Fulfilling Dreams Together

Many Chinese parents are worried about their children getting disadvantaged at the starting line. Thus, to increase their competitiveness, they send their children to many afterschool classes, learn new talents, enroll in high pressure academic activities, and even try to find out if there are preschools specializing in preparing kids for the math Olympics. This has shocked me and made me sigh in empathy.

Many years ago, when my first and second child were in Taiwan in preschool, I returned to a full-time job. I enrolled my children in afterschool classes and talent lessons, as I do not have too much time to spend with them. For convenience, both of my children leave and return home at around the same time. According to their memory, my most-often used phrase is “Quick quick quick, There’s not much time left. I don’t have time to waste.” One day, when they were in grade five and grade six, during a Family Time session, we were discussing whether they should continue to take piano lesson, my second child cried saying she doesn’t want to continue with piano lessons and doesn’t want to always live within the shadow of her sister because it doesn’t matter how hard she tries, she feels that she cannot become as beloved as her sister.
Due to my negligence, a wound has been inflicted upon her heart. I apologized and told her that learning artistic skills isn’t for showing off oneself, but to serve God, to help others, and one shouldn’t put too much pressure on oneself. During middle school, my 1st child started to learn guitar and that’s when my 2nd child resumed practicing on the piano and rebuilt her confidence.


The lucky third and fourth children.

From a pair of daughters to a pair of sons, I’ve become much more skillful and confident. After immigrating to Canada, with a different school environment, the sons being much more active, with less pressure for getting a good education, we used Family Time to discuss the sons’ interests and let them have a greater say in their activities to avoid my previous mistakes. They eventually learned the violin, piano, drums, basketball, football, and ping pong. 

Considering the financial burden involved and to confirm that my sons have genuine interest in their talents, I’ve hired a high-school mentor to teach my sons. One of the reasons is that I can see the high-schooler as a role-model for the sons. For example, the high-schooler has been playing the violin for 10 years and by having the high-schooler teach my sons violin, my sons, especially the older son, are much more engaged with the learning process, being patient in practicing and attentive in lessons. Practicing the piano is the same, selecting the songs they like and practicing with great interest.
When learning the drums, the younger of the two sisters taught them how to read the drum beat scores. With the help of the high-schooler, they built their fundamentals and rented a drum set for one month. Using this gradual and guided approach, they build their own interest and skills until they can learn lessons from professional music tutors and bought a full drum-set second-hand. I often accompany one of my sons for some quality time while the other son is taking drum lessons, killing two birds with one stone.
Now that my sons are in high-school in Canada, both are on the school ping pong team. My youngest child has been in the school band since middle school and now has an interest in playing the trumpet. Every year during the Salvation Army Christmas Drive, he becomes the trumpet player to attract people’s attention.


Why Learn Crafts

What’s the ultimate goal for kids to learn talents? I often tell my children to develop their skills to equip themselves for helping others and not to use earning money as the primary driver behind their life goal. At the same time, learning a sport, exercising, having a strong body means you can serve more people. My four children have very diverse interests. My oldest loves badminton, skateboarding, and guitar, my second child loves skiing and playing the piano, my third child plays the drums and ping pong, my fourth child plays the trumpet, drums, and ping pong. At home we are a small band so we can practice songs and build team spirit, training them to have leadership skills and becoming a great family team.

One day during Family Time in Los Angeles, my son asked me, saying in the past, he volunteered to teach drumming at the Salvation Army church and also teach kids ping pong at the dorm for free, but in Los Angeles a high-school student asked for tuition when he promised to each him math during a school semester. My son’s rationale is that since both of the high-schooler’s parents work and there are no siblings their economic foundation is very solid and the tuition fee isn’t critical.

I told my children that every family has their own culture, way of guidance. Some children’s parents may think that they’ve had a poor childhood and don’t want their child to experience poverty. Or they didn’t have the opportunity themselves when they were young to pursue their interests, thus hoping their child can achieve their own dreams, letting them earn more money to live a more convenient life.

As for us, we believe that every person is God’s masterpiece. We should exploit our skills to live a life worthy of our calling according to the gifts we each receive from God. We’ll never earn enough money. The people with money want to earn more money. It’s best to live a life that is just enough, letting it become a habit, so we can have enough resources to help others in need. There are many in the world who live below the poverty line and are waiting for help.


Why Dreams are the Best

During Family Time, I tell my kids, when we moved from Taiwan to Canada, they received a multicultural life-view, encountering different people from across the globe as their neighbor. As life throws different situations at you, the responsibilities God provides different society is also different. I also talked about their dreams, how they are going to use their skills to help others.

My oldest child was enrolled in an electrical engineering education. This year she’s graduating from graduate school and is prepared to become an electric circuit designer. Her younger sister is taking courses in social working, interacting with many disadvantaged families. She knows that her social working career means a very modest income, but it has great meaning. Her sister, being an electrical engineer, is willing to support her financially, thus revealing the depth of their sacrificial love for one another.

As for my sons in high-school, the older loves physics and math, is good at teaching, and dreams of becoming a teacher or pastor. The younger one likes to learn about tech products and is our family IT support, with great reading ability. Whenever we encounter problems with our tech products, he can usually resolve the issue quickly. For him, technological knowledge is a vast field ready for harvest. He has the self-control not to play computer games yet knows his way around tech products. His dream is to become a computer scientist.

By accompanying children to grow through many different stages and helping them to discover themselves, we can help them to find a clearer course in their life. I remember my 91 years-old mother’s favorite saying: “Parents give you a start in life, you have to take responsibility for what happens next.” The bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Educating the children of this generation, with the changing environment of society, carries many challenges. As the parents give their children guidance, they have a responsibility to educate them and to accompany them in building their dream, which can become a family growing together with great joy.

Family Time’s Reminder for Accompanying Their Children’s Dream:

  1. Developing their values is more important than their talents.
  2. Allow the children to uncover their gifts.
  3. Help the children to have healthy exercise or sport.
  4. Spend time with your children to learn their thoughts.