When parents mollycoddle their children into mediocrity

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Did you hear about the mother who was so affected by her two sons having to sell carnival tickets for a government-aided school as a form of fund-raising that she couldn’t sleep the whole night, and then wrote in to the journalism website Stomp to complain about it? Apparently she said, “You cannot force people to donate.” Yet, when you read into the article, it seems more her indignation to what the principal wrote when he recounted the lack of drive of one pupil, and ended up by saying, “I wonder if your son/ward is like him?” Apparently, the principal’s challenge was directed at the parents and she is reacting more to that than the fund-raising activity itself.

Let’s take a step back

It is no secret; government-aided schools are not fully funded and if it wanted to organise more pastoral activities, it would need to seek funding. I don’t know of any government-aided school not resorting to annual carnivals or raffle draws to bring in funds. That the mother’s two sons are in secondary level in the school means that she is not unfamiliar with this.

A school’s mission

Also, all government-aided schools make it their mission to shape the lives of the pupils they teach. It is more than simply handing out information; but shaping them with knowledge. Such knowledge is best learnt when one steps beyond one’s comfort zone, embraces the uncomfortable, and deals with it. If a young person is unable to handle small discomforts like selling carnival tickets, then how will he be expected to take on larger discomforts when he is handed a rifle at age 18 and learn to kill people? (That’s national service, just in case I was not clear.) Selling carnival tickets, therefore, helps the child move beyond himself, think of others than his own comfort, putting the team before self. These are all platitudes of good citizenry, something that will be undermined by self-centred parenting.

A parent’s duty

A parent’s duty is not to mollycoddle their children and “protect” them from the unknown. After all, how long can a parent sustain that? The parents’ role is to ensure that children are prepared to take on the unknown, to extend beyond themselves when the going is rough, and be ready to help them up when they fail. Over time, as the child grows in confidence in his/her ability to manage the known unknowns, can he/she then be trusted to deal with the unknown unknowns. Mollycoddling will not help. In fact, it will turn our children into mediocre citizens, afraid of extending beyond their own shadow!

And who pays for such parenting?

Society. Our future is in the hands of these children. And when these children are not taught how to deal with uncertainty and discomfort; if these children are not taught to move beyond their comfort zone; if they are not taught that complaining doesn’t solve the issue, only positive action does; then our future is at stake. Then, the efforts of our forefathers in building Singapore into what it is today, is in peril. I wonder who these children will expect to come to their aid when their parents are gone; the government?

Children need to learn to fight their own battles

Parents, stop fighting your children’s battles. They need to deal with them themselves. Otherwise they will never be able to deal with them. And if you take offence with a remark like, “I wonder if your son/ward is like him?” then the writing is already on the wall.

Guess what it says?

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