Preparing Our Children for the Future

Teaching and learning occupied a large fraction of my retirement life: after-school tutoring, church bible schooling, church counseling, small group studying, chamber music rehearsing and choir practicing, etc. My children had graduated from the universities and are working now. Thinking back on my parenting, it could be better. Reading “Time” magazine on January 31, 2011 issue, with the cover page – The Truth about Tiger Moms, my already archived childhood memories were brought back fresh, almost.

  • “Love and compassion, plus punishingly high expectations: this is how Chua herself was raised.”
  • “….. never accepting a grade lower than an A, of insisting on hours of math and spelling drills and piano and violin practice each day …”
  •  “…..calling her daughter Sophia “garbage”, the same thing Chua had been called as a child by her strict Chinese father.”
  • “When Chua took her father to an awards assembly at which she received second prize, he was furious. ““Never, ever disgrace me like that again,”” he told her.”
  • Western parents are concerned about their children’s psyches. Chinese parents aren’t. They assume strength, not fragility, and as a result they behave very differently.

All these sounded familiar!

I am a permissive father as a result of reacting to my parent’s exceedingly harsh and strict parenting. On the contrary, my wife is sort of Tiger Mom but not as strict as Chua is. Nevertheless, one time my son got mad on my wife and said “All you concern is your stupid Chinese “”face”” and competing against other Chinese mothers.”

Those things bother me in Chua’s parenting are:

  • Drive the children to nearly become “perfectionist.”
  • Encourage the children to “compete” and not to “help” each other.
  • Prevent the children from “group learning.”
  • Stamp in the children’s memory with “verbal abuses.”
  • Give the children an impression that they won’t be loved if they cannot meet the standards that the parents set.

Through attending Forerunner Church’s winter conference (see my earlier post “The Power of Vulnerability — Authenticity Explained), I learned how many people were hurt by their childhood pains resulting from the mistreatment by their parents and the authorities. The church talked about “orphan’s heart”. In their hearts are the anxieties of “competition”, “perfection”, “achievements”, “unworthiness”, “shame” and “pride”, etc. The Chinese communities start to realize the inadequacy of our traditional parenting method and are trying to adjust, if not correct them.

The thing most concerned me is Chua’s comment: “They did not think about children’s happiness. They thought about preparing us (children) for the future.” The point is that we cannot even predict what will happen in the next 3 or 5 years, not mentioning the times when our children are grown up. So, what kinds of “future” are we talking about?

Educations in Taiwan (I was born there), Japan (my wife’s teen life was spent there) and China and other far eastern countries are aimed in preparing the children for the “Universities”. The continuous “drilling” and “studying” in the “after-school classes” reduce the time for the children for other activities. Then the education systems mass produce students for the employment by the industries. Art classes are either cut or even removed. Arts are to teach student enjoying “aesthetics experience” but we are getting our children through education by “anestheticing” them (see YouTube video clip below).  Similarly, we selectively “numb” our pains through addictions on alcohols, drugs and other means, and not ease our pains through the “aesthetics” of arts.

“With a stroke of her razor-sharp pen, Chua has set a whole nation of parents to wondering: Are we the losers she’s talking about?” American education, particularly the pre-college educations have some weakness – lower scores on math and readings compare to other industrial nations. “But American parenting, at its best, combines ambitious expectations and a loving environment with a respect for each child’s individual differences and flexibility in the parental roles and behavior.”

We hope to improve our education systems not only to raise the academic standards of our young, but also to nurture the “creative” capacities of our children so that they can face the “future” in their own terms and not ours.

Here is an excellent talk about prepare our children for the future

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