To change life, change mind first

Recently, there was a widespread article in the most popular Chinese social media Wechat, in which a middle-aged dad released the reasons why he chose to immigrate to the U.S. He was planning to buy an apartment near a good school district in Beijing, which would cost him 3 millions Yuans. But the day he was going to pay the guarantee deposit, the house owner raised the price by 300 000 Yuans. Disappointed with this change, the father decided to use the money on an investment program, which allowed him to get the green card of USA. He thought that life in Beijing was so stressful, including job, housing and education, but life in the U.S means good education, cheaper housing and quality of free time.

Soon, this article triggered different opinions, including those expressed by some American-Chinese people. Another father wrote a long response to this man, having gone through himself the similar experience. He now found that the reality was not as good as expected. Just talking about kids, the Asian children suffer a lot in study. So many suicides occurred in Asian family in California because of pressure. He provided many photos, which show that children spend so much time on math or other competition preparation after school, just as what children do in China. To be accepted by good universities, they should demonstrate more abilities and excellence in special fields. So Chinese parents anxiously look for good school and prepare their kids to artistic performance. If one wants to live nearby a good school, he should afford the high-priced housing.

I didn’t agree with the first father who dropped all just to follow his illusions of U.S. He believed naively all the advantages he could get in the new country. I didn’t agree neither with the second father who still sticks to the single-side definition of success. In many American cities, Asian people still believe that competition is the only way to make people stand out and that children must cherish every minute to prepare for their future.

One day, when dinning with our neighbors, my husband expressed his dream: send Claire to an excellent university, such as Harvard. Since our daughter wants to be a doctor, we should put aside a big amount of money and assure her proficiency in different materials.

“But if she turns out to be an artist?” suggested one old lady.

We didn’t answer. Indeed, Claire loves drawing and she made amazing pictures. But we never imagined an artist career for her, because it was portrayed with pain and misery.  But we cannot control a child’s future, neither their path. We always impose our own dream on our kids and make them accept our definition of success. That’s very stressful for them.

Now we are living in a new country, embracing a very different culture.  The fist thing to learn is to open our mind. If not, we are imprisoned in some biased thoughts. For example, for all Chinese, the optimal success of a child is being a student of Harvard. However, university is just a step of one’s life while life is long, very long.

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