at Friday’s to work so that come dinner time, I could breeze in with my brood and casually sit down for dinner with nary a hair out of place.


The reunion dinner is the last meal of the old lunar calendar. It’s typically a huge family gathering over a huge meal cooked at home. By comparison, ours is a small affair. Clearly I’m not your most traditional person when it comes to the Lunar New Year. Aside from breaking the rules by choosing a Western meal for our reunion, I find many of the traditions, like firecrackers, songs, gambling, drinking and general loudness, super annoying.

Most years, we don’t stay up past midnight but we always found ourselves jolted awake by the booms of firecrackers nearby. So this year, we planned our movie night to end just after midnight when our beloved neighbor (yes, that neighbor!) would be done firing his annual boatload of firecrackers.

For us, the lunar new year is super simple and low key. It’s the best time to stay home, do some simple cooking, catch up on movies and just hibernate in general. We do visit a couple of extended family, the one or two still worth visiting, but skip the rest. It’s best to leave the high-level b*tching and bragging to experts like The Tubby Twosome aka my estranged SIL and third aunt 😐 .

Looks like we made it, sorta!

So here we are, the day after the world was supposed to have ended… but didn’t. What a party pooper for those who spent months prepping and stocking up, and some even building escape pods and bunkers!

Okay, you can all come out now! It’s safe. The aliens didn’t show. The zombies either. And planet Earth is still right on track – it didn’t get flung out of its orbit. And the sun is still shining.

Yup, we’re still here but that Mayan Apocalypse and the end of the world was probably the least of our problems. We have bigger issues on our hands, not the least of which are the likes of globing warming, wars and violence, and armed lunatics who have nothing better to do, just to name a few.

Mom or the jetset?

Mom or the jetset?

Somewhere in between a super busy school week, I managed to squ-eeeze in an hour with a girl friend that I’ve not seen in, oh, a year or so. Good times over latte. Catching up. When we parted company, I was heading back to my life of mom, taxi driver and chef – you know, the hurriedly-slapped-together lunches, the rush-hour traffic, the tales from school…

…and she was off to rub shoulders with Prince William and the Duchess Kate at some fancy address. Her husband insisted, the sweet man. Okay, let’s face it, the only royalty I remember running into was Princess Jasmine. At Disney’s California Adventure Park, no less. That’s her with her Prince, Aladdin and Genie.

As you can imagine, my life is nowhere near as glamorous as hers. No doubt, we’re 2 women with 2 entirely different lifestyles. She has no kids (don’t think she wanted any), has barely worked a day in her life and spends her days lounging by the pool, lunching with the jet pack, zipping across the globe… you know, the stuff of the Kardashians.

As for me, well, you know me, my life revolves around my kids, has been for years and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. True, money doesn’t grow on our trees (I’m not much of a green thumb) but we kinda enjoy running on schedules, granola bars, hugs and simple pleasures. Oh, and make-believe royalty.

I try to imagine myself in her shoes and wonder if, at some point, I might get tired of all that freedom and long for a less frivolous, more structured lifestyle? Something along the lines of motherhood on the fast lane. Hmm, interesting, isn’t it?

So here then is a question for you. I may have asked this question before but never mind, let’s have another shot at it. So between the job description of Mom or Swinging Child-free Jetset, if you could choose only one, which one would it be?

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