Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lies Your Parents Told You

If you’ve ever felt a nagging sense of dissatisfaction with your outlook on life, just think back to what your parents taught you, and then make some necessary corrections. Analyse your root beliefs with an open mind and teach yourself to be absolutely honest with what you want to accomplish with your own life. Here is a list of common misconceptions planted into the minds of children who were subjected to a traditional Asian style upbringing.

Now to be clear, I don’t think this style of upbringing is worse for children than most others. For those who are unfamiliar with Asian culture, children are generally raised to be unquestionably obedient, respectful, and perform at very high levels academically. This is great for those who are naturally very ambitious and enjoy studying, but also comes at the cost of independent thought, creativity and freedom.
Therefore, as most parenting methods do, there are inevitably some significant flaws here which I encourage you not to pass on when it comes to raising your own kids.
1. Just Study
Every Asian parent I know of tells their kids to study hard at school. Let me rephrase that more accurately – it’s more like ‘do nothing but study like a maniacal robot from the ages of 6 to 18.’ Apparently, this mindset is a solid Asian staple for anyone who hopes to lead a successful life and career. You should only attempt to follow this misconception if you truly, completely, and totally understand what it is and want from your future life and career.
If you feel like this is this really what it will take for you to achieve your lifelong dream of becoming a top lawyer or doctor – then do it. Going down this path has many sacrifices which you will need to assess. It will ruin your eyesight and turn you into an awkward, soulless vessel of largely impractical textbook data. You will never be a popular, social butterfly during these 12 years. It may take years of intense reintegration into society before you will finally be able to form normal human relationships with others. Sometimes, you’ll just have to pretend to have normal connections with other people to deceive the general public into thinking that you are not a weird outcast.
Your teachers and fellow students will think you’re one of those bright, prodigy kids with all the >95% marks you’ll be getting. Be very careful to not become complacent or let yourself be taken advantage of in this situation. It only costs a person of average intellect more time to achieve the same results as you. The only reason nobody has done this yet is probably due to the fact that your Asian parents are the only ones screeching in your ears 8 hours a day to simultaneously read more textbooks and play a musical instrument. Your excellent marks do not necessarily make you more talented than anyone else, or have any influence upon your future success. They do however, demonstrate that you are capable and have the potential to do well.
Think deeper about why you feel the need to dedicate your life to study. Are you in it for the money? Did your parents push the idea onto you? Would you still have the drive and the discipline to get there even with your parents out of the picture? Could you tolerate the long and irregular hours likely to be associated with this occupation? Can you accept the pressure and responsibility? Are you sure you will enjoy it so much that you can justify all the hard work and time? Can you handle the personal sacrifices and time away from your family? If there is any doubt at all in your mind about these issues, then please for the love of Dragonite, don’t try living your life like this. Your parents may think that your VCE/ATAR mark is going to define your life, but I can assure you that nobody will care what score you got after graduation.
2. Higher Education Is Essential
Yes, a university degree makes you look good on paper. Better than someone without one, usually. But are you dead set in getting a career in your chosen field? Just how much employment opportunity is available to you there after you graduate? Will someone be required to see your certificate upon employment? If the answer to the above questions is affirmative, then go ahead and get your university degree. Preferably on a HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP loan, so you don’t get stuck paying full up-front fees for an education you may not actually need.
Otherwise consider taking on a more practical education route through a trade apprenticeship or TAFE training instead. Try your hand at becoming an entrepreneur or working casually in a variety of different jobs. You may discover new interests and possibilities you’ve never even considered before. Nothing is guaranteed just because you paid thousands of dollars for a piece of paper. You just won’t know where you might end up until you’re there.
Let’s ask some more questions about your motives:
1. Why do you need a university education?
A] To get a higher paid job
B] Everyone needs a degree these days
C] To work in my dream job
D] My parents told me to get one
2. Why do you need more money?
A] I want to travel the world
B] I need to provide shelter and food
C] I want to buy a sports car and perhaps a yacht
D] My parents would like more money and to brag about their children
3. Why do you need a career?
A] I need to earn enough money to live on
B] My job is a part of who I am
C] I want to earn more money with each passing year
D] It will make me look good to others
If you answered mostly A] or B], congratulations on having a fairly healthy outlook on life.
If you answered mostly C], consider whether your time is really worth less than money.
And if you answered mostly D], relocate to a suburb at least 40km away from your parents.
3. Work As Hard As Possible
Working hard is admirable, but it does not guarantee you a promotion or recognition. There is no point in hard work if it isn’t enjoyable or fulfilling. Going to work takes time away from all the other things you would rather be doing. Like spending time with your family. Or going on a holiday. Or watching the cat. Or reading. The more you work, the more money you will earn and subsequently lose to tax. Weigh up the benefits of working carefully against your precious time, and always remember that you can never get that time back. Work hard at something you find interesting or meaningful, even if it may not immediately produce a higher income.
Observe your workplace closely. Are the more social employees doing less but getting extra shift bonuses or promotions because they are closer to the boss? Are your efforts and hard work being overlooked due to employer politics? Do you dread going to work in the morning? Take all of these questions into account before deciding how much extra work you are prepared to do, and how long you should stay with your current position or employer.
4. Learn A Special Skill
Sadly, having a rare talent in something is not worth nearly enough these days. There are many gifted artists and musicians who will most likely never get the appreciation they deserve. Learning a new skill is a wonderful thing, but only if you are committed and interested enough in it to practice it as a favourite pastime. Don’t allow yourself to be forced into learning something you just don’t care about, despite what your Asian parents keep muttering in your ear. Playing the piano or violin would be great talents to master, except for when you have a psychopathic loon who sits by you for 8 hours a day demanding never-ending concerts.
There is no reason why spending $45 a lesson to play some musical instrument you loathe will automatically get you further ahead in life. Despite what your mother may have told you, nobody is instantly special just because they possess a certain skill. There are masses of very gifted people in the world, many of which are very likely to be more experienced than you. To stand out, you really have to love and breathe your talents.
5. Pets Are Dirty
Yes, animals will poop and shed on your property. But they also provide valuable companionship, exposure and immunity to pathogens, an opportunity to show responsibility, and endless entertainment. Your Asian parents will tell you pets are too much effort and that there is too much cleaning up to do. Your parents are, in all probability, lying to you. They might not even be aware of the extent of this lie themselves. Ignore their protests and randomly bring home a puppy or kitten if you can.
They may yell and rant for a few days, but in a few weeks their attitude should change.
In most cases, your previously misguided parents will soon grow to love all the quirky things your new pet does. And with you providing for and cleaning up after it, the precious hygiene your Asian parents valued so much will hardly even be impacted upon by your new family member. Your parents are probably workaholics because they have to pay for their mortgage, grocery bills and your unnecessarily expensive education. They’ll secretly enjoy having an animal around the house to lessen the empty tedium that is their everyday lives.
If your parents do not respond positively to your new pet after a reasonable period of time, and assuming you have not chosen to adopt an untrainable yippy dog, then I regret to inform you that they are almost certainly inhuman monsters. Think hard about whether these people are actually having any beneficial effect on your life, and if not, consider cutting ties with them at some point. You can test them by presenting them with an ultimatum – either the pet stays or you leave with it. For more academically obsessed parents, you can also threaten to leave your mathematics exam completely blank and become a janitor if they try forcing you to get rid of the pet.
6. Honour Thy Father and Mother
You should only do what your parents tell you if that’s what you genuinely want to do yourself. Parents who really care about you will learn to accept your choices and decisions, despite what they think is right. If they treat you badly with abuse or disrespect, deck at least one of them in the face before leaving their property. Your life may be more of a financial struggle having to pay for a roof over your head, but at least you’ll have the freedom to become whatever you want to be. There is nothing wrong with severing connections which are having an overall negative effect over you, regardless of whether they are your relatives or not.
7. Get More Money
Your Asian parents may constantly remind you to marry a rich person, especially if you are female. Only attempt to do this if you genuinely like the personality of the individual in question. Excessive wealth tends to change people for the worse, making them increasingly greedy and egocentric. Why does anyone need to see a big number in their bank account? You need a comfortable home and enough food to eat. Everything else is optional and often comes at a comparatively low cost. Money is often exchanged for time, which is invaluable and usually better spent with your family and friends.
8. Discipline Level
Asian parents seem to swing between two extremes – the ones on the low end are constantly belting their kid over every little thing, while the ones on the high end are always busy telling their child and anyone else who will listen just how perfect and amazing their kid is. If you were raised either way, your parents need to be taken away by nice men in white coats to a padded room for assessment.
Hitting your child at the drop of a hat only serves to make them resentful and bitter. If you frequently scold your kid for not being ‘perfect’, it will suppress their potential and they will become apathetic. Don’t think that they’ll come to the sudden realisation as they grow older that you treating them like a slave was ‘good for them.’ They just won’t bother to visit or help you once they are old enough to escape.
Praising your kid for no valid reason only encourages overconfidence and conceitedness. Your child is not automatically a shining messiah who has risen above all others, but just an ordinary person. If you tell them otherwise, they will be very poorly equipped to deal with inevitable future failure and rejection in the real world.
Treat your children fairly, in the more balanced way that you would have preferred to be raised. They will thank and respect you for it long after they leave home.

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