This subject is always up for debate and there are no right or wrong answers. Only bad ones. I have always stick to certain values when I start raising my kids and there are certain times I doubt if I’m doing the right things.
I am Asian born and raised in South East Asia. Hence, there are certain values instilled in me growing up by my parents and what I observed. These values are filtered and now build within my wife and me. Obviously these values are being passed down to my kids, of whom my eldest son is now considered an adult as he will be hitting the major milestone.
It is very difficult to compare and contrast one tradition over another. I can’t say Asian culture is better than Western culture or vise versa. All I can say is when we raise good responsible generation we need to use common sense.
I had good feedback over the weekend from my son when I was giving him a haircut. After this year he will graduate from Rutgers and get ready to head out on his own. Prior to that he will be heading to the West at Seatle for his internship. He told me that what I have telling him over the last years were really good suggestions and he thanked me for everything I taught him.
Being Financial Responsible
I’ve been teaching my kids of being financial responsible. While our family never shy away on spending money but we never spend lavishly. For example, we don’t rush out to but the newest gadgets or the newest cars. We spend what we can afford. And we don’t consider brand name items as must have – we go to WalMart when we can because we now we usually get good deals. Two months ago my son told me that he wanted to buy the latest BMW once he got a job. However, he told me that he no longer consider that option because he realized that the monthly car payment of $1,000 per month is too much and the money can be well spend on other important things.
Take Ownership of Self
When my kids were growing up my wife and I would check on their well beings every moment. As they grow older around middle school we started to relax a bit. As my son started to attend Rutgers I told him that I will no longer check on his education. In those years I been telling them that if they don’t take charge of their future, the only option for them to support themselves is by working McDonald’s. Having worked at a fast food restaurant during high school, my son had the experience that working in this industry is not sustainable. Now he aspires to be a software engineer and work for Amazon (he will be an intern at Amazon in Seatle).
Education is Important
Both my wife and I are not the typical Asians who want perfect grades. We let our kids experience the American values as much as we could by letting them have freedom on how they study. At the same time, we stress the importance of having good education as we believe this is the only way to get good job and may lead to good life. While some may debate that this is the wrong message to send, it is still unfortunately very true today. My son noticed this too as he found better opportunity while studying at Rutgers. He realized that some of his friends from high school who are not doing well at school are struggling – one of his friends even drop out of college and joined the Navy because he was just doing badly at the local college.
Don’t Spoon Feed – Use Force Feed
I remember the time when my son asked me to buy him a car when he turned 18. Obviously, I refused. He said he needed a car to travel to Rutgers for his education. I told him that he would be using my wife’s car but he was not allowed to use the car for hanging out with his friends. While that seems excessive he agreed to it. The only way for him to be able to use the car hanging out is to buy his own car. And that goes back to being financial responsible – because of the added pressure of financing and insurance he realized the stress of being able to afford for the car. I was surprised that he thanked me – he told me that if I’ve given his the car when the turned 18 he would not be where he is today. He has seen some of his friends who received a car for their birthdays turn out to be losers today as they have no concept of value and what is right or wrong.
Our family of five has been very close. Whenever possible we always do things together and celebrate all milestones together. For this reason we never fight. Some may argue that some arguments or disagreements are healthy; I personally disagree. Arguments can escalate quickly and not everyone can forgive and forget easily. Our family likes to joke around and even when we have disagreements they tend to go away really quickly because we downplay them through laughter. As an example, my oldest son will be 21 this summer and all the years with his younger brother who is 3 years apart only had a verbal spat once. All my kids have strong bonds and continue to have good relationship with each other.
Every parent always worries what is the right thing to do or how to raise kids. While there are help books or various advice you could seek from friends or relatives every situation and every family is different. For me having hearing from my son that I’ve been doing things right is a good pat on the back and that I’ve done what I set out to do – by being a good parent and raise good and responsible kids.