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Are Academic Achievements Everything?


It was, at least for me. I did ok for my O level results yet I wasn’t satisfied with it and my parents were actually ok with it. I remember I was very disappointed with myself that I did not want even want to accept the gift my mum gave me for passing my O levels. 

In Polytechnic I pursued what I was passionate in, which was Biotechnology. I struggled in my Chemistry modules, yet I managed to do well enough in the Biology modules that it manage to help pull my overall results, enough to allow me to qualify for our local university. 

All along my parents never really pushed me or pressured me to study hard. To them, it was enough that I was passing and could get my diploma to get a job after that. That was my parents’ mentality. Yet to me a diploma wasn’t enough. I guess that’s what made me work hard enough to qualify to university. 

At this point, you would have realised by now what my personality type is. I was driven to always do well and naturally I expected the same from my children. 

My eldest child generally did well all the way in primary school even without tuition when other kids in this country had tuition as a norm. Of course I didn’t worry much, as we were not those parents who will pressure their children to be the top all the time. 

But God has His plans. When my eldest entered secondary school, his grades started dropping. He was very much into football. Training as part of the school team and then after that spotted for training with the nationals although he did not make it to the nationals, he end up being involved in a private football club for a year.

By the time he was in secondary 4, I guess he had too short a time to really catch up with the lost time in his studies for his O levels. Yet at this same time his passion for music was even more obvious and he was flourishing in it. It was the same year that his first piece of song was recorded and released and he was actually signed up for a music label. 

As parents who wants to see our kids’ talents and abilities beyond academic grades, we supported him accordingly yet still reminding him of the importance of academic qualifications in Singapore. Somehow when he got his O level results, as much as I was very disappointed, I kind of expected it. He’s always been good in his languages but is bad in his Maths but yet again we told him to continue on with what he can qualify in. What matters is the pursuit of knowledge and if he has to go the long way to pursue his passion and ultimately get that diploma or degree, then so be it. 

Yet deep down, despite my promoting that grades and academic qualifications are not everything, I was struggling with this matter deep within me. It was something difficult for me to accept that my son was not to excel academically. In fact only recently he shared about  his passion again, writing lyrics and rapping and I realised how talented this young boy is in this area. 

Back to my emotions and thoughts about my children’s achievements; are my expectations of my children fair? Is academic achievements everything in life? Does one have to perform well academically to qualify as being successful? 

Are we parents really assessing our children based on each of their unique talents and inclinations or are we measuring their success on our own bar and to realise our unachieved goals and dreams? 

Moving forward this new year, I felt the strong need for us parents to connect with our children to understand better who they are; their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, talents and inclinations so that we can support them better.

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