One of my American aunties said to my mother years ago, “You must have done something right.” “Why?” my mother smiled. “Because Steve is the type of boy who loves to study. You have no problem with him doing his homework.” Was it just my natural wiring to learn? Or did my mother do something right?
A similar question came up at a recent church gathering. A few Christians were huddled around a table ready to hear my mother’s parenting tips. She is not a woman who is long on advice. The curiosity-seekers managed to get three of her best tips for raising children.
Trust you will enjoy and be able to apply them to your own!
Advice No. 1 – GIVE YOUR CHILD THE BEST EDUCATION
“Give your child the best education. Get them into a school that has good discipline. If you give money to your kids, it will not last. But if you give education to your kids, it will stay with them forever. I never regret spending money on education even when I didn’t have much.”
“Kids need rules and order. At the first school Steve went to, they were very strict about student behavior. If they caught a student doing something bad, they would expel the student even if it’s his last semester before graduation. They also never take the side of the parents. If a parent complained, they just told the parent, ‘If you don’t like our rules, you are free to take your child to another school.’”
“A child must understand the homework given. If you don’t have time to look over the homework of your child, pay for a tutor. You cannot let this go for even one day. When a child doesn’t understand his homework for even one day, he loses motivation to keep doing it. Homework is the foundation of learning outside of school.”
Someone asked my mother, “What if you don’t have money to hire a tutor?” Her answer, “You just do the best of your ability. Look around and see who is smart in your family. Offer to pay that cousin, niece or nephew to tutor your child. But you have to do it while your child is young. It’s no good to complain your teenager doesn’t like to study. Don’t wait too late to get a tutor.”
Advice No. 2 – NEVER GIVE LUXURY TO KIDS
“We never gave Steve luxury, even when we could afford it. We never gave him a television in his bedroom, when other kids his age might have had. We did not buy him new clothes except on his birthday and for the opening of a new school year.”
“Steve went to high school along with some wealthy kids, but we wanted him to drive to school in a humble car. We did not want him to feel ashamed of driving up to school in a used car.”
“Do not spoil a child. Do not spend money buying whatever they want. The only thing we were willing to spend money on was Steve’s education.”
“I took Steve to bookshops at least once a month at Siam Square or Central Silom. When a salesman came to our house to sell Encyclopedia Britannica, it was very expensive, at least 10,000 baht, which was a lot of money 30 years ago, but I bought it for him.” I (Steve) can say I treasured that encyclopedia and flipped through it often. It fueled my imagination. I never expected my mother to buy anything so costly for me.
“I also bought Steve a piano for him to learn. Learning music is important to good thinking and discipline.”
“Also every summer, we always sent Steve to camp.” What kind of camp? “YMCA camp. Science camp. When he was bigger, his father made him go to work every summer. He was never idle.”
“Some parents tell their kids, “We don’t have the money,” “We shouldn’t spend that much on something you don’t need,” but they will take their own holidays. Their children pick up the wrong message and end up not liking to study. Some parents cannot blame their kids who cannot sit still and read, because the parents don’t like read and pass the wrong values with their spending. If you don’t have a habit of reading, you should pay for a tutor. You must start when they’re very little. Don’t wait till it’s too late.”
Advice No. 3 – LET YOUR CHILD MAKE MORE DECISIONS
“I taught Steve to do things for himself. When he went to school, he had a small lunch allowance and he had to buy his own food even at 6 years old. He traveled alone to America and he was only 9 years old. He went to France alone at 15 years old.”
“I did not choose everything for him. Steve learned to make decisions. He chose his own clothes. Even though the colors didn’t match sometimes, I didn’t interfere with him. I let him make his own decisions.”
“When he wanted to go to France like his father did, one school said he might have been too young. But we encouraged him to go by himself.”
“Steve learned to go out with other people, not only with his parents. When a child is overly dependent on his parents, it makes him incapable of making decisions.”
“Steve’s grandfather, my father, was very strict, yet he gave every one of his children [eight of them] a lot of confidence because each of us knew he loved us no matter what. I showed Steve I love him no matter what. Children need to know they can make a mistake. My expectation is that Steve tries his best, but if he makes a mistake after trying his best, it’s OK. This will actually give children confidence to try.”
I must say my mother is the best!
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