In Singapore, more than two young people aged 10 to 19 committed suicide every month in 2015*. This rate might not be the highest among all age groups, but remember, we are talking about teenagers who are not exposed to the pressures faced by adults at work, in their social life and even in relationships. Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed around the world, not just in Singapore. The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020, mental illness will be one of the top five causes of death or disability among young people. Research from around the world also suggests that child depression and anxiety – and the substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide that often go with it – are now most common not among the lower echelons of society, but among children in families higher up the social ladder, where the pressure to compete is more intense. It's not an exaggeration to describe the younger generation as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.
There are many instances where parents have pushed their children over the edge in the pursuit of academic excellence. As a result, children now keep the kind of schedule that would make a CEO queasy. In Shanghai, China, ambitious parents are enrolling their children in preschool MBA programmes where they learn the value of team building, problem solving, and assertiveness. Some are barely out of their diapers.
Don’t get us wrong. We are not suggesting that you should let your children slide into mediocrity. If your children have the capability to excel, by all means encourage them to chase after their dreams (even if it means getting good grades in the process). But grades alone do not define your child’s worth. Reared on someone else’s definition of success, with failure not an option, our children end up as a generation of worker bees who are masters at playing the system but devoid of personal spark.
What is your definition of success for your child?x
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour ~ William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”
These days, our children are so busy racing to piano lessons or Kumon classes to “hold infinity in the palm” of their hands. When adults hijack childhood, children miss out on the things that give texture and meaning to a human life, including moments of solitude and even of boredom. Inadvertently, we are drilling into our children's head the message that what matters most is not finding your own path, but putting the right trophy on the mantelpiece, ticking the box instead of thinking outside it.
If you agree that your child's worth is more than grades (and you’re not alone, trust us), please take a minute or two to make a pledge to be a better parent on the guest-book below and help us to inspire change. Our future generations will thank you for that!
You can also share your parenting journey with our community of like-minded parents. We're not looking to showcase infallible parents with perfect kids, but people with different sets of circumstances and experiences.
Update – 14 Feb 2018:
Here is a collection of articles that you may find useful and informative. We will add more as we move along so do check back regularly.
The video above puts me to shame. I am one of those fathers who pushed my son to score A's in every subjects. Our relationship broke down completely because of that. My wife and I also argued frequently over our expectations. If I could turn back the clock, I would do it differently.
wrote on March 1, 2018 at 10:31 am:
I understand we should not put too much pressure on our kids, but is it wrong to want them to do well? Society is getting more competitive and if our kids don't do well they will have a hard time in future.
wrote on February 25, 2018 at 11:45 pm:
Appreciate what you are doing! We need to change our mindsets.
wrote on February 20, 2018 at 11:52 pm:
Parents are responsible for this. On the result day a student thinks more about how his parents will behave with him if he got not very good marks than where he will got admission.
from Sinaapore wrote on February 14, 2018 at 11:37 pm:
Thank you for doing this! Have a Happy Lunar New Year! ???
from 上海 wrote on February 13, 2018 at 4:36 pm:
wrote on February 12, 2018 at 10:46 am:
Poor kids! ?
Ricky Gomez Jr
from Manila wrote on February 9, 2018 at 10:02 am:
Support a good cause! ?
from Singapore wrote on February 6, 2018 at 11:01 pm:
I'm with you on this one, Stephen! However, sometimes my relax approach is perceived by my wife as if I don't care about the academic development of our two sons. Whatever it is, I will gladly support this pledge!
wrote on February 4, 2018 at 11:08 pm:
? for our kids
wrote on February 1, 2018 at 3:36 pm:
from Singapore wrote on January 30, 2018 at 11:16 am:
Lets not live through our children and force them to achieve what we could not become.
wrote on January 27, 2018 at 11:47 am:
I think people should relax and let children do what they truly enjoy, This way they will develop life skills that are useful when they grow up.
from India wrote on January 25, 2018 at 11:51 pm:
The video make me ???
from Kuala Lumpur wrote on January 23, 2018 at 4:44 pm:
Good initiative! I'll support the pledge!
from Singapore wrote on January 22, 2018 at 3:58 pm:
I do think parents are responsible as the school is only trying to produce over achievers to show off their credentials. Parents can set the values and love their children for however they are.
wrote on January 19, 2018 at 4:32 pm:
from Indonesia wrote on January 17, 2018 at 4:33 pm:
We all want the best for our children but parents have their own pressures (specially middle and low income families).
from Singapore wrote on January 16, 2018 at 10:21 pm:
I agree to this pledge. We should encourage our children by taking interest in their lives and also helping and guiding them how to deal with difficult situations in the light of our own experience.
from Singapore wrote on January 14, 2018 at 6:06 pm:
I am a mother of three. When my eldest son was in secondary school, he was sent for counseling by the school for disciplinary issues - he was caught for stealing and vandalizing public property. Luckily both incidents occurred in the school so he was given the chance to make amends. I realized during the counseling session that this was his way of rebelling against my micromanaging his life by choosing which school he goes to, which subjects he study and which CCA he takes. From there I decided to take a step back when it comes to my younger children's education. They had no such issues like their brother and academically they also did better. So it's not really true that you must always push your children for them to perform better. I am happy to support this pledge.