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Notable Minnesota Families: The Khabies


By Julie Burton

The love of a family is so uplifting.

The warmth of a family is so comforting.

The support of a family is so reassuring.

The attitude of a family towards each other molds one's attitude forever towards the world.

-Susan Polis Schutz

Whenever I am in her presence, whenever I have the opportunity to talk to her, there is one question that I continue to ask her, over and over in different ways, "How did you do it?" Five for five. Lili Khabie, along with her husband David, raised five amazing kids who are now five amazing adults. We all know how hard it is to raise good kids - kids who care about each other, and are respectful to their parents; kids who do well in school, pick good friends, and stay out of trouble. Then turn into adults who go to college and/or work hard in an effort to be able stand on their own – emotionally and financially. Then pick solid life partners with whom they have successful marriages and raise the next generation of amazing kids. Is it really possible to do this? And five for five – come on!! Really?! Here, take a look at the Khabie (adult) kids and decide for yourself:

Education: University of Pennsylvania, Harvard Medical School, NYU-Hospital for Joint Diseases Orthopedic Residency, Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic (for Sports Medicine Fellowship).
Occupation: Currently in private practice in Westchester, NY, as an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in Sports Medicine.
Home life: Married with three children.

Education: University of Minnesota, Fashion Design.
Occupation: Owner Simon's Show Room in Manhattan.
Home life: Married with three children.

Education: Brown University, University of San Francisco Medical School, Manhattan Eye and Ear, and Mayo Clinic Residency in ENT. Occupation: Currently in private practice in ENT in Minneapolis.
Home life: Married with three children.

Education: University of Maryland, Business.
Occupation: Owner of Digitaria, an internet company based in San Diego, CA.
Home life: Married with two children.

Education: NYU, University of Miami Law.
Occupation: Private practice in Minneapolis/ New York.
Home life: Married on Jan. 1, 2007.

Note: All five Khabie children received various scholarships for undergraduate and graduate schools. They were a combination of University academic scholarships, work study programs, private scholarships, but mostly private and federal student loans.

Need I say more? O.K., I will. The Khabie kids - brilliant, successful, hardworking, philanthropic, family-oriented, caring, loving, and humble…good people - people that you feel good when you are around. People who, by their example, make you look at yourself and your values and ask yourself the tough questions.

My husband, David, met Victor (Vico) in junior high school and they have been best friends ever since. David spent countless hours at the Khabie home, and their influence has helped shape the person he is today. When I have the pleasure of spending time with the Khabie family, I feel their warmth, and I notice the way they embrace each other, laugh together, and are happy just hanging out as a family. I think to myself: "I have four children; how do I make THIS happen?"

What I have learned from Lili and David is that their life has been far from easy. However, through their example, their children always understood that if you work hard, believe in yourself, yet show humility, are devoted to your family and your faith, you can turn your dreams into reality.

Lili and David Khabie (and their eldest son Vico) arrived in this country in 1967 with next to nothing. They left a very nice life in Lebanon to come to America so that they could live more freely as Jews. After receiving some assistance from a few generous Minnesota families, the young Khabies settled in St. Louis Park where David worked as a tailor and Lili worked as a teacher. They had four more children, a girl next, and the rest boys. They both worked hard to support their family, and create a comfortable life. But they knew that creating a "comfortable" life was more about investing in the nurturing and teaching of their children than having lots of material items.

From a very early age, Lili and David taught their children to "always show respect for yourself, for each other, and for your parents," Lili explains. She emphasized the importance of saying "I'm sorry," "please," and "thank you"- not just to mom and dad, but to brothers and sister too. She did not tolerate any swearing and wouldn't allow them to say the words, "shut up" because she finds the phrase so disrespectful. (Actually, Lili couldn't even say those words to me on the phone, I had to guess the words she was referring to –"You know those terrible words that kids say…shut..."). I absolutely love that about her! Old school, but right on!

"But they must have fought?" I asked Lili. "What did you do?" "I pulled up a chair," she said. She said that she would monitor the arguments and step in if they would get physical, but that she believes that kids need to be able to express their anger, and they need to learn to be assertive in life. "It's important for them to be able to express what they are thinking and feeling," she says. If one of her children would come to her and say, "He took my book from me." She would respond, "He took it from you, not from me. What are you going to do about it?" She talks about the importance of letting kids take care of themselves and learn how to deal with conflict, which she believes helps them develop a strong sense of who they are.

Lili remembers that when she was a child, she was not encouraged to think on her own, and instead of letting her resolve conflict with her siblings, her parents would step in to solve the problems. "When someone else steps in to solve your problems, it teaches you to give up easily," Lili explains. "I did the opposite of my parents. I let my kids work things out for themselves, and would only help if things were getting out of hand."

Lili was very much about the kids finding out who they are in their own right and not measuring themselves against their siblings or peers. If one would say, "Well look at him," or "He did…" Lili would say, "Look at yourself. You are special and you do not need to compare yourself with him. What do you want to accomplish for yourself?" Lili didn't even like the idea of her kids being in the "gifted" programs in school. "I didn't want them to feel like they are better than others," she explains.

When asked to divulge the "secret weapon" his parents used to raise incredible kids, Vico explains, "After going over how I was raised and why we all turned out well, I can only conclude that I have no idea as to what my parents did that was so special. But they loved us all, without conditions. They were very proud of even our smallest achievements, and did not pressure us at all. Danny's High school graduation held as much clout as my Harvard Medical School Graduation!"

My husband explains their parenting strategy like this, "Lili and David taught their kids to embrace their individuality, but never stop embracing each other."

Categories: Family,

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