How overachievers raise their children | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

How overachievers raise their children
The Hizons: Allan, Ava, Allen and Carlo

My father- and mother-in-law were valedictorians. Their eldest was a member of the high-IQ organization Mensa, while the youngest was a dean’s lister. My husband is a classic middle-born; more street-smart than book-smart, he bloomed at university and excelled even more in his sales career. My in-laws said they never compared their children and celebrated their unique gifts.

My mother was a salutatorian, while my father was consistently in the honors class and became his university’s first doctorate student in business administration to graduate with high distinction. My siblings and I joke that we have a textbook tiger mom. None of us inherited our parents’ stellar scholastic performances, not for lack of trying.The holidays had me reconnecting with friends who were overachievers in school, and it was interesting to learn about their parenting styles.

Melinda and Ramon

(not their real names)

Melinda is a former banker and serial founder/entrepreneur of multiple businesses. She earned her Master of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, was magna cum laude at university with multiple departmental awards and was in the debate society.

“I was raised with no pressure and initially, up to high school, thought it was better to be smart than hardworking. I learned this the hard way when I lost all honors in my graduating year in high school. I had very easy, unconditional love from my maternal grandparents, who raised me until I was 13, and fairly easy parents from then on,” she said.

Her husband Ramon has similar accomplishments but a sad childhood and adolescence. “I just hope I don’t pass on the negative energies to the next generation,” he said. Their sons, ages 15 and 14, are consistent honor students, medalists at international math and science competitions and former varsity players in track, football and swimming.

Melinda admitted she was an extremely busy entrepreneur mom who integrated family life with work. The high pressure on their kids backfired in their fifth grade when anxiety became a real issue. The couple had to learn, grow and shift their parenting styles from being results-oriented to effort- or growth-oriented instead.

She cited Carol Dweck’s growth mindset, Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” and “Infinite Game” and Ignatian values and principles on being the best version of God’s gift in service of others, as her influences.

“Our parenting style principles now are unconditional love, efforts from both sides, open conversations, maximum support, being a good example and centering on God,” said Melinda. “These are supported by routines like Sunday Jesuit Ignatian reflection and prayer, regular walks in nature with conversations thrice a week and tutoring them when needed.” Meanwhile, Ramon mentors for discipline via regular “Tuesdates” with their sons and establishing routines like the kids cooking dinner once or twice a week.

Melinda wished she shifted styles sooner: “Instead of bringing them with me on weekends to work inspections, I wish I spent more focused quality time with them. Also, I should’ve spoken to them in Chinese in their earlier years.”

For her, the most important thing about being a parent is unconditional love, growing together with the kids and limitless support to help them be better versions of who God wants them to be.

Allan and Ava

How overachievers raisetheir children
The Hizons: Allan, Ava, Allen and Carlo

Since his childhood, Allan Hizon has been an achiever. In college, he won awards for student leadership, De La Salle University’s The Outstanding Coed-The Outstanding Young Man (TOC-TOYM) and Most Outstanding College of Business Student. He was college assembly president and a scholar, having aced the college admission test.

His wife Ava is an entrepreneur. Their sons Allen, 17, and Carlo, 14, are science awardees and international math competition medalists. Allen is also with their school’s prize-winning robotics elite team.

The eldest of four, Allan said that his parents encouraged them to do well in their studies and to take up sports. The family supported each other in their chosen extracurricular activities and attended games and competitions whenever possible. They celebrated achievements and wins by dining out or going on short trips out of town. “Our parents were a bit strict during our early years (no TV on school days) but gradually loosened up as we grew older,” he said.

Allan described his parenting style as protective, affectionate and liberal: “I try to explain the consequences of actions rather than mete punishments. I praise small and big achievements and express my love in words, small rewards and an occasional shoulder massage.”

He is emulating how his parents raised him, syncing it with his wife’s preferences with a united front. “However, I wish I could have pushed my sons into more physical activities and sports at an early age. I also think less gadget/computer time at night would have been beneficial,” he admitted.

The couple supports their sons’ activities by being present as often as possible, providing logistical and financial support within their means, and celebrating achievements—win or lose, big or small.

“We encourage them to prioritize and excel in their schoolwork, do their best in everything they join, learn as much as they can, and build lasting friendships,” said Allan. “We communicate openly and are more liberal when it comes to rules. We discuss and grant permissions together for activities, bringing them to/fetching them from their activity venues. We are friendly to our children’s friends and their parents. We express love for each other in words and actions.”

The most important thing about being a parent for him is preparing his children for the future: to be self-sufficient, competent individuals, law-abiding citizens and responsible and capable parents themselves.

Dindo and Mia

How overachievers raisetheir children
The Fernandos: Dindo, Mia, Iñigo, Iñaki and Anya—CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Dindo Fernando graduated magna cum laude and was captain of the university rowing team. He won awards for student leadership, TOC-TOYM, Most Outstanding Engineering Student, and BPI-DOST Science Awards.

His wife Mia was cum laude at university and is an obstetrician-gynecologist. Their son Iñigo, 12, is captain of their award-winning school football team. Iñaki, 8, is cocaptain of their football club, while Anya, 5, also plays football.

“My mom was a tough, no-nonsense disciplinarian, a housewife who ran a very tight ship. My dad was an inspirational, aspirational, the-world-is-your-oyster figure. He ‘managed’ us, applying and passing on the lessons he learned as an executive to me and my brother,” recalled Dindo.

Likewise, he ensures his kids are disciplined and respect authority. “I am careful, though, that I check that this discipline does not limit my kids’ choices and preferences, which I felt my mom had done on several occasions,” he said. He described his parenting style as authoritarian and authoritative.

Dindo liked how his dad encouraged them to do well in academics and sports. He learned many life lessons playing sports in school, so he exposed his kids to team sports early. “I wish, though, that my parents had me develop my ‘artistic’ side more,” confessed Dindo. “It was deemed effeminate and discouraged in us.”

There was a time when his work had him traveling, away from family. “It made sense from a financial standpoint, but it was tough, considering my children’s ages. If I could, I would have swung toward a career path with less travel,” said Dindo. He’s since been exploring opportunities that will let him spend more time at home.

“Work hard, play hard” is the Fernandos’ family culture. “I would like to think that by focusing on the growth mindset, which emphasizes effort versus results, I encourage my kids to try their very best in all that they do,” he said. In every endeavor, they benchmark against global standards and aim to be the best-of-breed.

“A parent’s primary responsibility is to strive for their children to realize and maximize their God-given potential; laying out the environment to the best of their ability,” said Dindo. “We learn from how we were raised; getting the good, minimizing or ’evolving’ the bad, incorporating the lessons we have learned in our lives. We need to be there with them every day: re-calibrating, making adjustments, and not shying away from crucial conversations and hard heart-to-heart talks when necessary.”

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