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Category Archives: Kids

What would you do if your kiddo is a gay …

One of my girlfriends who is currently 3-month pregnant forwarded a very interesting Chinese documentary film, Mama rainbow (with English subtitles) made by director Fan Popo and posted a serious question, “What would you do if your child is a gay?” I used to think all sorts of possibilities to my babies when I was pregnant: What if his heart beat is too fast/slow? Is his body anatomy normal? What if he is detected down syndrome? Fortunately these worries and anxieties were eased along the way after all kinds of ultrasound imaging and lab tests. As all other expecting parents, we also started to dream about how they look, whose genes they inherit more and when is the not-so-bad time to have a girlfriend after finding out that they were boys. This kind of day-dreaming just never ends even after they were born. When we thought about their girlfriends, or more precisely what kind of daughter-in-law I would like to have, my husband did casually pop the question: “What if he is a gay and one day brings a man home?” My first instinct response was “No way!” Well, why will he be a gay if both his Mama and Dada are not?  Well … OK, I have to admit there is no logical standing in the above statement.

I watched this 28 minutes long video clip, Mama rainbow, that is represented by PFLAG China and are basically some interviews with homosexual people and their mothers. I’m not very impressed about the film: the tone of the film is very monotonic and overly rosy. There was another documentary Queer China, ‘Comrade’ China (with English subtitles) that is  more comprehensive on the topic. Chinese society is very conservative on this issue and most people from my parents’ generation would actually deny the existence of homosexual people in China. Due to the extreme social pressure, very few gays/lesbians would step forward to claim what they really are, coming out the closet (出柜). One most important factor is the root and foundation of Chinese traditional value: inheritance and carrying on the family line (传承,传宗接代).

I thought I have always been a very liberal person. Having been living in the States for so many years, I always have positive attitude towards gays/lesbians and in fact I have worked with a few gay men. I found them as professional as others and most of the time are much more considerate, clean and handsome than straight men. These are their lives and their personal choices; as long as they are not hurting any others, I’m perfectly fine. And I do support legalize the same-sex marriage. But then why my first response is negative when it comes to my own children? I realized I need more information before I take any side. I start to search online to  read some review papers on the researches of the topic. There are tremendous  biological and psychological researches conducted since 1930s, in the efforts to prove whether homosexuality is born or made. After reading those papers,  I personally tend to believe this is nature, although I also can not rule out the fact there is a small fraction of homosexual population is due to the external/environmental factors.

Are these information really helpful for making my decision on what to do if my kids are gays? The answer is no, not really. At the end, all it matters to me is my role as a parent to my children. I brought them to this complex enough world without really consulting them. No matter what they are, the nature of parents’ love is to take them as is and love them unconditionally.  The outside world is full of danger, temptations, beauty and also hopes. As their parents, I hope being in our arms can be the safest and always-there harbor for them. That is what it matters at last: parents’ instinct and nature. Well, maybe I can also comfort myself a bit more: for having two children, the probabilities of both being gay is low and my family genes will be passed along the chain. 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Kids, Uncategorized

 

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Thinking, fast and slow

In a weekly research meeting, we had no speaker and instead we watched a video of Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman giving a lecture. It is very impressive that this behavioral scientist won a Nobel prize in Economics and he never has taken an economics class. From my point of view, his speech was extraordinary and he was humorous and able to convey his idea in “normal people” words. The basic idea behind his research is that human brain functions as two systems. System 1 is working based on association and is fast, instinctive and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. An example of system 1 is driving and doing your tax form certainly requires system 2. This behavior bias explains people’s irrational decisions and judgement.

In his speech, a couple of logic questions are asked and finally got my attention switch from the research lunch.

A bat and ball together cost $1.10. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?  The correct answer is 5 cents, but a lot of people will answer 10 cents.

All roses are flowers. Some flowers fade quickly. Therefore some roses fade quickly. Is the logic right or wrong? This logic is not correct since all roses could be in the subset of not-fading-quickly flowers. However, most of college undergraduates answered it wrong!

 Obviously I answered both questions correctly and wondered how vast majority of college undergraduates answered them wrong. I think they just think too FAST and in a way they are very very confident on what they know! The most important thing I took away from this lecture is that some people are more successful than others in the same field, or the so-called experts are those whose system 1 database is constantly updated. Remember the two systems of our brain are not static – once you exercise system 2 thinking again and again, it will eventually transfer to system 1. There is a Chinese idiom 熟能生巧 (practice makes perfect) that explains  all these well. This idiom is originated from a story in north Song dynasty 我亦无他,唯手熟尔. Well before Daniel Kahneman, our ancestors has already summarized the theory from empirical experience. The key point is “Critical thinking has to include assessing one’s own thinking.”

At the end of the day, I went back home and asked my 4-year-old son about the “rose” logical problem. He answered correctly!! Wow, I was impressed and then … at the same time I know I should not take it too seriously. Children have relatively small system 1 database and  is still building/expanding it.  So when they are asked some relatively difficult questions, they take a pause and think slow! This is exactly what we need to learn from them: pause and think slow. That night, we have fun playing some more logic games: Sudoku!

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Kids

 

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Montessori Mom Or Tiger Mom ?

I went to the parents conferences twice two weeks ago. Both of my boys went to Montessori school. I never heard of this Montessori concept until one of my in-laws sent her kids to the Montessori school and got very good feedbacks. Last year, a book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua was published and stirred quite a debate among people around the world. I have not read the book. But from the reviews and interviews of Amy Chua, I think I know the ideas well.

To me, “tiger Mom” concept is not unfamiliar.  Being this generation of Chinese, we are brought up in the same (more or less) very strict way. In my house, my Mom was always the bad cop and my Dad was the good cop. However, both of them were very strict. The bad cop tended to use more physical punishment and oral insults (most Americans think so if they hear the hash words). The good cop was good at invoking our own guilt of not being good enough and the wills to win, win and win. American parents, in a great extent, let their children do whatever they want.  They are free to explore a lot of their interests and have quite a say in deciding what direction they want to head. I am torn constantly between these two ways. Both ways produce success and failures. Chinese kids usually have better Self-discipline and persistence. American kids have better creativity.

One thing that I learned from the conference meeting is that right now they learn writing down words as the way they hear them. The spellings might not be correct but that is OKay for now (trust me, it is hard for me to take it). One example is “Basket” versus “Baskit“. Theoretically, nothing is wrong with baskit as it sounds exactly the same as basket. We shouldn’t  distract a 4-year-old with overwhelming details, but instead help them grasp the main concepts. I was convinced. On that night, my little 4 year old wrote a little lovely note to his grandparents. I held myself hard to stand back. 🙂 One comment made by my husband eased my nerves, “Oh wow, this is perfect for text massaging.” Yes, it is perfect for text messages. Maybe when they grew up, a simplified version of English will be in use.

So I think the answer for Montessori Mom + Tiger Mom is “Miger Mom”. I just have to remind myself from time to time to stand back.  My kids are the best teachers in this aspect and we will grow together.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Kids

 

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