Christian Life: The Correct Way to Teach One’s Child and Be a Caring Mother
By Lexin, Hong Kong
“Mom, you used to be so strict with my studies that I never had any time to play. You’ve changed so much for the better now and you speak so gently. I love you, mom,” said the innocent, lively young girl cheerfully as she lay flat by her young mother’s ear, and the young mother’s face flushed with happiness.
This young mother’s name is Lexin, and when we hear her daughter’s simple expression, we can deduce that their relationship was previously not so harmonious, because of the pressure Lexin placed on her daughter regarding her studies. So what’s the story between this mother and her daughter? And how did Lexin manage to change the way she educates her daughter, and obtain her daughter’s high opinion? Please read Lexin’s experiences of educating her daughter.
High Hopes for the Newborn Daughter
Under the influence of the ideas and views that “Knowledge can change your fate,” and “The worth of other pursuits is small, the study of books excels them all,” as I myself was not educated to a very high level, I hoped that my child would become a brilliant student when he or she got older and have good future prospects. I had heard that antenatal training made children more intelligent, so while I was pregnant, I bought lots of nursery rhymes and began antenatal training with music, and I made a point of eating some foods that would promote fetal brain development. After my daughter was born, I bought for her some education insurance to prepare for the costs of going to college. When she was 1 year old, I began to ask around about which kindergarten, which grade school and which middle school were the best, to pave the way for her future. And so, in this way, I was constantly making plans for my daughter’s future, afraid that if I didn’t arrange things properly now, then it could have a negative impact on her future.
Piling on the Pressure Achieved the Opposite of My Intentions
But things didn’t go as smoothly as I had imagined. At kindergarten, my daughter was getting poor grades in math. So as to prevent this from affecting her getting into grade school, I quickly signed her up for a mental arithmetic class, but every time I took her to the class, she would cry loudly and would not go into the classroom. Seeing her struggle so much with her studies, I felt bad too, and I thought to myself: “My daughter is so young still. Is it wrong to try to force her to study like this?” But then I thought, “If my daughter doesn’t lay the foundations right now, she won’t get into a good grade school due to her poor results in math. And then that will have a knock-on effect to her getting into middle school, and then college, and then what prospects will she have for her future? No, I can’t let her temper get in the way. I’m doing this for her own good.” And so, every time we went to the class, I had to cajole and persuade her and practically push her into the classroom.
After a while, however, I discovered that my daughter’s math grades were not getting any better, and I became very worried. I thought that hard work could make up for any lack of natural ability, so I demanded that she memorize math formulas every day, and when I saw that she had made mistakes in her homework, I would immediately correct them. Sometimes, she wanted to play for a while, but I would teach her instead, completely erasing the exercise questions she’d done wrong and ordering her to do them over until she’d gotten them right. When I saw other parents signing their children up for all kinds of classes in order to get them into famous grade schools, I feared that my daughter was falling behind, and so I drew up a strict study program for her: Apart from completing the lessons her teachers assigned to her, every day I demanded that she do many extra study exercises and that her writing be very neat and tidy. My daughter would therefore often have temper tantrums, saying, “Mommy, I’m tired of writing. Can I play for a bit and then do some more later?” I would then get impatient with her and say, “No! You’ve still got lots of lessons to go through. See how well-behaved your classmate so-and-so is. She takes the initiative and does all her lessons every day. Not like you. You just want to play all day long!” Seeing my rigid stance, my daughter would feel wronged and would burst into tears. Seeing her in this state, I would soften my tone and try to comfort her, saying, “I’m doing this for your own good. Do you want to be as uneducated as me when you grow up, and only be able to find a job that’s exhausting and toilsome?” My daughter didn’t respond, but just wiped her eyes and kept on with her lessons. When I thought of how she had recently been under so much pressure with her lessons that she would often get upset and lose her temper, I felt really bad. But then I comforted myself by thinking: “There is such fierce competition in society today. Without a good college diploma, people can’t get a good job. If I’m a little ruthless with my daughter now, she will have good prospects in the future. She’ll understand all my painstaking efforts when she grows up!”
But as time wore on, I found that my daughter who had always been cheerful was becoming more and more taciturn. She no longer liked to greet the neighbors, and we were becoming more and more distant from each other. When I got home, it would be as though she didn’t see me, and she would ignore me completely, whereas before she would run over and give me a hug and tell me all about what had happened at school that day. I saw these changes happening in her and I felt terrible.
At a parent teacher meeting one time, her teacher asked me, “Have you noticed recently that your daughter doesn’t speak much anymore and that she’s falling behind in her studies? Perhaps you’re putting too much pressure on her. You should know that kids learn faster when they’re happy, so don’t put so much pressure on her from now on and just let things take their course!” When the teacher said this, I felt upset and also somewhat disappointed. I thought: “My daughter not saying much lately is indeed because I’ve been so strict with her studies, but I’ve done this so that she can get better grades. I never imagined … What am I supposed to do?” When I thought of how my daughter would soon be taking the exams to move on to grade school, I couldn’t help but feel anxious, afraid that she would not get into a good school. But neither did I want to add any more pressure on her, lest I achieved the opposite of what I wanted for her. For a while, I felt very conflicted and I didn’t know what to do for the best …
God Holds Sovereignty Over My Daughter’s Destiny
In August 2017, I was fortunate enough to accept God’s work of. At a gathering, I opened up to my sister and fellowshiped with her about how I was supposed to educate my daughter, a matter that had always given me such a headache. The sister shared with me a passage of God’s word, “People know that they are powerless and hopeless in this life, that they will not have another chance, another hope, to stand out from others, and that they have no choice but to accept their fates. And so they project all their hopes, their unrealized desires and ideals, onto the next generation, hoping that their offspring can help them achieve their dreams and realize their desires; that their daughters and sons will bring glory to the family name, become important, rich, or famous; in short, they want to see their children’s fortunes soar. People’s plans and fantasies are perfect; do they not know that the number of children they have, their children’s appearance, abilities, and so forth, are not for them to decide, that their children’s fates do not at all rest in their palms? Humans are not the masters of their own fate, yet they hope to change the fates of the younger generation; they are powerless to escape their own fates, yet they try to control those of their sons and daughters. Are they not overestimating themselves? Is this not human foolishness and ignorance?” (“God Himself, the Unique III”).
God’s words are so real—this was exactly how I had been thinking. I had always thought that, because I had no college degree myself, I had no opportunity to stand out in life, and so I put all my hopes onto my daughter. I wanted to depend on my own efforts to train my daughter well, to lay good foundations for her while she was still young, so that in the future she would get into a good college and have good future prospects. Therefore, before my daughter was even born, I did antenatal training. And after she started school, I micromanaged her, pressed her and pressured her, forcing her to study according to the study program I’d drawn up for her. I ended up placing a lot of pressure on her, and not only did her grades not improve, but her personality was becoming more and more solitary and unsociable, she lost the joy an innocent, naive child should have had, and she was becoming increasingly distant from me. This was all caused by me not understanding God’s sovereignty and wanting instead to rely on my own abilities to improve my child’s grades. Now I understand that people’s destinies were long ago ruled and preordained by God, and whether or not my child would have good prospects in the future was not up to me—it was all in God’s hands. I had no control over my own destiny, and yet had still wanted to change my daughter’s destiny through my own efforts. I really was so arrogant, ignorant and foolish!
God’s Words Reveal to Me the Source of All Pain
Later, I read these words of God, “As far as children go, all parents hope that their children will receive higher education and that they’ll someday get ahead, have a place in society as well as have both a stable income and influence—that way they can honor the family line. Everyone has this point of view. Is it the right viewpoint to hope that ‘the son becomes a dragon, the daughter becomes a phoenix’? Everyone wants their children to go to a prestigious university and then pursue advanced studies, thinking that after getting degrees they’ll stand out from the crowd. This is because in their hearts, everyone worships knowledge, believing that ‘The worth of other pursuits is small, the study of books excels them all.’ On top of that, competition in modern society is particularly fierce, and without a degree you’re not even guaranteed to be able to put food on the table. This is how everyone thinks about it. That is, what you learn and what kind of educational background you can achieve will decide your livelihood, your future. In other words, people intend to rely on this thing to survive throughout life, and they see it as especially important. That’s why everyone sees receiving a high-level education and getting into a top university as the number one most important thing for their children” (“Only by Knowing Your Misguided Views Can You Know Yourself”).
Were what God’s words revealed not precisely the views I had held? Under the influence of the thinking that “Knowledge can change your fate,” and “The worth of other pursuits is small, the study of books excels them all,” I believed that, if someone wanted to have a good future, then they had to receive a high level of education and get into a good college. And so, I made strict demands of my daughter and put pressure on her to study, I made her make up for anything she lacked in any class, and I didn’t care whether she liked it or not. When she couldn’t meet my set goals, I would then force her to do all kinds of study exercises and deprive her of any playtime. And even when she complained, though I loved her so much, spurred on by that thinking I would pay no attention to her feelings, believing that everything I was doing was for her own good, and I kept forcing her to study. In the end, I just caused her pain, and she ended up becoming more and more introverted and solitary. I thought of how so many parents were just like me, who didn’t want their children to fail before they’d even started, and so signed them up at a very young age to all kinds of study classes and interest classes, thus imperceptibly putting a lot of pressure on them. And the result is that the children can’t bear such a weight. Some become depressed and some commit suicide by jumping off of buildings and so end their lives. Is this not a tragedy caused by people living by these wrong views and ideas? Is it not the result of Satan harming and devouring people? As I was thinking these thoughts, I suddenly saw the light. It turned out that these wrong thoughts that Satan indoctrinates us with make us blindly pile pressure onto our children to study, and that they are the source of all our pain, and the chief culprits which push our children to the brink of disaster. Once I’d understood these things, I decided to let go of my previous wrong views and no longer force my daughter to study. I wanted only to entrust my daughter’s future to God, obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements and be a caring mother.
Through Obeying God’s Sovereignty, I Felt Relaxed and Free
Soon after, my daughter had to take her exams to get into grade school. When I saw other parents signing their children up to interview training classes to train their children for the Year One interviews in grade school so that they would get into the best schools, I thought that maybe I should also sign my daughter up to these classes. That way, my daughter would give a good impression when she came to do her interview, her talents would stand out from all the other students, and there would be more hope of her getting into a good school. Just as my husband and I were discussing this matter and preparing for it, I realized I was once again trying to use knowledge to change my daughter’s destiny. I thought of God’s words, “Regardless of differences in ability, IQ, and willpower, people are all equal before fate, which makes no distinction between the great and the small, the high and the low, the exalted and the mean. What occupation one pursues, what one does for a living, and how much wealth one amasses in life are not decided by one’s parents, one’s talents, one’s efforts or one’s ambitions, but are predetermined by the Creator” (“God Himself, the Unique III”).
God’s words served as another reminder that the job a person will do in their life and whether or not they will have a good future has nothing whatsoever to do with the knowledge they have mastered or how capable they are, but instead it is all orchestrated and arranged by the Creator. I thought of my brother’s classmate who finished college and still couldn’t find a job, so could only sell things on a small stall in his home town. One of my work colleagues finished studying media at college but ended up as a waitress in a restaurant. Whereas one of my dad’s classmates didn’t even finish middle school and yet had become a big shot in the property market. All these facts showed that one’s destiny was in God’s hands, and that possessing knowledge had no bearing on one’s future prospects. Once I’d understood God’s will, I hurriedly came before God and prayed, “O God! My daughter is about to take the exams to get into grade school and I see that I’m still living by the satanic views and ideas that “Knowledge can change your fate,” and “The worth of other pursuits is small, the study of books excels them all,” wanting to use knowledge to change her destiny. O God! I don’t want to keep doing this, but instead I want to place my daughter’s future in Your hands. Your good will is behind it all, no matter what school my daughter gets into, and I wish to submit to Your orchestrations and arrangements.” After praying, I felt much more relaxed, and I didn’t sign my daughter up for the interview training classes.
Something then happened beyond all expectations. When the schools all published their lists of successful candidates, I suddenly received a call from the school I had had my heart set on all along, and the principal said he wanted to see my daughter. I thought this was very strange as my daughter had clearly stated that she hadn’t done very well in her exams and that she hadn’t answered a lot of the questions. And my daughter’s best-scoring classmate was not being taken on by this school, so why had the principal come looking for us? When we got to the school, the principal told us that my daughter’s exam grades were pretty average, and that they wanted to give her another chance to take the exams. I was very surprised to hear this—this principal who had consistently demanded high grades was unexpectedly willing to give my daughter another chance to take her exams! Later, my daughter took the exams again and really was taken on by the school. After this experience, I became even more certain that my daughter’s destiny was in God’s hands, and was not something that I was able to decide for her.
In Practicing God’s Words, My Daughter and I Get Closer
After experiencing God’s wonderful arrangements, I no longer wanted to change my daughter’s destiny through knowledge, but wished only to place her in God’s hands, let nature take its course and allow my daughter to grow up happily. Afterward, I changed the way I educated my daughter and no longer forcefully demanded that she attend study classes or do extracurricular study exercises. Sometimes my daughter wanted to go out and play before she’d finished her homework, so I would have a talk with her and say, “Go play for half an hour and then finish your homework, OK?” Hearing this, my daughter would nod cheerfully. Sure enough, after a little while, my daughter would come back of her own accord and do her homework, and her attitude was much more conscientious than it had been before. After some time, my daughter’s math grades improved, and she became as happy and lively as she had ever been.
Now my daughter shares my belief in God, and every day we sing hymns and read God’s words together, our hearts filled with peace and joy. My relationship with her is getting more and more harmonious as time goes on as well. I know that this is all God’s deeds, and that it was God’s words which led me to find the right path to educate my child. Thanks be to God!