It should be entirely up to the child to choose which path they wish to take in life. Granted, that choice may need to be guided by the child’s parents or role models but ultimately, their decisions should be their own. In her novel, The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan addresses the relationship between children and their parents and the expectations which the latter lays out for the former. In her case, Tan is Chinese American and has experienced a number of tensions between her Chinese parents’ designs for her life and her own. This idea of two generations, who also cross two different continents and their differing cultures in turn, is quite clearly something which could cause an issue between the child and its parents. However, like Tan did, it is clear that children must still attempt to focus their own paths in life.
Within the novel, there is a particular chapter Two Kinds which addresses this idea. In its opening lines, the character discusses how her mum had always had high ideas for her: her mother states how she can be a prodigy in something at the age of nine. This immediacy of such high expectations inflicted upon such a young child is almost as damaging as it is positive. Any child who is told this from such a young age could well grow up with an inflated sense of their own self; this can be as detrimental to success as a negative home life can be. The story goes on to tell of how the mother attempts to ‘discover’ her daughter’s prodigal ability and this shows how perhaps this girl is not destined to be a prodigy. It indicates that the girl’s mother is placing too much pressure on her daughter and will, in all likelihood, force a sense of failure upon her daughter when she does not live up to expectations.
This in itself is a good enough reason to allow children to forge their own way in life. None of us are born into this world with the ability to know what is best for us but it is with due guidance and support for her loved ones that we are able to eventually strike out on our own and carve out our own independence. In the story, as she continues to fail to fulfil her mother’s expectations, the girl describes how the feeling of failure gradually seeps in as her mother seems more and more disappointed; it becomes clear that her mother’s relentless pursuit for ‘the best’ for her daughter is beginning to take its toll. This clearly demonstrates how negatively this kind of parental interference can affect a child. It is abundantly obvious that a child is at its happiest when left to its own devices but still offered support and guidance regardless of their mistakes and choices.
Therefore, it is clear that a child should be able to make its own decisions in life – relationships, careers, education and interests should be entirely down to the child alone. Parental involvement in these matters should be guidance at a maximum as it helps to breed independence as well as a sense of self-worth, self-esteem and ability.
Abcarian, Richard et al. Literature: the human experience: reading and writing. New York: Bedford/St Martin’s, 2009. Print.
Kirszner, Laurie G. & Mandell, Stephen R. Fiction: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Orlando: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994. Print.
Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. New York: Penguin Books, 1989. Print.