As materialism increasingly grips China, wealth has become the only measure of success of one’s achievements – from social status to parenting skills. But materialism may not find its place in the Canadian education system, and parents who refuse to conform to Canadian values may find their parenting styles are displaced in Canada.
Parenting embedded with strong materialism
Issues around private schooling have dominated the community’s social media platform as a growing number of established immigrants send their children to private schools. But the purpose of chasing private education system has caused concerns. Tapping into private schools’ rich resources can be beneficial, but taking it as status symbol is a sign of trouble.
There is a big wealth gap among families of private school students. Some parents say their children have lost self-esteem as their parents’ income fall far below the families of rich kids in the school. Some children are so deeply grappled with the embarrassment and shame that they want to quit private school altogether.
“I’m embarrassed if my child quits,” one parent posted.”Others may think that I can no longer afford to keep him there.”
But the Canadian education system – regardless of private or public, never measures a student’s success base on their parents’ wealth status. Schools recognize students’ achievements in academic, community work and extracurricular activities. Family wealth has no impact.
While some treat private schools as a status symbol, others see it as a social connection platform only.
“My son has poor grades at school, but he couldn’t care less. He only uses the school as an opportunity to connect to the rich,” reads another post.
Undoubtedly, excessive materialism can take a toll on a child’s success. Worse yet, it can also setup them up for academic failure.
Failed son and disgraceful parents
In a society where degrees of university in the West are a significant part of status, power and class in China, an enrolment into a Canadian university is always a great honour to the family. But children’s failure is often regarded as disgraceful, leaving parents facing terrible emotional pain.
A friend of mine in China decided to send her son to a top Canadian university. Like hundreds of parents in China who do not belong to the super rich class, they have made financial sacrifices to get their children into a Canadian institution.
But as a Chinese high school graduate, her son’s English skills are far from being qualified for a university program that demands strong English proficiency. The suggestion of sending him to a high school ESL program was squarely rejected. The reason was simple: repeating high school is shameful.
Some back door deals have eventually landed her son into a university program, but it had only precipitated a disaster.
Without adequate English proficiency, her son who wears brand name clothing has failed his first year of university and now faces academic suspension. The shocking news has almost torn the family into pieces. It had not only caused an investment loss – his first year tuition and expenses burned a luxury car -- it has also put the mother in emotional distress.
I feel their pain. Yet I am deeply revolted by their values and parenting styles. But my friend’s story is not unique. China’s one-child policy, coupled with materialist parenting has created a generation of little emperors—who enjoy status and wealth but lack motivation and independence to achieve success on their own.
Some cultural baggage carried from our hometown will hurt us and lead our children to failure, unless we are willing to abandon them on our life journey in Canada.
Note: The story was published in Chinese News in February, 2015.
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