As a young girl, I didn’t see the resemblance. Now, it’s hard to ignore: I am the mirror image of my mother’s 40-something-year-old self. At this point in my life, this is less of a revelation and more of a life-changing insight into who I am – as an adult, as a parent and as a writer.
My sons are in their formative years, so it’s up to me and my husband to lay the foundation for a successful future; to establish positive work habits, promote the importance of manners and polite, yet assertive interactions with other people and a solid understanding of what is right and wrong. Basically, we’re hoping to raise men that will be able to make good choices for themselves.
We want them to be like us.
Thank you for remembering to say, “Thank you”
“As a parent, you believe that the behaviour of your child is somehow a reflection on you.” Sook-Yin Lee, host of the now-retired CBC radio show Definitely Not the Opera (DNTO), made that comment when talking about how it can be a challenge teaching children to say, “Thank You.”
This sentiment really resonated with me because in the noise and excitement of Christmas and birthday parties, my boys often forget to show their appreciation.
It’s a frustrating, but a universal challenge for all parents; to have to constantly remind their children to “say ‘please’ and ‘thank you;” “wash your hands;” “pick up your toys;” “stop picking your nose.”
Organic, teachable moments
Eventually, however, they will learn…from our good and bad behaviours. Kids are great imitators.
There’s a 12-year-old boy in our neighbourhood who passes us on our way to school everyday. He waves his hand as he rides by on his bike and says, in a very grown up manner, “Beautiful day, isn’t it? Have a good one.” #JustLikeDad #ParentingGoals
Although we, as parents, start out with solid intentions for positive parenting and a generally agreed upon set of rules, sometimes it’s the subtle influences and beliefs that have the most effect on how a child develops.
Take me for example:
I am a writer. My influences include my grandparents who owned and operated a newspaper, as well as my parents who published two books.
These are obvious connections. What I realized while reflecting on this story, however, is that I am a timid writer. And those same influences are the reason.
My Chinese grandparents and parents were born and raised in Jamaica. Living, working and raising families among a minority Chinese group on a small island meant that they knew “everyone,” and “everyone” knew them. Their thoughts, decisions and actions were motivated primarily by maintaining a good reputation, showing respect and ultimately, “saving face.”
When my parents moved to Canada in the 70s, they weren’t alone. Many friends and relatives also made the big move. And so, my brother and I grew up with a huge extended family of “aunties” and “uncles.”
Although my childhood memories are nothing but glorious, I realize how “small town” my life was. The pressure to maintain a good reputation wasn’t overt, but there was a general understanding that you must behave well. And because of my personality, this pressure inspired fear and restricted me from complete self-expression.
Did you hear that?
It was my mind.
My “aha moment”
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Of course, I dare not equate myself to his level of wisdom…but…I must admit…my revelation has brought on a whole new level of clarity – it’s not all about me! Huh.
Note to self: Teaching your children about manners and the difference between right and wrong, is not about avoiding embarrassment. It’s about raising good people.
I guess sometimes when you reflect on yourself, what you see in the mirror becomes a little sharper, a little more defined and a whole lot shinier.