Author Shirley Yuen recommends that parents keep a magnifying glass in their parenting "tool box" to remind them to examine each parenting challenge closely.

Ancient Chinese wisdom
helps good parenting

When kids get on our nerves, we tend to react immediately. Bickering, whining and disorganization can send parents into a frenzy.

"The Three Virtues of Effective Parenting: Lessons from Confucius on the Power of Benevolence, Wisdom and Courage"

By Shirley Yuen

(Tuttle Publishing, $12.95,
145 pages)

Benevolent Parenting

Shirley Yuen lists these advantages of being a benevolent parent:

Respectfulness: If we respect our children, which is not the same as indulging them, we do not encourage contempt from them.

Forgiveness: If we forgive and understand, while teaching them the lesson behind their mistakes, we will win our children's hearts.

Trustworthiness: If we prove ourselves to be trustworthy, our children will trust and rely on our guidance.

Diligence: If we are diligent and practice good parenting, we will become successful parents.

Generosity: If we are generous with our time, care and love, we will gain our children's heartfelt dedication.

For more information, visit parentingbyvirtues.com, call 926-7848 or e-mail shirley@parentingbyvirtues.com

We would be wise to step back, said Shirley Yuen, author of "The Three Virtues of Effective Parenting."

"We need to find out what caused a child to roll their eyes, talk back or slam objects," she said.

Yuen herself was not always a patient parent. "When my daughter was 12 years old, she started shutting me out. As a determined and devoted mother, I didn't understand my daughter's actions. It's very painful when a child wants to leave home, when a parent and child become detached."

Anger was creating a wall between Yuen and her children. "My emotions were keeping me form doing everything I wanted to do. Now my voice is softer and I have friendlier facial expressions."

Change did not come through the advice of a modern-day behavioral guru, but rather from an ancient source: Confucius.

Yuen began to apply the teachings of the Chinese philosopher to her own life. "The three virtues essential to creating deep and lasting bonds with your children are benevolence, wisdom and courage."

Benevolence helps create a compassionate and understanding relationship with a child. Wisdom enables us to foresee the consequences of our actions. And courage helps parents make the right decisions, not take the easy way out.

Now she thinks before she reacts. Anger, she said, needs to be dissolved, not managed.

"The three most common mistakes parents make are being too controlling, too permissive and too stubborn," Yuen said. Controlling parents who rule like tyrants cause children to be submissive. Permissive parents give their children have too much freedom before they are ready. Stubborn parents think they are always right because they are older and more experienced.

"It's more important for a parent to be in control of the situation than to be in control of the child. Many parents make the mistake of controlling every move of the child, thinking that as long as a child is obedient, nothing will go wrong," she said.

"Unfortunately, many children fight to gain control of their lives behind their parents' backs through substance abuse, sex, eating disorders and other self-destructive measures."

Patience is the key. "Every little step helps. A little change in a child can mean a lot, like a smile that was never there," she said.

Yuen's children attest that the tactics worked in their favor.

"My mother started to listen more and tried to understand my point of view instead of just yelling and screaming," said Kristy Hui, Yuen's daughter. "She has learned to be less controlling, which really helped me because I have an independent personality. It helped us both to become less frustrated with each other."

Shirley Yuen and her childre,n Eric Hui, 20, and Kristy Hui, 19, say her parenting techniques work.

Her son, Eric Hui, also appreciates his mother's transformation. "I know my mom has a bad temper, but I feel that she has improved over the last few years," he said.

"I was always afraid I would do something wrong and upset her. Nowadays, I am more relaxed about saying what is on my mind without her getting mad about it."

Yuen has studied parenting and child development for 16 years. She was so thankful for the opportunity to mend her relationship with her own children, she decided to share her ideas in a book and at free workshops.

In her workshops, she asks parents to place a hand-held fan, a magnifying glass and a police badge in a tool box. "The fan is to remind them to stay cool; the magnifying glass is to remind them to study the cause of each problem very carefully; and the police badge is to remind them to act with courage and pursue without fear."

Each person has a role, she explained. "Kids need to open up and be honest. Parents need to not be judgmental."

Yuen's children are both in college. "It's nice to know that (adult) children still need your guidance," she said, but it is important to form connections before they are physically out of the house.

"Now that I am older, I really do appreciate that my mother lets me have my space," Kristy said. "Even though she may not agree with me on certain issues, she is able to let me make my own decisions. I know that is hard for her to do, but it makes me feel like she trusts me, which is key in any relationship."

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