Last week, we shared our 5 family beliefs and how we live them. Today’s post is the first of the series where we share how these have helped us through life’s highs and lows. Why is “nurture wonder and curiosity” the first on the list? Well, mainly because babies couldn’t do much hah! When Allie was born, we quickly realized that all we could do was to try to feed her growing mind with a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around her.
The very first way we knew how? Reading!
That meant reading to her before she could even look at the book. All right, fine, I’ll confess! I heart reading very much myself. This was a great way for us to start a tradition mommy loved too. See what I did there? *wink*wink* Before we knew it, storytelling became a bedtime ritual. A book with mommy and daddy and then it was time to say goodnight. They naturally became curious about all the amazing things they heard and had tons of questions. How were things built? Who invented language? Why were there were so many different kinds? When it rains, is the earth crying? Can they actually touch the Eiffel tower? Where else can they visit?
Which brings us to… Travel.
I grew up in a family that travelled a lot. Born to a seafaring Captain and a Stewardess for Malaysian Airlines, some would say it’s in my blood. As parents, we saw traveling as an extension of reading. This was the opportunity for them to experience in person some of the amazing places they read about in books and to get some questions answered through real life experiences. Plus, a new adventure always creates a sense of bewilderment and excitement even in us as adults. Imagine what that’s like for children whose minds have not yet been conditioned by skepticism.
While we travelled for leisure, as parents, we were aligned in what would make this more meaningful. Our goal was always to expand their minds to infinite realities and the world beyond their own. It was an opportunity to help them appreciate the many diverse layers of humans locally and across the globe. They discovered things unique to the city, town or country and it’s people. From mind blowing historical and architectural feats to everyday things such as what they ate. Thanks to Dr Seuss, anytime they didn’t want to try a new dish, we would say “Green Eggs and Ham!”. This was code for: You have to at least try it before earning the right to an opinion about how “awful” something tasted. Turns out, they liked about 95% of anything they’ve ever tried. Shocker!
One other note about Reading as a tool
As they got to about 6 & 8, the husband and I actually disagreed about keeping this bedtime ritual alive. He was concerned that we never taught them to go bed by themselves while I felt there was nothing wrong with indulging them (and us) with a story. My defense was always “It’s not like they’re not going to bed by themselves and they’re also not moving out and getting jobs tomorrow”. Hah! Yes, it’s true, I just wasn’t ready to let go of this special time where we shared cuddles and giggles while traveling to magical lands. It also just didn’t feel right. Then one night something happened that helped us decide whether it stays or goes.
Going into 3rd grade, Allie was navigating more complex relationships (at least in her mind). At bedtime one day she said, “Mommy, can we talk instead of read today?” That was the enchanted moment that our bedtime reading rituals slowly turned into “heart to hearts”. My girls started sharing things that they were feeling deeply enough to make an impression on them.
I learnt SO MUCH! I found out about fun, kind, happy and not so happy things that happened while they were in school or when they were not with us. They talked to me about things they were trying to figure out and even found courage to tell me things they found difficult to say outside of the comforts of our special time together. I can’t even begin to tell you how remarkable these moments are. It’s like I was given the secret key to their deepest thoughts. Yep, you guessed it. This ritual remains till today. It has helped us stay connected and grounded through life’s many highs and lows and even through arguments and disagreements.
How else do we try to nurture wonder and curiosity? Communication.
Remember how I said we didn’t set out to do some of these things? Yeah, that’s because we stumbled on this amazing communication stream by accident. I promise you when we started reading, we didn’t realize how powerful a tool it would be and continues to be to this day. I should also mention the bonus here for new parents is that because it’s a routine and one they enjoy, they actually veerrry rarely fought us when it was time for bed. There could be a party going on and they would wave goodnight to everyone and happily get their tushes to bed! My sister in law commented one day that it’s almost like we’ve hypnotized our children haha. Who knew that reading would also be a very magical parenting gift!
So how do you actually cultivate this love for reading?
We didn’t know it then because it was all about doing what worked and felt right for us. In hindsight, we realize now that some of these things were very intentional. While we cultivated a love for this activity naturally, it was only “natural” because we did certain things consistently. It took a friend to highlight this to me. One day, I was sharing with her that I’m often asked how we infuse values so deeply into our kids, and how instead of being able to just feel proud, it made me feel embarrassed because I couldn’t give a substantial response that folks were seriously expecting. Also, because I never, ever think that our work is done, we don’t qualify as “experts”.
“What is your response anyways?” she asked. “Well, I tell the truth! We really didn’t do anything special. The one thing I can think of is that we religiously read to them at night. That’s it”. She laughed and almost hit me over the head as she pointed out that we actively and very purposefully nurtured these values into our kids. Even the love for reading was no accident she continued. Story time wasn’t just at bedtime. It was in everything we did; from everyday things at home to the things we did when we ran errands and even when we travelled too.
She also made me realize that I shouldn’t be ashamed to share my journey because I didn’t think I’m not a qualified doctor. She reminded me that a doctor is also a parent trying to figure things out at the end of the day. Instead of being uncomfortable, I should learn to embrace it, find joy in helping others and create a community where everyone can support and learn from each other. Yep – she is another special human in our tribe that I cannot wait to share with you some day. Until then… You guys… I’m so glad she took the time to talk me through this because oh my gawsh… do we have something SPECIAL planned!
What to expect and what to do next
Here’s what we will be sharing:
- Specific tips and guidance and actionable take aways on how to infuse values that matter to your family organically
- Additional benefits that will make your parenting life easier
- A brilliant guest speaker for our very first live webinar!!
Look out for an announcement soon! I really wish I could give you a time now. However, we just want to make sure we’re doing this in the most thoughtful way and would love to hear your thoughts too. Do you have specific questions around reading/storytelling as a tool to nurture wonder and curiosity or maybe even a different value you’d like to impart? Please use the comments section below and we will be happy to figure out how we can weave it into our plans with our amazing guest speaker.
In the meantime, do sign up for our “love letters” (a.k.a newsletters) so you will be the first to know when we have these exciting announcements! I will not subject you to something I don’t appreciate myself so we promise not to spam you daily. Now excuse me while I return to happiness fueled jumping while creating our first live session! Coming Soon to a laptop near you. Too corny? Ok I’ll stop Hah!
p.s. Very important reminder: My biggest piece of advise is always to take any advise (including mine) with a grain of salt. What works for one family might not work for another and instead of forcing it, believe that only you know your family the best and will figure out what works best for your little universe.