Mah Khaing and her husband are both the same age, 38, and have 3 children together. But, Mah Khaing went to elementary school, and her husband has no formal education at all. She used to always tell her husband that she knew more than he did. She didn’t let him do anything himself. She treated him like a child. She didn’t trust him to do anything well. She never praised him, or their children, or encouraged them to try new things.
“I always had to manage everything myself,” she said. “I knew best and told them what to do.”
When she came to our Early Childhood Development class she learned that encouraging the behavior you want in a child is a good way to help them want to try new things, and helps them grow smarter and braver. She started to encourage her children, and praise and thank them when they did things to help her, like getting her water.
She decided to try it with her husband too. Before, he was too afraid of her to do anything by himself. After she started encouraging and praising him he started to make decisions by himself and take care of things without asking her what he should do. Now he now goes to the jungle all by himself to collect wood or sticks for cooking and he doesn’t consult her anymore. She used to think she had to go with him to make sure he did it right.
Because she believed that only she could do things right, she was exhausting herself doing everything for her family. Her children weren’t learning how to do things for themselves, and her husband had given up on making decisions because she always told him he was wrong.
She is much more happy because she’s not doing everything by herself anymore.
Their son asked too many questions. He’s 7. She’s always scolded him for asking her questions all the time because it irritated her. But now, she realizes that his brain is developing and he’s curious, so she’s changing. She’s trying to be patient, and answer as many questions as she can.
In Early Childhood Education we teach parents not to do things for their children that they can do for themselves. Then they have a chance to learn and practice life skills. Now Mah Khaing has applied this principle to her family she has made her life so much easier. “I let them do what they can do,” she says with a laugh,” and now I am more relaxed.”
“I never thanked my husband and kids before. After I started to say thank you I saw that my whole family’s behavior changed. They are much more eager to help, and actively do things, because I praise them.”
On the last day of class Mah Khaing was eager to share with everyone how much her life had changed from just applying this one simple lesson. She now knows that she can help her children learn, and get smarter and stronger, just through changing the way she talks to them. Her marriage is stronger too. Now it’s a partnership. She doesn’t treat her husband like a child anymore and he is much more help to her than she knew he could be. Their whole family is happier and stronger.
Thank you for supporting Family Education. Giving classes like these in migrant communities on the Thailand/Burma border is transforming families.
Carrien is co-founder of The Charis Project, Family Education Curriculum Developer, and mom of 6.
You can get her free mini-course on Making Your Family More Resilient here.