Today the GCSE results were out, the usual screams and jumping with joy by some ,and trying to hide their disappointment by others who didn’t get the grades.
There is no doubt that it is harder to tell your parents that you haven’t got what you were, or rather they were expecting, especially if you come from an Asian family. There was a lot of discussion in the media this morning ,is it harder for Asian families to accept that their child may not be the genius they imagine him/her to be? Of course it is.
There are various reasons for it. Whether the parents are highly educated or have not had the opportunity for education ,they want to live that dream through their children. because in Asian culture parents often live their life through their children.
My parents were upper middle class and my father was highly educated, he was sent to prep school in England and then went on to win a scholarship to Cambridge and graduated from their during the 1930s. He went back very reluctantly to India, had to get married and became an officer in the Indian/British army. I am their first and for the next twelve years, their only child. I was brought up by very British public school values, I presume my father had great ambitions for me, after all I was his child, a man with a wonderful brian,how could I not?
Reality though was very different, I was not very interested in lessons and school discipline, though I did learn to read very early and used to read ferociously . My father wanted me to pronounce English in the cut glass accent he had, I couldn’t,I was influenced by the language spoken around me, I was not in England! My mother on the other hand has not had any college education, as it was the case those days, girls from upper middle class,did’nt do higher education,just what was then known as Matric” in other words just up to secondary school. She wanted to achieve her ambition of a higher education through me. The pressure was enormous, I was such a disappointment to them, I didn’t get good grades, won no school prizes, but I was imaginative, interested in arts and good with people ,and that didn’t count at all. After a while they completely lost interest and patience with me and more or less ignored me most of time. I was given food and home and that was that, I was not worthy of their affections I have not lived the dream they had for me.
It is true that when your parents have no confidence in you from early on, and expect you to fail at every step, you lose faith in yourself. Though I went on to do what I wanted to do, despite my parents rather than because of them, part of me still lacks confidence, I need reassurance, i often don’t set myself higher goals because am not certain that I can attain them.
Though I have been very very lucky in my children, they have achieved great things, and without any pressure from me, I gave them the freedom to choose their own interests and their career path and they thrived. I knew it wasn’t for me to relive my life through them, but they have made me very proud.And it was a mystery to my parents as to how my children have done what they did, despite me being their parent!
I believe if you let a child choose what they enjoy doing, they will do well, forcing someone into a profession/education they loath, but you love; is a mistake.
You may be the parent, but your children are people with their own likes and dislikes, have faith in them, nurture them, pressure can be contra productive.