Do we really understand what our children are going through? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Nineteen years ago, my son Mark was born two months before my due date. After a month in the neo-natal care of the hospital, he was released, but only to be confined again for a week because his tiny body still couldn’t adjust to a normal environment.


He grew up with the idea that he was weak and fragile because he was born prematurely. I would remind him how strong he was despite what he had gone through.


At that time, my basis for explaining self-assurance to my children was akin to making them see the glass as half-full, instead of half-empty. I would hammer this point until Mark eventually changed his view.


Developing the brain


One way to understand is to know why things happen. I decided to take up further studies so I could raise my children better, and relate more to what would be going through.


And this is what I want to share with other parents.


Our children are born with a brain that could absorb as much information as it can. Hence, it is not entirely up to them how they will develop it. It is also up to us.


As toddlers, they ran carefree and fell on their faces. Your bedroom wall was their canvas. As preteens, they seemed overly conscious about how they looked.


In their teens, they wanted to be with their friends more than with us; had to have the latest gadgets; and had to have either great abs or clear, beautiful skin, or even both.


They are exposed to bigger environments as they grow up, acquiring a number of interests and concerns.


How did you deal with all these as your child grew up? Did you get angry, or learned to understand the reasons for their behavior?


Just after learning to walk, toddlers try their best to master new skills in a clumsy manner. The child’s creativity starts to flourish after he/she becomes confident enough to master some skills.


In early puberty, he/she experiences body changes for early adulthood, or the “awkward stage.”


The brain develops at an increasingly fast rate during adolescence—thus the indecisiveness, uncontrollable moods, seeming lack of tact and spontaneous risk-taking. Growth spurts happen, which will also mark their self-awareness and need for greater self-improvement.


How did you react when your child exhibited these behaviors?


Unrealistic standards


Our world is full of new ideas and sometimes unrealistic standards and temptations which pummel our child’s brains every day. And since a child’s brain is like a sponge, parents must keep track of new knowledge, in whatever field.


Even when experiencing joy, a sense of belonging, achievement and conquering their fears, children also go through self-doubt, negativity and feelings of inferiority. Some are expressive, others are not.


Thus, we need to learn to communicate better with them. Listen to them. Even try to read between the lines of what they’re trying to say.


Allow them to speak up, even if you won’t like what you’ll hear. They may not fully comprehend things. We must find ways to make them understand.


Ask them about details. The things they don’t tell you are what they presume you will not like. More often than not, it’s best to let them know what you think and what you know, so they will get used to the idea of balancing thoughts, which lead to decision-making.

Tell them what you really think instead of just saying “yes” or “no.”


Be with them more as much as you can.


Being a parent is one of the most responsible and courageous tasks we will ever carry out in our lives. Surely I’m not alone when I say I have had sleepless nights caring for a sick child; states of anxiety when they are apart from me; empathy when they feel down and beaten; palpitations whenever one of them decides to have a girlfriend; or even worrying about their future.


Hard climb


There may be times we get surprised, disappointed and even angry the moment they say something we don’t want to hear, or do something we don’t want them to do. But if we learn to understand what is going on in their bodies and minds, specifically their brains, we can manage the way we react.


For young parents, this poses a big challenge, as if providing for a child’s basic needs wasn’t hard enough. Have you counted how many more years your baby has to go to finish college? I have.




The brain continues to develop well beyond adolescence. And while I am still on my nerve-wracking, suspense-filled, educational, but ever-gratifying journey as a parent to my two sons, I continually fill my mind and heart with hope and prayers that they grow up to become responsible and remarkable adults.


If you feel you have to improve your relationship with your child or children even more, do it now. Commit to it. Knowing that your child is going through difficult phases, we must realize that the change should start with us. How can we say or do things better?


Ultimately, the rewards and fulfillment we get from being a parent are truly priceless. And it’s not so much what they learn from us; it is also what we learn from them.