Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, Apr 28, 2011

Parents with Teenage Children Need to be Less Self-Centered

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:01 am

I have been constantly amused and surprised by the stupidity of some parents, in that parents maintain a strong self-centeredness or parent-centeredness. For example, a parent would say, “I don’t like what you did” or “I don’t like what you said.” The parent said this as if the teenager cared what the parent liked or not.

Even though it is okay for the parents to express their like or dislike, parents should realize their responsibility is NOT to make the teen understand and accept what their parents’ like or dislike, BUT to develop in the teen the sense of right and wrong and consequently their own like or dislike.

Instead of telling the teen “It is wrong,” ask your teen children what they think. Remember it is what the teens think that matters, not what the parents think.

It was high time that parents understood that their like or dislike or what they think is no longer the center or the rule of teen’s behavior. It is time to ask what the teen children think. Nothing pronounces more loudly of the failure of our parenting if the children were unable to think for themselves by the time they turned teenagers or they were ready to leave for college.

1, Apr 11, 2011

Self-Control–Key Element in Parenting Part II

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:54 am

Don’t become despaired if your little ones lack of self-control. The research also yields some cheerful result. That is, self-control can be learned.

“Children in the study who improved self-control on their own as they grow older reported fewer health and criminal behavior problems than those who remained impulsive.”

The message to parents should be this — self-control is the key. While it is a piece of cake to teach your children self-control when you work with easy targets, the real challenge crops up when you have to face those headstrong, impulsive, extremely disobedient ones. I remember one parent commenting on a difficult case, “I’d rather live some more years than bothering myself with this recalcitrant child.”

If you are a responsible parent, you should do what is good for the children in the long run, even if it often means a hugely unpleasant moment. If it is a battleground, it worths the fight, for your child’s future.

1, Apr 10, 2011

Self-Control–Key Element in Parenting Part I

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:53 am

On 1/30/2011, I read a report on child behavior carried on Time magazine. It is called “Self-control: The Key to Health and Wealth” and I would add one more to proper parenting. Here are the result of the new research.

“A lack of self-control during youth may predict health problems, less financial stability and a criminal record by adulthood.”

The research shows “…kids who scored lowest on measures of self-control–those who were more impulsive and easily frustrated and had the most trouble with delaying gratification or waiting their turn in line–were roughly three times as likely by adulthood to report having multiple health problems and addictions, earning less than $20K a year, becoming a single parent or committing a crime than kids with the most self-control.”
Continued…

1, Apr 8, 2011

Don’t Raise a High Maintenance Kid

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:50 am

On 3/19, on the way to her drawing lesson, I told my daughter it was difficult to serve her. In Chinese, it means,

Next I gave her some examples, which she admitted and promised to improve in this regard.

I have seen some high maintenance kids who are very particular about the way their meals are served and the special way they dress, which must be followed to the letter. A friend of mine had to buy meals for their son because they could not cook American food for him and he would not eat Chinese food.

High maintenance not only means more expense but also implies a lack of flexibility, in that it is difficult for these kids to make adjustment when they land in a new environment. Hence, wise parents know better than raising high maintenance kids.

1, Apr 1, 2011

Raising a Great kid is Like Growing a Young Tree

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:50 am

I once shared this with my daughter, which she agreed heartily. If a parent notices something not right in her child, like some undesirable habit or something in the child’s temperament or character or even bad behavior, she should make great efforts to help the child improve or make change for the better. If she does not do it while the child is young, it is like seeing a young misshaped tree without doing anything to set it straight. Imagine how difficult, if it is ever possible, to straighten a mature tree.

I have seen adults with hard-to-change bad habit or defect in personality, like too shy or awkward socially or too lonely to make friends, which hurt their career or their relationships, and from which they suffer most. I once had a colleague back in 1999, a smart one in his mid-30s, shy and quiet. I learned that both he and his big brother had a hard time finding a date. I could easily see why. I am sure early intervention would have raised individuals with a rather different life experience.

A parent would do her child a lifelong disservice if she fails to straighten up her young child.

1, Jan 26, 2011

“Limit Children’s Computer Use and TV Viewing Time”

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:47 am

I read a report on a study on 10/11/2010, “Too much TV psychologically harms kids.” People have been thinking on the same line for a long time. It is simply a commonsense for all responsible parents not to let their children indulge in too much TV.

“The study, published in the US journal Pediatrics, found that kids who spend hours each day in front of the TV or games console have more psychological difficulties like problems relating to peers, emotional issues, hyperactivity or conduct challenges, than kids who don’t.” “… the negative impact of screen time was not remedied by increasing a child’s physical activity levels, says the study conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol in Britain.”

“The researchers found that children who spent two hours or more a day watching television or playing on a computer were more likely to get high scores on the questionnaire, indicating they had more psychological difficulties than kids who did not spend a lot of time in front of a screen.”

Earlier studies indicate that “Excessive use of electronic media is not a concern if children are physically active.” But the latest findings indicate that might not be the case, and the researchers advise parents to limit their children’s computer use and TV viewing time to ensure their “optimal well-being.”

Enough has been said. Now time for action, that is, time for the parents to do what is good for their little ones, even if it means some unpleasant moments.

1, Jan 20, 2011

Parents Need to be Careful in Delivering Praise

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:23 am

On 11/7/2010, Sunday evening, while talking to my sister over the phone, we touched the topic of being smart. I said I was considered the least smart in our family. My sister asked how I got the idea that I was not as smart as others. I said, “I just remember people often praised both of you and commented how smart you were. I am the one who was often scolded for getting into trouble. Compliment words were very foreign to me at that time.”

My sister said that it was not true. She admitted that obedient child often received more praise from adults, while troublesome ones received opposite treatment.

From this I thought of some possibilities. Probably when parents often praise one child in front of another, a message is sent to both children — the one who is not left out gets the message that she is not as smart or as worthy as the other one. I must be that unfortunate one and that how I got the idea that I am not as smart as my siblings.

Interesting to know. I hope parents can learn something from this.

1, Jan 10, 2011

Rules Should be Enforceable

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:41 am

On 9/22/2010, a Wednesday, the company issued some new policies. One of them deals with Personal Electronic Devices, like cell phone, MP3, radio, and stuffs that make sounds. To be sure, the new policy is rather stringent, to say the least, so much as that some people started talking about how to circumvent the new policy or find loophole for its violation.

This, of course, reminds me of the early 1920s Prohibition law on alcohol in the U.S. Any time you have something which is either too stringent or not feasible to enforce, you end up making people wonder how to break the law instead of how to follow it, which runs against the original motive behind the making of these rules and regulations. So is it true with any rules that parents create and try to enforce on the children. It takes a matured mind and understanding on the part of parents to lay out feasible rules for their children.

Examples of stringent rules on children include the following:
–No computer under any circumstances
–Zero phone chat with friends.
–No TV anytime

Here are a friendly version on these rules.
–No computer play before you finish your homework and after your bedtime.
–Limit chatting with friends to 30 minutes per call and twice per day
–Watch TV only on weekend after homework

1, Dec 21, 2010

Better Communication with Your Teen/Adult Children

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:44 am

Skillful communication is very crucible to a better relationship with your teen children. Nothing is truer than this. Here are some examples.

Instead of saying to your teenage children “You are wrong,” ask them what they think and why they think this way. No one likes judgmental statement, even if he knows he is wrong. Imagine how you feel when your boss told you “You are wrong.” After all, the purpose here is not to make one feel bad but to help the child see the reason.

Instead of telling them “I don’t like what you have said,” ask them for their explanation. This way, you focus on and show interest in them, which sounds a lot better than simply expressing how you think, as if you only care about your own like or dislike. This also stimulates the youngsters to think and express themselves logically and reasonably.

Instead of saying “Clean the dish for me” or “do this for me,” come out with something that will emphasize the benefit to them if they do it. For example, “I will have time to help you out if you could help me.” Or “It will do you a great service if you could do this.”

Some may argue, “Don’t I have the right to say what I think?” Yes, you do and you have to right to say whatever you want. But don’t forget you also have the right to decide the quality of your relationship with your teen chilldren and the impact of your communication style. You have the right to either extinguish or add fuel to a simmering fire. Think of your parental responsibility before you talk of your right.

It takes a huge amount of wisdom and sometimes maturity to be a better communicator. You will be good at it as long as you are willing to learn and be a better parent.

1, Dec 15, 2010

Learn with Your Teenage Children: A Win-win for Both

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:23 am

I heard many times complaints about teenage children by their middle-aged parents, that is, issues of lack of common language, decreasing communications, and presence of mutual misunderstanding.

To be sure, teenage is the period when the children start spending more time away from family. They are practically getting ready for the moment when they hit 18 and move into college, the final physical separation from their first home.

This is also the time when most of the parents go through mid-life stage and through all related issues associated with this stage. It is not easy to keep open communications with children.

It might not be realistic to expect the children to compromise and reconcile in order to stay as close to their parents as before. Rather, it would be a win-win situation to both sides if parents could take initiatives.

One of these initiatives that parents can take is to learn or to keep themselves updated what the children are learning. e.g. if the children take history class, parents get a similar book and read with the children. This way parents will be in the position to help if help is needed. It is also beneficial to the parents’ aging brains when they learn something new. In fact, the benefits go miles beyond this in the long run.

1, Dec 12, 2010

Parenting as an Emotional Investment

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:01 am

On 9/26/2010, while waiting for my daughter’s skating, I had a nice chat with the mother of another skater. She has a wonderful child. I asked her if there were many one-child families like hers in Taiwan.

She told me one of her relatives even chose not to have any child at all, because a child means so much trouble for the parents. I told my daughter of this. She said he would feel sorry when he got old and had nobody to visit him. Indeed, you can view it as an investment to raise children. Let’s call it emotional investment, for lack of a better term. What you put in is a large part of your life, energy and money while you are young, the return being good children, a huge comfort in your old years. Very often, you must make self-sacrifice for the well-being of your children during your younger years.

The next day, a Monday morning, on my way to work, when I experienced the hardship of highway driving, I thought of this and I no longer have any complaints.

My daily drive to work runs from highway 435 to 69, then merge into 35. Highway 69 section, with two concrete walls enclosing both sides of the narrow lanes and everybody going crazily fast, makes it the most accident-prone section. I choose to use this route because it is the most time-saving route, so that I can get home early for my daughter. This is parenting, an investment into a happy future, too.

1, Dec 1, 2010

Help the Teens Develop into Happy Adults

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:13 am

On 11/27, Saturday afternoon, I was reading at HyVee, waiting for my daughter’s art class. The picture of the smiling Kate Middleton caught my eyes as I passed through the checkout line. I took the magazine and read a few lines.

“As a young teen, she was shy and awkward, wasn’t really confident. She gradually began to blossom in high school, excelling at sports and easily making friends. … By the time she arrived at the University, the timid teen was gone, replaced by a self-assured young woman with brains and pluck who knew exactly what she was looking for in a Prince Charming.”

It is interesting that she went through the normal growing up stage from an awkward teen to a young woman full of self-confidence. This reminds me so much of the similar process that my son once went through.

Some people never complete this process of development. They never grow beyond teenage maturity, remaining all their lives timid and shy, irresponsible and lack of independence.

To be sure, it is parents’ responsibility to help their teens to successfully go through this stage and enter adulthood with due maturity, independence of mind, and a healthy dose of self-confidence and ready to lead and shoulder responsibility when they are called.

1, Oct 19, 2010

Work or Play: Which Should Be First?

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:43 am

In the morning of 8/15/2010, my daughter told me she would practice piano, then learned some French. I knew she would ask me for something. Next, she asked if she could hang out with her friend in Town Center in the afternoon. I gave her okay, though I was going to say something about the quality of her piano and French. I did not say anything because I thought she knew better than otherwise.

For some little kids, they rushed through their tasks and often do a shoddy job because they can’t wait to get to the next stage — play. I always think it a good idea to get their work done before anything else. But now, I think differently.

For those children who cannot concentrate on what they should do and who do their homework with their minds on some computer game or watching TV or something else, they are better off have their share of play or fun time first. After fun, shut it off and switch to work, with nothing to look forward to after serious work.

Work and play, which should be first? Parents should be flexible in making this decision. I know I would not automatically consider work first. I would give them choice. If they choose work first, I would demand quality job before fun starts.

1, Oct 12, 2010

“You Raise Me Up To more than I can be”

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:25 am

“You Raise Me Up To more than I can be,” was first given to us by Secret Garden from the album Once in a Red Moon, an award winning Irish-Norwegian duo, lyrics by Brendan Graham, first released in 2002. There is an obvious religious message from the song, with You referring the Lord who raises us up. Every time I hear the song, I think of parents and their role in raising the children to the level higher than themselves. Here’s the song for all parents.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

There is no life – no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

1, Aug 20, 2010

Parents Create Positive Background Noise for Their Children

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:35 am

On 7/16/2010, a nice Friday afternoon, my daughter took a long nap after school. She woke up to tell me that she had a dream in which she had some rough time with me. To be sure, the words that I say in her dream are what I often say to her in daily life.

This reminds me of the background music that is softly played all the time in my office, so much so that some of the lyrics keep ringing in my ears even after I am not in the office. I know background noise serves certain purpose, like creating relaxing atmosphere. Whatever purpose it serves, it certainly has left something indelible in my head.

My words surface in my daughter’s dream reminds me of this office background noise. As parents, we inevitably create a voice ringing in the back of children’s minds. They are like this background noise, exerting influence even after the source of this noise is cut off. My daughter often says to me before I say anything, “I know what you are going to say if I do this.” See background noise works like magic.

1, Aug 15, 2010

Spoiled Teens Bite the Hands that Feed Them

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:24 am

On 7/6/2010, I read an article by Michele Borba, Ed.,D. “Surefire Ways to Turn OFF Your Teen.” The article starts with this statement, “Talking with an adolescent can be like walking through a minefield. At any moment you could be asking what you thought was a simple, sincere question only to find it triggering an explosive response… often seems to backfire because of the type of questions asked.” The author goes on listing “7 Deadly Questions to Never Ask an Adolescent.” These questions are,

1: “So, how was your day?”
2: “Why didn’t you tell the kid to leave you alone????”
3: “What was she wearing?”
4: “Why are you sooooo sensitive?”
5: “Why did you do that?” (Even worse: “What were you thinking?”)
6: “Why didn’t you just say no????”
7: “Why don’t you just get over it and move on?”

This is pathetically preposterous! I feel awfully sorry for those parents who are literally abused and tyrannized at the hand of their spoiled teens.

No.1, I don’t see anything wrong with any of these questions. Nothing offensive to me.

No.2, even if a parent asks a “wrong” or “unwise” question, does it warrant the explosive response from the teen child? Don’t parents deserve due respect? Why do these teens have zero tolerance toward their parents?

No.3, the fact that teenagers go through touchy, sensitive stage is not the excuse for their lack of respect toward their parents who are as much human as themselves.

No.4, why is it that parents ask the child “How was your day” and the child never cares to ask his/her parents the same question? I am fed up with the selfishness of these teens, as if the whole world turns around them. For all their lives, the parents have loved and cared for them, but they have not learned to love and care their parents. Isn’t that ridiculously wrong?

To be sure, teens with problems are tiny minorities. Even with these problematic teens, parents still need to put their foot firmly on the ground and not allow the teen to trample upon them. They deserve better treatment than this.

What I see is nothing but a bunch of spoiled teens who have not learned the proper way of communicating with their parents, who do not care hurting their parents, and who are actually the products of bad parenting, so tragically popular now.

1, Aug 7, 2010

How to Be a Better Backseat Driver

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:20 am

Continued from yesterday’s posting. That article provides three advice to those who feel a strong urge to issue instructions.

(1) When you feel you have to say something, take a deep breath before you criticize. Hopefully, a deep breath could hold your tongue back to where it belongs.

(2) Imagine how you would react if the tables were turned. In fact, a lot of problems can dissolve if we can put ourselves in other’s shoes.

(3) Give advice to those who truly appreciate it. In this case, your advice is not unwanted and unwelcome any more. Keep your advice to yourself, no matter how valuable it may seem to you, if the listener refuses to lend your a ear.

1, Aug 6, 2010

Don’t Be a Backseat Driver Parent

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:09 am

This is also from reading Psychology Today on 7/3/2010. There is an article on the psychology of unwanted backseat drivers, which reminds me of being the parent of a teenage child.

A backseat driver is defined as the person who dispenses “helpful advice – in car or elsewhere” and who often ends up being annoying, not to mention distracting and totally unwelcome.

Backseat drivers are like parents, however well-intentioned, likely to provoke irritation. The implication of backdrivers is this– I don’t trust you to handle this on your own.

The psychologist explains that when the backseat drivers exercise unwanted authorities, they are often acting out of their own fear of the unknown. They offer unsolicited advice in an attempt to combat their own feelings of powerlessness.

Psychologists often make things sound more serious than they really are. At least, I am getting better at finding out when I should zip up my mouth to a teenage child, much as I am eager to dispense my well-thought-out advice. In fact, I have learned being a backseat-driver-parent more often than not means asking for trouble.

1, Aug 5, 2010

No Tree, No Shade; No Pain, No Gain

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:25 am

On Memorial Monday, 5/31, I took my daughter to a local hair service store. The day was hot and uncomfortable. When I tried but failed to find a shaded spot for my car, I made this comment, “When people seek shade under a scorching sun, they need to remember how much work that has been involved in developing a big tree with a huge lovely shade. Can you think of the analogy of tree shade?” I further asked her.

“I know what it is. You are thinking of parenting and the filial duties that children will do toward their parents when the parents are old. Only when you have done a good job of parenting can you enjoy the loving care of the children,” said she.

“Wow, excellent,” said I. “Serious? You have mentioned this before,” said she. I am sure I have. And here I am talking about the same thing again. No pain, no gain. No free lunch under the blue sky, for parents and for all of us, especially for children.

1, Jul 10, 2010

Parents Permissiveness and Children Defiance Do Not Develop Overnight

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:48 am

I have personally observed many cases where parents talk and beg while children ignore and defy as if the authority were on the side of the children. To be sure, children defiance can make parenting a rather harrying and even devastating experience instead of what should be a rewarding and joyful one.

I would not blame children for being too recalcitrant. A child is never born this unruly. Like all habits, it takes some time, some try-and-error and even parents’ cooperation for this type of interaction to take form. I realize it is easy to say than to actually do it. Still, parents need to put into actions certain rules in order to hinder the development of any unpleasant defiant behavior.

(1) If you ask a child three times to do one thing. STOP yourself. Set a rule. Ask once next time.
(2) Never ever tolerate any disrespect from your child. If you catch it once, set it right loud and clear.
(3) Never raise your voice. If you cannot control yourself, forget any attempt at controlling your child.
(4) Never take any negative, conflict-ridden attitude.
(5) Finally, if you are genuinely at loss, turn to your child for help. Ask him/her what he/she would do if this or that happens. Trust me they are like freshman congressman, full of ideas and opinions.

If anything, parenting, first and foremost, means self-discipline.

1, Jun 14, 2010

Another Good Habit: Greeting People Wherever You Are

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 1:45 am

Continued from the posting on habits, happiness and health many days ago.
I have discovered some little ways that can guarantee surprisingly good results. That is, greet people either at work or at home or anywhere you find yourself meeting people. This works like miracle drug in relaxing atmosphere, bringing good will, putting people at ease, and most importantly making ourselves feel good.

“Good morning, Dr. … How are you?” With that, I have noticed the genuinely pleasant smile on the face of people that I have just greeted. Your sincere greeting means you are not rude and haughty enough to ignore people passing by and that you are in excellent mood to exuberate good wishes to people around. After all, who would like to be around the grumpy and grouchy ones who are full of negative thoughts and complaints?

For my dear children, you should get into the habit of greeting people no matter where you are. Do it even at home in the morning. Don’t take it as unnecessary ritual or something like that. Even if it is a ritual, it has its positive function and results. Be a missionary of peace and good wish.

1, May 25, 2010

Short-Term Gain at the Cost of Long-Term Loss

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 1:51 am

I read Time magazine, 5/3/2010 issue a few days ago. There is an article that reports “The Long-Term Effects of Spanking.” The result reveals that a spank on the bottom may be the quickest and most effective disciplinary measure, yet it makes children act out in the long run.

“Spanking remained a strong predictor of violent behavior.” Instead of spanking, the report suggests that parents use time-outs, which deprives the child of any interaction and gives him a total quiet moments by himself.

Nice suggestion! We all know physical punishment will hurt the children psychologically and emotionally in the long run and we should not resort to violence toward the weaker and younger ones. But still, many parents cannot contain their own temper and shortsightedly grab the immediate gain at the cost of long-term loss. Until parents can put things in perspective and exercise good control over themselves, the children will unfortunately never be free from physical punishment. Very often, it is the parents who are in more need of discipline than their children.

1, May 2, 2010

Parents Anticipating and Preparing for What Will Happen Next

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:12 am

The other day I watched a Chinese talk show in which parents, children and some parenting experts together watch a scene where a girl went shopping with her parents. When her demand for a new toy was not satisfied, she made a terrible scene in public drawing huge attention until her parents yielded. Seeing the triumphant smile on the face of this girl, my heart went out to her parents who seemed thoroughly beaten, tortured, lost and utterly helpless.

I am sure most of the parents have this experience in which they grudgingly give in to their spoiled children. I never have such extreme cases, but I have my share of unpleasant moments, in which we went out with a cheerful mood with all the intentions to make it a pleasant experience, but out of the store a totally opposite one took its place. Each time after the experience, I told myself that I must learn something from this and I would never go to a store without a written promise from my child that we would not do this or that. But very often, the moment we plan to go out, I am in such an excellent mood that I simply forget all this.

It takes so much discipline and never-to-forget rule for parents to ever achieve any desirable result.

1, Mar 28, 2010

Sow the Seed of High Ideals When they are Young

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:13 am

On 3/18/2010, a friend of mine called and we talked a lot about education of young children. To be sure, young children are very playful by nature. One thing I remember clearly from my son’s primary school teachers is their comment on how much he liked to play. Nearly all of them are like this. I would not worry too much about this.

When looking back, I think it extremely important to work on instilling something beautiful in the minds of the youngsters. These tender young years are the best time for parents to sow this seed, so that they always have this dream of the most beautiful, of high ideal and aspiration.

When their hearts and souls are filled with this dream of something beautiful, so beautiful and great that they don’t want to give it up easily. It gives them a great pleasure to indulge in such a beautiful dream and then later will motivate them to exert great efforts to get closer to their beautiful dream. As I mention in one of my postings, family is the place where one’s vision of future, ideal of life are cultivated and formed.

To be sure, this is different from the grandiosity that Richard Nixon or some similar politicians demonstrated but something larger, broader and more beautiful than what we see in real life. Let them know life cannot be worthwhile without some transcendental value, for which they should strive for. The good part of it is when this seed is deeply rooted in their minds, they won’t stop pursuing the greatness even if you ask them to. This must be done when they are young.

The little children might have this or that undesirable places that need improvement. Yet they will all become insignificant when you think of what aspiration, ideal and goal that the young child should have for his whole life. I don’t mean to ignore the undesirable parts, but just don’t make it too much a big deal. Don’t make his life less happier because of this minor issues.

I love this poem on dream by Langston Hughes. Here it is again.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow

1, Feb 27, 2010

A Tug of War With Your Children: One of Those Stressful Moments for Parents

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:14 am

Some parents say that the most stressful time is holiday seasons with shopping and party preparation. Since I do no shopping and am too lazy for any preparation, I find the most stressful moment is when a child asks for something and will not take no for the answer. More often than not, it is a test of will between the minor and the parent, which often constitutes daily occurrences.

Of course, one of the sure ways to avoid this kind of stress is to take a laissez-faire attitude, be a yes-man all the time. In so doing both parents and the children will have an easy time, totally stress-free.

Yet, I don’t think it is the choice for most of responsible parents. At least, I cannot sit still when I see a picky child eating all meat without any vegetables, or that child insisting on watching TV after bedtime or playing on the computer without doing what he/she is supposed to do, etc.

Moreover, with laissez-faire attitude, you will likely cultivate in your child an expectation. That is, the child will expect an yes answer and feel frustrated or even mad over a negative one.

Looking back, I think it is easy to say no when the child is small. I remember the time when my son was small and made a scene at the store when his demand was denied. I would firmly took him out of the store and avoided taking him there as long as I could. Next minute he forgot the whole thing.

But things are totally different when your child is big and seems to have a much stronger will than you do. For me, this is the most stressful part of parenting. Still, in the long run, for the children’s wellbeing, I believe parents should stand firm, with some discretions, even if it means a stressful tug-of-war.

1, Feb 18, 2010

Parenting by Example, from Nation to Parents

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 1:23 am

As a nation, it is so convenient to forget this simple truth, that is, with action speaking louder than words, we don’t need to preach this or that to other nations. We simply demonstrate what we expect others to do by our deeds. We cannot expect other nations not to engage in invasion when we invade other countries. When the U.S. condemns Iran of acquiring nuclear weapon, Iran could easily say, “We will be just like you, no more no less.” What a compliment! Indeed, the best praise from our enemy is to see them emulating you.

If a parent articulates uncivilized words and behaves unreasonably toward the youngsters, the children have every reason to behave accordingly. If you spend most of your disposable time on TV or Internet or any trivial pursuits, your children will surely follow your lead toward a mediocre end. You cannot expect an otherwise behavior from your children. Parents who indulge in computer games are disgusting hypocrites when they expect their children to be someone else. Remember the saying “a child is a chip off the old block?” Well, the old block determines what kind of chip it will be.

Too much challenge to us parents not to be hypocrites, right? It is never easy to be better than ourselves.

1, Feb 17, 2010

Toyota Car Recall and Blaming Game

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:51 am

With the global recall of Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrids car, I smell another case of blaming game, that is, people have shifted too much responsibilities unto their vehicles when they got into accidents or when they abuse their car. I have been driving Toyota since 1986, all kinds of them, and the only problem that I have is cop’s speeding tickets, which is my own problem. I believe firmly that Toyota of all models are of top quality, in spite of its recent problems. Very often, it is people’s driving habit plus 10 cups of alcohol that get them into trouble with their cars.

This is very much similar to the famous 2003 obesity suit against McDonald’s restaurants for being responsible for making people fat and unhappy. And there have been numerous class-action lawsuits by lung cancer patients against tobacco companies.

Currently there are about 43,000 people killed in fatal car accidents each year in the U.S, and the number is climbing each year, with over 40% fatal crashes being alcohol-related. Until people take responsibility for their own lives, stop drink-and-drive, text-and-drive, and all other forms of risky behavior, no matter how safe the vehicles are, there is no hope of seeing a reduction of fatal car accidents.

One step forward, for an individual, only when we stop seeing ourselves as passive victims at the hands of others and stop enlarging the power of any external forces do we start taking responsibility for our own lives and turning a new leaf in the writing of our own history. So much fresher now.

1, Jan 29, 2010

Un-sung Heroine in a Family

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:52 am

On the New Year’s Day when I shared my observations of another mother with one of my relatives in China over the internet, she pointed out an interesting phenomenon inside a family. It always seems like a rule with very few exceptions.

Very often the one who does most for the children gets least credit and least appreciation. This, at least, matches with one real life experience that I have witnessed, in which the mother wholeheartedly serves her child who, on the other hand, adores the father of the family and treats the mother as someone less equal. In this sense, such mothers play the role of un-sung heroines.

I don’t know how to explain this phenomenon, other than the father must have something that the youngster adorns and admires and the mother lacks this. One step further, in the long run, for children, what matters is not what we do for them but what we have achieved ourselves when they look back. Most people, at least young people, don’t have this maturity to appreciate silent heroines.

Still, if it is the right thing to do, do it regardless how children view it. After all, silent heroine is better than noisy un-hero. Yes, I just invent a word and I am so proud of my invention.

PS. I got back from China Wednesday evening and received a long standing hug from my daughter.

1, Jan 27, 2010

Over-praise or Over-criticism: Parent’s Distortion of Fact

Filed under: American Culture,Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:20 am

I have been fortunate to know some parents who either unduly over-praise or over-criticize their youngsters. I know of one parent who keeps saying her child is the best even if the fact points to the opposite. On the other hand, another parent always find faults with her children even if they are far better than the average. The over-critical parents must have an extremely high standard for their children, which is equally damaging to the children.

It seems a big challenge for parents to be realistic and objective about their children, as it is a rather emotionally charged topic and as with any emotional topics, people tend to get unreasonable and very subjective.

Every time I hear parents bragging out of proportion about their children, I ask myself, “What is it for? Is it for parents’ vanity or what? Is it to prove that they have been successful as the parents?” When parents deliberately ignore the stark fact, there are always some unspeakable reason behind their minds.

It would help tremendously if we understand perception influences and often becomes reality. Until we can get closer to reality and confront with the unpleasant truth, we cannot expect to initiate any change for the better.

1, Jan 14, 2010

Children and Parents: You Reap What You Sow

Filed under: Parenting 101 — admin @ 12:22 am

While chatting with some of my long-time classmates, as early as our Preschool/Kindergarten years, we inevitably shifted the topic to parenting. We shared a similar family background with our parents serving in the army and dedicating their whole lives to the revolutionary cause, giving no thought of proper parenting of their youngsters, so typical of parents in those years.

Our parents gave us the least attention while we needed them most. Talk about proper guidance and nice things like these! Many of us got into the field of learning which least fit us and changed careers later in our lives.

Now that I become a parent, I want to do my share of duty and avoid the same experience in my children as I see it as the mission of a parent to discover what the children are interested in and where their natural aptitudes are and guide them through their formative years.

To be sure, nearly all parents throughout generations have the best intention for their children, but the results are so much different, subject to so many unpredicatable factors resulting from their personality, environment, and parenting style.

I like this well-known saying uttered by this classmate of mine, “Sow mellon, reap mellon; sow bean, reap bean.” So is it true with parenting, so is it with older children when they should know better than being stupid with their time.

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