Is a child's personality something we parents should meddle with?
A lack of communication between parents and their children is an ever-existing problem in the society of our days. Kids don't talk much or at all with their parents, or at least not as much as they may even be speaking to total strangers on Facebook (or other social platforms). Youngsters trust their friends and phones more than they trust their own parents. Communicating has become a thing of the past. Spending some actual quality time with the ones we love has become a true challenge.
I'm father of 3, the first one almost a post-graduate student, the second one a high school graduate, and the last one barely 8 years old. We have spend the past 15 years in China, and let me tell you, schooling here is no joke: 5 days a week, 8am-5pm, plus a couple of hours of homework and 2 after-school courses during the weekend. Harsh competition leaves no space for much leisure. Spending some quality time without affecting her performance in school is in fact a most difficult thing.
My second one went back home in South America, and my eldest spends more time in school than she's here, so my quality-time strategy focuses on the little one. She's one with a strong personality, outspoken and raised among hundreds of individualistic, rather selfish schoolmates. With the right to have but one child, Chinese parents will go to extremes to make sure their children receive the best education, and basically anything they ask for. Kids are under tons of pressure to perform, yes, but they're also very spoiled.and ill-mannered. Children are like sponges, they learn quick - unfortunately they learn both good and bad things.
My quick mentioning of what it means to grow u in China is just to put things in perspective. My last one, a girl, was almost born in China, lived all of her life here and attended school with only-Chinese classmates since she was 3. As it turns out my daughter is in many ways like a Chinese only-child: with both her siblings gone, there's just me, my wife and her (and, Oh, our rabbit "Pururu") left at home. She does not have to compete for attention and more often than not will get whatever she asks for (if within our possibilities, of course). Being the Benjamin of the family she may not always behave as we'd like her to, nevertheless will get away with it most of the times - maybe every single time.
My daughter is a good student - we never have to push her to get assignments done. In fact it is her that insists on completing them ASAP, so that she may have time available for reading and playing. This no parent could possibly complaint about. Her character; though, as I mentioned earlier is quite a thing. She always speaks her mind out and will complaint if she feels she's being treated unfairly. Sometimes I imagine she's one of those little toy-size dogs barking and growling at dogs ten times their size. Does she not know the feeling of fear?
My wife and I have asked ourselves of the best way to deal with her, but have invariably chosen to let her be. Both my wife and I were raised in traditional Latin-American homes in which insubordination was dealt with harshly. Now that we're adults we joke about those times, but truth be told life was not easy, and surely enough we were both tamed to fit the sole of our parents' shoes - no more and no less. The same probably happened to many of us regardless of geographical differences. It was I guess a thing of the times.
I cannot be sure of how I was, of how my personality was to begin with, but could guess I was more active, daring and bold (than I ever remember myself being) - a normal kid. Life has turned rather tough these days; it's not a world for tamed and servile souls. People are out there for the killing. I see no reason to put my child into a mold that will leave her unprotected from others' harm. I've pondered about this dilemma hundreds of times, and the only way to guarantee she'll survive is to be even tougher than she's now.
As her father I may at times feel disrespected as a result of her directness, but this is only because I'm not used to being told the truth in my face. One must learn to be tolerant, I suppose, but it's all for the well-being of our children. After all it is her that, once I've gone, will have to face a reality even more brutal than the one my parents well-intendedly veiled from me as a child.