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2011-03-12: Spring Cleaning

It’s now almost mid-March.  Spring is right around the corner.  Tonight, all clocks in the U.S. will spring forward one hour, setting up for longer days of spring and summer ahead, with abundance of daylight.  The weather is also nice now so people usually spends time doing cleanup to get rid of items that have been cluttered around the house, both inside and outside, during the winter months.  This reminds me of what my wife often tells my children, all year round. Clean Your Room!  She complains why they can’t just put the dirty clothes straight into the hamper instead of spreading them all over their room floor.  It’s just a simple act, which requires very little effort, if any.

This issue is very common with children and young adults today, not just with my own children.  I have had colleagues and friends who tell me the same thing – their children’s rooms are always a mess!  I don’t know what it is but our children nowadays seem to live in a different "world" than those in my generation did before.  Maybe it’s because we lived in a different culture. 

I remember when I was in 6th grade, my parents sent me to school far away from home.  I had to wash all my clothes by hand because there were no public laundromats or washing machines then in Vietnam.  Well, we didn’t have that many clothes to begin with, especially those designer jeans that cost hundred of dollars nowadays!  Yes, a hundred dollars for a pair of jeans, and that is not a typo!  I wear a pair of $12 Kirkland jean (from Costco) and it serves me just well.  The concept about the power of compound interest seems foreign to our children!  If they save that money in the bank, they will see that amount doubled in about 10 years.  But to them, that’s way down the road.  They will have plenty of time to do the savings later. OK,  even they might have bought those expensive items with their own money (from grandparents and friends for their birthday or from working part time.) But think about it, as high school/college students working for about $10 an hour, they have to bust their behind off to get that pairs of jean.  But they do not seem to mind.  To them, image is everything!

Maybe we spoil our children these days, too.  We provide them with almost everything.  On the contrary, our parents did not have much to hand over to us.  They didn’t buy us toys because they didn’t have enough money or there weren’t that many toys sold in the stores anyway.  We had to make our own toys, by hand.  Remember those we made from tree trunks?

Most parents, Asians in particular, spend a lot of time, energy and money to raising our children.  We not only give our children what they want, but also do things for them (like washing and folding their clothes.)  We reason that we do all those things so they will have time to study and become smarter and have good grades.  Well, our parents didn’t do any of those for us, but we still had good grades and did not do that bad for ourselves.

So, parents, especially those with little ones, shouldn’t this be a good time for some spring-cleaning of our own, by reconsider our child raising approach?