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ALL IN THE FAMILY

The world’s best ways to raise kids

(First of two parts)

After his son was born, British journalist Mark Wood embarked on a journey to discover “the world’s best ways to bring up your children.” Several practices in his book “Planet Parent” can guide parents to raise children become worthy heirs of family businesses as well.

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Take for example, technology addiction. With the pandemic forcing us to go online almost all the time, tech abuse remains a problem. Wood discovered that parents working at many Silicon Valley companies choose to send their children to a computer-free elementary school in California, which advocates learning through physical movement and hands-on tasks rather than gadgets.

When The New York Times asked the late Steve Jobs, “So your kids must love the iPad?,” he replied, “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

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It’s not just kids who are addicted to tech—often, their parents are as well. In the State of the Kid survey done by US magazine Highlight, more than a thousand children were asked if their parents ignore them. A whopping 62 percent said yes—not because parents are busy at work or hold multiple jobs—the main culprit is the mobile phone, which children say their parents cannot put down.

“And when the youngsters were asked to name the best time to attempt to get some actual (as opposed to virtual) face time with their parents to talk about something important, 33 percent said mealtimes, followed by 29 percent opting for bedtime—because they were both blessed phone-free zones.”

Wood also discovered that students who write out their notes on paper learn more than those who just go digital, online classes in the pandemic notwithstanding. Experiments from Princeton, the University of California-Los Angeles, Indiana University, among others reveal that students who write on paper have a stronger grasp of the material, and can synthesize the information more fully.

“Because writing by hand is slower and more cumbersome than typing, students are forced to listen, digest and summarize so that they can capture the essence of what is being told to them. While driving a hundred miles is a lot quicker and less effortful than walking it, the latter is preferable because you’ll appreciate your destination all the more when you arrive.”

Writing things down on paper is also practiced by several Ateneo college students in our School of Science and Engineering Resilience Study (“What makes young Filipinos resilient?” May 5, 2022).

Rather than gaming on screen, Wood also cites research on the importance of physical play, which while harder to do in lockdown, remains essential to children’s development.

Peter Gray of Boston College says, “Unless parents relearn the habit of leaving children to their own devices, undirected by adults to play and imagine and interact and learn with each other, we run the risk of creating a planet populated by rampant narcissists.”

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When children play with each other, they learn how to behave, when to give in, when to stand their ground, how to get along with others. Play is also a way to develop empathy—which is sorely lacking online and offline today, and which contributes to a myriad of mental and emotional health problems.

Discipline is necessary, too, in our country where rules are flouted even by leaders. Many Filipino parents today hesitate to critique their children. Even in Sweden, which ranks in the global top places to live in, psychiatrist David Eberhard urges parents to take their role seriously, since “oversensitivity to children and a reluctance to discipline them” is leading to a generation of “badly raised children.”

Discipline is key to interpersonal respect, leading to “interdependence within families, requiring that the elders responsibly teach, train, educate, discipline and govern the kids.” It’s an age-old wisdom for raising good successors in business and in life.

(To be continued)

Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” at Lazada or Shopee, or the ebook at Amazon, Google Play, Apple iBooks. Contact the author at [email protected]

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TAGS: family businesses, Planet Parent, technology addiction
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