“I’m not worried about my child’s grades in school”. “I will let the child pursue her/his interests and excel”. “I don’t push my child”. These are some of the common statements we hear from parents. If this is really put to practice then it is good but in most cases, children come under parental pressure and are forced to do well in maths. Parents ferry their children from one tuition to another or for after-school classes like Abacus or Vedic math or other science-based subjects. If the child is genuinely interested in these subjects it is a different matter but in this article we explore some of the common reasons parents end up pressurizing children into these activities
1. Peer Pressure: It is not uncommon for parents to come under peer pressure. “My child is better than your child” Some parents take pride in their social circles bragging about the math scores of their child and compare them with other children in the class.
At home, parents often talk to their children and advise them the importance of not giving in to peer pressure, but often parents don’t realise just how they are influenced by their peers themselves. While it is helpful to get advice and information from peers, it is important not to get swayed away and come under peer pressure.
2. Career options: Most parents who have grown up in the late 80’s and in the 90’s have a limited understanding of career options. Due to this, parents in this generation tend to attach more value to math and science because engineering or medicine is the most preferred career option. Parents should realise that new career options have opened up in the last two decades. Most of them don’t require math skills beyond grade 5. Parents who have pushed the children into math and science streams when the child is not interested to have set up the children for failure, some lucky children have either moved into other roles or the unlucky children continue to struggle in their careers.
3. No two children are alike: Parents should realise that all children are wired differently with different abilities. Children who are not good in math or science subjects may be good in other areas. It is not necessary that if the parents are good at math, children should also be good at math. This applies to siblings in the family too. Comparing two siblings on their achievements based on how well they do in math’s and science will harm their creativity if they are inclined towards other subjects.
4. Gender Biases: Girls mostly end up taking more traditional subjects like arts, home science, education while boys are forced to stick to science and math subjects. Science and math subjects are considered to be more macho than the humanities. Parents feel ashamed to tell that their son is an artist or a chef but will proudly introduce their engineer son to all their social contacts. Both boys and girls should be encouraged to explore all subjects, for them to find their niche and do their best in what subjects they enjoy without any gender biases.
Doing well in math and science is not the end of the world. Parents should realise that this is not the best barometer to assess the intelligence in children. Do you know that there are courses in IIT’s that do not require math as a compulsory subject? Indian students throw themselves into the study of science, math, and technology to earn a coveted spot in one of the country’s prestigious, and competitive, engineering and medical colleges. This may not be for the love of the subject but only to meet the parents’ expectations. We are a risk-averse nation. Sadly parents are obsessed with their positions and are based on what career choices their children make.