Sazza Dahal/ Conexión San Ángelo, contributor

Dahal is an Angelo State University, majoring in international business 

SAN ANGELO –While it is a common stereotype that Asian parents care way too much about their children’s grades, let me tell you about how in my case, it was absolutely true! 

If I didn’t get a “distinction” in all my tests and exams, which is equivalent to receiving an “A” in the U.S., it was basically a testament to how I had no regards for my family, my relatives, my teacher, how I had let down the starving kids living in worse conditions than I was, how I had upset the gods and goddesses, well, you get the point. I knew deep down that I was a human being, but more often than not, I felt like an object, an investment you may say. This meant that my intrinsic value could rise and fall in the market (market being my house), based upon my performance in school.  I now see the effects such an environment can have in child development and self-esteem. However, growing up I never thought anything wrong of it. 

My mother was a single parent in Kathmandu, Nepal living with two daughters and no son. I was the elder of the two girls, so I didn’t mind being the, “man” of the house. People often used it as a compliment, how I was strong like a man. I often wondered why the compliment didn’t just say that I was strong. I hadn’t seen a lot of strong men in my life. More often than not, they were so weak that they had to abuse the women in their lives to remind themselves of their manhood. The strongest person I knew was my mother, and she was a woman. I looked up to other women as well who had faced many adversities in their lives and had persevered to be where they were. So, when my mom said that in order for me to not live the kind of life that she did, I needed to be educated, I didn’t complain about how excruciating the process of that education was. She said that if I got good grades, I wouldn’t have to depend on a man for my living and would never be abused like she was. That instilled hope and freedom in my heart at such a young age is what eventually brought me to the United States. I found this country to hold the same values that my mother exemplified before me while I was growing up. The American dream was for me more than a passing fancy—it was to turn the dream into a reality; to rise above poverty and abuse, to make a living for my mother, my sister, and myself. It was also to give back to those who are currently struggling in ways that we had gone through ourselves, not too long ago. 

So even though growing up, I felt forced to get A’s, I currently remain a straight A student at ASU by choice. That dream that my mother instilled in me at a young age, came to fruition.

I did realize though that our standards for what is “normal” is determined by what we grow up with. If children are made to feel like they are only worthy of love when they get good grades in school, those children grow up to be adults who have a hard time loving themselves. While I understand that our parents were doing the best they can when they collectively decided to be hard on us, sometimes it is better to hug your child after they fail a test and tell them that you love them no matter what, than to beat them up over it. A little bit of love goes a long way. 

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