On raising kids to be successful

6 Jan

I recently watched a really eye-opening documentary called the Lottery of Birth.

The documentary is about a lot of things but overall it is about how we know what we know, why do what we do and why we think what we think. The film made me think about how I am raising my kids.

I was raised by Asian immigrants and I am ‘successful’ by their standards (even though I am not a doctor or a lawyer). I have internalized my parents’ values of working hard, getting a good education so that I could have a ‘good life’ as an adult.

I find myself repeating the better parts of my upbringing with my kids. I focus on delaying gratification, and creating habits to train the mind and body to focus. I am teaching them to monitor themselves. I spend less time punishing and more time rewarding by creating a parenting panopticon. I am teaching them to constantly raise the bar so that once they master something, they strive for the next level. My main hope is that my kids will be self – disciplined enough to excel at whatever they decide to do with their lives.

As you might have noticed, being happy or having fun was not mentioned in the above. My kids do get to play, have fun and laugh… but after they have done their ‘jobs’. Adults who can delay gratification are usually the most successful. If you think about it, how can one become a doctor and go to school for so many years if you have not mastered the idea of delaying gratification? I myself was a master of delaying gratification. I studied, I worked to reach my goals. I did all the things that I was “supposed” to do. I now enjoy financial security, a great marriage, 2 great kids, the house in the burbs, great friends who love me and respect of my peers. So now what? ¬†I haven’t got a clue as to what to do next and I am feeling lost.

I realized that I am preparing my kids to be on the same exact path.  Teaching them to delay gratification, focus, and self-monitor will make them great employees but as I reach my late-30s I realize that no job will ever make you happy. Being an employee sucks no matter what you do, and where you work.

Teaching kids to self-assess can go overboard. The same self-monitoring that makes my kids triple-check her backpack before school each day can lead to scrutiny of her body, scanning her face for imperfections and a belief that she will never be good enough. How do I prevent this and still raise a child that is responsible for herself and her actions?

So in 2014, I ask myself, if I am not going to raise my kids to be great cogs in the corporate machine, then what do I want them to be and how do I help get them there?

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One Response to “On raising kids to be successful”

  1. janey January 6, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

    Uncanny, “Tiger Mom” has a new book coming out that is about this same topic. http://www.amazon.com/Triple-Package-Unlikely-Explain-Cultural-ebook/dp/B00DMCPQSO/ref=la_B001IGHLBG_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389037588&sr=1-4

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