Meng Zi’s mother is, to many, ‘Mother of the era (of Mengzi’s time)’ because of her dedication as a mother. She knew that the environment would be one of the most important factors to Meng Zi’s growth and organized three major moves until she, along with Meng Zi, finally settled in a place she felt was best for his learning. It was impressive because even though most people are aware of the importance of the environment in a child’s upbringing, not many actually do anything about it. In addition, she was a single mother and she had hence, double the load.
Children learn through mimicking and therefore, most parents are careful not to behave in age-inappropriate ways. They do their best to exercise good manners and treat people the way they want their children to treat others, so as to groom one who is thought of as ‘well brought up’, and likable.
Many of us have high expectations of the environments and social circles we wish to raise our children in. I have heard many stories about parents going to extremes just to make sure they give their children the best homes, best schools, best social circles. Parents who want their daughters to be ballerinas, send them for ballet lessons. Others who want their children to be musicians send them for Piano, Violin, Saxophone, Drum lessons. Some who wish for their children to become doctors organize weekly excursion trips to the different science museums to build their exposure in the science field. (The one I found most fascinating was about non-Christian parents sending their children to English churches because bible study, apparently, improves English.) I have heard just about any and every possible case of such extremity under the sun.
Even though I am not a parent, nor am I great at parenting, I do think that these parents are missing out on the essence of educating the young ones. Children should be nurtured according to their passions and interests they were gifted with. Only then will their gifts be brought true justice and will the child truly enjoy learning. But all of a sudden, the hopes and dreams these parents have of their children claim precedence over and suppress their interests and hobbies.
In the past, going to school and doing well at it would mean that you are en route a career as an official or like Meng Zi, an educator. But what if Meng Zi wanted to be a butcher, an actor, a technician? I am conflicted by my contradicting perspectives of this story. I do see the importance of the environment of a child’s upbringing and I respect well-prepared parents for their investments but I feel that Meng Zi’s mother is encouraging domineering parents and unhealthy parenting.