Interesting, yes? I spent some time today musing on this question. Frankly, in raising my children, I have never stopped to consciously think about which particular traditional values or habits I want to inculcate in them. I suspect that most parents haven't either. I think most parents just do whatever they naturally do, and the children absorb values unconsciously, by osmosis, by observing their roles models, by sheer immersion in their particular home environment.
" ...... the Chinese New Year used to be more looked upon by me and my brothers with more anticipation than my children and my siblings' offsprings. Why? Well, as children we were less well-off and Chinese New Year meant getting some money to buy the things we want to buy. Our children are more fortunate and they can buy more things they want. Because of the different experience, we develop differently, and I think something good about the earlier generation fades away. The question is how do we try to retain these values which we think are worth keeping.
Therefore, Mr Wang, what are the things/values you think are worth keeping? And how do you keep them. You have children, you think about that...or you give everything to your children."
I do realise that I am raising my kids in quite a different way from the way my father raised me. At the same time, my father's attitude to my kids today is a lot more similar to my own attitude to my kids today than his own attitude to me long ago when I was a kid. So the times are ever-changing, and not just for the little kids. The grandparents evolve too. Today they no longer treat small children the way that they used to treat their small children.
For example, my father is very affectionate towards my kids. He hugs and kisses them, and I hug and kiss them too. He habitually says things like "I love you" to my kids, and I say things like that all the time to them too. However, I don't ever recall my father hugging and kissing me or my brothers or saying things like "I love you" when we were little. Certainly my dad and I are not in the habit of saying such things to each other today.
I think that in the old days, Asian families tended to place a lot more emphasis on respect (or its external expressions) and a lot less emphasis on love (or its external expressions). For example, when I was a kid and my father returned home after work, it was expected that I would immediately have to go respectfully greet him "Pa". If I didn't do it, then this was rude behaviour on my part and I deserved to be scolded or smacked.
Now, when I return home after work, it is expected that my kids will run to me shouting "Daddy's home!" and then they jump into my arms and hug me. If they don't do this, then there must be something quite wrong, deserving my investigation (they must be coming down with a flu bug or or something).
On material luxuries - to which my anonymous commentator also alluded - well, I am considerably wealthier than my father was, when he was at my age. This means that my kids enjoy more material comforts and luxuries than I myself did as a kid. At the same time, I don't think I ever felt particularly deprived of material luxuries as a young kid, just as my kids probably do not feel particularly lucky for the material luxuries that they have today.
The reason is quite simple. Material luxuries count very little towards a happy childhood. As Mr Wang has said before, money can't buy happiness. It follows that kids don't actually need material luxuries to be happy, and therefore may not appreciate material luxuries very much. The fact that a particular toy is expensive is no guarantee that the child will have any interest in it. A $3 plastic ball or a box of cheap crayons may well be much more beloved.
Kids can be very happy and absorbed just singing nursery rhymes with Mummy; climbing and running around at the playground; or looking out the window on a rainy day to watch the rain falling down. In other words, they can be very happy doing things that cost nothing at all.