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Teaching wisdom, not smartness


AS AN ASSOCIATE professor of educational psychology at the University of the Philippines, Dr. Grace Shangkuan Koo keeps abreast of developments in her areas of interest—parenting, learning, motivation, work, stress, aging and life satisfaction.

But for her book “Raising Wise Dads, Moms & Kids,” the devoutly Christian educator said she drew a lot from her own upbringing and from the ancient wisdom of the Bible, the very same sources for her own parenting style.

The book, which recently had a simple, music-filled launching at Union Church of Manila in Makati City, is a distillation of dozens of papers and talks on parenting Shangkuan-Koo has given in the past 20 years or so, flavored and colored by her involvement in preaching and Bible study ministries.

While others feel they already have much to teach about parenting as soon as the first baby arrives, Koo let her own thoughts percolate for a while until she was convinced her child-rearing style with her husband, Caleb, had worked for her children, Crystal Gail and Christian Gregory.

As she said in her remarks during the launch: “You want to make sure your kids grow up to be decent first, and that you have passed the test before putting your ideas in print.”

Despite the modern ideas and theories on parenting she came across in the exercise of her profession, Koo, who was raised by journalist parents who were also elders of their church, said: “I learned the true meaning of parenting from my parents… We grew up knowing fully how much we were loved and protected and in a secure and Christian environment such that absorbing our parents’ spiritual and moral values was as natural and easy as breathing.”

Koo, her mother Juanita Cheng Siu Huan Shangkuan and daughter Crystal Gail.

Husband Caleb also learned much from his own parents, who sacrificed so much before the family could finally be reunited in Manila.

Koo said her foremost goal “is to invite, urge or even persuade my readers to commit to the task of restoring the honor of parenting.”

A gift

The book says parenting is a gift to be embraced fully and enjoyed thoroughly. It underscores the important and equal roles of both parents in raising children.

Koo said she could only do half of the things that needed to be done if her husband was not there to do his own share. “My kids would have enjoyed only half of the world if they were learning only from me,” she said.

She also explained why she talked about wisdom rather than smartness. “Smart children are not always happier; wise children are. Wise parenting brings up children who are trusting, obedient, respectful, hardworking, responsible, confident, morally fit, spiritually mature and joyful.”

BOOK launch guests were treated to a mini concert of spiritual music.

In her own speech during the launch, Koo’s daughter Crystal Gail, a lecturer at a Hong Kong university, talked about how the kind of parenting she got developed her skills for thinking independently.

“My brother and I grew up with parents who encouraged in us a genuine curiosity of the world, to have an interest in things that are beyond what is only immediately relevant to our lives,” she said.

Her parents, Crystal added, taught them to try new things and not to let fear of the unknown or of failure “get between you and what could be a particularly rewarding experience.”

Shared responsibility

Vanessa Lusung Oyzon who, with Francesca Castañeda-Lacanilao, gave a review of the book, commended the author for stressing that the father and the mother were of equal importance in bringing up children. “The dad’s role is not subordinate to the mother’s,” she said. The book, she said, also contained suggestions on how to turn homes into havens for the children’s physical, emotional and physical growth.

Being the teacher that she is, Koo makes the book a true learning experience for readers by having at the end of each chapter exercises parents can do that are related to what they have just read. It is almost like a quiz on what they have learned from each section.

“Raising Wise Dads, Moms & Kids” was edited by Michelle O. Joaquin. Fernando R. Balingasa Jr. did the cover design and Lyra G. Villarante, the layout. Publisher is Church Strengthening Ministry, P. O. Box 2656 Makati Central Post Office, 1266 Makati City; e-mail direct@csm-publishing.com. Visit www.csm-publishing.com.

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