On July 20, local mom Diana Louie volunteered to give a virtual library presentation, moderated by Northside Library’s Branch Manager Cheryl Lee, titled “Simple and Intentional Parenting.” Over 130 participants logged into the Zoom meeting. Rivermark Moms, the Las Madres Playgroup and the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends sponsored the event.
A resident of Santa Clara working in Silicon Valley, Louie has three children with her husband — two sons, 17 and 14, and one daughter, 10.
The non-existence of perfect parenting, the choice not to compare oneself to others, and the adherence to personal values were consistent messages in Louie’s talk.
“Parenting is not easy,” Louie said. “In Silicon Valley, there is societal pressure to keep up with the Joneses. We personally are not concerned with what the Joneses are doing. Our goal is to keep up with our own values.
“With social media, parents can feel a lot of pressure from what they see their peers doing for their children, such as the Pinterest-perfect birthday parties and expensive gifts,” Louie continued. “The goal of my talk is to share some tools to help parents intentionally align their actions and words with their own values.”
Louie is aware of the guilt some parents feel about whether they are doing enough for their children. She pointed out that children have very basic needs — food, clothes, shelter, and caring adults, which Louie’s parents had provided for her.
“I grew up in San Francisco with low-income immigrant parents who didn’t speak English,” Louie said. “As a child, that was hard for me and sometimes even embarrassing. Back then, there were things I wished I could do, like take art or music lessons and go on vacations. I would not want my parents to feel guilty for what they weren’t able to provide for me. Our limited family resources gave me the valuable gift of gratitude.”
According to Louie, she is a minimalist, and she and her family value shared experiences over material items.
“Something that surprises our friends is that we don’t buy our kids gifts — no birthday or Christmas gifts, and no souvenirs,” Louie said. “Instead, we gift them with experiences. In lieu of material gifts, our tradition is that each birthday boy or girl, parents included, gets to plan their day. They choose the activity they want to do and what they want to eat. Planning their whole day makes them feel special and empowered.”
Louie and her husband also value communicating with their children when they spend time together.
“Many of our parenting tips stem from insights shared by our children during our monthly one-on-one dates,” Louie said. “Our dates are simple and inexpensive. We might go on a walk with ice-cream, play catch, climb a tree, go on a picnic with boba drinks or have lunch and dinner together.”
“The biggest takeaway for me was to implement an annual family planning session with my husband to discuss our family values, goals and relationships,” said Ilana Lam, a parent who attended Louie’s presentation.