READING Azeem Abu Bakar’s letter, “Youths must move forward” (The Star, March 27), I feel compelled to write a similar letter but its target is the parents of our youths.
As a fairly recent graduate myself, I’m lucky that my parents did not coddle me or dictated where and what I should study and where I should work. They gave me the freedom to choose, experiment and fail, and to learn from my mistakes. Because of this, I learnt to develop my skills and became independent pretty early in my life.
But the same can’t be said about a lot of our Malaysian parents. A lot of students are still being controlled and forced to do courses that are chosen by their parents. This is especially true with the traditional courses like Accountancy, Medicine, Engineering and Law. Doing something like these is considered to be “successful” whereas students pursuing the arts or social sciences are viewed as “second best”.
I work as an academic adviser in a private Malaysian university and recently participated in one of the many education fairs targeting SPM and STPM leavers in Malaysia. Many of the parents I met during the fairs were controlling the students. They told me what they want their children to study instead of letting them ask and speak for themselves. While I know that the parents mean well and want the best for their children, I also think they are robbing their children of opportunities to grow and learn on their own.
Whenever I talked to a family where the child was in charge of the discussion and the parents were listening quietly in the background, I felt proud and happy for the child as this gives her/him the opportunity to take responsibility for her/his life and future. It makes me warm inside when I see a student who is passionate and determined about his future, and knowing that his parents are supportive of him.
So yes, while our youths need to move forward and explore the possibilities of the future, and venture into the unknown territory of automation, parents also need to accept this change and learn to let their children grow on their own. Let the reins loose and allow youths to take charge of their future.