“Be thoughtful and intentional in everything we do with our children, all the time.” If we look into parenting as a whole, it is basically the underlying principle for all parenting tips out there.
The first rule in order to be thoughtful and intentional is we can’t be dull and just let things happen when we are with kids. We have to stay creative and flexible since the best way to connect with kids is to make the interaction fun.
Apart from making independent well-thought out decisions not swayed by peer pressure, we must also guard against reactive responses – meaning acting and talking without considering the impact it may have on our kids. As we are their first role models, pick what you want your kids to copy carefully and live with them in your daily life.
I agree on a saying that when we have children, we get to live a second life. To avoid passing down my bad habits and negative personalities to my kids, I took a hard look and did a comprehensive review of my whole life when I got pregnant. To be honest, it was a very tough and emotional exercise. I noticed a lot of my issues could be traced back to my childhood. It was a wake up call for me.
But on the bright side, out of my own experience and all the surrounding nuances, I came up with a list of basic values that I found crucial and I know exactly how to teach or show my children.
I have one recommendation to make though, which is don’t pass down long-standing doctrines or beliefs without filtering. Sometimes, it is almost automatic for us to repeat old-sayings, idioms or phrases which we have been exposed to since we were young. But before they come out from our mouth, please examine whether it is appropriate to mention it to our kids. Let me quote one example – there’s a Chinese saying that goes 「書中自有黃金屋，書中自有顏如玉」 which essentially means reading more is good for you as you will be rewarded with material goods like a golden house and a beautiful wife. I never questioned it when I was young as everybody quoted this line when they wanted to encourage someone to read. But when I told my kids, Alexis immediately challenged it – Isn’t it too materialistic to describe the benefit of reading this way? Can’t we just love reading by enjoying what we get from it? I was stunt there and then and couldn’t respond for a few seconds. Because Alexis was actually right. This is not the best way to describe the benefit of reading.
Another point I wish to highlight is – we must be thoughtful and intentional to show our love and support to our kids.
Our love and support is the strongest foundation we could build for our children. Their confidence comes from here. When they are defeated, they naturally lean on their family and home. As parents, we must show our love in a way that our kids can feel it. We are the world to our children, especially when they are younger and dependent on us.
Let me quote two more examples. Steve Jobs & Barack Obama – Jobs’ adoptive parents and Obama’s single mother were extremely supportive and loving to them. They have told Jobs and Obama in their face that they could do great things. Their unconditional love have indirectly impacted on these two men in becoming a person that could carry out larger than life missions and have the confidence to take up huge responsibilities that ordinary people would be afraid of.
Before we home-schooled Hillary, she was bullied in school. Eventually what saved her from the low point at that time was indeed our love and strong support. We made sure she knew that we always had her back regardless. I would say our close relationship and the trust she had on us played a main role in helping her recover so quickly.
In the Chinese culture, showing love to our loved ones is very much discouraged and the virtue of subtle love is often being praised instead. On this aspect, I suggest all to reconsider and make a conscious choice.
Be deliberate when interacting with our children; listen to them, observe and respect their individuality, play with them like a child, spend quality time with them. These are the best gifts we could give to our children.