I was raised by a Tiger Mom. My mom wanted me to excel in everything–from my academics to extra curricular activities. What my mom didn’t know back then is that the pressure she put me through had a negative impact on me. Although I am thankful that she pushed me towards greatness (because I wouldn’t be the way I am now if I slacked off when I was a kid), I feel like it would have been better if she also allowed me to try and fail instead of keeping me from failing at all. I guess this is why I used to find it hard to accept failure. I also used to measure my success with numbers.
It was in college when I started to shift my thinking. I will always remember what my Philosophy teacher said after handing over my very first F in my very first Philosophy exam: “You are not your grades.” So I just held my head up high, studied more, took the next exam, and passed it.
I brought this lesson with me even after college and applied it to our family life. When our two kids started studying, we didn’t pressure them to get perfect scores in their exams. We didn’t make them sit for hours reviewing–that wouldn’t be fun at all. Instead, we made studying fun by bringing them out into the world. They learned counting and colors through our nature walks. They learned to read (signs at first) through our travels then longer sentences through our karaoke nights. They learned to write their letters on the beach; their first words on the pavement.
And when they don’t get a very good grade in an exam, we don’t lash out on them. Rather, we tell them that we know they tried their best to prepare for that test and that maybe they should try a little bit harder for the next one…which they would always do. When they make a mess at home, we don’t scold them about being so messy and naughty. Instead, we make them clean up their mess.
What we want to instill in them is that there are consequences for every thing they do–but that their parents will always be around to guide them, even help them if they need it. The important thing is, perfect or not, we love them the same.
That’s why when my husband and I saw McDonald’s commercial, “Laging Mahal ni Nanay at Tatay,” we truly connected with it. You see, what’s most important for our family is life schooling. While part of going to school is to create a knowledge base that will be a child’s foundation for his/her future career, parents should also realize that going to school is also an opportunity for children to learn important life lessons, such as failing and trying again and creating meaningful relationships. This is why during parent-teacher meetings, we dwell more on our kids’ behavior towards their teachers and their relationships with their classmates.
I have to admit, life schooling kids is a test of a parent’s patience… but just do it because it will pay off later! You’ll be thankful you taught your kids important life lessons–and they’ll be thankful you taught them too when they’re adults.
Let them be kids! Whether they finish first, last, or not at all, for parents, their kids are the best!