Tag Archives: parents

Is There A Free Choice To Raising Children? (Part 2)

With two gifted daughters, Chua is determined to reverse one of her fears: “A remarkably common pattern among Chinese immigrants fortunate enough to come to the United States as graduate students or skilled workers over the last fifty years” (p. 25). A perfect example of a parent doing what she is supposed to do: “Saving your children from your fears and to get them to turn out the way you want them to turn out.” Chua went on to say that the first immigrant generation (like her parents) sacrifices all for children’s education, and extremely strict and rabidly thrifty; the second generation (like herself) will “typically high-achieving” but less strict; the third generation (like her two daughters) is “the one I spend nights lying awake worrying about”, Chua says, “they will feel that they have individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and therefore be much more likely to disobey their parents”–leading to disrespect and generational decline. “Well, not on my watch”, she claims. “From the moment Sophia was born and I looked into her cute and knowing face I was determined not to let it happen to her, not to raise a soft, entitled child–not to let my family fall”; “The Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they’re capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits, and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.” (p. 26). So, off she goes… “Working hard [exerting effort (intense force)] to avoid what you are afraid of, to instill and perpetuate your personal beliefs, opinions and points of view in your offspring, including the need to be well thought of”.

Such default condition doesn’t just impact immigrant families. All the rules and the punishments they had in place were simply a demonstration of what every parent would do: arming me with disciplines, skills and work ethics, so their first-born-daughter would turn out.

We can judge and assess what Chua or my parents should do, or shouldn’t do all we want. It would’t change that very default condition of parenting or make it go away. Tiger Mothers or love-unconditionally-with-logic-mothers, rich or poor, Chinese, or Caucasian, as long as you are a parent, you are going to be affected by it. No parent is immune from it.

Does that mean being a parent is a bad deal? Doomed? A green light for anyone hitting a child, or calling a child “garbage” (Although, I found it strange and disrespectful at first to call a child “little monkey”, “weed”, “stinker”, or “pumpkin”–but we do it, even myself after 14 years of cultural assimilation, in American-kind-of-everyday-conversation)?

It is rather to uncover the prevailing notion that shapes our thoughts, actions, and experiences of being a parent. I have since developed a sense of compassion for all parents–yes, even for those behave abusively that I used to point finger at. It allows me to appreciate how any culture (or anyone) sees the world, and not quick to judge. Please don’t mistaken this as a permission or an endorsement for any parenting strategy. What parents do to their children, for them, the bitter sweet, the good-bad-and the-ugly are not personal phenomenon at all. Maybe they are a function of the default ordinary way that we have been related to parenting for thousand years. Maybe it is an unexamined everyday of thinking about parenting we have been unwittingly entrapped.

How about that question of is there the right way to parenting?

I don’t know if there is THE right way. Parenting is not a subject of Math. It is BEING in a relationship with another person. And relationship is not a cookie-cutter, cause-effect, linear-matter. I invite you instead of looking for an answer, creating opportunities for you to explore your relationship to parenting:

ex.plore (ik splor”) vt. [L. explore, to search out : ex-, out + plore, to cry out, wail] 1. to look into closely 2. to travel in (a region previously unknown or little known) in order to learn about its natural features, inhabitants, etc.

I like the number two definition!!  You?

Something to consider:

In our “I-based world”, we often forget that every matter consists of at least two points of view, and that they cannot be exactly the same. We see/hear things differently from each other. To simply listen to the other’s point of view, and even to ask them to share more of it, without trying to get them to have your point of view, takes you beyond the ordinary and into extraordinary relationships (Taken from CONNECTED! January, 2011, e-newsletter).

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Familying Workshop Is Coming To Texas!!

It is with joy and excitement to announce that I will be leading the very first Familying Workshop in July!!

The journey of creating “Familying” started in 2009. Through your generous contribution and support, I was able to use the structure and the distinctions of Power and Contribution Course to discover many hidden discourses of being a parent, and how they unknowingly impact the dynamic between parents children. Another thing I realized (which is nothing new to most of us) was that how we are in relationship with others can traced back to our own relationship with our parents. Simply say, family experience is life-defining: it shapes who you are, what is possible and not possible in every relationship and every aspect of your life.

In sharing with others about Familying Initiative, I was referred to Sandy and Lon Golnick, the owner of “Relationship and FamiliesBy Design.”  The work they have started six years ago paved the path for a new paradigm, called “Familying”. I am honored to be in partnership with them, create, produce, and conduct workshops and coaching for parents who have a commitment to experience a new peace, freedom, and ease in their roles as parents.

So, stay tune!!  More details to come!!!

Out of The Trap

A mother I worked with once shared with me how guilty she felt about not been able to spend enough time with her new born and with her oldest child. She was also afraid she was beginning to resent her children. “I want to hold him, but I cannot… I don’t want him to start a bad habit of wanting to be held every time he cries… I need a break… I am a terrible mother. How could I say I need a break… how could I resent my children?… I shouldn’t even think that…”  Through her teary eyes, I saw a mother who loves her children deeply, and at the same time overwhelmed in her attempt to get her parenting job done.

Is it any easier for me who cares for other people’s children?  No, actually, it is not any easier.

“J.J. is crying. Hsiao-Ling fix it”. J.J’s two-year-old sister said to me with a frown. J.J. has been crying for ten minutes since I put him down for a nap. God knows, I really wanted to “fix” it. Hold him, rock him, give him a pacifier. Just do whatever I can to “fix” his cry so my heart could stop flinching. “It’s OK (who am I kidding, right?). J.J. is having a hard time going nite-nite. Let’s wait for another 5 minutes.”  Five minutes has gone by, and J.J. was still crying. “Fix it, Hsiao-Ling, fix it!!” Now the sister is starting to cry.  As I tip-toed to J.J.’s bedroom, he “magically” stopped crying. Whew!!

You would not believe the thoughts that went through my head during that didn’t-seem-to-end-5-minutes: I should go in there… no, I can’t… he just want some attention… if I go in there, I might spoil the baby… but just this one time… it’s ridiculous that I will spoil babies if I pick them up every time they cry… what if he doesn’t stop crying… I am going to ruin his life… is it time yet… I should know what to do…

Yes, I “should” have known, as a Professional Nanny, as someone who is trained in child development, and work with children most of my life, I should know better, right?

I am trapped in the “shoulds” and the “shouldn’ts”, can you tell? I am “shoulding” myself all over…

What I should know is what the experts say about caring for babies, and raising children: do this, don’t do that; follow these tips, but not those. Of course, some instructions work, and some don’t. Regardless how effective they are, as a parent (or a caregiver), this is probably always in the back of your mind, “Is this the right thing to do?/Am I doing the RIGHT thing?/Am I doing enough?” (Though, I am not a parent, but I experience this with my father every time when I speak with him on the phone).

What if, the overwhelming, the frustration, and the upset of being parents is caused by traditional notions of what it is to be a parent (Ah, the trap of shoulds, and shouldn’t)? And what if, it is those notions, beliefs, ideas and points of view, not children’s behaviors, shape – often negatively – our experience of being parents?

My friend’s daughter, S, just turned seventeen. When she was four, she wondered off while her mother, M, was in the Best Buy store. M was panic at first, then became frustrated. “How could she do this TO me? I just told her to stay next to me… why can’t she just listen?”  By this time, M was upset, and mad. She thought, “I am going to teach her a lesson.” M slowly walked towards to the exit door as if she was going to leave. Just as M walked by a cashier counter, she saw S!!  S thought her mother was walking out, she cried, “Mommy! Mommy!”  As they both settled back in the car, M found herself telling S how scared and worried she was, and S should never do that again. M even drove to Walmart, and pointed out the “Missing Children” poster–doing all of it, to teach a four-year-old, and hoping she would understand what she had done. S did not say a word, just sobbing. Suddenly, M realized a distance was created between them. She stopped talking, looked into Sarah’s eyes, immediately, she knew S did not mean to misbehave. M asked S, “I really don’t know what to do right now. How could I be with you now that would make a difference?” (Mind you S was only four years old at the time) S looked at her Mommy, quietly said, “Unconditional love would make a difference now.”

The nature of the default roles and responsibilities of parents is often the driving force in relating to children, which is so automatic that we don’t know that we don’t know it limits us in relating to children as human beings. Trap, isn’t it?

The possible way (I say) out of the trap is to realize you are trapped, and that you are trapped in the trap that you are in. This realization could be the key to experience peace, freedom, and ease in the roles of being parents.


Do You Have Any Children, Ma’am?

This question used to annoy me because what’s not being said is “If you don’t have one, you will not understand”, or “You will know when you have one, so wait till you have one, then you can say whatever you want.”  Basically, shut your mouth, and keep all the advice to yourself unless you are a parent yourself. 

I thought I was no longer hooked by that question till last week when two police officers came to my door because I reported our upstairs neighbor. The toddler had been crying for thirteen hours straight (Yes, you read it right, 13 hours) with thumping and yells. I finally called 911 and Child Protective Services.  Is it because I could not tolerate children’s crying, or tantrums? No, not at all. I have been in situations that tantrums lasted for more than an hour (or days—yup, the adult-style usually lasts longer, don’t you think?).  It was the strident noises with the child’s howling that had me concerned. I was concerned for the child’s and the parent’s safety and well-being. 

“Do you have any children Ma’am?” That was the question the police officers asked me after I told them what happened. Apparently, the police officers thought I was not being understandable—I would have IF I had any children. Explain to me, though, how could anyone being understandable, and not alarmed when heard a human crying for 13 hours straight (unless you are in a traditional Chinese funereal that hires people to cry for 24 hours)? “That is what toddlers do. They throw tantrums, you know, and the parent had to yell to stop the child”, the police officers stated.  

Really? Does that make it reasonable for anyone to yell because they are children?  

I started to think about the stuff that we, as adults, would say or do to children just because “they are children” (or “they are my children”). Don’t jump into the conclusion that I would not understand because I don’t have any children. What if, what’s driving the parent-child relationship is not the biological factor, but the ROLE?  As my friend, Robert Gold, a father of two, responded to an interview, How to teach your child respect,

“In the roles we take, what is being created isn’t respect, it is the roles …the “I” as a parent have something to teach “you” the child … “I know what is best!”  If you can hear yourself in this, then you are being the role, “parent”, and not being in relationship with your child, being an equal, not as a friend, rather someone who is deeply committed to the interests of another human being who happens to be young”. 

Regardless of the biological element, it is the roles that enforce us to say or do to a child, and we don’t even realize it.  What I love about Robert’s statement is that I don’t have to be a parent (to be in a role) to relate to a child, and I am moved by the possibility of relating to a human being free from the constraint of roles. 

Robert continued in his reply,

“My oldest son was probably around 8 or 9 years old.  We were over at a friend’s house and a sports event was on the TV. I was offered a beer.  I opened it, took a sip and Barrett (my eldest son) said, “Dad, you are driving!  You can’t drink and drive!” I looked at my son and started to have a conversation that we weren’t leaving for several hours. He shook his head, “Dad, you are not supposed to drink and drive!”  At which point, I took my beer, with only one sip taken, emptied it in the sink and threw it in the trash. 

Could I have had a conversation that the effects of alcohol wear off in one hour?  Sure I could.  Could I have said, oh don’t worry about it, you don’t understand what alcohol is? I could have had many conversations, all of which would have been in the role of “I am the parent and you are the child”, etc.  Instead, the beer wasn’t important.  My son telling me what I should or shouldn’t do was respected, regardless of the accuracy of his concern.  What happened was I respected his point of view.  I am not sure if I looked ahead in the future [that moment] to see how my actions would influence him in the future, maybe … [just because] as creating the opportunity of being related to my son, I often looked at how every conversation shapes his reality.  Did I have that foresight, maybe, but even if I didn’t, I respected his concerns. 

Move ahead ten years … Neither of my sons drive if they have been drinking.  In fact, the whole community of parents wanted/want my sons to be friends with their sons and daughters so that they can rely on them to be designated drivers.  How do they know?  They just do!  My youngest refrains from drinking, just so he can take care of his friends.  I didn’t have a conversation with him about drinking and driving, and yet, he, just like his brother, is sought after as a great influence by other parents. 

Did I plan on my sons becoming role models?  Of course not.  There is just something available when they have been dealt with in a primary relationship as a human being, equal in what is important to them.  Free from the constraint of being treated as a second class citizen, with nothing to rebel against”. 

Next time, when someone asks me, “Do you have any children, Ma’am?” I would be gleefully answer, “No”.  

What would your life be like when you honor and respect another human being from being IN relationship, rather than from the roles that you are?

Family In Partnership

Ever wonder why sometimes the job of being a parent is like playing a curling sport–moving the rock around and hoping the game would turn out. 

See if you can tell the similarities (hints: the athletes=parents, the curling rock=the child)

When it comes to child-rearing practices, they all seem geared toward knowing what to do and what not to do when a behavior or situation occurs. This might make child-rearing look like two entities “against” one another (“adult” vs. “child”), like an “object to object” model. Either the adult does something to a child (i.e., calling time-out, presenting choices, or grounding a child), or the child does something to an adult (i.e., throwing a tantrum, breaking ground rules, or talking back). The “object to object” model, which is not bad, could also leave parents wonder: “Am I doing the right thing for my child because the tips in parenting books and magazines don’t seem to work.”

The “object to object” parenting model often deals with issues as if issues are problematic.  The model only creates structures for behavior instead of realizing that a behavior as an assessment just benefits adults. Let’s take “temper tantrum” as an example. It is one of the top concerns for families with a toddler, and it is usually seen as a problematic behavior for adults. For that reason, tons of strategies are created to prevent such behavior from happening, or to stop it. In the meantime, we look at a tantrum (behavior) as a thermometer (assessment) of how children are well-behaved, or being cooperative. The most limiting aspect of “object to object” approach is that, it often takes place from the view of adults with their own explanations of what the behavior meant to them. Family members are unknowingly stuck in roles that define and limit each of them, what they see and know about the other family members would be partial. What if the relationship between a parent and a child is no longer about dealing with a behavior, or conforming to norms, like, “it should be/shouldn’t be”? 

What if, having a tantrum is not a problem, but an opportunity? What opportunity, you might ask?  What if, it’s an opportunity for toddlers to exercise what self-respect is, and gain control over their environment? As for the adults, could the opportunity be the role of partners, and most importantly, allows our children be partners with us as well?

Another thing I have noticed lately is that, as a society, we see children/youth as “property”. They are not related to as human beings. I am no expert in “child-rearing”, but the notion that children are “raised” seems disturbing, something akin to growing crops, herding cattle or domesticating animals. It views children like chattel, expected them to kowtow to the wishes and the rules of adults who are suppressed from time to time.

What if the purpose of “family” is exploring and discovering the view of ALL individuals, and creating what works for all?  

One of the little boys I work with is three years old. One afternoon, as we were dancing to his favorite music, I noticed it was 5 minutes till dinner time.

Me: It’s almost time for dinner. Let’s go wash your hands.

Little Boy: (with frustration) No. I don’t want to.

I could have insisted he should wash his hands right then because the fact was, it’s also my time to go, and I would be late for my appointment if this washing hand scenario was going to take more than 5 minutes of “my time.”  As soon as I caught myself that I WANTED him to do what I wanted him to do, and wanted him to follow “my schedule/my time (a.k.a. “My view is more important than a three-year-old.”).  I thought, “What would he want me to do at this moment?”

Me: You want to dance some more?

Little Boy: (big smile) Yeah, I want to dance with my friends (his stuffed animals).

Me: I want to dance with you and your friends, too. But I have a problem.

Little Boy: (looked at me) What problem?

Me: I need to go now, AND I also want to dance with you. How can we make it work?

Little Boy: silent for about 10 seconds) How about dance 10 times?

Me: (smile) Hmmm, how about going downstairs and dance with mommy for 5 times?

He grabbed 4 stuffed animals immediately, and joyfully ran downstairs. We danced 5 times, and he washed his hands. Surprisingly, I arrived at my appointment on time.

What if all we had to do was shift our orientation to the baby, the toddler, 2 and 3 year old, pre K and kindergartener, and create partnership from there with our children?  By the time a child is five, they are generally engaged with the same concerns as adults. In fact, their world has much more variety and creativity. They can fully distinguish work from play. They are sexually curious, belonging is an issue, a career or the thoughts of what they want to be when they grow up is fully engaged (i.e., wanting to be a dancer, artist, soccer player or a stock broker). Family is important and so are their friends. They have environmental concerns, money (ownership and charity), education (discovery and learning), physical activities and well-being, being in communication and aware of social conventions (cultural awareness).

What if a partnership between parents and children is created through the notion of “all views are valid, and valued; therefore, appreciated and celebrated”? What would “family” look like then?  

Could this be a time for families to design their own model free from the social standards?

Welcome to “All Things Considered: Nanny Edition”!!!!

Hello World!!! I am Hsiao-Ling Dawson.                   

Thanks for visiting All Things Considered: Nanny Edition.

 I am a Nanny and a Coach. You might be wondering, “A Nanny, and a Coach?”  Yes, there is a resemblance, and this is what being a Nanny and a Coach is for me: 

I am a Professional. I am part of a family team. I am one of many people that take part in the lives of families and children. I am committed in ongoing growth and development. My contributions are unique. I practice bringing integrity, play, ease, and exploration to everything I do. I am a leader empowering bold expressions of love and joy in the world. I am a champion for all people creating a global community where all expressions are welcomed, nurtured, and served. This is what makes my heart sing.

I am sure THAT is not what you would hear about what a “Nanny” is, so be ready for many surprises along the way as you join the ride with me!!

After watched the movies, “Julie & Julia,” I was inspired to write again. I used to write. I even got paid freelancing for a couple of newspaper in my country (Taiwan) before I came to the United States. 

I have always been interested in what makes human ticks (so I did a Masters Degree in Human Development and Family Studies); making a difference (I have started a few community projects), human potential and personal development (I have worked as a coach, and done courses with Landmark Education). I am not saying I have the answers, but I want to give something back, and I hope this site will offer you something of value.

I am creating this blog to journal, share, and inspire. I truly believe we are all capable of so much in life, often a lot more than what we think. Ultimately, this site is where you discover UNLIMITED expressions, and authenticities, whether they are inspiring, or thought-provoking (and some you might not agree with), the space is created for open dialogues that all people experience being known and honored.

I am Looking forward to sharing the journey with you!

Hsiao-Ling