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Your children are not your trophies

By Nugent Kim   August 2, 2022 | 11:51 pm PT
Your children are not your trophies
Students during a writing class in a primary school in HCMC, October 20, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
In the U.S. I never saw anyone gossiping about high school and college examinations, simply because they are normal stuff for children over there.

Ever since they are six, American students have to go to school, do homework, do chores and get into college all on their own. Parents rarely get involved in that process, and their children mostly do not want them to.

All those children graduate without ever having to go to extra classes or cram schools. All of them find jobs. How do they manage all that? I believe it has to do with the fact that American parents do not place much pressure on their children.

I am only talking about parents' expectations of their children, not material wellbeing or social welfare. Children in the U.S. have been taught to be independent from a very early age, as well as essential life skills and physical education, among others.

Parents over there regard their children's lives as their own and place no pressure on them to get particular scores, awards or achievements. They do not expect their children to take care of them when they get old.

If only more Vietnamese parents can learn to take the pressure off their children. If only they could stop treating their children like trophies on exhibition. Maybe that will allow our young generations to finally live their youth as intended.

Vietnamese society often considers diplomas and degrees a pedigree to judge someone else. I have met many Vietnamese students abroad, who work part-time in Vietnamese restaurants in the U.S. Most of them were from affluent families. They told me that their parents never let them do anything on their own. When they went to America, while they had to take care of themselves and earn their own keep, they also gained many of the joys they had missed back home. They said life skills were something most Vietnamese students lack, and that is exactly why they want to work part-time jobs.

I think that is partly true. I once saw someone who was over 30 years old wait for their mother to come home and cook dinner. That is something I rarely see here.

Besides schools, I believe students also need entertainment and joy. All things should be in balance. My nephew in Vietnam is already 16, yet his housemaid still cooks his meals, fills his bowls, gets bones out of his fish and prepares clothes before he showers. He does not know how to do anything without his parents. How will he ever live without a caretaker? Isn't that worrying?

I was born and grew up in Vietnam. I was taught not only to compete with my peers, but even with my own siblings when it comes to studies. I know the disappointment that comes with bad marks, so I promise myself that when I have my own family and children, I will never put my kids through the same thing. I want them to live their youth to the fullest, and not spend all their time on school and homework. I hope other parents can see things as I do.

 
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