Too much pressure or not enough?

To the Editor: 

A white, stock card comes home for a little girl and she soon is showered with gifts for an extravagant and superb transcript that is littered with B's. Her parents know she is trying her best and are very proud of her.

Another girl is given simply a “congratulations” for her grade of A and A-plus. Her parents do not shower her with gifts because they know she can do better.

You might be wondering who these parents are. Well, I'll gladly tell you: One of them is American and the other is Asian. Now, you might ask: What about them? Well, Asian parenting is actually sort of strict compared to the United States, if you've noticed.

Parents now are either lacking pressure or applying plenty of pressure but I believe that parents need to focus on just emphasizing doing your best instead of being the best.

A Pew survey, "How Much Pressure Are Parents Putting on Students?" shows that more than 64 percent of Americans say that parents aren't putting enough pressure on their children to do academically well in school. Only 11 percent say too much pressure, and 21 percent say parents are applying the right amount of pressure.

I know you are probably contemplating that I am saying you, Americans are bad at teaching  their children or that they don't know how to teach them but the way I see it is that you want your kid to go to a top Ivy league college but, for some reason, you won't put enough pressure on him or her to do that. Let me tell you this: Nowadays, universities are demanding more A's for more courses; that kind of means you need to up your ante.

Also, the U.S isn't the only country not putting enough pressure on kids; Lithuania, Palestinian Territories, Spain, Brazil, and Israel aren't either. If you’re speculating why I'm not talking about those countries, it's because, out of the majority of countries that don't apply enough pressure, the U.S is the utmost country that doesn't apply enough pressure.

To add to that, in school sometimes I hear from my friends, "My mom doesn't care if I get a B; she just cares if I participated in whatever we are doing in class."

Now, it's going the other way around; the Chinese are saying they need to put less pressure on the children. About 68 percent of Chinese people say that, with the economy surging, the parents are putting too much pressure on their children to succeed academically.

As an Asian child myself, I've gotten used to all this pressure. Because my parents are Asian, they constantly are yelling at me if I get anything under an A or practice piano for under an hour and they really need to slacken the pressure because I'm starting to get stressed out and get tons of headaches.

Amy Chua is the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother  and some things that her daughters were never allowed to do was attend a sleepover, be in a school play, have a play date, watch television, or play computers games. They couldn’t get any grade less than an A, not be the number-one student in every subject but physical education and drama, not play piano or violin, play any instrument other than the piano and violin, complain about not being in the school play, and choose their own extracurricular activities.

As you can see, Asians set high standards for their children, but I wonder, does this create ecstatic kids? Hmm, let me think about it — no, not even close. I personally think that, if my mom did that to me, I wouldn't have a social life and it would just be study and practice and study and practice and I would probably get a gross migraine and vomit. My mom hasn't gone to this point yet but she says she's thinking about it.

You might be thinking that I'm saying Americans are much worse than Asians and that Asians are superior, but I'm not trying to say that Asian parenting is better; I'm trying to say that both sides have negative aspects to them. One side is putting too much pressure that can cause stress and then stress will lead to sicknesses, and the other side is not applying enough pressure, which will lower your grades and keep you back in school.

As I have already said, I believe in applying pressure but you only need to apply enough so that your child can do his or her best and do other activities such as being in the school play, doing community service, and socializing with friends.

The question for you parents out there now is: Are you going to apply more or less pressure to your youngster now?

If you are not going to do either, then you obviously were skimming this commentary and should read it again.

Lan-chi Vo