Sharing Thursday: Raising our kids to be successful

Credits: TED

I feel the above is worth sharing.

Hearing it from a former Dean of Freshmen of one of the top colleges should benefit parents on both sides of the spectrum; that is, those who over-pamper their kids on one spectrum and those who are too strict with their kids on the other end. I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum until one day I chose to intentionally “let go.” Oh how I wished I released (or dropped) the hammer sooner and just allowed us all to live.

When my daughters were in middle and high schools, they thought they had Cinderella’s step mother as a mom. But, on starting college, they couldn’t stop raving and thanking me for the chores I made them do though they didn’t like it at the time. I might have mentioned this before in one of my blogs. One of my daughters had a roommate in freshman who didn’t know how to lay her bed, another didn’t know how to wash dishes or clean up after herself. She was willing to pay her roomies to do it for her. She also didn’t know how to call to make a doctor’s appointment. My daughter was happy to show her. “Where did you learn it from?” she asked my daughter. Our Mom taught us. Her mom, on the other hand, did everything for her.

I’m not bashing my daughter’s roommate, but merely collaborating the essence of the TED video.

I never allowed my daughters to take the bus or train alone until they were in high school. I went with them on the first rides and allow them afterwards on their own with instructions and advices. They had friends who had been riding buses and trains alone since middle school. It’s all a matter of parents’ comfort level and styles.

What’s your parenting style?

Parenting styles are different. And like the proverbial “one man’s meat is another’s poison,” parenting styles can and do often clash. Within households, fathers can be too overbearing, while mothers because of their nurtured wirings, might be ones with the soft touch balancing dad’s acts. It could also be the reverse where mom is the stricter of the parents. This is not uncommon in households with all, or more, girls/daughters. Because Dads often are softer with their daughters, moms step in and up to ensure the necessary discipline.

Notwithstanding the differences in styles, it is essential that our kids be balanced in life. How we ensure the balance depends on a variety of factors. Each household is unique and the balancing act also will be equally as unique. As the TED video shows, the balance is more profound towards academics than other areas. We would rather wash their dirty dishes and clothes, while our kids “study” or do their homeworks. We are more focused on their grades than their welfare.

As an example, my daughter, while a freshman on her high school’s varsity basketball team, which was a rarity at the time (first in the school’s history) allowed her grades to suffer because I gave her “some freedom” and didn’t micromanage her in order to keep up being a best on the team. When asked why, she told me “I thought freshman’s grades don’t count. I’ll make it up through my sophomore to senior years.” I felt like “strangling” her. Instead, I sat her down and explained to her that without the grade, she can’t continue to be on the varsity team which would be double-jeopardy. She ended up taking college classes to make up her grades. She loved the idea of being a high-school in college and took classes till her first semester of senior. She graduated high school with excess credits as a result because I disallowed her taking the rest of her senior semesters off.

I don’t think that I could have lived with myself having her flunk any class. Could I have slacked more and allowed her to make it up in the subsequent years? Maybe. But what if by her Junior year, her grades are still not where she had hoped they would be? Then what? We would have had no time for any recourse. An alternative would have been for her to give up basketball, but that would have been taking away something she was good at and worked hard for.

Again, it’s a parenting preference.

The key point of the post is to know where and what to forgo in order to help our kids be alive and have a successful balanced life.

Coping Mechanisms for Career Mothers

Are you torn between your career and home? Or are you one of the few efficiently balancing both? If so, what are (or were) your secrets?

Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo, offers mothers an advice. She recommends “coping mechanisms.” Watch this video to catch it, and other advices she gave. Married for 30+ years; any wonder that she was able to successfully balance both career and her home?

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Having a successful and rewarding career and a happy home where both parents are happily present for lunch, or at the dinner table, with their children, has become a rarity. Parents attending their children’s PTA’s, sporting, or end-of-year activities has become a luxury because of work and/or due to working late hours. It is not unusual for the parents also not to see each other. As a result of the need to have one parent home with the children, most parents chose alternate work hours where one works the regular 8-5 hours and the other works the night or graveyard shift.

Granted that these scenarios have shifted due to covid19. Covid19 now has “forced” parents to engage more with their children making it one of the good things that came out of it. However, what are parents going to do when it’s over and we return to normalcy?

The biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other.

Indra Nooyi

For most mothers, and according to Nooyi, the biological and career clocks are in conflict with each other. I totally agree with her. Neither does one clock chooses to wait for the other. Each goes the opposite way and the gap widens and never converge.

Some cultures, especially Africans and Asians, have the extended family support system that surround them with love and the necessary pro bono help in times of need such as new births, deaths, surgeries, etc. Others employ the help (maid, driver, chef, etc.) as they are relatively cheaper.

In the Western culture, however, help is scarce or non-existence. Tons of families are therefore torn between fulfilling a rewarding career and or balancing their homes soon after childbirth or during the growing years of their children. I was. With a husband who, at the time was more of a traveling salesman than working his real profession, it was hard to keep both smoothly. I remembered the budget period and crunch times were the times when one or both my kids tended to be ill and their dad was not around or he couldn’t take off.

I couldn’t tell if it was because they missed their dad or just nature (or nurture) telling me that I had to choose. Why couldn’t I have it all?

Summertime was also a challenge. Most summer events or schools ran short for a week or two at a time and drop offs and pick ups ran contrary to corporate hours. I eventually chose and made the decision to be a stay-at-home parent. No more “begging” others to pick my kids up for me or having them stay after-school 3-4 hours till they were picked up or paying the $1/minute charges when they weren’t picked up on time. (Sigh). And being involved in sports, though great for their well-being and a relief to occupy their growing minds, often came with its own challenges.

I’m glad those years are behind us now. Though my career took a dip and turn, I did not regret the decision at all.

If you’re a career mother or parent, how did you cope pre-covid?

Who stays home when the kids are sick?

For us at the time, it was unwritten and assumed that the mother/wife should be the one to take off. One of the cultural pass-downs. I knew a lot of households where the mothers were the chosen ones to take off. But should it really be?

Other things being considered, such as who has more flexibility at work, whose work/career is more accommodating and can work from home, who is the higher-paid parent, tenure on-the-job, etc., must be addressed.

Either way, whoever takes off more will impact his/her career notwithstanding the paid time off (family, personal, or sick) benefits that the work provides.

Opportunity Cost

Yes, we paid for day care. At the time, having a nanny was unpopular and too expensive for us – one of us might as well stay home to do the job.

However, if the benefits of going to work and pursuing a career is greater for you than the cost of employing a nanny, by all means go for it. I’m a believer in benefits and costs. The benefits must always outweigh its costs to be worth pursuing.

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What coping mechanisms did you impose on yourself or home in order to balance your career, especially as a mother, while raising your children?

Thanks for reading and sharing your coping mechanisms.