Parents must be that sane voice in children's lives

My heart goes out to senior tech correspondent Irene Tham whose article resonated with me (Only in Primary 4 and told to prepare for PSLE; Jan 3).

Memories of the pressure I subjected my own daughter to back in 2014 when she was in Primary 6 came flooding back.

Unlike Ms Tham, I only started preparing my daughter in earnest in her PSLE year.

While I am not the archetypal "tiger mum", I felt guilt whenever I wondered whether I was doing enough to help my daughter.

What if she didn't get into a good school? Will her future be blighted because of her low PSLE score?

These were the worries that plagued me and I believe most parents find themselves in the same quandary.

As observed by Ms Tham, the rigour and difficulty of the curriculum worsens in the upper primary levels.

School teachers are stretched in catering to a class of over 30 students. Individualised or small-group tuition may thus be a boon, especially for weaker students who may not have a stay-at-home parent who is able to coach them.

It takes a resolute parent to swim against the tide and not get sucked into this vortex of pushing our children to excel academically.

We need to be mindful of our children's well-being, to fully appreciate their strengths and weaknesses and to give them their childhood.

We must not allow our children to define their worth solely in terms of academic achievement.

In the new economy, 21st century competencies such as communication, creativity, problem-solving, as well as values like resilience, empathy and the ability to collaborate with others, are far more important indicators of success.

Admittedly, it's not easy to resist jumping on the bandwagon. But only we as parents can safeguard our children's happiness and be the bulwark that moderates against the excessive pressures and demands of society.

Marietta Koh (Mrs)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2019, with the headline 'Parents must be that sane voice in children's lives'. Print Edition | Subscribe