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.
from Singapore wrote on January 14, 2018 at 3:43 pm:
I think what’s important is that your child, at any age or stage, is making an effort and is growing into a responsible human being who may tomorrow actually end up doing very well in life, whatever the grades.
from Singapore wrote on January 14, 2018 at 3:08 pm:
I am being considered a successful mother and also given the title of super mom. But I totally agree with you that there are at times I feel that our kids are not given liberty of choosing their own path.
from Shibuya wrote on January 13, 2018 at 10:53 am:
It's so sad our children have to face all this in their life..
Stephen wrote on January 12, 2018 at 4:12 pm:
When everyone else is doing one thing, it takes a lot of courage to do the other. But as adults, we have the experience and mental fortitude to do so, unlike our children who are unable (or do not know how) to exercise their choices. Stay strong!
Stephen wrote on January 12, 2018 at 4:02 pm:
Thanks all for your messages! Some of you may be hesitant to leave an entry because you don't want to use your email address. Please note that your email address will not be published. If you're still uncomfortable, you can use a throwaway email address, as long as you can submit your entry with that.
from Ahmedabad wrote on January 8, 2018 at 3:33 pm:
The video make me cry. Hope this will change things.
from Singapore wrote on January 6, 2018 at 3:49 pm:
I think this is a good reminder to all kiasu parents out there who keep pushing their children to compete in the rat race. Be more observant of your child's needs or one day you will push them too far and it will be too late to regret.
from KL wrote on January 4, 2018 at 11:30 pm:
from Hyderabad wrote on January 3, 2018 at 11:32 am:
I watched the video and I must say I'm getting worried. My son is taking his HSE this year and both my husband and I are quite anxious as his grades are just above average. Guess we need to engage with him more to make sure he's doing ok.
from Singapore wrote on January 2, 2018 at 3:58 pm:
I just want to quickly get this off my chest. I used to have quite a laidback attitude for my son's education, thinking that as a boy he might be a late bloomer. But my in-laws all have kids in the top schools and only mine was in a neighborhood school so everytime we have family gathering, they will keep talking about how good the kids are doing and whether they should go to Harvard or Cambridge. My son's school also keep telling me that he must do better if he wants to go to a good school. So as parents we also get a lot of pressure from our social circles. I wish I can ignore them, but it's very hard. 🙁
from Singapore wrote on January 2, 2018 at 3:30 pm:
Thank you for this! I hope more parents will make the pledge.
from India wrote on January 1, 2018 at 11:00 pm:
Yes, I am concerned that my children are getting too much pressure from everyone around them, including us. Thanks for bringing this up and I hereby pledge to support this movement.
from Singapore wrote on December 29, 2017 at 11:10 am:
Definitely support this! My daughter will be taking her PSLE in 2 year's time and I don't want her to go through the stressful time like so many others.
from 香港 wrote on December 28, 2017 at 9:29 am:
from Singapore wrote on December 26, 2017 at 12:12 pm:
Good initiative but I wonder how does this make a difference. In most families, it's the mother that calls the shot on matters regarding education. We just discipline the kids when they don't listen to their mom.
from Hyderabad wrote on December 26, 2017 at 12:42 am:
I am making the pledge here. Please tell me what else should I do..
from Singapore wrote on December 25, 2017 at 1:08 pm:
+1 to this!
from Singapore wrote on December 25, 2017 at 1:06 pm:
Thanks for the reminder! I had a difficult time with my son when he took his PSLE last year. Our relationship suffered because I was really like a tiger mum, always nagging at him and scolding him for not studying. I attended a parenting talk and learned to give him a bit of space. Things got better after that.
from Manila wrote on December 23, 2017 at 11:01 pm:
I support this even though the situation in my country is not as bad. Our schools can certainly be more competitive on the global stage but definitely not at the expense of our children's happiness.
from Jakarta wrote on December 21, 2017 at 10:42 pm: