TCH Bukit Jalil

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Raising a Child Abroad

by on 26/06/2014     107 2022

"I don't want to go to Malaysia, I want to stay home."

 

"Yes, we can stay at home when we’re in Malaysia"

 

"I want to stay at home back in New Zealand, Haraz Mama, Papa home." 

 

My soon to be three year old. We have settled here just a little over a year, but to him it’s his lifetime. This foreign land is his home.

 

When we arrived last year, he was a few months shy of two. While we were worried he might not adjust well to this foreign land due to the changing seasons, the absence of his grandparents, uncles and aunts, the Malaysian food and all things familiar, this little toddler of ours fit perfectly in. Not once did he ask for home, well our home, Malaysia.

 

Moving here meant that everything was going to change but somehow it was something that both, my husband and I, wanted for our little family. It meant that we could never ask help from our parents to keep an eye out for our son if both of us were sick, it meant that we could not be around our family, it meant that we had to remake our lives.

 

This is what we make of it

 

This life that we have made is now our toddler’s childhood, his upbringing.

 

Our lives here center around the three of us, extended families exist on screens, nasi lemak and roti canai  are delicacies that Mama attempts to make, call for prayers comes from our smartphones and we are always home before 6:00pm because all the shops are closed by 5:00pm. Instead of visiting families we visit friends, our friends become our family.

 

We find ourselves recreating traditions, making ketupat and rendang, instant ones, on Hari Raya mornings. Missing our Chinese and Indian friends when we see their updates on Facebook of Chinese New Year or Deepavali. Attending small gatherings for Merdeka day while we stand proudly to sing Negaraku with only 50 others.

 

While some things make our heart yearn to return home, we are also glad to be here. We learn of new cultures and new festivities. Our friends sends us chocolates during Easter holidays, invites us for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. We learn about Matariki and Hangi feasts.

 

Although we might be far from things that are familiar, being here means that we always have time for each other every single night because there is nowhere else to go. Being here means that we always have to stick together. We are always present and our family means the world to us, more than we could have ever imagined.

 

My husband and I often find ourselves observing families here. We cannot help but to notice the glaring differences in our parenting ways. When my toddler falls down, I hurry to him, often giving him a hug and reassuring him that he is fine. When we look at other toddlers falling down, parents observe and rarely even make eye contact. The toddlers then pick themselves up and keep on playing as if nothing happened.

 

Friends and acquaintances always ask before offering my toddler a treat. Children are rarely taken to the doctor if they’re down with a fever or a flu, they fight it off at home, with rest water, honey and Vitamin C. Parents have one on one time with their children. Often just one parent is seen taking their children out for a scooter run or to park. By parent, I mean fathers and mothers equally. I reckon there will be plenty more for me to learn as my child goes to school and make friends of his own. I look forward to this new experiences.


From here on out

 

Our childhood has shaped the way we view and experience the world. The way we raise our children and the environment we raise them in will shape theirs. We chose to bring him here hoping that he would be in a better environment, but the bitter truth is there is no ideal society.

 

We have very little control of what happens around us. We cannot stop two children from fighting, a car accident from happening or a drunk man from acting unwisely. We can however, guide our children, we can instil our values. Our home is still ours, our actions become their first examples so we will have to practice what we preach.

 

We hope to raise children with good values and moral conduct. Children who see colour and appreciates their richness and uniqueness. Children who are tolerant to the differences of others and treasure their origins. Children who are grounded and highly adaptable.

 

This is where we plan to start, our child’s home.

 

 

MamaHaraz, a young, optimistic and quirky mother. Learning to manage her household while juggling school. Hopelessly in love with her boys, Haraz the cheeky little toddler and Papa, the rare breed. This little family now resides in New Zealand, the place where there are more livestock than humans and sceneries are to die for.

 

Read more about her parenting adventures on her beautiful blog, Our Wonderland.