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Some parents need to wake up

By MichaelM ( Updated: 2014-06-19 11:03

A recent article that I read here in China Daily struck a deep chord with me. The article was about Chinese parents sending their pre-college aged children to boarding schools. Three reasons were given by parents as to why they would send their young children away from their homes and families to attend such a school. One was, parents are too busy and didn't have time for their children. Two was, children were so unruly and misbehaved that parents couldn't control them. The third one was, parents wanted their children in good schools to increase their opportunities later in their education and in life.

The first two, seems to me, are copouts for parents who don't want to assume the responsibilities of parenting. In the West, we would say that such parents shouldn't be having children. That might sound a bit inhuman given that we all should have the opportunity to have offspring and perpetuate our lineage through our children. However, I think that it is no more inhuman than having children and then, not taking the responsibilities of raising them. The biggest loser in the end becomes the child.

Another problem that this situation creates is the problem of parents who constantly complain about teachers and their child's education. I think that parents who do this are simply acting out of their own guilt of not raising their child themselves. They are paying the schools and teachers to raise their children for them. It is a sensitive issue because it involves the welfare and raising of children. And, in light of that, I find it quite appalling that people who deem money more important than raising their child should feel guilty. They are guilty of not accepting their responsibilities as parents.

As a foreigner here in China, I hear a lot of judgment and criticism regarding what is perceived to be the lack of family values in the West. Let me say that this situation regarding sending away small children (one of the children mentioned in the article was 6 years old; hardly old enough to be far from their parents for 5 days a week) is not an issue in the West. First, there are few boarding schools. There are some, but generally, those boarding schools in the West are only for the ultra-wealthy families.

According to the Association of Boarding Schools, there are about 300 such schools in the USA and Canada combined. Compare that with over 33,000 private schools there. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 98,817 public schools during the 2009-2010 school year, none of which were reported to provide boarding for students. Most of these boarding schools have a very low enrollment and average less than 750 students per school. Less than one-tenth of 1% of pre-college U.S. students board at their school.

Now, I'm not saying parents are better parents in the U.S. or in China. That is something that is truly immeasurable. The influences of illegal drugs and other negatives, which don't seem to be a problem in China, desperately plague Western school children. I am saying that children in the West are raised by their parents and not teachers (except to the extent that teachers influence children the 6.5-7 hours a day, five days a week that they are in school).

I'm giving a strong opinion about this subject, which is a rarity for me. However, children's lives are at stake. I love my students and truly care about their education and their future. I think, though, that some parents need to wake up, take responsibility for their children and be the parents that they should be.

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