[VIEWPOINT]Too often, the rod is spared here"Daddy, can we not have the party with the Korean families at our home from now on?" This was the first thing my daughter said to me after wrapping up an evening with some Korean families at our home. When I asked her why, she went on endlessly, "How can the kids play with my toys without asking me first? And, they don't say 'thank you' when they're finished. What's even worse is that they don't even put them back afterward!" I told her that the kids behave the way they do because our family is close friends with these families and the kids feel at home when visiting. But, she answered back, "But my own sister doesn't even touch my things without asking first!"
This is no news, but Korean parents are very tolerant when it comes to their children. These days as Korean families have one or two children at the most, children have become absolute tyrants to their parents and many parents end up becoming slaves. As a result, it is not difficult to find parents catering to the child's every need. Not only that, but they do not teach their children the most basic manners. Using a Westerner's standards, they would be called irresponsible parents.
For example, young children, 5 or 6, are given money to go buy ice cream on their own. Some mothers give the kids money to go and pick up things at the neighborhood supermarket, and the children are praised for successfully handling these chores. It is often that children play on the playground without the supervision of parents. These are some things that many parents in the West cannot understand when it comes to the education and protection of children.
My Korean friend, who is a high ranking career woman, and her husband have to go to work early in the morning so they leave their child, who is in first grade, alone at their home. The little girl stays at home on her own for about an hour, locks up the apartment by herself, and goes to school. The babysitter comes in the afternoon to spend time with her and look after her until the couple comes home from work. The child, on a positive note, may grow up to be smart and independent, but in many Western countries, this would be illegal and the parents could be arrested.
Children need continuous supervision and education from parents. If a 6-year-old child plays at the playground on his own and then is praised for it, there is no way that he will learn the skills of how to play with other children. If children are left to play on their own without the supervision of parents, they have no way of learning the basic social skills such as having to get one's consent when using someone else's belongings, appreciating a friend's toys to be just as valuable as her own or putting the toys back into place after playing with them. They may adopt political skills such as taking the belongings of those who are weaker or yielding in situations when one must, but we all know that social skills which are developed in the early years build the foundation for one's personality.
Korean parents invest and sacrifice an incredible amount for the education of their children. The passion for the children's education drives up the price of apartments around educational institutions.
Korean parents' enthusiasm for their children's education is second to that of no other parents in the world because they believe that education will shape the future of their children. It is true that such initiatives have made Korea the developed country it is today, but shouldn't Korean parents focus on education in basic social skills before starting with the alphabet?
The writer is the CEO of Allianz Life.
by Michel Campeanu