There are plenty of things I learned from my mom that I would certainly apply in raising our daughter. I remember telling her while I was still pregnant that I wish I could raise this baby the way she raised us. I admire how she provided our needs without spoiling us, and how she gave us the freedom to play and explore and yet kept us disciplined. I have always thought that those were really hard to balance.
However, as I’ve come to get to know myself more and reflect on my weaknesses as an adult, I realized that though there are things I wanted to copy, there are also things I would exert extra effort on while raising our child. Apart from making our kids feel loved and cared for, there are 5 important things that I think we, as parents, should add to our duties (as if the list is not long enough already).
Find out what they’re good at and what they love to do.
In my opinion, these are two different things. If they are one and the same for you, congratulations. But as I have observed in many friends and colleagues, what they’re good at and what they enjoy doing are not always be the same.
Sounds simple but I think many parents miss out on this. If you talk to professionals nowadays, some are very good in what they do but you will be surprised that a percentage of them will tell you how they wish they are doing something else.
As I jumped from one career to another over the past years, I realized that I have become a jack of a few trades and a master of none. Because somewhere along all the opportunities I was opened up to, I didn’t actually pursue one. Well, I did. At some point. But not consistently. As a result, there were many times that I felt lost. I was always looking for answers and I probably tried almost every kind of career assessment and personality test online just to know where I should really place myself.
When I came across a soul-searching article that says going back to your childhood is the best way to find out who you are, I immediately consulted my mom. “Ma, nung bata pa ako, saan ba ko magaling?”, and she answered “Magaling ka sa school anak.” Hmmm, not quite the answer that I needed. So I tried to dig deeper. “Ano bang hilig kong ginagawa nung bata pa ko?”, and to this she answered, “Maglaro.” Still wasn’t helpful.
When asked the same questions in the future, I want to be able to answer in detail and tell my child,
“When you were little, you were good in words, you loved to read, you were an auditory learner, and you loved music so much.” Or say, “You like step-by-step processes, you like to know how toys work and operate before you play with them, you like assembling things – putting the wheels of your pushcart, putting the legs of your musical table, or plugging and unplugging the cord of your microphone toy.”
That detailed. Because based on my experience, these small things that parents don’t often jot down, are the valuable information we need to know about ourselves when choosing a career path.
After graduating college, I have many batch mates who took another totally unrelated course when they realized they didn’t actually fit in their chosen field. Well, of course there are other factors like family income, job demand, or sudden change of interests, but more often, I think it was because most students do not really know which path they wanted to pursue in the first place. College courses are often dictated by parents or influenced by peers. Dahil doctor ang Mama, Medicine ang kukunin. Dahil engineer ang Daddy, yun na din.
While it makes sense for our children to continue or follow the same path that we did especially if a family business is involved, this may not guarantee that their true personalities and interests fit the same job that we had. It would be selfish on our part if we don’t let them find their roles in this world just to make sure that someone will take care of the business when we die.
With this, I have come to realize that one of our main roles as parents is to present different opportunities while they are young, find out what they are really good at, zero-in on what they love to do, and push for both without pushing too much.
Once it is apparent what our kid or future kids are truly interested in, we will try to open all possible ways to help them enjoy these two. We will try to keep on presenting opportunities even if there will be lapses or times that they temporarily seem uninterested. We want them to reach their full potential and see how far they can go with their gifts. We help them soar high and be the best of what they can be, without too much pushing, and without spoon-feeding.
And though there would be plenty of times that we need to back off, I believe this is something that we need to consciously do until they have a good sense of who they are, who they want to be, and not who we want them to be. →