Support our children, whatever their grades

Primary 1 students at a school-based student care centre in Bendemeer Primary School.
Primary 1 students at a school-based student care centre in Bendemeer Primary School. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

It is both sad and heartening to read Ms Jenny Yeo's account ("Teach, don't demand, success"; Aug 24). Our children do face a lot of pressure to perform, but their sense of self-worth should not suffer because of it.

Parents need to ask themselves just how important grades are that will make them willing to sacrifice their relationship with their children, and in extreme cases, the lives of their children.

But let us not be too quick to judge parents or pinpoint failings in the education system.

Today's globalised world is highly competitive. Parents feel the heat, too. Often, they want their children to perform well because they want them to have a secure future.

Having encountered numerous parents who are doing the best they can, we have three recommendations:

First, affirm our children constantly. Children need parents to show them that life is worth living, that they have value far greater than what their (academic) achievements can ascribe to them, and that no matter what happens, they have the unconditional love of their parents. That will give them the protective buffer to build resilience and overcome challenges.

Second, act courageously. Our children are unique individuals. Instead of conforming to peer or societal pressure while our children suffer in silence, help them discover their talents and inclinations, and chart and choose their future accordingly.

Third, ask for help. There is no perfect child and no perfect parent. It is, therefore, perfectly all right to falter and fail, and to get extra support as necessary, be it through the extended family, forums for parents, parenting talks and workshops, or counselling.

Honestly reflect on how we are coping as parents - are we cracking under pressure to help our children do well?

A Harvard Family Research Project meta-analysis of more than 300,000 students showed that parental involvement, notably in communicating with one's child and expressions of parental support, is associated with the academic achievement of students.

An A or F grade does not matter; what matters is that we can keep going, with the support of our loved ones, simply because being in a family means that we are there for one another - regardless.

Shelen Ang (Mrs)
Research and Development
Focus on the Family Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2015, with the headline 'Support our children, whatever their grades'. Print Edition | Subscribe