The most talk about subject between my husband and I when our kids were still very young was how should we raise them. What must we do to not undermine their potential but to let them shine.
When I look back to this intention, I find it kind of similar in nature to this common phase – to win at the starting point（赢在起跑線）The only difference, probably, is the word – WIN. In order to WIN, we must have competitors. When we WIN, it is in comparison to others irrespective of the end result.
When we compare, it inevitably makes people upset and it is particularly unfair when the subjects being compared are kids.
It took me some time to truly understand how dangerous this trap is for us parents.
When we are constantly comparing to others, it is very tempting to follow everybody’s choice and abandon whatever individual thoughts we have. Because FOMO (Fear of missing out) is a very strong feeling. If we can’t resist the pressure, our decisions would be held hostage and we can’t make the choice even if we think it may be better for our children.
When people came to me and praised me on how courageous I was and that they admired me, I always felt uneasy as I never found myself that way, at least not at the time when the decisions were made. When we made those “brave” moves, whether it is to homeschool the kids back in 2017 or making the investment in creating the beta app of MinorMynas, we were uncertain about the outcome. And we have to live with self-doubt and anxiety.
But what we also had then was a conviction that despite it is not a popular route, our assessment told us that it suits the kids and even if it doesn’t work out, they will gain something out of the experience. We were willing to “waste time” to let them explore, and during the process, would constantly review the progress and adjust our plans.
We reminded ourselves not to compare with others, because if we constantly look for what we have missed out, we would surely find something and drive ourselves crazy.
The best example on why we should focus on the kids and ignore everything else, especially not to compare with others is how my kids develop the habit of reading and how they maintain the love of reading till this date.
When Hillary was a toddler, those huge word flashcards were very popular and many friends around me told me how useful this method was. By doing so, their kids are able to read the words in the cards at 2, which is pretty amazing and I do believe they are recommending the method with good intention. If I were to compare among the kids, I would have become so anxious and started our own flashcard programme.
But we didn’t. We believe reading is about being able to comprehend the meaning with context and how fast a kid read is irrelevant. Why the rush? But if you are curious, after reading with them constantly since they were born, both of them started to read by themselves at 4.
And because we don’t limit what they read and we never follow the recommended age on the books, our kids get to choose what they read freely. As long as they could comprehend the content and it is not grossly inappropriate, I will let them and find time to discuss with them on what they have learnt from the books. This approach has made the kids very happy. They read because they love to, not because they are asked to or being told that a particular title is too easy or too hard for them. Since no comparison ever exists, they literally run their own course and the sky’s the limit. By 11, Hillary was already reading books written for adults and she had no problem understanding the nuances and messages in the books.
On the subject of peer pressure.
When noises or distractions showed up, we would ask ourselves is it at our kids’ best interest to “follow the trend”? A very typical example would be getting the video game consoles that everybody has. If we were to yield to such influence, we would have let them play video games long ago. But we value independent thinking more. We are of the view that gaming is highly addictive and we would not be the one introducing video games to our kids until they grow up and could make up their own mind. We explained this house rule very clearly to them since they could talk.
And you could probably guess it, by preserving their precious time, my kids are free from these major distractions and could indulge in reading.