Monday, March 19, 2007

From Inter-generational Rapport to Inter-personal Relations

While dropping our S off at UF yesterday at the conclusion of his spring break, he introduced his future (as in the coming fall) roommate, Charles, to us. Charles hails from Orlando and is a pre-med freshman. So we took the opportunity to elicit from him some first-hand information on the requirements and course loads for enrolling in the pre-med program, the GPA and the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) requirements to get into the medicine program eventually, and some recommended plan of attack. Charles, seen here to the left, was of course most helpful. Thanks, Charles.

Then we visited our old friend, Lin, and his family, who have made Gainesville their home after graduating from UF. It so happened that his son, Edward, a UF undergraduate, was there too. Edward was a childhood friend of our D at Oregon, when both Lin’s family and mine were staying at Corry Village back in the early 1990s.

As is the case with the mother of William Poy Lee as blogged here, Lin has tried to bring up his son, Edward, as a Chinese at heart. Also as with most Asian parents, he has great expectations for Edward, and in the process, may have been over-zealous in proscribing how Edward should prepare to seek out his career path. On the other hand, Edward, being educated through the American system that emphasizes thinking on one’s own, has his personal way of visualizing his future, and would like to strike out the way he deems fit.

That the two paths, spawned by inter-generational differences in worldview, are seldom in congruence is not necessarily surprising, nor is it decidedly undesirable, provided the line of communication continues to be open, and the tone of exchange frank and respectful, each trying to understand the other better.

Being a father myself, I know it’s difficult to acquiesce to our children (they always are in our eyes though they may be young adults)’s point of view, especially when we are convinced that we have seen more than they have had the opportunity to be exposed to, and, hence, know what’s best for them (or rather our version of them). But sometimes we just have to step aside and let them lead their lives, and let them make their fair share of mistakes (hopefully, nothing that would be unduly consequential). But only after we have said what we have to say, not out of the urge to control/dictate, but out of our love for them and bringing to bear the benefits of our experience. Otherwise, we would have failed in our duty both as a father and as a friend to our children.

Through his interactions, sometimes perhaps less than amicable, with Edward, Lin has come to realize that his tendency to talk down to his son may not have helped matters. So he has written using Chinese calligraphy a couplet that would serve to remind him of the need to be careful with his words and to maintain poise as shown here.

Similar in spirit are the following sage advice from Deepak Chopra, whom I’ve blogged earlier here, as excerpted from an interview that appeared in today’s Tampa Tribune (Baylife, p. 1 and 6):

On self improvement:
Anything you do, any choice you make, make it out of love. The best way you can feel good about yourself is to make someone else feel good.

On his successful marriage of 36 years (or any relationship between human beings, I would add): Complete abandonment of trying to control or manipulate the other person. Concentrate on affection, attention, appreciation, gratitude, love, and compassion.

May we all take the above to heart and make this world a better place for all.

1 comment:

Kitty Girl said...

So what is the exact translation of that calligraphy piece?

In my own dealings with others, I try to empathize and listen... Dan said that's one of the things he loves about me, that I listen (although sometimes it's because I have nothing to say). I think that is a valuable and rare skill in people, to truly listen (and not that I am perfect at it) to your loved ones' needs.

I always think that Mom is trying to control me (sometimes I still think so...sorry!), and Dan as well sometimes, so I am trying to learn to let go and accept that they are only trying to share their wisdom/thoughts/opinions/ideas, and that they are doing it because they love me, but it is hard! I don't know why I always think they're trying to control me... Dan thinks I just don't like being told what to do. I hope I don't seem like I'm trying to control Dan (although it is nice when he does what I say or ask).

Deepak Chopra on his successful marriage is very meaningful. I will try to follow it.