Parenting Advice on Motivating High School Kids - Kyung B. Yoon

In Chapter 5 of 19 in her 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, non-profit executive Kyung Yoon answers "How Do You Measure Success in What You Do as a Parent?" Yoon contrasts her approach to what has become known as the "Tiger Mom" approach.  With her two sons, Yoon makes it a point to embrace their individuality and tailor supportive parenting approaches to motivate each of the boys.  Kyung Yoon is the executive director of the Korean American Community Foundation (KACF) in New York City.  An award-winning journalist and documentary film producer, Yoon earned an MA in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in History and Political Science at Wellesley College.


Erik Michielsen:  How do you measure success in what you do as a parent?

Kyung Yoon:  I know there was a lot of brouhaha around tiger moms and as being an Asian mom and actually having a son who just started college this year and having gone through that excruciating process, acceptance and so on.  And, he's, you know, he's in a very happy place.  He's doing great.  And then I have a younger son who is a high schooler.  And, I think, when I look at both of my boys and they are really very similar in some ways but also very, very different, that it's not about one size fits all.  And, I guess, it's not about something you can read in a book and you wish that there was somebody who could tell you all the answers.  But, I think, a strategy that would be very motivating to one child could be crushing to another child. 

And so, I think, what I've learned about how to be a successful parent, and I'm not saying that I'm there at all, but is that, when I see my child, I see that beyond everything else, he has a beautiful, sort of, little fire going on inside him.  And to me, I think that my job as a mother is to keep that fire lit and just to fan it.  And, if it means that he's so passionate about the bongo drums then I'm gonna fan that, you know, because he's really, like, he loves it and it gives him confidence and meaning and that's great. 

And so, I feel like it's not my job to say that's not important, that you should be doing this.  Of course, there are things that they have to do.  They have to, you know, stay, you know, on top of their school work and they have to do, there are things that we have to do, but it's not a hard and rigid rule in my book.