Every parent has their own parenting style. Some are more lenient than others regarding grades or extracurricular activities, while others are extremely hard on their kids. All throughout my life I have had the latter and I know plenty of other kids have the same too. From my experience, most people associate the harsh punishments and high standards with parents of Chinese/Asian descent. People may view it as overbearing and strenuous, often resulting in Asian/Chinese children speaking badly about their parents and saying, “I wish I had your mom and dad as parents.” I remember saying this often as a child, not quite understanding why I was being pushed so hard. I would eventually get frustrated and confused, not knowing what the point of it all was.
As a child, I grew up with the burden of high expectations. For example, anything below ninety was not good; but, I knew other people under the same pressure from their parents. I still remember the days in middle school when our quizzes were being passed back and we would end up comparing grades; and I would get the occasional eighty to eighty-five. Unenthusiastically saying something along the lines of “Aw man I got an eighty-five,” while unenthusiastically waving my quiz like it was an act of surrender. The first time I said that, I heard, “Eighty-five? That's a great score! Anything above an eighty is good.”
When I first heard those words, I ended up brushing it off as if it were nothing and kept on with the expectations which were set for me. However, in the back of my mind, it always bugged me: Why did my parents set the bar so high for me? Why was I devastated every time I didn’t get higher than a 90? My whole day would be ruined, staring at those engraved letters on a piece of paper that seemed so influential at the time. But after a while, with each test and quiz, I started realizing why my parents set the bar so high for me.
When I came home with those eighties, my parents weren’t mad at me. If anything, they showed me how to turn it into a learning experience, and helped me improve upon my flaws. It wasn’t until eighth grade when I truly opened my eyes to the intentions of my parents. If I hadn’t been set with high expectations as a child, I would’ve openly accepted that eighty without batting an eye or even looking at my mistakes. Continuing down this road, not acknowledging my mistakes, I would repeat them again later in life and maybe that mistake would be of more importance than some arbitrary middle school quiz. Even today I ponder about events that took place in the past and how, at the time, it seemed like my parents were super strict on me but they did it for my own good; often preventing me from making rash decisions.
At times in your life when your parents' decisions may seem heavy handed and you aren’t getting the outcome you desire; I just like to take a step back and try to look at it from different perspectives. I know that my parents always mean the best for my brother and me; constantly looking to make our lives easier and our future better. Even today I still think about times when I felt like my parents were being unfair and try to reason with myself. The great thing is that you don’t need to figure it out right then and there; take all the time you need and pick it up after you have a fresh mind. After eighth grade and even today my affection for my parents grows, and every day I am grateful for what an awesome family I have. Don’t end up hating your parents when they put pressure on you; even as hard as it may sound, try having a one-on-one conversation with them to get on the same page.
© Anthony Cheung. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.