When our daughter broke our heirloom

Posted by: Joseph Kuo | October 14, 2019

Today, during a hide-n-seek game with her friends, our 11-old daughter fell while running. Her momentum carried her knee right into a jade antique, smashing our most expensive heirloom into pieces.

Upon seeing the shattered jade sculpture on the ground, my mind flooded with so many emotions it went blank. The sadness of losing a rare antique to the world, guilt of failing to keep the family treasure safe, anger with my daughter’s careless choices and our own ineffective parenting, and compassion when I saw the overwhelming fear in my daughter’s eyes–all of these emotions all came at me like tidal waves during a storm.

The jade sculpture was a centerpiece of the legacy we want to leave our children. Through our legacy, we wanted the kids to be proud of where they came from, to be inspired by excellence and to remember our love for them. The extinguishment of that dream was both painful and surreal.

Then our training kicked in

Thankfully, this was when all the training and work we did around grief, loss and wealth started kicking in to help us. The jade sculpture is shattered, but our relationship and legacy do not have to be. How can we use this event as an opportunity to create a memorable story that can be told generation after generation? After all, isn’t that what we wanted this centerpiece to do?

As compassion took over, I saw a little girl racked with guilt who believed that she couldn’t be trusted to be around anything valuable. She felt like she is always clumsy and promised to be super careful around everything going forward. In that moment of loss, she started forming beliefs from the lessons she just learned and she started developing patterns to avoid similar pain in the future.

Compassion and abundance, not punishment and wrath

So, my wife and I took the path of compassion and abundance. Yes, our daughter was responsible and accountable for what happened. And we encouraged her to tell us what that means and how she will look at life differently. We had a conversation where we affirmed her experience.  We invited her to consider what consequences there may be if she chooses to believe that she cannot be trusted.  What life might lie ahead of her if she surrenders to the belief that she is clumsy and must always be super careful.

Fear and guilt dissipated from our daughter’s eyes and the confident, playful little girl returned. Only this time, this girl knows that she is loved, and also learned a bit more about intentional decision making. What more can parents ask for?