Friday, January 21, 2011

Thinking Thursdays: From a Christian Chinese mother

Dearest little boy,
While you've been busy having fun with bear-bear, running around and "play-cooking", lots of mamas around the world have been hotly debating Amy Chua's article about how Chinese mothers raise their children.  Not that you'll be interested to know (since I think right now, cutting that toy "cu-umber" is probably more important to you than anything to do with "parenting", except perhaps when "parenting" makes you wash your hands before meals, and make you keep your toys when you don't want to), but I feel I need to pen some thoughts to you before I forget.

I think being raised by Chinese parents does mean stricter rules, and sometimes, higher expectations.  Your papa read the article and to my surprise, he said he agreed with it!  He mentioned that part of his childhood was reflected in what was written...  No sleepovers, assessment books to do when he was young.  Being pushed to fulfil his best.  And I guess all that pushing by your Ah Ma has helped him to become the person he has become, being able to self-motivate himself to study and always interested to learn.  So please know that your papa and mama will be pushing you, in the hope that we stretch you to your fullest potential, and we won't hesitate to correct laziness and rudeness.  But I also know how it feels to feel inadequate, and how tiring it is when you think you need achievements to gain the respect or praise of others, or how frustrating it is when sometimes everything you do just isn't good enough... so I also want you to know that we love you no matter what your grades are like, and that you don't need to do anything to gain more of our love.  We do sometimes have crazy dreams of you being the next Yo-yo Ma (Ju-ju Pa, we used to call you), and sitting in the front row of the concert hall applauding, standing and shouting "ENCORE!", even if no one else stood, but like I said, those are crazy dreams.

We promise we will try really hard not to be a "kiasu" parent, and will avoid comparing you against others, because that little red number on the top of the test paper is just a small reflection of your learning, and does not show what kind of person you are.  Instead, I pray and hope that you will grow to love learning and exploring about the world because this world, imperfect as it is, is made by God.  I hope you will find joy in the little things that God has created, and I pray that our nature as adults to see things more pragmatically would not snuff out that spirit of wonder.

What I really do hope you'll be is simple:  I hope you'll be "good for God", or what adults and pastors (that sometimes use more complicated words) would term as "holy".  I pray each day that you will be able to love God and love people.  And as a result of that, I hope that you'll be able to honour God by doing the best in all that you're given to do, be it in your studies.  Or being a good friend.  Or lending a helping hand to someone in need.  We will, as parents, ensure you work hard, and will try to give you opportunities to learn, to improve, to explore... And we hope that you will maximize whatever talents and abilities God has given you, but remember that these (even little things like praying and caring for others are counted) are from God.

And while we try really hard as parents to bring you up, each temper tantrum, each wheezing fit and each visit to the hospital reminds me that you my little sapling, planted in God's garden.  While we do out best to provide the right amounts of water, and prune you (which usually hurts, but you'll need that for growth), and try to give you the best fertilizer we can find... It is God that provides the sunshine, and God that causes all things to grow.  So we hope and pray that we will be good gardeners, but we will continue to trust in the greatest Gardener of all to take care of you.

I love you, my little sticky monkey.  Remember to be good for God.

Your mama.


  1. I LOVE this. I would love to link my readers to this post. It so perfectly encompasses my thoughts about parenting - especially in light of Amy Chua's book.

  2. The article highlighted certain things that happened to me when I was young. It's tough to be a parent!

  3. Jus, this warmed my heart!! I would say it comes very close to my own parents desires for each of their ten children too... me included... (maybe not the yo-yo ma part, even though we are all a huge part into music!! :D) ... your little monkey is a privileged boy to have parents like his... nothing matters more than a personal relationship with our God... Amen, amen!

    miss vio

  4. A very meaningful post! I have to suppress the KS mom mentality in me as well...esp when I get a little bit worried when the boy is oh so playful and distracted.

    Agree with you totally, nothing matters more than making sure our little one has a personal relationship with our Lord and Saviour..and give glory to Him for all.

  5. Lovely post. Enlightening. I think most asians grew up with these sort of strict rules, of course some more than others. I believe balance is important. Chua is an extreme example. And we all know extremes can be dangerous. "good for god" is a lovely thing. And I don't think God would agree with Chua. She's a product of her parents and her upbringing will most definitely shape her views on parenting.

  6. lovely post jus :) yes only God defines the standards we should live up to. :)

  7. I love this, and not for reasons to do with parenting -- it's been a while since I thought about being good for God. :)

  8. J is going to grow up to be a man after God's heart. I believe so. He is blessed with parents like you guys who love him uncondtionally. :D

  9. Queenie: Thanks for linking up this post! And its comforting to know I'm not the only one having this response to Amy Chua's article...

    Esther: Yes... I never knew how tough it was til Jude came along. Now I appreciate my parents more! :)

    Viola: WOW! 10 children! You are really blessed then, to have such loving parents and a so many brothers and sisters! :)

    Rachel: I think its harder in SG, where there's the push for the kids to be better, faster, smarter. Sometimes I do freak out seeing how competitive it is in school, and have to keep reminding myself!

    Lisa: I agree, the article might have been extreme... perhaps because it was written to promote her new book, and sensationalisation always sells. And yes, I agree that balance is important!

    Bingling: Thanks... yup, He's our yardstick!

    Evelyn: Thanks for dropping by and sharing! :)

    Jeanette: I really hope and pray so, because sometimes it seems so tough to be a good parent...



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