I remember many years ago when I was an angry young teenager. I was a first generation Chinese Canadian caught between North American culture and traditional Chinese culture.
For the first six years of my life I can honestly say it was happy and normal. The problems began when my parents moved out of my grandparents home. It was during this time our financial problems became evident. Neither of my parents were highly educated. My father ran a restaurant while my mother stayed at home to take care of the children.
As their money problems grew, their nightly arguments became more intense. Often I would bury my head underneath my covers, hoping it would stop. They would go on till the early hours of the morning. It was normal for me to attend school with only 3 hours of sleep.
As the years went on, the money problems had gotten to a point where the burden became too much. My father was forced to declare bankruptcy.
With little to no money coming into the household, the stress on my parents became unbearable. They often took their frustrations out on the kids. Myself being the oldest took the brunt of the punishment both verbal and physical.
Small accidents like spilt milk would result in a slap in the face or a beating with a stick. In the process of getting punished you were not allowed to cry. Crying or begging for mercy would result in the continuation of beatings.
This brought about negative consequences for me as I got older.
– For one, it taught me to pent up my anger. To never express or stand up for myself.
– Secondly, I learned to never ask anyone for anything no matter how much they want to help me.
– Third, it teaches you that violence is the only solution to getting people to comply.
When I didn’t get punished physically it was verbal. Language such as, why can’t you be like so and so, you will never be good enough, it doesn’t matter if you leave because I’ve got other kids. This stings and will leave emotional scars lasting well into adulthood.
For many years as an adult, I battled with self-confidence issues, anger, and the ability to let go of the past. These issues kept me from living a happy, joyful life that every human being on this earth is entitled too.
My love for the martial arts especially Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has helped me believe in myself. Winning tournaments and sharing my knowledge with others has warmed my heart.
As coach in martial arts, public speaking and body language I will always remember what it was like to be dismissed as a child. When teaching a child you always have to remember to think before you say something critical. Hurtful words can send an individual into a shell.
Everyone has a unique gift. The great teachers are not great if they focus only on the naturally gifted students while ignoring the struggling students. Great teachers know how to lift a struggling students to heights they never imagined.
Over the years, I’ve seen many students from troubled childhoods come learn martial arts. I’ve seen great transformations along with it. Some who struggled to find their place in society are now working in productive careers. Their attitudes transformed because some martial arts teacher showed enough empathy to care for their personal development in life.
Some of the lessons I learned from my life are:
1. Find out what is the source of the anger?
2. Tell your kids you love them. A kid can never hear enough from their parents. I never heard my parents say that to me as a child.
3. Remember, the years you spend parenting your child is very short before they become adults. I’ve seen many kids grow up resenting their parents. The parents want to have a relationship with their kids but are no longer welcomed in their lives. Enjoy this time with them it’s precious. As a child, adults are someone they look up to. Crushing their spirits at a young age can have a lasting negative impact.
4. As a parent, be aware of your bad habits that had been passed down from your parents. As I got older, I realized my parents behavior was a result of the way they were brought up. Sometimes I would catch myself engaging in behavior that they exhibited towards me. I immediately stopped and changed course. Believe me it’s a battle and it takes a lot of work to change. However, when teaching someone it is crucial. You want to always create a positive and encouraging environment.
5. Get involved with your kids. Enrol them in programs they enjoy. It can be sports, dance, arts, or learning a new skill. Be there to support them. There is nothing worse than having the parents of other kids there and your kid has no one in their corner. Having an outlet to express themselves to the fullest with your support will do great wonders for their self-confidence.
6. Keep the lines of communication open and civil. Yelling and screaming was a daily occurrence in my house growing up. No one likes to be screamed at. Plus, do you want your child to act in that manner when they enter the workforce?
Today I am 46 years old, married and enjoying my passion in life which is teaching people to become better than they were the day before. I take great pleasure in helping people who struggled with self-confidence to unleash their hidden talents.
It took many years but I have learned to forgive my parents. The past is the past. We don’t have ability to change that. What we can control is to move forward by learning from past mistakes.