Why you should care
Because there’s an alternative to being a tiger mom. It’s being a purposeful, loving mom. And it works, says Rose Watson. Here are 12 tips.
It was a time of transition. The year was 1995. Our children had completed undergraduate studies and commenced their careers. My eldest daughter, Carla Crystal, was married with a 3-year-old-daughter and just beginning medical school in Germany. I decided to take a year sabbatical from teaching in Miami and spend time in Germany to support my daughter.
As I settled into my seat, my excitement grew. My fellow traveler was a woman, middle-aged, like me. With a long flight ahead of us, we began to converse. We talked about our careers and our children. I learned that she had one child who had done very well for himself. She asked me if I had children.
Have a vision for your child’s success: Think big. Make sure the whole family believes in the vision.
“Yes,” I said. “I have three others. Beverly is in law school at Stanford. She completed her undergraduate studies at Georgetown. Two others founded a startup company that focuses on preparing high school students to apply for college.”
Excerpted and condensed from Rose Watson’s Purposeful Parenting: Strategies for Raising Children Who Achieve — A Mother’s Memoir, published by Global Imprints Press in 2010.
Her eyes widened as we continued our conversation. At one point she exclaimed, “Wow, you must be so proud of them,” to which I responded, “No, I wouldn’t say that I am proud, but I am indeed grateful to God who has truly blessed me.”
She continued, “Yes, but what did you do as parents? How and why did you do what you did?”
This was not the first time I had heard questions similar to these. From the time my children were in elementary school, and all the way through high school and college, parents have requested my advice on academic achievement matters. I remembered, while visiting my son at Harvard, hearing stories from other male African-American achievers who had faced significant obstacles but who had been helped and gone on to accomplish significant goals. […]
My mother and father had seven children and each of us finished college. Amongst the seven of us, we have 19 children, and each one, too, has finished college. In total, these members of the family have also earned numerous graduate degrees and gone on to successful professional careers in such fields as medicine, law, engineering, education, administration, pharmacy, financial services and the clergy. I wish to share with you the parenting legacy of achievement I have inherited.
Family Cohesiveness: We, Not I
A family ideally is a we, not a group of individual I’s. Many, many times, my husband Carlos used the old cliché “blood is thicker than water” to impress upon the kids the idea that cooperation would lead to greater success than competition among themselves. One of the ways we fostered cooperation was to make goals as a family, invite each child’s input in the discussion, let them buy into the goals, and then, as a group, work towards them.
For instance, each child went to school with the goal of going on to the next level: elementary school to junior high, junior high to high school, high school to college, college to graduate school — final destination: out in the world with a vision of bettering the human condition.
Our parenting was proactive, it was intentional and it was planned.
Today, we remain very close-knit even though we are scattered all over the country and members are frequently overseas. Each of our children is actively pursuing career and family goals but everyone remains in close contact and the support they show for each other is consistent and genuine.
We began having family meetings when the kids were in high school to discuss various issues, and these we have continued. When someone is entering a transition period, members of the family will get together to share thoughts, vision and advice.
When one family member accomplishes something, everyone else feels a sense of having participated in some way because, in nearly every instance, they have. ”We did it” could well be the family motto, and it is an attitude and way of life that extends to my siblings and their families, too.
Our parenting was proactive, it was intentional and it was planned. I brought a legacy of abiding faith and academic achievement to my marriage and my husband embraced this legacy. Together, we created a vision for a family that would leave the world in a better state than we found it.
Dr. Mom’s 12 Tips for Successful Parenting
1. Have a vision for your child’s success: Think big. Make sure the whole family believes in the vision. Support the vision with resources. Envision your child going further than you did.
2. Create a warm, nurturing environment where love and security abound. Hugs — a kid can’t have too many hugs. Spend special time alone with each child. Treat each child with dignity and respect. Speak in a positive, affirming manner. Limited spanking, more talking. No public humiliation.
3. Create a good learning environment. Good books and a set of encyclopedias, educational toys. Set up a learning center just for them. Make the children’s world international/intercultural.
4. Choose the right school and be an involved parent. Remember: There are school options even if you are financially strapped. Find a school that supports your child’s special abilities or challenges.
5. Teach your child morals and values. Teach morals at home. Teach manners. Lead by examples.
6. Be a good facilitator. Do it intentionally, not accidentally. Include extracurriculars in your kids’ lives. Vacations and summers — arrange and plan early; find alternatives to summer school.
7. Share your life with your child. Let your child know about your work and career. Educate your child about money and budgets.
8. Manage the television and the Internet. Limit the amount of both. Limit the kind of exposure.
9. Manage your child’s friends. Know your child’s friends. Be at home when your child has groups of friends or unknown friends over. Teach your child’s friends when appropriate.
10. Sex and sexuality. Answer your child’s curiosity and questions honestly within his or her level of vocabulary. There is no substitute for honest communication.
11. Be creative. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
12. Create opportunities to learn. During daily commutes, make sure kids have a book or schoolwork.