SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Communication between parents and children is difficult , especially for Asian American families, which are under the influences of two cultures, said the head of Asian Family Today.
Rev. Peter Lam, executive director of Asian Family Today gave a lecture on parental communication with second generational children, at the The Salvation Army's San Francisco Chinatown center.
From years of experience, Rev. Lam said, the most important principle is the Bible, which is the truth of all truths.
Quoting the bible verses from 2 Timothy 4:2 "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction", Rev. Lam suggested that there are three principles "correct, rebuke, encourage" that parents must look at when communicating with children.
"Chinese parents tend to scold their children without telling them what they did wrong," Rev. Lam said. "Nevertheless, more than correcting the mistakes with words, parents must live as a good example so that children can follow well."
Rev. Lam emphasized that parents must learn to look into the children’s problem instead of only focusing on their behavior. Parents must teach children about ethics and values according to the scripture.
The reverend also asked parents to rebuke and give punishment only when children make mistakes to help the latter correct the problem.
"Punish reasonably, but avoid threatening [your child]," Rev. Lam urged parents. "Otherwise, if they not punished solely for their mistakes, they will continue to make the same mistakes."
Chinese parents must especially avoid common threats such as "I will disown you" and "I will throw you into the washing machine", Rev. Lam added.
The executive director lastly pointed that one important principle, which is always neglected by Chinese parents, is to "encourage" children to act morally before they make mistakes.
"Many Chinese parents misunderstand that punishment is the most effective way in teaching a child. However, positive encouragement will even work better," Rev. Lam continued.
"Imagine, who would like to be scolded everyday? Especially when he or she is not doing well. When your child does well, just for once, you must express your appreciation, so he will be more willing to do well next time."
It is often acknowledged in tradition Chinese culture that rebuking is the most effective way to express love and concern.
Rev. Lam warned Chinese parents, children would eventually lose self-confidence under such condition, and that this would have grave effect on the child’s growth and development.
"Chinese parents must learn how to speak positive and encouraging words," he concluded.
Rev. Lam has had experience working in China with the government-approved church to solve common family issues within Chinese families.
Having led over 300 lectures about family crisis in the past, Rev. Lam and his wife have experimented in different methods to foster communication between parents and children.
As a father of two second-generational children, Rev. Lam has become well regarded for his research on parent-child tensions within overseas Chinese families in the United states.