High expectations of children tarnishes image of Chinese mothers
- High expectations of children tarnishes image of Chinese mothers
Ancient Chinese litterateurs who described mothers as gentle and
warm-hearted might feel stunned to read their potential successors'
In a recent writing contest for primary and high school students held
in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, mothers became
"chameleon", "tigress" and "lioness" under the pens of some contestants.
What estranged mothers from their kids, according to the students'
writings, was the tremendous expectations parents have of their offspring.
As mothers commonly play a leading role in children education in
Chinese families, it is natural that children vent their complaints on
them, said sociologist Zheng Dandan with the Wuhan- based Huazhong
University of Technology.
In a composition titled "Please spare me some time" for fifth- grade
pupils, about 3,000 out of the 4,200 contestants complained that they
were pushed by their mothers to attend various after- class or weekend
training courses. From mathematics and English to painting and piano
lessons, not to mention home assignments, the children felt they had
too much to do.
The children said their mothers' moods depended solely on their
performance in school exams. They could not tolerate even tiny errors
and would flare up if they showed any sign of disobedience.
"Nothing else for me except training courses, and I felt I would go
crazy. I dashed into my room, shut the door, found out a composition
named 'I Love Mother' I wrote when I was a second grader and tore it
into pieces," a contestant wrote after a quarrel with his mother.
Pressure caused by too much school work, after-class training classes
and examinations was also ranked the No. 1 trouble by students in
Tianjin, a port city in north China, in a recent essay writing contest
sponsored by Jinwan Bao, the city's evening newspaper.
Students complained in the writing that their parents had too high an
expectation of them, and always compared them with other kids, saying
that they would always feel nervous when examinations came.
Mothers, however, are not the only people to blame, experts explained.
Beneath the estrangement between mothers and children lies a
confrontation between children and society, sociologist Zheng Dandan said.
College admissions and promising work opportunities serve as the
standards for society to judge young people's ability and success and
parents naturally emphasize this, Zheng said.
Parents' avid expectations of their kids throws youngsters into
marathons of competition almost from birth, acknowledged sociology
professor Luo Jiaojiang with Wuhan University.
Nowadays, Chinese children in cities start taking classes in English,
painting, or whatever else their parents desire when they are in
kindergarten or even when they are still toddlers.
Other subjects are added to children's home curricula scheme devised
by their parents until the days children go to college. Parents do
hope all the extra burdens on the young can help sharpen their
children's edge in future social competition and pave the way for
their ideal future careers.
In this way, education experts and sociologists said, many parents
have turned their homes into classrooms for children, depriving them
of time for entertainment and rest.
Lou Wen, a company clerk in Wuhan whose child attended a training
class of mathematics, said she herself did not intend to distress her
child with so many mathematics puzzles, but she had to do so because
children face many difficult, unexpected problems in exams which
lessons in school may not deal with.
"Many parents send their children to training classes and it is just a
fashion or a fever. But does our society really need so many
mathematics talents?" the woman said.
Professor Xiao Binheng with the School of Education under elite
Jianghan University based in Wuhan said that something has gone wrong
with the current educational conception.
"Both schools and parents are too utilitarian when they only see
children's examination performance and good work opportunities as the
sole criteria on children's growth and success," the professor said.
As pointed out by Luo and some other experts, such an overemphasis has
resulted in a negligence of character and moral cultivation among
The estrangement between children and parents caused by overpressure
of study is a tragedy both for parents and schools, Luo said.