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« The Other Side of Practicality | Main | My First Encounters In the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave (with updates) »

January 19, 2017



The best ever reflection. Thank You. Thank You.


Some workplaces are filled with the culture of fear. Being in such environment infuses fear in our veins. Unfortunately that carries over in home life too.

S Chou

Mixed Feelings. one way what the author says make a lot of sense. However in contemporary times how can one survive without some kind of fear> World is a dangerous plae


An eye-opening reflection! Thank you, Anand...

Thanks from Taipei

Thanks Anand for this article. A timely reminder for parents, no matter the age of their children. Worth sharing!😄


"If these words resonate with you, then you know it is time to heal. It is time to set aside toxic behaviours and allow family spaces to flourish with the expression of our love."

Very Good ending message by the writer.

Reflecting in Singapore

If Only......I had learnt this earlier.


For my family, there is an interesting pastime while in parks or cafes in town, to observe discretely how some parents in our vicinity will scold or discourage their children incessantly and far and beyond what would be a constructive moment of teaching. Don't climb there! Be careful! Stop playing with your food! Pay attention! Don't dilly dally! Sit still! Behave! Keep up with your sister? Hurry up! Watch out! Don't get your clothes dirty! You're doing it wrong! You'll never get better! ...etc.
Typically we observe passively and do not try to make unsolicited suggestions to an unfamiliar family. We simply watch passively, though sometimes try to offer a word of encouragement to a child in passing. We do like to imagine what kinds of negative habits and emotional troubles such kids may acquire as they become adults. More importantly, it helps to provide a reality check for our own parenting. Of course, no one is perfect, and everyone has a bad day or a regrettable moment now and then. But the key is regret, and to have the self-correcting mechanism to strive to be a better parent.

I believe it is possible to hypothesize that much of the violence, hatred, and suffering in the world stems directly from the failure or lack of parental love, sometimes due to unfortunate circumstances such as the premature death of parents, but sometimes simply due to the well-intentioned but misguided behavior of parents toward their children. Freud's theories were somehow in this mode as well. My own father was a child psychiatrist in his time, and he often told me that the emotional issues of children that came to see him were shadows of issues that the parents had, and therefore no lasting cure could be attained without therapy for the entire family unit.

I happen to be one of occasionally short temperament, and I have learned over the years to control myself and to hold back, sometimes. The famous story of Abe Lincoln writing an angry letter but not sending it to the intended recipient is an example that resonates with me. (I often wish that certain Twitter-friendly politicians would learn this lesson as well).
Albert Einstein, too, had a quote regarding prudence:
"If A is success in life, then A = x + y + z. Work is x, play is y and z is keeping your mouth shut."

A few years ago, while reflecting on a favorite book, I hit upon an idea that has helped me to practice better emotional control in my life, and especially as a husband and parent. The book was "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", which is one of those books that produces an entire philosophy, so very much deeper than any simple list of good habits. For example, there is a quote somewhere inside, "Let natural consequences teach responsible behavior. One of the kindest things we can do is to let the natural or logical consequences of people's actions teach them responsible behavior. ". The author, Steven Covey, also writes elsewhere,
"Quality of life depends on what happens in the space between stimulus and response."

But there is a problem I have found with this book, and with many other works about self-help and success or happiness. The reality is that we sometimes get caught up in the moment of a scene, and knee-jerk reactions can be seemingly unavoidable. One does not always have time to take a deep breath and step back to evaluate things within a calm and logical framework. Life sometimes happens rapidly and unexpectedly. That is precisely when one can end up saying or doing something foolish, perhaps with lasting effects on relationships, family, career, etc.

Here is the new idea that came to me, and which I previously shared to Anand: What if we could carry a simple device that could help to guide our decisions and behaviors at a glance. A lost traveler can look at a compass periodically to help navigate to a safe destination. Perhaps there could be a "Compass of Response". I spent a couple of days thinking about what such a compass should look like. Here is a link to what I developed. It is based on 2 primary axes of response: the strategy of Engage vs. Avoid (like N and S directions), and the interaction style via Direct vs. Indirect means (like E and W directions). The combination of these 2 axes results in 4 main response quadrants, which are Logical Debate, Postponement, Expression of feelings, and Kindness. I don't know if others will find it useful, but readers here are welcome to review the concept.


Been There-When I came back with bandaged arms- from dropping acid on them I got such a verbal whooping from my mom" What were you doing? what if it had gotten on your face!!!!!" and then when I fell down from a tree onto some daffodil plants that were staked" why can't you think? what if you had hurt some vital organs!!!!" - like I had planned these events. BUT I was so secure in the love of my family- that I did not resent it

Done that- When my then 12 year son swam out too far in Hawaii at sunset, and for several minutes which seemed forever, we could not see him. He was actually very sensible, and rested, did not fight the waves, and drifted back in after a while. My first response was to whack him on the head and say" what were you thinking! I almost believed I was going back minus one child!!!!". He said- it didn't happen did it? What are you panicking about?

so now- I try hard not to react(at least outwardly)-like when my college son called and said- I moved out of the dorm- but have not found a place I like so I am sleeping in the car"- I asked " where will you shower" :)
Because I want them to tell me things. I don't want to find out after.

I like the reflection. It gives food for thought. I may not agree with all the stated reasons in the article - I would recommend it to our kids as they will someday be parents themselves.

I appreciate Levis's response very much


Parents, like managers and teachers, should follow the principle of the Positive Coaching Alliance (it's a sports-oriented organization, but the applicability is universal): the ratio of positive to negative performance feedback should always be at least 5:1. Keep track and see how you do; the results will surprise you.

Also: a wise man once told me that the opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is fear. Too much fear can drive out love, but enough love can drive out fear as well.


Great sharing! While this story focuses on parenting methods of using fear can have long standing impact, I think it expands to any fear pattern that happens in childhood which stays with you even when you grow old. Hence it is important that when kids grow up, to make sure that all unwarranted fears be addressed right at the get go. From personal experience, I can attest how our brains get wired with the "fight or flee" response even if we rationalize that the fear is not real.


Train to be feared.... Or train to become fearless...

Much like the movie I saw the accountant with Ben Affleck... Ben grew up with an autism that made him different to other children and he would be picked on but he was highly intelligent... His mother brought him to a isolated cabin. Away from all fears of the world in a controlled environment... His dad who was an army phsycologist did not like that idea and rather train him to be fearless of the things in this world... When Ben was older, he was close to his father, and was fearless of all elements and situations and fearless... Because he was not trained to be pushed down. He was train to rise up

Good Friends *direct emails

Comments from friends in direct mails.

Thanks Anand! Definitely a great reminder. We certainly as parents make split second decision how to handle a tantrum. I seem to check myself all the time if I handled the situation right and make post mortem assessments. Next time I can handle it differently.

Anand, thanks for this article. It's very powerful for me as it rings so true and cause me to pause and reflect how my sons and daughter feel about me as their parent. One son's comment years ago "I don't share my problems and difficulties with you because you always made it worse!" It really stopped me in my tracks as I had no idea how I had made it worse for him ... when I thought I always did my best to help.

Generational Learning

Wrt to parents n fear - FYI when we were young, our parents beat us all the time, more when we r naughty n misbehave. Teachers also beat us if we misbehave or don't do well in our studies. Quite normal. Today, the world is different, we know it is not good for the children. But, don't blame your parents for beating u. This is what they know, discipline = love. Children do not know what their parents go through when they raise them up. They prefer not to share their sacrifices w them. They r happy if their children do well. There r also issues of culture n education. But, today's expectations n standards r different.

Friend from Penang

Great reflection and article!

My thoughts:
Said is easier than done because we are human being -> with emotion. Our first response to protect our love ones (when they made mistakes or did something that is not norm) are typically threatening them so they continue to stay "safe" from our perspective...they is nothing wrong with that. This is a very difficult challenge to overcome for almost everyone :)

What I think we need to do is to train ourself to manage the situation with EQ...Walk through every situation with our child and analyse together with them...take every opprtunity to coach our children to think, assess and make decision before taking any action. This is what we want to leave on them, not the "fear"....


Thank you for sharing.

I have often thought there are 2 types of people in this world. The 1st type is when his boss yells at him, then when he goes home he yells at his family and kicks the dog.
The other type when he is yelled at by his boss, stops by the store on the way home and buys his wife flowers, a treat for his children, and pats the dog once he gets home.

I strive always to be the latter.

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