Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC
I used to be a workaholic and felt that my career was what defined me. I often talked about work and everything seemed to revolve around work. I got married in 1996. A few years later my daughter was born and everything changed.
A few years before that, I was working with someone who told me that he wished he had spent more time with his children when they were young, because by the time they become teenagers they do not want to have anything to do with you. Back then I was not sure what it meant to me, but I figured that it must be really important and it took it to heart. I’m really thankful that I did just that.
Just like any new parent, I was so excited, but then soon realized that it takes a lot to be a parent. Nonetheless, I really felt blessed to have a daughter. Here is my top ten list of connecting with my daughters:
1) Spend time with them. By this I mean really spend time playing with them whether that is with their kitchen set or MacDonald store. Do I really want to do this, at first I said to myself. No, but I thought about it and decided that I have a small window to do this and this soon shall pass.
2) Treat them like adults and talk. This meant talking to them about choices, options, tradeoffs and letting them make some decisions. This all depends on their age. Small decisions early on and it will grow slowly thereafter. They need to learn that they have the choice and making the right choice is important and essential to their growth and development.
3) Love them like there is no tomorrow. Always tell them that you love them. Let them know it, and don’t take it for granted, and mean it. I always start my day by kissing them on the forehead and telling them that I love them very much.
4) Say No to them. Be honest and say no to them on things that do not make sense. Do not spoil them and shower them unnecessarily. Let them handle rejection and help them cope with it. By giving in to them, we are not teaching the valuable lesson of living in the real world. Guide them to learn to cope with what the future might throw at them.
5) Listen to them. Learn to listen to them and lend them your ear. Truly spend the time and understand what they have to say. As an adult, it is a challenge to do this because we often feel the urgency to get things done just to move on to the next thing. Listen to their stories and ask questions about them. I cherish every story they tell and immerse myself in it.
6) The most memorable gift does not have to be expensive. I remember few years back that a friend of mine gave my daughter a snail rocking chair. Once we opened the gift she was ecstatic and played with the rocking chair. About half an hour later, she was playing with the box. For the next 10 days the box was all she wanted. I had to throw away the box because the box was ripped to pieces, but she still insisted on keeping it. To this date, when she sees a box, she still remembers that instance – amazing.
7) Keep the notes and drawings that they made for you. It might not look like much, but when they see you keep their drawing and notes, it gives them a sense of accomplishment. It also shows them that you recognize their work and appreciate them.
8) Help them accomplish things incrementally. Help them with their projects and show them the ropes. Make sure to participate and engage them in the activity. This also provides you the golden opportunity to make an impression on them and develop lasting memories. This helps them develop their confidence, which is essential for their future.
9) Don’t compare your children. Growing up in a Chinese family, my parents often compared me to my siblings. Unfortunately for me, I was not smart compared to my sister and brother. The more they talked about it to their friends, the more I felt it was really true and I started to doubt that I could really accomplish anything. Fortunately for me, by the time I reached my third year in high school, I had a teacher that believed in me that help turn things around.
10) Support them and guide them. While as parent I want my girls to be good at everything, I try to resist the urge to push them too hard. I always emphasis the fact that they need to try their best. When they didn’t make the next level in swimming, I would embrace them and say that there is always next time and try your best and don’t think about failing. Be sincere about it and let them know that when mistake happens, you’ll not be the first one to judge them but rather you’ll be the shoulder to cry on. Teach them to dust things off then get back on the horse and keep on trying. Teach them to never give up and the value of hard work.
So far I’m enjoying every moment that I spend with them. Don’t get me wrong, there are days I wish they would listen to me and do their homework. But at the end of the day, I think about the opportunity I have and how I took advantage to connect and make an impression on them.
Someday we all shall pass. I want them to remember the time we spent together, the laugh, the horsing around, reading books and not the expensive gifts they receive. At the end, the goal is to live life with no regrets. It all starts with realization that there is still time and acting on it. It is never too late.