Once I held my first child, I had a change of heart
Each mother’s heart is a mine full of precious gems of love, patience, forgiveness, compassion, altruism, sacrifice and endeless tenderness. Varya is one of the amazing moms, whose example inspires and empowers.
Varya comes originally from Russia, Siberia, but for the last 14 years she has been living in China. She got married to an old friend of hers and they are now living in the South of China, raising 3 children. Varya has graduated from Pedagogical University with MA in teaching languages and linguistics, and after having her first child she moved into early education – Montessori method, baby massage, perinatal fitness. She loves dancing, singing and composing music, has a passion for reading, horseback riding, baking, cooking and creating with her children and her students. One can learn more about her by diving into her blog named the creative World of Varya http://www.creativeworldofvarya.com.
We all struggle to be better parents. What makes you a better mom?
The main influence and inspiration on my approach to educating my children comes from the Baha’i Faith. This quotation is one of my favorite : “The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind and draweth down the grace and favour of the All-Merciful, for education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence and alloweth man to work his way to the heights of abiding glory. If a child be trained from his infancy, he will, through the loving care of the Holy Gardener, drink in the crystal waters of the spirit and of knowledge, like a young tree amid the rilling brooks. And certainly he will gather to himself the bright rays of the Sun of Truth, and through its light and heat will grow ever fresh and fair in the garden of life.” (Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha)
“If we don’t want to lose our true self, we should watch our children and learn from their way to grasp reality”. Do you agree with this quote?
Yes, I do. I was always a believer in the fact that as parents we step onto a different level of our own growth and development but we can develop only through our children – it is a two way process where both parents and children learn from each other.
Since you live in China, how, in your opinion, does the Chinese approach to educating children differ from the European or the American one?
Generally, Chinese upbringing system is quite strict. Children start formal education from a very young age and they go to full day kindergartens 5 days a week from as early as 2 years old. A lot of times they are bound to their chairs and they are taught to line up and walk in lines following teacher. Of course, they do get some time to play and go outside but their day mostly consists of organized activities. From primary school, which starts from 6-7 years of age, children are completely taken by the education process and most of them have multiple extracurricular activities. They have no time to play, watch TV or socialize with other children outside of school. In middle school children come back home by 6-8 pm and high schools here are mostly boarding schools due to enormous amount of studying material and homework that is to be done in order to prepare to final exams and college/university entrance. So, compared to European and American systems, Chinese education is very intense. There are pros and cons of such education, but perhaps I won’t elaborate much on it right now as it would take up few pages!
What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learn from raising kids in China?
Appreciation of family and friends around us. Families here take care of their parents and grandparents often either live around or come to help with the children. Family is quite important in Chinese society so families gather for major holidays to spend time with each other. I think it is great! And I appreciate living in a society that is so family oriented. Back in Russia we were growing up in a way where we were taught to respect our elders and to take care of them. The same was in my husband’s family. Seeing how Chinese people are always close as family members in my opinion will help our children to grow up thinking that this is how it should be – always caring for parents, grandparents and children. We are fortunate that my husband’s parents come to stay with us from time to time so we can give back to them as much love and care as we can, teaching our children to do the same. Such close family relationships teach children compassion, care, kindness, love and patience (the latter in my opinion is the toughest of all virtues to develop!).
Do you agree that we should teach our children to be responsible for their own deeds and face the consequences of their actions! What approach do you master in this regard?
As parents we are here to guide children towards positive choices but when they choose the alternative we explain them that there is a system of consequences. For younger ones we use sit-out method and when they are in the midst of very major meltdown then we do the time out in a safe room. For older one we remove relevant to the situation privileges and gadgets/toys. We try our best not to resort to raising voices and getting angry. We also work towards being able to communicate to our children and consult when incidents happen. Sometimes we even ask our 6 year old what kind of consequences of her behaviour she would prefer.
Each child has his own unique personality. What helps you find the key to their inner world?
Our parenting is inspired by the fundamental basics of education in the Baha’i Faith. We get all the encouragement from there. However, as human beings, we are blessed with talents and capacities, for young children who have too much energy or creativity, it is often hard to “fit in” and follow certain rules that can help them guide this energy into the positive direction. We listen to our intuition but also use the knowledge and material that exists out there on how to help our children do that. For instance, our first daughter is a very energetic, opinionated, talented and spirited child. She is such a ball of energy, always has been! Some days it is a bit of a struggle to deal with her free spirit and I try to read about this more and apply various methods. Of course, I have my success and failure days. But combining spiritual knowledge with scientific, plus following the intuition will hopefully help us raise her and guide her in the best ways possible. The same with other 2 children: when they were babies I always followed my intuition and basic knowledge on satisfying their needs. But for some issues that were new to me I always did some research and talked to some people with more knowledge and adjusted according to how I truly felt about it and what was most suitable for my children (e.g. breastfeeding, co-sleeping, introduction of solids, potty training, developing creativity and teaching or not how to read and write, etc).
What is the best benefit of being a full time mom?
I believe as human beings we are born to give love. And unconditional love that we give to our children and receive from them is the most wonderful thing. I know that not all women choose to be mothers and some don’t get to become mothers, but all of us have maternal instinct that needs to be satisfied and nurtured. I think being a mother is one of the highest stations for a woman. Don’t get me wrong: just because a woman is not a mother it doesn’t mean she can’t achieve a higher station in this life – there are so many things women are great at and should be empowered to do. Up until I had my first child I never imagined being a full time mom. But once I held her I had a change of heart. I love being full time mom. I love being with my children. Staying home and taking care of my children doesn’t restrict my activities – I choose what I can do and when to do it. It is the feeling of satisfaction knowing you are near your children whenever possible that makes me feel good about being a full time mom.
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