Dealing With Growing Kids Q & A Session
When children display rebellious behaviors, parents are often challenged: Do we adopt a loving and calm approach or an authoritarian parenting style? While the first approach may be insufficient, it is detrimental to opt for the authoritarian method. In particular, what should parents and teens do to get through the awkward yet natural developmental stage of adolescence? With many parents facing concerns about strained relationships with their children, Grandmaster JinBodhi addresses them through a thoughtful dialogue session, offering parents an alternative perspective.
Should parents turn a blind eye to their children constantly using their mobile phones?
Parent 1: My daughter is 14 years old. Since receiving her first mobile phone, she can't live her life without it. Whenever I remind her to reduce usage, she snaps at me, causing our relationship to be very tense. Should I continue to discipline her despite the growing tension, or turn a blind eye to to her phone habits?
Grandmaster JinBodhi: The so-called smartphone has people under its control. In this modern era, there is no way to avoid owning one. This gadget is a practical tool. Children use it to play games and also to communicate with friends. In developed countries, almost every teen has a mobile phone and puts it to frequent use.
Parents may choose to make a suggestion to telecommunication companies to consider introducing a “parental password” function. For example, children are only allowed to access their phone when it's activated with the password. Access is denied when the time is up.
Incessant phone use is a result of modernization. How can we avoid this? If we do not allow our children to be near computers and smartphones, it is tantamount to ruining their opportunities to make friends, find jobs and learn. However, prolonged use of smart gadgets is harmful too. So what should we do? We can try to persuade them to see our viewpoint, but not in an aggressive manner, of course; otherwise,
the more you don’t want him to play, the more he will think of ways to play, such as staying awake in the middle of the night to use it.
What can parents do when they realize that their children are not making good decisions, and thus wasting time?
Parent 2: My son, turning 15 soon, is going through the rebellious stage. He always thinks he knows what to do, but his decisions are obviously wrong in our opinion. If we go along with him, he will waste a lot of time. If we attempt to force him to act according to our wishes, he will resist. Please advise on whether we should let him learn the hard way and realize the truth after reflection, or somehow control him?
Grandmaster JinBodhi: You should treat a rebellious child like a baby — let him taste what he puts in his mouth as long as there is no danger. When he has tasted pepper, he will learn from experience just how hot it is.
Western-style parents are more open-minded; they let their children make decisions and experience the results, and thus allow them to attempt different things. If your child does not go through more of life now, including setbacks, the chances of them facing failures in the future may be even greater and the consequences of stumbles more severe.
First explain the reasons for your opposing opinions and the likely repercussions of his actions. Then give him the opportunity to make his own decisions, and if necessary, feel the associated consequences. The child will remember such learning experiences throughout his life, and when encountering similar problems in the future, he will know of a better way to overcome them.
In this highly competitive era, should we send our children to extracurricular classes?
Parent 3: My daughter is 12 years old. She has just completed her primary education. As Taiwan’s education system is highly competitive, at least 80 percent of the children attend extracurricular classes to boost their grades. Attending extra classes is physically and mentally taxing on children. But I am worried that she won’t be able to keep up with secondary school education if she does not attend.
Grandmaster JinBodhi: There is more than one way to succeed in life, not just conventional education. Even if all of us take the same path, the person who has a unique way of looking at problems will display outstanding talent. What is the objective of extra classes? If you do not have a good reason for them, you are putting unnecessary pressure on your child.
Observe what she likes and if she really wants to learn something, let her take a class in it. She will be more conscientious and studious.
There are different kinds of gain. Small gain is due to intelligence; big gain happens because of one’s personality. One who does not gain anything is one who does not use the mind. When parents relay the concept of compassion and generosity to their children, young people will be ready to face the world.
I constantly adapt and adopt good parenting styles, so why are my children not listening to me?
Parent 4: I have three sons. My eldest son, whom I am strict with and who used to be obedient, now loves to argue with me. To parent my second son, I shower him with love.
However, he keeps gaining weight and has become lazy. His school results are not good. As for my youngest son, I decided to give him more freedom. He is headstrong, and for instance, when he decides he will not eat, he really will not touch any food all day long. When my husband tries to discipline him, he taunts his father. We have given all our love to our children, so why are they not listening to us?
Grandmaster JinBodhi: There is a limit to loving someone. Just like eating too much sugar will cause us to have diabetes, hypertension and even cataracts, loving excessively will have detrimental effects too. Parents need to maintain a sense of dignity. The Chinese believe that the role of a father can be likened to a mountain — silent and reliable. If both parents are softhearted, they will become the targets of their kids’ tantrums and will fail to keep order.
Parents need to strike a balance between loving their children and being respected by them. If there is only a single-sided love and the children are disrespectful, the relationship will be in dire straits. There must be a clear distinction between parents and children.
Frequently we hear parents say, “I always treat my children fairly.” However, fairness without respect for moral values is as good as violating the rule that parents are heads of the family. If your child throws a tantrum, absolutely refuse to give in to him. Don’t respond with harshness, but make it very clear that throwing tantrums will never get him what he wants. No matter how pitiful the child’s cries are, ignore them completely. Over time the child will be rid of this bad habit. One becomes clearheaded when there is respect.
It is necessary to have hierarchical structures, be it in the world of Nature, families, businesses, societies or countries. The emperors of the past gave grace and meritorious service to the ministers, but were very clear about the reward-versus-punishment system. Even in the popular novel Journey to the West, the monkeys at Mount Huaguo lived carefree lives, but when the Monkey King gave a command, all the monkeys would obediently listen.
Employees report to their immediate supervisor; they don’t bypass the line of reporting. The chain of command is clear. And so too must it be clear in the family.