PARENTAL ASPIRATIONS

Overdoing Goal Setting

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.

Bruce Lee

People always tell you to be specific about your goals. The more specific you are, the more likely you can achieve your goals. And for the most part, that’s true isn’t it? You have to know what you want, to know needs to be done, to do it, and then finally know that you did it.

However, I feel like we’ve overdone this and goals have become this never-ending pressure to do more, better, and faster. And this translates into unnecessary pressure on our children.

For example, we want our children to be successful.

So we start asking them to achieve at a younger and younger age. We put them in sports, music, language, or coding programs. We show off when they do something that is impressive. We look disappointed when they don’t get a good grade or didn’t win. We push them to practice and be better (‘more perfect’). There is this ‘path’ for success that involves the right program at the right university, which requires the right grades from the right courses from the right high school, which means that learning the right things in middle school and elementary school is essential, which means… you guessed it… the right kindergarten activities!!!

Is the goal for them to be rich? Employable? Competent? Happy? Or is the goal for them to be capable of making good decisions, to be the best version of themselves? Do those activities even help them reach the right goals? The goals that will help them achieve what they want to achieve?

The most successful people do not follow others’ formula. They develop their own mantras, their truths, their visions. They do learn from others. They often learn from other people’s mistakes. They don’t just do exactly what other successful people do. They learn. They are always learning. They experience. They are always experiencing. They do. They are always doing.

Being specific about a goal isn’t what gets you there, because it just isn’t ever really possible to do exactly as we plan or want. It’s more important to be able to respond if things DON’T go as we planned.

It isn’t realistic for every Olympic athlete to win a medal, but they aim for it. It doesn’t make sense for quarterly sales to be consistent, given how much the world changes. But having a general target and some flexibility to figure it out can be very exciting and stimulating for some. It isn’t reasonable to expect every child to be able to accomplish the same level of learnings for every topic at a certain age. But being around others who are also striving to learn and grow can inspire a group of kids to excel together.

We need things to aim at.

We need to aspire.

But depending on who we are and our circumstances, we will reach what we can reach. That’s fine. Then, on an as needed basis, we adjust our aspirations, our approach, our expectations, our routines.

And we go again.

PARENTAL ASPIRATIONS, PODCAST INTERVIEW

A Chin-dian Parent in Singapore

Visit the Learning Parent SG Facebook page, check out Chapter Zero, and listen to our interview below.

Joline Lim comes from both a Chinese and Indian background (Chin-dian!). Living in Singapore, which is a very competitive environment with a huge focus on academic achievement, Joline has embraced Gentle Parenting, but felt that there is much to learn from a variety of experts and approaches. As she embarked on her learning journey to be the kind of parent she wants to be for her kids, she launched The Learning Parent SG to advocate for respectful parenting with a Singaporean representation! She is also an active volunteer for Chapter Zero in Singapore, a social enterprise promoting mindful parenting in Singapore.

The Learning Parent SG with Joline Lim

I had the joy of chatting with Joline and learning more about her very cool background and what brought her to setting up The Learning Parent SG (Facebook Community Page and Instagram). She was a delight to converse with and I know I’m going to have more conversations with her as I continue to learn more about how I can be better parent, more in tune with what my kids need to grow up with resilience and patience. Her intention to share resources, inspiration, comfort and encouragement is a beautiful light, especially during difficult times in the world nowadays.

She recently joined social enterprise Chapter Zero, running their social media, because she benefited from their workshops and now wants to help the outreach to help other Singaporean parents. This is an exciting organization doing important work in Singapore. The future of our children depend on this kind of support for parents.

In our podcast, Jolene touches on numerous topics:

  • Growing up with intense pressure to conform to social expectations, like each generation improving achieving more success over previous generations, can create a lot of anger, shame, guilt, and fear in our lives.
  • Expectations vs Reality! Parenting is like a test, but we really have no idea what it is and what we are doing! Prior to doing it, we may have preconceived notions that get tossed out as we deal with challenges we never knew we would have to deal with!
  • That ‘ah ha’ moment when we know that what we are doing just isn’t working. And it’s not about ‘controlling behaviour’ anymore but meeting the emotional needs of children.
  • A gradual implementation of respectful parenting changed everything. The more she connected with her child through understanding underlying reasons for his behaviours, the more he was willing to cooperate.
  • Parenting, and respectful parenting in particular, is playing the long game. It’s like running a marathon – it can be overwhelming so we need to be kind to ourselves and take care of ourselves so we can do the important work. They then can see what it looks like to value ourselves, so that it becomes the norm that they should value themselves.

Her Key Message: Parenting is hard. Respectful parenting is especially hard because of the all the unlearning we have to do. It is both a privilege and a huge responsibility to break the cycle of behaviour.

PARENTAL ASPIRATIONS, PODCAST INTERVIEW

Untigering Parent

Visit the Untigering website, preview a chapter of her new book, and listen to our interview below.

As a Chinese-American and daughter of a pastor, Iris Chen played by the rules and succeeded, but felt that those (impressive) achievements didn’t quite have meaning in her life. She is now on a journey of Untigering which she defines as Gentle Parenting and Unschooling. Always thoughtful and insightful, Iris has brought together a community of parents from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds to share with and learn from each other.

Untigering with Iris Chen

When I first realized that I was parenting my children in a way that *I* didn’t want to be parented, I went on a search at the University of Google. The concept of Untigering quickly jumped out at me and I immediately became a fan of Iris Chen’s and joined the community she was building on Facebook. What surprised me most was how many people related to what I was going through… and that they weren’t all Asian American! They came from all over. We really are more alike than different. While she writes and speaks from her own experience of being Asian American, there are common elements for all of us unlearning and unprogramming in order to build an approach that works for our own unique family. (You can access a preview of a chapter from her book: Redefining Success: An Untigering Parent’s Guide to Our Beliefs About Success, How We Came to Them, and How to Change Them.)

In our podcast, Iris touches on numerous topics:

  • Obedience: Coming from a cultural and religious background that meant strict rules and the expectation is that you’re do as your told, she knew that she was going to do things differently with her kids. It was difficult, because she defaulted to an authoritarian style of parenting and had a tendency to demand obedience.
  • Acknowledging Past Trauma: It is very important to explore our own wounds, our past trauma, not for blaming purposes, but to move forward. She could see that our personalities responded to our parenting and social conditioning and what she was doing was harmful to her children. She got back in touch and got to know herself. This is very hard! It is unnatural and there is a lot of work to be done.
  • Learning: The world is changing so rapidly. The content that kids learn in third grade become irrelevant. Instead of focusing on content, we should be giving them the skills for how to learn. She sees learning as a life process… learning in many different ways, not just in school. She points out: as adults, we are constantlyg learning new things in organic ways. We should allows kids to learn that way too.
  • Curating Own Lifestyle: Living in China for 16 years, they were able to curate their life and culture, not American, not Chinese, a Third Culture. They created the family and community culture they wanted. It gave her the freedom to say, this does not work for our family, can we create something new? It gave them the freedom not to fit in a box. We often don’t question things when we are in it, because ‘that’s just the way things are’.
  • Achievement and expectation: We shouldn’t focus on the outward markers of achievement to prove that we’ve made it. For her, those achievements didn’t end up meaning anything. When she no longer had anyone telling her what the standards and expectations were, she was at a loss… did not know how to manage time and what to do with life. As she got older, she had to get back in touch with what she loved to do.
  • Consent-based living: It’s not just about education. It’s about relationships and parenting. It’s about how to honour our children. Unschooling isn’t just about education. It’s consent-based. It’s not coercive, not about ‘sit down and pay attention to what I have to teach you’ says someone with authority and a lesson plan. It’s a way of living and relating with each other with respect and consent.

Her Key Message: Know and love yourself.  All the details will stem from that one place where we know who we are and can know and love and accept who we are.  Everything should come from a place of unconditional love.