A Packed Kid’s Schedule and
a Deteriorated Parent-Child Relationship
Ashley (name disguised) came to Giraffe Leaning as a Grade 8. I still remember the gloomy afternoon when her mom brought her in, asking if it’s too late for the girl to catch up. Seeing a B in math on Ashley’s report card, her mom was paranoid about this “outlier” since all other courses showed A’s. Ashley’s mom is a successful business owner who had high expectations of her daughter. She wanted Ashley to enter a top-tier university and become a doctor after graduation.
Many Asian parents expose their young kids to various extracurriculars in the hope that their kids win from the starting line.
Such “adventures” can start as early as age 4. As the old saying goes, “no time should be wasted”. With the very same mindset and high disposable incomes, Ashley’s mom chose to invest her in educational enrichments. Ever since the kid remembered, Ashley’s schedule was packed with piano, horseback riding, swimming, math, English, French, and Chinese classes. Her mom told me Ashley is full of potentials, and if we push her further, she could achieve more. And, of course, that’s what her mom did.
Although Ashley started to reveal reluctance, her disobedience was pressed down. Ashley has been obedient, mostly with the belief that being a doctor is her future career. She had impressive improvement at Giraffe Learning. After two years of studies, she achieved a 99 in math 10 and successfully completed two Advanced Placement exams. At the same time, her mom exerted more mandates, repetitively telling Ashley items on the elongated list to prepare her to become a doctor. With Ashley’s improved academics and proactive involvement in her extracurricular activities, her mom became excited to foresee Ashley’s future studies in medical school.
However, Ashley’s progress deviated away from her mom’s expectations in Grade 11. While taking her math and English classes at Giraffe Learning, Ashley lowered her chins on the desk, trying to shift her focus away from her studies. When I communicated with her about her academics, she revealed a laissez-faire attitude. She no longer cared about her grades. The only words coming out of her mouth repetitively were, “I am tired.”
After hosting a long, personal, honest discussion with Ashley, I noticed that she endeavored to retaliate against her mom because of her struggles in the packed workloads. She understood from our career services assessment that a medical-related career fit her personal strengths and capabilities. She also knew that we were trying to help her move upward her career ladder. However, her mom’s dictatorship left her with no space to breathe. She wanted to escape.
Based on this information, I suggested that her mom should conduct open communication with Ashley so that Ashley could express her concerns. Unfortunately, her mom still misconceived that Ashley was simply rebellious, and she should push Ashley back to the preset medical school pathway.
The result was predictable. Ashley avoided her academics at all costs. She paid little attention at school, spending class time on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Whenever her parents sent her to Giraffe Learning, she would dispute in their car and quarrel with them to dissipate as much time as possible. In fact, Ashley equates learning to her mom’s mandate, which she created a mission to battle against. Her school performances soon downgraded to the mid-70s, leaving her no room to compete for the first-tier universities.
“The children’s hectic schedules are caused by the inability of parents to sit still rather than the children’s need to do so much. ” – Shefali Tsabary, PhD
Due to their exposure to the dynamic, competitive business environment, parents understand the importance of having more advanced knowledge and expertise. As a result, they become anxious that their children may lose the comparative advantage when their kids fail to catch up with the latest trend. Although parents may have positive intentions, mandating children would only result in a deteriorated parent-children relationship. In Ashley’s case, if she failed to contort to her mom’s requirement, her mom cannot tolerate such a deviation, leading to an even more unhealthy dynamic of manipulating Ashley to be “good.”
Book an appointment with a Giraffe expert today and become a conscious parent.
Shankar, S. (2021, July 9). A Packed Schedule Doesn’t Really ‘Enrich’ Your Child. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/09/opinion/culture/kids-schedule-parents.html