Wednesday, May 16, 2012


"Where will my children be in 20 years’ time?", "What kind of life have I dreamed for them?" are questions I've asked recently. While I cannot make choices for them when they grow older, certainly, I have responsibility to do for them now. These questions present a challenge on the ultimate responsibility of parenting, which is to prepare children for a successful life of their own. 

When we think of our children’s future we immediately think of their education, and what school is the most affordable and the best that can offer good education for them. To achieve this, we work tirelessly so we can put them in the best school possible-all because of bright tomorrows. For me, being in a foreign country with limited resources is a real challenge for children's education considering that international schools in Phnom Penh are expensive. 

Putting your child to a good school is an important step towards your child’s bright future, but education actually begins at home with parents being the first and best teachers.  Character and values are developed during the early stages of a child’s life; long before the child starts school. It is in the home where children learn how to respect and obey. It is in the home where a child learns basic discipline.  How parents raise their child at home affect their child’s performance at school. Certainly, the school plays an important role in the child’s educational development, character, values and skills.  Good education both at home and at school is complimentary and is inseparable to a child’s better upbringing.

Therefore, if our children’s education begins at home, what are we teaching them? What have we taught our children so far, both in words and deeds? If we are their first teachers, what examples are they learning from us?  Our children learn from us whether we are conscious or unconscious of what we do. Whether or not we teach intentionally, our children follow how we speak, how we treat our spouse, how we eat, sleep, and above all, how we live our life. 

Being the first teachers, parents need to teach with integrity, which is teaching by example. In short, we can only effectively teach our children what we have. Teaching what we know is good, but teaching what we have is much better. Teaching by example is the most important methodology available for parents. It would be difficult to teach my kids to respect others if I don’t respect my spouse. Teaching my children what I don’t practice is powerless. This is where axiom ‘action speaks louder than words’ becomes indispensable. Are we teaching our kids at home? Are we teaching by example?