▲ Photo courtesy Hankyoreh education culture center
There is a book about the confession of a mother, Lee Yoo-nam, who is an elementary school principal. She has one son and one daughter. In this book she said, “I was the enemy of my children. The more I became a super mom, the more my children turned into monsters.”
One day, her son, who was one of the top students in his high school, said “if you do not agree with me dropping out of school, mom, I will jump out of the apartment."
Mrs. Lee was shocked and came to a realization from that incident. She started writing a letter of apology and came up with a book titled 'Mom’s letter of apology’ or 'Eomma banseongmun’ in Korean. How come she decided to talk about her family issue by publishing a book?
Mrs. Lee has a son and a daughter. They were good-looking, studied well, and obeyed their parents. She was proud of them.
Mom had three standards for her children. First, they should do well at school; second, they should win many prizes; and last, they should be a class leader. Of course, in order to reach these three standards, they have to go to private academy or Hagwon in Korean.
After Mrs. Lee came home from work, the first thing she did was put her hands on the TV without a smile. Why did she do that? Because she wants to check whether her children secretly watched TV in order to punish them.
And she said, 'Take your workbook out now,' and 'Take the book that you should read.” She checked homework and read books because that was her role.
Mrs. Lee never slept before 12:00am. She also had to finish her own work. She was determined that she should be the first ranking and expected her children to be the first ranking as well.
Then one day, her son who was doing well in high school declared that he wanted to drop out of school.
He said, "Mom, I do not know why I go to school. My life is so tough. I want to take a break. If you don’t stamp on the document that I will drop out of school, I'll die." It was April when her son was a senior high school student.
Mrs. Lee confessed, "The sky has fallen. Why do I have to live? I don’t have a purpose to live." Finally, she allowed him to drop out. No parents can win over their children.
20 days after her son dropped out of school, her daughter also told her that “Since my brother doesn’t have to go to school, why should I go?” So she stole her dad’s stamp and submitted the document to drop out of school.
Now Mrs. Lee knows that when her children said, “I want to drop out of school”, they have so many things to share in their hearts. But she was not ready to listen. Eventually, they keep storing up things up in their hearts and one day they exploded.
The right to choose
After she went through this tough time with her children, she confessed, "If I can go back to those days, I want to give them a choice. I told them what I thought and made them do it. I never asked ‘What do you want to do?.’
She continued, "In fact, moms tend to think like this. I live longer than my children so I know what is good for them. Moms choose the way for their children and tell their children to follow exactly what they say. Then they will go to a good school and do well at school.”
She added, "But in fact, it is so important to give children a choice. They will surely make mistakes and sometimes it takes a longer time to reach the goal. But the truth is that there are actually more things to learn from failure than success. "
Nowadays, many moms tell their children to just follow their lead. In Korea, some moms even choose the college courses for their children.
But if you look far and want your children to grow, you should give them the right to choose what they like and make mistakes.
How are Mrs. Lee’s children doing?
She said, "I thought it was a period of time that I had failed and wasted, but for my children, they said it was a time to grow and look back at themselves.” Now, they are doing what they like, not what I want them to do.
She added, “My daughter studied physiology in the US and is interested in youth crime psychology. My son studied creative writing and writes stories in which my husband and I are always the main characters.”
Mrs. Lee finally explained the meaning of the picture of the cover page, "In the picture, the meaning behind the woman kneeling is that I apologize for what I have done to my children. And the meaning of the woman lifting her arms up is that I hope we will build families where children can be happy.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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