I was raised by pure Chinese parents who cannot speak straight Filipino or English. Though I am fluent in conversational Fookien, I find it hard to explain my passion in coaching and self-actualization trainings to them. Since my words fail me, I usually use pictures to show them what I do. I show them some posts on Facebook, or pictures I ask people to take for me to give them a vague idea of what I do.
The other night, my mom waited to see me guest on one of the evening TV shows. I called her after working out to ask if she had seen it.
She said in Chinese, “You spoke so well. You were so brilliant!”. For other people, this may seem very common and even expected.
Not for me.
Hearing praises for my mom was such a surprise for me. Traditional Chinese parents seem to have a different way of pushing their children to be successful. I used to think it was just my mom, but after reading some articles and the book Battle Cry of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, I found out there are more of them. It seems like there is a part of the Chinese culture that wants to encourage their children to be excellent and extraordinary in anything and everything. They push their children to study and strive hard while withholding praise and affirmations lest they become complacent.
At least that’s how I remember being raised. I would top my class every single year from the time I stepped into Prep School up to the time I graduated high school. I don’t remember my mom ever praising me for being good during those times. I’d get scolded for having 2 mistakes at an exam that I got the highest scores for. I remember telling her that a classmate was given a gold bracelet for being among the top five students during one period, when I never got anything else. She just laughed.
I grew up having low self-esteem and self-confidence. At least that’s how I would describe it, even if it may not have been obvious to the outside world. I was very fortunate to have come across counseling workshops at the age of 11, and I healed a lot while learning to do counseling for other people.
As I do coaching trainings and one on one coaching sessions, I see that many of the people’s issues that were brought with them to adulthood were rooted from disempowering parenting styles. I know that most parents love their children to pieces and want nothing but the best for them. I also know that we only operate from what we know and what we believe in. I always observe and try to analyze the different parenting styles and the impact these can have in their children. I am also always curious about how successful people were brought up, as well as how people with so much anger were raised.
Michael Hall, founder of the International Society of Neuro Semantics gives some tips on Raising Inspired Children. Here are 5 tips that Michael gave, including some explanations from me.
- Distinguish self-esteem from self-confidence. Here, he says that parents show children the distinction between person and behavior. Self-esteem is an appraisal of a person’s value. This is unconditional and does not change. Self-confidence depends on the skills that we have and the roles that we play. Children, at an early age, would benefit from knowing that what they do doesn’t impact their worth as human beings.
- Give them unconditional positive regard. When children know that they are unconditionally precious, they don’t feel like they’re under existential threat. They don’t need to worry about their worth, and so they’re free to do other stuff. They don’t need to fear being judged and having to compete for love.
- Help them search for their uniqueness. Michael says that it is important for parents not to live through their children. We would hear of parents wanting their kids to take courses that they wanted to take but didn’t get the chance to. Instead of this, we should allow them to explore what makes them alive and give them the resources for being resilient and finding their own personal powers.
- Knowing, understanding, and embracing the developmental stages. There are different stages that a child goes through in the journey to adulthood. The first is the stage of trust. Here the baby finds out if the world is trustworthy, if the caretaker can be trusted to provide needs. Second is industry, which starts at about 9 months. This is the time they explore the world and play with anything they see. When this is allowed, kids find out how things work and discover their own skills and strengths. There are more stages like the mental stage, social stage, etc. When parents know and embrace these stages, their children are allowed to see life as it can be, and discover their skills at dealing with it.
- Be a healthy adult. Be a role model. Be authentic in our ups and downs. This may be the most important tip. When they see how we treat other people, and how we manage our lives, they learn from us. They model us. They’re usually not aware that they do this, and they would be able to model both strengths and weaknesses. In being authentic with ourselves, and being kind to ourselves, we are being the best parents we could be.