SINGAPORE — Recently, I came across this book How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results by Esther Wojcicki, and the values and points that Esther has shared in raising her three happy and accomplished daughters really resonated with me. Because from our children’s very beginning to our end, I believe parents only do wish to protect, provide, and do whatever we can to help our children be happy and succeed. Of course, this is certainly a lot easier said than done, and we know there is no road map to guide us along. However, books like this one do give us insight and direction along the way. Each parent and each child is unique, and how we choose to engage and interact with one another is a unique dynamic in all its own. There is no “cookie cutter” ultimate formula to raise and forge happy, empowered, and passionate children, and it’s only when we realise this that we actually question our own abilities and choices as parents.
Hence, it was reassuring and inspiring to read Esther’s words on the importance of providing our children with the values and skills to succeed as adults. She mentioned that most parenting experts focus on the traditional important aspects such as sleeping, eating, bonding, or discipline. While these areas are vital, I did find myself agreeing with Esther that we do need to see beyond our children as helpless little beings but to treat them as adults early, where the most formative years are from zero to five. Even though my work commitments did entail a healthy dose of traveling, I always made every effort to spend my down time with them, especially when my children were younger and just learning about themselves in this world. Sure, it could have been easy to slough off the work to a relative or nanny, but I just wanted to be there and be “present” for them.
Even though I really did not know what I was doing, I just aimed to encourage them to become independent children who would not need to be reliant on me--or anyone else for that matter. Maybe this stemmed from my own innate desire to occasionally have time to do my own thing as opposed to having two toddlers conditioned to be dependent on their parents to do everything. Ironically, I might have done too thorough of a job because now I have two teenagers who would rather do just about anything else than spend time with me, and this has left me with mixed feelings. I have heard this is very normal for most children going through their adolescent years. As much as I do miss the early years where these tiny cuddly beings longed to be glued to their parents and could not bear to part with them, I am also filled with pride and joy to watch my children able to make sound decisions on their own and face their own challenges with confidence and maturity.
We live in a much different world now than when we parents were children ourselves. It’s both shocking and inspiring to see how fast children grow up these days. I am riveted with how much information and stimuli the youth absorb every single day. We can thank technology and internet for that, and this modern day digital phenomenon certainly alerts and incites us to be even more protective and vigilant for our children. I would never proclaim that I am raising my children the right way, but I can say I am happy (and even relieved) to learn from Esther that a good place to start with raising our children is to extend them the trust and respect that they will need and will implement to shape the adults that they will one day become.