Monday, October 15, 2012

Post-exam ramblings

It's somewhat a relief for ME that C's year-end exam at school is over and done with. It's hard to put aside that 'exam fever' stress that people my generation are so accustomed to -- exam time means studying hard, revising, burning the midnight oil as they say. And marks and grades are the ultimate measure of how clever you are and your potential to be successful in life i.e to be a doctor, lawyer or accountant! Also, having good grades meant better chances of getting a university degree which translates into getting a good job and a good life, and living in heaven on earth, if I may exaggerate. That's the idea that had been pounded into many of our heads from the time we started school and for the next 17-18 years of our academic life assuming we pursued tertiary education.

Many of us, including the generation before mine, i.e. my parents' generation, still continue to hold fast to that notion, failing to realise that times and things have changed. We can't blame ourselves as we grew up in those times when becoming a doctor, lawyer or accountant was indeed proven to be better than being a musician, designer or chef. I personally need to remind myself to shake that idea off  as I grew up that way and even more so because I had been a diligent student all my academic life and got quite good grades most of the time. A university degree and a good job in a multinational company with company car and chauffeur, club membership, travel benefits etc is no longer the only way to success in life in current times.  That's my personal opinion, anyway, in case I tread on some sensitive toes...

That brings me to the point about my struggle with leaving things be with C who is the total opposite of me -- nonchalant about good grades, pursuing only what interests her, not bowing to pressure or competition (or threats!) in almost everything in her corner of the world. It's a challenge, as a parent, to find the balance and draw the delicate line between nurturing independence, teaching responsibility for consequences of decisions/actions taken, allowing freedom to explore, and instilling perseverance for things you don't like but need to do (in her case, it's learning/mastering the national language), focus and discipline, to name a few.

My friends and I frequently wonder aloud now and again why our kids are the way they are, while we, during our time, did our homework and studied without anyone reminding or nagging us. I guess the answer lies again in how different life is nowadays. There are much more stuff that capture our attention and distract us. There are more opportunities and choices in life. Our kids have it better as they are more privileged, because we had worked hard to be able to give them a better life. The challenge is to not allow them to feel entitled, to help them see there are others less privileged than them, to mould their hearts to be down-to-earh, compassionate and godly, to know their purpose in life. A fulfilled life is not all about money and material things, although we tend to tell our kids, "You'd better study hard if you want to have a nice house and car next time, or you'll end up becoming like that homeless man." What should we actually say instead of this?

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