Note: I am an American expatriate living in Peru. Living in another culture offers the opportunity to see things from another angle. We have much to learn from each other. LP
I have a student who is a successful businessman in Lima, Peru. He is a thoughtful, intelligent person. His work is important to him. Even more important is his role as a father. His love for his son and his care for his boy’s upbringing has impressed me.
We meet two hours a week for an advanced conversation class in English. We often talk about the raising of children, and my student’s approach to helping his son ( he has only one child) through the challenges of life. The son is twenty years old now.
My student, let’s call him Roberto, has thought the whole thing through and then acted on his beliefs.
First, and foremost, he wants to make sure that his son associates with the right people. To him, that means people with the right values: who treat others with respect, are honest, hard working and value education. Roberto believes strongly in the influence of the peer group on youngsters. In this regard, he takes an active role in monitoring the friends of his son. He told me:
“ In order to get to know the friends of my son, I get to know them and their fathers. The values of the fathers will have a lot to do with the behaviors of the sons.”
So he has frequent social meetings with the fathers, and when he sees something he doesn’t like, he discourages his son from associating with that boy.
This pattern has been followed all through the life of the boy. Roberto also selected the school for him, and made sure that his son spent summers at one of the most exclusive social clubs in Lima.
He old me that” his son doesn’t walk the streets.” By that he means that until he was sixteen, his son never had unsupervised social activities. There were always lots of responsible adults around when the boys got together in the home of one of them.
One time the subject of alcohol came up. As they entered their teens Roberto allowed his son and his friends to have one or two drinks at a social event.
These events were always at home where they were closely supervised by adults. Now when the boys get together, they are in their third year of university, they still have one or two drinks. Roberto feels that he taught his son to be moderate in the use of alcohol this way.
One time during class, Roberto looked at me and said “You probably think that I protect my son too much. Maybe you’re right, but I believe that my son has grown up to be a good person and is ready to have a successful life.”
He is right. My parents, typical Americans , wanted me to be strong and independent. They believed that the best way to prepare me for life was to allow me to sink or swim. Then I would learn how to deal with the hard knocks of life.
The difference is striking. And yet as I watch my grandson grow, I wonder:
What is the best way to raise children?