High-Pressure Education Harmed My Daughter

May 22, 2024

By Niuniu, China

My parents got divorced when I was quite young. My older sister and I lived with my dad, and our life was really tough. Our family wasn’t well-off, plus my grades were poor, so when I got to junior high, I dropped out and started working. I was uneducated and could only work some manual labor jobs. It was exhausting and humiliating. Being uneducated, I could only be a lower-class worker in this lifetime. So, when I got married and had my first daughter, I hoped that she would study hard and get into a good university in the future, not only so that she would have a good future, but also because it would reflect well on me as her mother. During that time, I did a little business work at home with my husband while also taking care of my daughter. When she was two years old, I bought some beginner-level books online to teach her with. While I cooked or did laundry, I would teach her the Three Character Classic or have her memorize Tang poetry. Sometimes, when I said one sentence, she was able to tell me the next sentence from memory. I saw how fast she was learning, and I thought that my daughter was pretty smart, that she would definitely excel academically in the future. When she turned four, I sent her to kindergarten. After half a year, seeing that she wasn’t learning much in the lower-level class, I had her switch to the middle-level class, and even before she completed that, I switched her into the top-level class. The first kindergarten I chose for my daughter wasn’t far from our home, but later I noticed that my daughter wasn’t learning much there, and I thought to myself, “This is the time when children build their foundation. If she continues studying here, it’ll get in the way of her future prospects.” So, I had someone ask around for me, and I found a kindergarten that was good but rather far from where we lived. I took my daughter to school and brought her home every day, and during that time, I was thinking, “Sending my daughter to a good kindergarten is beneficial for her future. It’s worth it no matter how tough this is.” So that my daughter would get good grades, I saved on food and other expenses and spent over 500 yuan on a smart pen. I thought this would help her grades. Later, my daughter started first grade, and she liked playing around too much, so I set a rule that every day after finishing breakfast, she had to practice writing characters. After this, she would have to recite a passage from her textbook, and only then could she go out to play. Seeing that I had arranged all that studying for her and that she couldn’t play until she finished, she cried and made a fuss. I got mad and scolded her, saying, “If you study hard and can do all this homework, then I won’t need to set these rules. Aren’t these rules for your own good? Look at so-and-so’s daughter; see how good her grades are? Her parents are never home, but she still knows how to study hard. If you don’t study hard, you won’t even be able to find a job when you finish school, let alone have a bright future. When that time comes and you have no food to eat, don’t come running to me.” My scolding silenced my daughter, and she reluctantly went along with my demands and studied. As such, under my strict control, my daughter’s grades improved. She would score in the 90s, and sometimes even 99, on tests. But I would still scold her, saying, “Why did you only get 99 instead of 100?” After that, I would encourage her to study hard, buying her materials to use for extra studies in her spare time so she could score 100 on her tests as soon as possible.

In June of 2021, my daughter was in second grade, and her grades were steadily declining, so I scolded her, saying, “Why do your test scores keep going backward!” I also accused her of not paying attention in class. At home, I would watch her study, and sometimes, when she didn’t listen to me, I would hit her. My daughter got scared whenever she saw me, and not daring to resist me, she would just hit herself; she also wouldn’t go near me. She even told her grandma that I didn’t love her. At that time, I was very angry, and I said to my daughter, “You’re still young and don’t understand things; I’m doing this all for your own good. When I was your age, because I wasn’t a good student, I didn’t have any future prospects and could only become a lower-class citizen. You’ve got to be a good student; you can’t be like me.” My daughter had no choice but to follow my demands.

Later on, I was chosen to be a church leader. I was fairly busy with leadership duties, and didn’t have much time to oversee my daughter’s studies at home. Her grades were dropping quite a bit; at first she had scored in the 90s, and then it gradually dropped all the way into the 70s. I thought to myself, “If things go on like this, then she might not even be able to graduate from middle school, let alone get into a good university and have a bright future. If my daughter has no future prospects, it’ll reflect poorly on me as well.” So, I busied myself with church work during the day, and at night I taught extra classes to my daughter. But she liked to play and wasn’t too self-disciplined, and her grades got worse and worse. Her teacher called me and told me that my daughter’s grades were seriously declining, also saying that no matter how busy I was, I still ought to concern myself with my daughter’s studies. Hearing what the teacher said, I complained to myself, thinking it was because I was too busy with my duty that I hadn’t managed to keep an eye on my daughter’s studies, and that this was why her grades had dropped so severely. Because of this, I didn’t want to do leadership duties, only wanting to gather every week and call it good. That way, I’d have more time to watch over my daughter’s studies at home. That afternoon, a leader came to gather with us, and I didn’t want to go. I knew it was wrong to think like this, and I prayed to God, “God, my daughter’s grades are seeing a serious decline, and I’m worried that if it continues, it’ll get in the way of her future prospects. For this reason, I don’t want to do leadership duties. I know this is wrong; please guide me and show me a path to practice.” After praying, I went to participate in the gathering, where I told the leader about my state. She fellowshipped with me, also reminding me to go home and read the words of God that reveal how parents educate their children.

When I got home, I found God’s words on this topic and read them. Almighty God says: “Every parent or elder has varying expectations, large and small, for their children. They hope their children will study hard, act well-behaved, excel in school, and be straight-A students, and not slack off. They want their children to be respected by teachers and classmates, and for their grades to regularly be above 80. If the child scores a 60, they will be beaten, and if they score below 60, they must face the wall and think about their mistakes, or are made to stand still as punishment. They will not be allowed to eat, sleep, watch TV, or play on the computer, and the nice clothes and toys that were promised before will no longer be bought for them. Every set of parents has various expectations for their children and places great hopes on them. They hope their children will be successful in life, make rapid advances in their careers, and bring honor and glory to their ancestors and family. No parents want their children to become beggars, farmers, or even robbers and bandits. Parents also don’t want their children to become second-class citizens after entering society, to pick through garbage, hawk wares on sidewalks, be a peddler, or be looked down upon by others. Regardless of whether these expectations of parents can be realized by their children, in any case, parents have all kinds of expectations for their children. Their expectations are the projection of what they think are good and noble things or pursuits onto their children, vesting them with hope, hoping that they can fulfill these parental wishes. So what do these desires from parents inadvertently create for their children? (Pressure.) They create pressure, and what else? (Burdens.) They become pressure and they also become shackles. Since parents have expectations for their children, they will discipline, guide, and educate their children according to those expectations; they will even invest in their children to fulfill their expectations, or pay any price for them. For example, parents hope that their children will excel in school, be at the top of the class, score above 90 on every test, always be number one—or, at the very worst, never rank below fifth place. After expressing these expectations, aren’t parents also making certain sacrifices at the same time to help their children reach these goals? (Yes.) In order for their children to achieve these goals, the children will wake up early in the morning to review lessons and memorize texts, and their parents will also get up early to accompany them. On hot days they will help fan their children, make them cold drinks, or buy ice cream for them to eat. They will get up first thing in the morning to prepare soy milk, fried dough sticks, and eggs for their children. Especially during exams, parents will have their children eat a fried dough stick and two eggs, hoping that this will help them score a 100. If you say, ‘I can’t eat all this, just one egg is enough,’ they’ll say, ‘Silly child, you’ll only score ten points if you eat one egg. Eat another one for Mommy. Try your best; if you manage to eat this one, you’ll score a hundred points.’ The child says, ‘I just got up, I can’t eat yet.’ ‘No, you have to eat! Be good and listen to your mother. Mommy is doing this for your own good, so go ahead and eat it for your mother.’ The child contemplates, ‘Mom cares so much. Everything she does is for my own good, so I’ll eat it.’ What is eaten is an egg, but what is actually swallowed? It’s pressure; it’s reluctance and unwillingness. The eating is good and their mother’s expectations are high, and from the standpoint of humanity and conscience one should accept them, but based on reason, one should resist this kind of love and not accept this way of doing things. But, alas, there is nothing you can do. If you don’t eat, she will get angry, and you will get beaten, scolded, or even cursed. … What kind of education do you receive from your parents’ expectations? (The need to perform well in exams and have a successful future.) You have to show promise, you have to live up to your mother’s love and her hard work and sacrifices, and you have to fulfill your parents’ expectations and not let them down. They love you so much, they have given everything for you, and they are doing everything for you with their very lives. So, what have all their sacrifices, their education, and even their love become? They become something you must repay, and at the same time, they become your burden. This is how the burden comes about(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. How to Pursue the Truth (16)). God exposed that when parents have expectations for their children, they always think that everything they do is for their children’s own good. They want their children to be good students, to get into good universities and get good degrees so that they can bring glory to their ancestors and have high social status. They also demand that their children do things a certain way based on the expectations they have. However, they don’t consider all the stress that their persistent demands give their children. What God exposed was my exact state. I saw that my daughter was quite smart when she was about two, so I hoped that she could study hard and get into a good university when she grew up. That way, not only would I be thought highly of by others, it’d also add prestige to our family name. Once I had these expectations, I started searching for a good school for my daughter so that she’d have a solid foundation from a young age. I also skimped on food and daily expenses and bought her a smart pen for her studies, demanding that she get perfect scores on her tests, and always comparing her to the next-door neighbors’ kid who had good grades. If my daughter didn’t want to act according to the plan I had laid out, I told her that everything I was doing was for her own good, and if she still didn’t listen, I’d lecture her, telling her she’d live like a beggar in the future. This led to her not daring to disobey me and having no freedom whatsoever. She didn’t dare to reason with me, only hitting herself instead, and she grew increasingly distant from me. By doing all this, I brought nothing but harm to her young mind. However, I still thought that I was doing it for her own good, not recognizing that instructing my daughter in this way was actually wrong.

I continued reading more of God’s words. Almighty God says: “The expectations that parents have for their offspring before they reach adulthood, from ‘They need to learn lots of things, they can’t lose at the starting line’ to ‘After they grow up, they need to get ahead in the world, and establish themselves in society,’ gradually become a kind of demand that they make of their children. That demand is: After you grow up and establish yourself in society, don’t forget your roots, don’t forget your parents, your parents are the people you need to repay first, you must show them filial piety, and help them to live a good life, because they are your benefactors in this world, they are the people who trained you; you being established in society now, as well as everything that you enjoy, and everything that you possess, was bought with the painstaking efforts of your parents, so you should use the rest of your life to repay them, recompense them, and be good to them. The expectations that parents have for their children before they reach adulthood—that their children will establish themselves in society and get ahead in the world—evolve into this, gradually turning from a very normal parental expectation into a kind of demand and solicitation that parents make of their children. Suppose that in the period before they reach adulthood, their children don’t get good grades; say that they rebel, that they don’t want to study or obey their parents, and they disobey them. Their parents will say: ‘Do you think that I have it easy? Who do you think I’m doing all this for? I’m doing this for your own good, aren’t I? Everything I do is for you, and you don’t appreciate it. Are you stupid?’ They will use these words to intimidate their children and hold them hostage. Is this kind of approach right? (No.) It’s not right. This ‘noble’ part of parents is also the despicable part of parents(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. How to Pursue the Truth (18)). God exposed that there are hidden intentions and motives behind parents’ expectations for their children. They hope that after paying a price in raising their children, when their children end up standing out amongst others and adding prestige to their family name, they’ll receive some benefits from this. If God hadn’t exposed this, I would have always thought that teaching my daughter to study hard and keeping her under my strict control was so she could have a bright future. However, behind all that, it turned out I was just doing it for my personal interests. I had cultivated my daughter from an early age, hoping that she could develop a sturdy foundation while she was young, and that she could get into a good university and stand out above her peers in the future. This way, she wouldn’t just bring glory to our ancestors; her having a good future life would also be beneficial to me as a mother, and she would be filial to me in the future. When I saw that my daughter was rather fond of playing around, I worried that this would affect her grades, so I scolded and beat her. Since I didn’t have much time to guide my daughter in her studies while doing my duty, her grades seriously declined, and when I saw this, I didn’t even want to do my leadership duties. Thinking about it now, there were intentions and motives behind these things I did for my daughter, and it was all for the sake of my own interests. I was living by satanic poisons such as “Never lift a finger without a reward,” and “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” I was truly so selfish and despicable.

Later, I read God’s words and found a path to practice. Almighty God says: “Through dissecting the essence of parents’ expectations for their children, we can see that these expectations are selfish, that they go against humanity, and that they furthermore have nothing to do with the responsibilities of parents. When parents impose various expectations and requirements on their children, they are not fulfilling their responsibilities. So, what are their ‘responsibilities’? The most basic responsibilities that parents ought to fulfill are teaching their children to speak, instructing them to be kindhearted and to not be bad people, and guiding them in a positive direction. These are their most basic responsibilities. In addition, they should assist their children in studying any kinds of knowledge, talents, and so on, that suit them, based on their ages, how much they can handle, and their caliber and interests. Slightly better parents will help their children understand that people are created by God and that God exists in this universe, leading their children to pray and read God’s words, telling them some stories from the Bible, and hoping that they will follow God and perform the duty of a created being after they grow up, rather than chasing worldly trends, getting trapped within various complicated interpersonal relationships, and being devastated by the various trends of this world and society. The responsibilities that parents ought to fulfill have nothing to do with their expectations. The responsibilities they should fulfill in their role as parents are to provide their children with positive guidance and appropriate assistance before they reach adulthood, as well as to promptly care for them in their fleshly lives with regard to food, clothing, housing, or at times when they fall ill. If their children become sick, parents should treat whatever illness needs to be treated; they should not neglect their children or tell them, ‘Keep going to school, keep studying—you can’t fall behind in your classes. If you fall too far behind, you won’t be able to catch up.’ When their children need to rest, parents should let them rest; when their children are sick, parents must help them to recuperate. These are the responsibilities of parents. In one respect, they must care for the physical health of their children; in another respect, they must assist, educate, and aid their children in terms of their mental health. These are the responsibilities that parents ought to fulfill, rather than imposing any unrealistic expectations or requirements on their children. Parents must fulfill their responsibilities when it comes to both their children’s mental needs and the things that their children need in their physical lives. Parents shouldn’t let their children freeze in the winter, they should teach them some general life knowledge, like under what circumstances they’ll catch a cold, that they should eat warm foods, that their stomachs will hurt if they eat cold foods, and that they shouldn’t casually expose themselves to the wind or undress in draughty places when the weather is cold, helping them learn to take care of their own health. In addition, when some childish, immature ideas about their futures, or some extreme thoughts arise in their children’s young minds, parents must promptly provide them with correct guidance as soon as they discover this, rather than forcibly suppressing them; they should get their children to express and vent their ideas, so that the problem can truly be resolved. This is fulfilling their responsibilities. Fulfilling the responsibilities of a parent means, in one respect, caring for their children, and in another respect, directing and correcting their children, and giving them guidance regarding the correct thoughts and views. The responsibilities that parents should fulfill actually have nothing to do with their expectations for their offspring. You can hope that your children will be physically healthy and possess humanity, conscience, and reason after they grow up, or you can hope that your children will show you filial piety, but you shouldn’t hope that your children will become such-and-such kind of celebrity or great person after growing up, and even less should you frequently tell your children: ‘Look at how obedient Xiaoming from next door is!’ Your children are your children—the responsibility you ought to fulfill is not to tell your children how great their neighbor Xiaoming is, or to get them to learn from their neighbor Xiaoming. This is not something that a parent should do. Every person is different. People differ in terms of their thoughts, views, interests, hobbies, caliber, personalities, and whether their humanity essence is good or vicious. Some people are born chatterboxes, while others are innately introverted, and won’t feel upset if they go an entire day without saying a single word. Therefore, if parents wish to fulfill their responsibilities, they should try to understand their children’s personalities, dispositions, interests, caliber, and the needs of their humanity, rather than turning their own adult pursuits of the world, prestige, and profit into expectations for their children, imposing these things of prestige, profit, and the world that come from society onto their children. Parents call these things by the pleasant-sounding name of ‘expectations for their children,’ but in reality, that is not what they are. It is clear that they are trying to push their children into the fire pit and send them into the arms of devils. If you really are an adequate parent, you should fulfill your responsibilities regarding your children’s physical and mental health, rather than imposing your will on them before they reach adulthood, forcing their young minds to bear things that they should not have to bear(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth I. How to Pursue the Truth (18)). From God’s words, I understood that parents should let go of the inappropriate demands and expectations they place on their children. They must treat their children based on the actual situation and cannot impose their desire to pursue fame and gain onto their children. When it came to how I educated my daughter, I hadn’t practiced according to God’s words. My daughter might have been clever from an early age, but she’d never reached a perfect score on her tests; I should regard this correctly. I shouldn’t have compared her to the neighbors’ kid, and I shouldn’t have instilled an erroneous idea in her when she was young, making her be a good student and get into a good university to stand out above her peers while bringing glory to our ancestors. Also, when regarding children of different ages, one should make demands of them based on their actual situation. My daughter wasn’t yet 10 years old; it was normal for her to enjoy having fun and to play around for a while before doing homework. I shouldn’t have made demands according to my own way of educating her and then scolded her when she couldn’t do something. This brought nothing but harm to her young mind and was not truly done for her own good. To truly do what’s right for one’s child, one should practice according to God’s words, treating them based on their caliber, personality, and age. If one has their own way of educating their child, then even if one fulfills the goal of getting their child to stand out above their peers, that child will get further away from God as they gain more knowledge. When their parents spread the gospel to them in the future, they might use the knowledge they’ve learned to resist and deny God. If that happens, the child will be ruined. Understanding all this, I no longer paid such close attention to my daughter’s grades, and I no longer hoped that she would get into university and bring honor to my name in the future. I only hoped that she would learn some practical knowledge during her time as a student. As for whether she would have academic success and find a good job in the future, and as for what future prospects she’d have, I submitted to God’s sovereignty and arrangements.

After that, I read more of God’s words: “When one leaves one’s parents and becomes independent, the social conditions one faces, and the kind of work and career available to one are both decreed by fate and have nothing to do with one’s parents. Some people choose a good major in college and end up finding a satisfactory job after graduation, making a triumphant first stride in the journey of their lives. Some people learn and master many different skills and yet never find a job that suits them or never find their position, much less have a career; at the outset of their life journey, they find themselves thwarted at every turn, beset by troubles, their prospects dismal and their lives uncertain. Some people apply themselves diligently to their studies, yet narrowly miss every chance to receive a higher education; they seem fated never to achieve success, their very first aspiration in the journey of their lives having dissolved into thin air. Not knowing whether the road ahead is smooth or rocky, they feel for the first time how full of variables human destiny is, and so regard life with expectation and dread. Some people, despite not being very well educated, write books and achieve a measure of fame; some, though almost totally illiterate, make money in business and are thereby able to support themselves…. What occupation one chooses, how one makes a living: do people have any control over whether they make a good choice or a bad choice in these things? Do these things accord with people’s desires and decisions? Most people have the following wishes: to work less and earn more, not to toil in the sun and rain, to dress well, to glow and shine everywhere, to tower above others, and to bring honor to their ancestors. People hope for perfection, but when they take their first steps in the journey of their lives, they gradually come to realize how imperfect human destiny is, and for the first time they truly grasp the fact that, though one can make bold plans for one’s future and though one may harbor audacious fantasies, no one has the ability or the power to realize their own dreams, and no one is in a position to control their own future. There will always be some distance between one’s dreams and the realities that one must confront; things are never as one would like them to be, and faced with such realities, people can never achieve satisfaction or contentment. Some people will go to any length imaginable, will put forth great efforts and make great sacrifices for the sake of their livelihoods and future, in an attempt to change their own fate. But in the end, even if they can realize their dreams and desires by means of their own hard work, they can never change their fates, and no matter how doggedly they try, they can never exceed what destiny has allotted them. Regardless of differences in ability, intelligence, and willpower, people are all equal before fate, which does not distinguish 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(The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III). From God’s words, I understood that people’s prospects and fate in their lifetime all fall under God’s sovereignty. Whether my child could get into a good university and find a good job did not depend on what I demanded of her, nor did it depend on her hard work. All of this lay in what God had ordained. When each person is born, God has already arranged their life. Some people get into university and get a good degree but are unable to find a satisfactory job, while others aren’t highly educated but are able to make a career for themselves. I had a friend whose son got into university but never found a job and just stayed home unemployed. Also, my grandmother’s daughter-in-law got into university too, but she couldn’t find a good job and went home to be a farmer, whereas my husband’s uncle didn’t even finish elementary school and couldn’t read many characters but still opened a factory and became a boss, earning lots of money. From these real-life examples, I saw that whether one finds a good job and has a bright future doesn’t depend on whether they can get into university, nor does it come from how their parents educate them. It all lies in what God has ordained. I had to reverse this mistaken view of mine in the future and let go of my expectations toward my daughter, no longer demanding that she use her studies to satisfy my desire to stand out from others.

After that, I did my duty normally, and I no longer educated my daughter like I did before. During her downtime, I would also talk to her about believing in God, getting her to understand that the heavens and earth and all things, and also mankind, were created by God, that everything we have was bestowed upon us by Him, and that people should have faith in and worship Him. She was willing to read God’s words with me and listen to my fellowship, and I was very happy. A period of time passed, and my daughter became obedient. She completed her homework on time and her grades slowly improved, and she would get about an 80 on each test. Although I was happy, it was a different sort of happiness than what I’d felt before. I said to my daughter, “It doesn’t matter what grade you get on a test. I won’t require you to get a 100, and I won’t require that you get into a good university in the future. That’s because God’s words have taught me that man’s prospects and fate are all in His hands. Man’s life comes from God, and when you grow up, all I can hope is that you will believe in God properly and do your duty in God’s house.” She joyfully said, “I know,” and also told me that now she was much happier than the other children. I saw that once I practiced according to God’s words, my daughter no longer suffered. Also, I had brought her onto the correct path. I felt liberated, and I could put more of my energy into doing my duty.

Through this experience, I understood that God holds sovereignty over man’s life, and that He also held sovereignty over my daughter’s fate. It was out of her hands, and even more so, it was out of mine. I also came to understand that wanting my daughter to be a good student and have a bright future was all for the sake of my personal fame and gain; it was selfish and despicable. Now, I’m able to let go of my expectations for my daughter and practice according to God’s words. Thank God!

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