Quan Hui-Xing was born in Korea. She has a Ph.D in sociology and anthropology from Boston University, and she was formerly a professor at Yale University. Quan is the current director of the East Rock Institute.
Quan has six children — four sons and two daughters. All six of her children have doctoral degrees from either Harvard or Yale, and each of them holds a position of great responsibility. She has been named “The First Mother In Korea,” and she has astonished the world in raising such successful children.
In an interview with CBS, she revealed her unique educational philosophy. Perhaps we can learn something from her which we can use in our own lives. Here are some of her ideas:
A mother needs to develop herself
Both personally and professionally, a mother needs to maximize her talents. No matter what kind of a job she has, a mother should always do her best to develop herself. If we want to raise children who excel, we must first improve our own abilities to set an example for our children.
Career and family are like the wings of a bird for a mother — only finding the proper balance will enable her to fly. If a woman can’t balance her family life with her social obligations, she cannot really live a happy life; this will affect the entire family.
A mother needs to find the proper balance between work and home. The decision to enter the workplace or not is not as important as the attitude in which she approaches the decision. Can she take the initiative to continue her self-development, can she cultivate the ability to prioritize tasks and issues, and can she resolve the conflicts that will arise as a result of clashes between work and home life?
Never sacrifice yourself for your children
My parents have never been the kind of people who would make unconditional sacrifices for their children. They are always learning, making progress, and enriching their own lives; their world view and attitude toward life affect a lot of people.
They are my role models. They have always guided me from my earliest childhood. I took the time to review my life, which was a long and immensely beneficial process. The important details revealed themselves bit by bit in my memories, like nutrients re-nourishing my heart.
How do you become a good parent? Many parents love their children deeply, and they unconditionally sacrifice themselves for their children.
But I don’t agree. I believe that as a parent, the key is how to guide your children, to help them to see their future, and how to embark on their own path in life. To be the best guide, parents must first think about their own life goals, and have the ability to influence and help others — this sets a good example for their children.
If parents are only able to provide nurturing and don’t offer any guidance, they’re not setting their children up for excellence. Parents must have a sense of their own purpose, and their own lives should be complete and not lacking anywhere because of having children. This is often more challenging than completely sacrificing everything, but this demonstrates real love for the children. If the children’s grandparents can do the same, it strengthens the example for them.
Create a learning environment
We never forced our children to go to school, but everywhere they looked, they saw a desk and a family member studying. They grew up with a sense that learning was a normal part of everyday life.
In our family, a desk is not just a piece of furniture, it’s a place especially for learning. We have 19 desks in our house. Every family member has two desks; one on the main floor and one in the basement library.
Maintain a good marital relationship
When two parents respect one another, this relationship will have a definite impact on the children. When parents fight in front of their children, they will grow up with long-lasting problems.
We try our best to avoid fighting at home, and we solve our problems through communication. We don’t want to have a negative impact on the children, and we want to continue setting a good example for them.
No matter how careful we are, sometimes, we still argue.
However, in front of the children, I will do anything to maintain my husband’s authority, and vice versa. Thus, our children will respect their parents.
If both parents are willing to resolve problems through sharing, differences of opinion are easily handled. Sharing may not resolve all of the problems, but it can deepen mutual understanding and enhance mutual feelings.
So as you can see, in the process of educating children, parents also learn to love each other. A couple with a good marital relationship is part of the recipe to raise successful children.
Let your children open their hearts to you
We eat breakfast together every day as a family. My husband made this rule, and it has been very beneficial. When we’re eating breakfast together, we can communicate and gage the children’s moods — we can intervene early if someone is depressed or upset, and at the same time, it reminds us all that we are a family that works together.
There are two things to avoid when talking to children; don’t ask direct questions like: “Let’s talk about this,” or speak like an adult giving instructions to be followed. Children will freeze and shut down when these styles of communication are used.
The secret of communicating with your children
Normally, children refuse to communicate with their parents for two reasons: their parents don’t understand them and they can’t give any constructive suggestions.
Good parents should always remember two words: listening and suggestions.
Active learning and cultivating one’s character
It is not good for a child to just have talent; cultivating good character is more important.
During childhood and beyond, good character is like a gentle breeze that scatters its seeds to all corners — its influence is felt far and wide.
In our family, the children have always had a goal: their own learning and efforts are geared toward helping those less fortunate. Once such a wish takes root in the heart, it will grow and become a belief that will give unlimited power and potential.
They will live to achieve this goal, and all their efforts will go toward increasing their strength and talents in these areas.
This is the path my children took to eventually grow into somebody; they didn’t work hard just to become important, but they understand that working hard to help others is what makes them important.
So now, whenever someone asks me: “Is there some special way to educate children?” I tell them: “Don’t focus on cultivating his talent, it is more important to cultivate his character, so he grows into someone that likes to help others.”
Translated research by Monica Song and Kathy McWilliams