Sunday, June 22, 2014

BetterMe: Attaining and Sustaining Loving Energy in the Family, Part I

Don't you sometimes wish you were born into a different family?

I've had episodes when I was younger and wished that my parents were cooler, more supportive of my interests, more normal. 

I wish my Dad had a regular office job and went home every day (he was in the military and was away for stretches of time), I wish my mom liked to shop for clothes and shoes, and knew where to get the latest trendy sneakers and jeans (I had to ask Ate Carol, the cool older sister of our playmates/neighbors Juanlo and Miat), but she preferred home stuff (which bored me then but I totally get her now!).  I wish she'd send me off to school with a Cheez Whiz sandwich and Kool Aid, but I was always the one in school with a homemade cheese pimiento sandwich, raisins and freshly squeezed juice in my lunchbox.

Of course, I'd also wish that my siblings were more mellow, less high strung, more driven, more supportive, less noisy, etc. - basically, the opposite of whatever it was that irritated me about someone at the moment.

But as Desmond Tutu famously said, "You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." 

So ok, it's like we're stuck with them diba? You take the good with the bad. You look at the bright side of things. You appreciate what's nice about them. All those cliches.

While we can't change the family we are born into, the good thing is, we can always begin with the family we started. Because this time, we made the choice. 

Dada & I chose to be married to each other. We chose to have our kids. They didn't choose us, but well, we can always turn our family into the sort of family they'd be happy to be part of. The kind they won't be embarrassed about, haha.

That's the premise at least of our #BetterMe session with Coach Pia Nazareno-Acevedo last May 21 - Attaining and Sustaining Loving Energy in the Family which was held at Flair Towers by DMCI Homes in Mandaluyong.

Flair Towers at Reliance corner Pines Street, Highway Hills, Mandaluyong has a resort like feel, and is in fact a project of one of our fellow SoMoms - Mommy Fleur! She's an engineer at DMCI, in case you didn't know

Now that I am older, of course I know that it takes more than just cool to raise happy, well-adjusted kids who will grow up into mature, responsible and exceptional adults. 

As parents, the first thing that is required of us is to turn our home into the kind of sanctuary where our children feel safe and loved. They should be raised with strong character and values, because more than just education and material things, their character and values will allow them to navigate life's complexities on their own, even if we are long gone.

Really, those must have toys and trips abroad are really just the fancy fondant figures on the cake - nice to look at, but even without, doesn't detract from one's enjoyment of a deliriously delicious cake.

I have to warn you though, this is a lengthy post, so I will break this down into two parts. 

Everything I learned from the session is worth sharing, and so I will just run through each line quickly. If you want me to expound, feel free to leave a comment after this post! I'm happy to share my learnings.

How to Raise Children with Strong Character and Values:

1. Stop asking your child what he wants to do with his life. Start asking him who he wants to be.

Many parents are guilty of saying that - "Ano ba balak mo sa buhay?" or "What's wrong with you?" when a child does something disappointing. They will go on a lengthy tirade, maybe with a bit of crying on the part of the mom, sermon from the dad, which will all end up in well, nothing really. Maybe the kid just doing something equally disappointing again another time.

But a child takes her cue from her parents. If a parent is fragile, you can't expect the child to be strong.

Instead of approaching your child with worry on your face, be matter of fact. Say, "Anak, tell me what happened?" and open a discussion from there.

When you say words like, "What's wrong with you?", you are eating at their self-esteem. You are essentially saying "You are not meeting my expectations" and this is no way to raise a child.

2. Stop speaking to your child about a career. Talk instead about a calling.

Let's face it, we're fixated with careers: My kid wants to be a doctor, a lawyer, whatever. He'll be a businessman like me. I hope she gets that golf scholarship at Stanford so she can go into tech and start a company in Silicon Valley.

Coach Pia says we shouldn't focus so much on the career. Instead, encourage empathy, the willingness to help others, or whatever it is your child feels he can contribute to - take care of abandoned animals, stop bullying, etc.

We should enhance and encourage strengths. Say things like,"You learn so quickly", ""It's so natural for you to put things in order". Positive reinforcement, always.

3. Stop focusing on grades and start focusing on intellectual curiosity.

Coach Pia says, from babyhood to 7 years old, admire everything they do to heaven and back. Encourage them to be curious, to learn. It will become natural for them.

When they are of school age, do not focus on grades. Anyway, we all know by now that grades do not guarantee success in life.

My takeaway is, focus on the learning process. Encourage the joy of learning. Get them curious enough that they will get those grades that will get them into Harvard. But if they choose to drop out of Harvard to start Facebook or something, it's their choice.

4. Stop speaking to your kids about happiness - start speaking about purpose.

Happiness should be derived from having a sense of purpose. There are many things that are not happy about life, but builds character.

 So instead of saying, "You made me happy because ____", say "I am proud of what you did!

5. Stop emphasizing friends. Start emphasizing FAMILY.

This hit a nerve with me. Growing up, my family was and still is very social. Amongst us, we have hundreds of friends who weave in and out of our home, are part of family occasions and all that. But sometimes, I feel that individually, we spend more time with our friends than with each other. And that's something I want to change in my own family. I want us to spend more time with each other.

Coach Pia says that in this day and age, the ideal ratio of spending time with family to friends should be 5:1, to counteract the effects of technology.

But note that we are talking quality time, and not just spending time in one room, individually hooked to our gadgets ha!

To be continued...

BetterMe: Attaining and Sustaining Loving Energy in the Family, was made possible by DMCI Homes and Lysol.  Lysol recently launched new products - a line of anti-bacterial hand soaps and Lysol Disinfectant Spray for Baby's Room, which is guaranteed safe to use on baby's toys, cribs, strollers, potties, high chairs, etc. Even if the kids are all grown up, this is great to have around the house actually!


next9 (Jen CC Tan) said...

i love this post, Tin!!! Going to Part 2 now...

wena said...

Hi Ms. Tin. I'm currently reading your post, in fact nasa Item #2 pa lang ako. but I'm excited to thank you because I really need this kind of parenting tips. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Manila Fashion Observer said...

Thanks Wena! I have more to #BetterMe posts to share! Coming up! =)

Manila Fashion Observer said...

Thanks Jen! Eye opener diba?!

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