01 Dec, 2017
10 : 00
At Yew Chung International School of Beijing, parent workshops are held regularly throughout the year in order to better inform parents of the school’s curriculum and philosophy, to offer health and parenting tips, and to foster the strength of the YCIS Beijing community.
One of the school’s most recent workshops featured noted Korean author Yoon Sohee, who visited our Honglingjin Park campus to discuss her new book, Follow Your Heart: Be the Owner of Your Own Life. During the hour-long session, Ms Yoon discussed the need for personal independence by reading passages from her book, which are grouped into self-contained chapters focused on various topics such as “Forgiveness”, “Friendship”, and “Dealing with Anger”.
Yet for parents who weren’t able to attend the workshop, Ms Yoon shares some of the session’s highlights, including the importance and challenges of remaining true to oneself in the face of societal pressure to conform and the ways in which parents can assist their children during their journeys to find and follow their own paths in life.
The Value of Outward Success
Everyone says that freedom is important, but in fact, people often don’t enjoy freedom if it entails being different from others. People want to express ourselves, but within limits. And this constant pressure to conform can lead to feelings of anxiety and low self-esteem, despite outward successes.
Ms Yoon’s own path in life was one that society said she should follow. She graduated from a top school in South Korea, then worked as a broadcaster at KBS before moving to the United States and completing an MBA from the University of Chicago. She later joined Bain & Company as a business consultant, though she eventually quit working due to high levels of stress and the desire to focus on starting a family.
Yet, during her academic and professional careers, she found that many of her classmates and colleagues, despite their accomplishments, went through similar hardships and challenges because of peer pressure and the worry of how they want to be seen. She began to wonder if they actually enjoyed their lives, and also, what is the value of outward success if you’re not able to find peace within yourself and with your family?
Through her experience, she wanted to tell young people that they will also face challenges to conform to societal pressure, but that when it comes up, it’s ok to think differently and to be criticized. Of course, it’s essential to have strong values and moral character, but it’s also important to be true to yourself and be who you are.
The First Step is Modelling
Parents often feel as though they’re being graded by the success of their children. Depending on what university their children go to, and the jobs they eventually get, parents feel as though they, as parents, are being judged and compared with their peers. This situation may then lead to parents putting that pressure back on their children and causing friction within the family.
In meeting parents at book readings, at the end of the session when the floor is open to questions, no one ever speaks. Of course, their minds are working and thinking, but they’re scared to take the risk of asking a question because they don’t want people to think, “You’re this way or that way because of the questions you’re asking.”
Therefore, the first thing that parents can do is to be the owner of their own lives and to allow their children to model their behavior. Parents can be self-aware of their own difficulties with social pressure, and by knowing themselves, they can better understand and address their children’s struggles. This joint effort begins with parents first feeling free to be themselves, and then allowing their children to model this behavior on their own path towards personal independence.