As some of you may know, I am Malaysian Chinese and I am the third generation of Chinese born in Malaysia. My grandfather came by ship to Malaysia decades ago to start a new life there because he saw the direction that China was heading and he didn’t see a future there. So he got on a trading ship, left all of his family members behind, came to Malaysia alone and started a new life from scratch, with nothing. He has to learn a whole new language, culture, adjust to the way Malaysians did things and behaved, and adapt very quickly to changes.
I’m unsure I would do something as brave as that… especially back in the day when they didn’t have mobile phones to call home or do research with, or even Google maps.
But then again, if my grandfather hadn’t done that, I would be living a very different life right now… as a mainland Chinese, I would have very little exposure to the outside world, I would not have access to a good overseas education, and getting out of the country, even for a short holiday, would be a major nightmare getting visas.
On second thoughts, if my grandfather hadn’t left, I wouldn’t even be born because my mum is the 4thin the family and she was born during the time when the Chinese government would only allow one child in each family!
So yes, I’m really, really thankful that my grandfather made the sacrifices that he did. Unfortunately, he didn’t live long to reap the benefits of his sacrifices because he passed away before I was born… and while all his children were still in school, leaving my grandma a widow at the early age of 40 with 5 children to feed.
I am sure that he would be very happy to see that all his children are enjoying the freedoms that their nationality is giving them. That they have lots of opportunities to travel and to get the education they want and to have really good jobs and to raise children who have even more opportunities than them.
I consider my grandfather a pivot point in his family line… and thanks to his decision to lead a very different life, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren and all his future generations will enjoy the sacrifices that he has made.
Can you think about someone in your family line who has made a huge sacrifice that has benefited generations after that? Can you identify the people who are pivot points in your family line?
I never really thought about this until a good friend of mine recently told me that I was the pivot point in my family line… and that was what got me thinking about the people in our lives whom we should be thankful for.
Also, it got me thinking about what WE can do as parents, to improve the lives of our children and the generations after them.
I often hear parents say things like…
“Oh but we MUST send our children to school! All other forms of schooling cannot be considered because that’s the way we have always done it! My parents went to school, I went to school, my children will go to school and their children will do the same”
“I have no choice but to spank my children! My parents did it to me, their parents did it to them and we have all turned out OK.”
“I cannot convince my spouse to not traumatize our children because I’m an Asian woman, you are an Asian woman, you should know this! We, Asian women, don’t contest what our husbands’ do. We are supposed to be submissive and to just support whatever they decide.”
Seriously, I’m not here to tell anyone how to live their lives or how to parent their children. I’m here to tell you that we CAN CHOOSE to be the pivot point in our family line!
No one said it’s going to be easy… my grandfather didn’t have it easy when he became the pivot point in the family line.
No one said you won’t have challenges when you try a new way of doing things… my grandfather found himself in a foreign land, not knowing the language and having to learn it quickly so that he could find his way around (Google wasn’t an option at that time).
No one said it will be easy when we do things differently and everyone around us are busy maintaining the status quo… my grandfather didn’t even have anyone he knew with him. He left his family, friends and everyone he knew back in China, knowing full well that there was a possibility he will never see them again!
Yet he did it… because he wanted something better for us! …Like I do for my boys!
As such, I became the pivot point in the family line when I decided that my sons will not go to school like me (or my predecessors) if schools weren’t cut out for them, I also decided that they will be brought up in a stereotype-free environment (e.g. Everyone learns to cook and everyone takes turns cooking, it’s not just for women) and in an abuse free family (yep, no putting up with verbal, emotional, or physical abuse of any kind). This is going to be a HUGE change for my family line which views formal education as compulsory regardless of whether it’s destroying the child or not; where there are clear expectations for girls that are distinctly different from boys (or men from women); where it’s OK to put up with dysfunctional families or unhealthy relationships (for the sake of filial piety, a piece of the culture that I actually question).
Just because these things are passed down from generation to generation and widely accepted by my culture doesn’t mean that I HAVE TO comply. It doesn’t mean that I HAVE TO maintain the status quo.
I AM THE PIVOT POINT IN MY FAMILY LINE… and I choose to live my life and to parent differently so that my children will start doing the same with their children and my future generations will be better for it.
So… what are YOU doing to be the pivot point in YOUR family line?