The Ending of Conflict

“Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you.

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love,

but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may strive to be like them,

but seek not to make them like you.”

                                  — Khalil Gibran


Parent: Many parents are sending their kids to the US or other countries to study. What do you think of the education in the US?

William: Schools are the same everywhere. People are interested in overseas schooling because the school has something different to offer compared to their local school. It could be more choices of study or freedom of expression. A foreign degree may help you get a better job versus someone who doesn't have one. You know, the grass is always greener on the other side. Nevertheless, parents should know what their children are good at so their kids go to school for the purpose of pursuing their strengths.

P: Actually, we just want our daughter to have a good education, maybe have a good job someday, or continue the family business, and she can support herself. We don't expect her to become someone famous or rich.

W: I don't blame you. All parents want the same thing. But it seems to me that the biggest problem amongst parents is expectation. The expectation towards turning their children into whatever they've imagined.

P: Yes, parents work very hard every day to put their children to good schools.

S: And good schools usually cost a ton of money, so there must be some expectations involved right? I know someone who works very hard to get his kid in an international school. I don't know how much of his salary is being put into the school's tuition. But given his situation, he ought to have a future result in mind. Everyone wants a return on their investments.

P: Some parents don't care about the money. The parents who have a lot of money just want to keep their status in society.

W: Of course, and this is what's causing them to be afraid of making any mistakes.

P: Yes, the more money we have, the more we are afraid to make mistakes.

W: There is the old saying:  “Nothing belongs to us. How can we say this body is ours when we will lose it on the day of our death? How can we claim our riches belong to us when we can’t take it to the grave? How can we be certain a child is ours even though they will leave us someday?”

P: I totally agree with that idea.

W: Still, an expensive degree doesn't guarantee anything.

P: Sometimes when parents send their kids overseas, their kids are just wasting money. They don't go to class. Instead, they have fun and buy expensive cars.

W: Of course, and there are even ways to buy a degree, but I won't go into that. I think all conflicts between child and parent will end when there is no expectation. As long as there is expectation from the parents, there will be conflict between the parent's imagination and what the child is - actually. Of course, not many parents are willing to accept the fact because they're afraid of losing their integrity, status, or reputation. If you're a governor, and your daughter wants to be a DJ, how would you - as a parent - feel?

P: Hahaha. I wouldn't want that to happen to my daughter.

W: Exactly! But the governor will shut up once her DJ daughter can afford her own private jet. Similarly, a highly educated father would also expect his kid to have equal level of education. And this is why 99 out of 100 people are unhappy with their lives because every day they're wondering how they can have a meaningful life. When the kids grow up to become adults, they're constantly battling for approvals from their own parents and society.

P: Can children find their talent at an early age?

W: Yes, of course. Once a mother realizes what she is good at is actually different from her dream and imagination, she will be able to guide her children to find their individual talent. Still, it is hard for most people given their attachment to society. This is also the reason why you rarely see rich kids becoming Olympic athletes or movie stars.

P: You know, none of Warren Buffet’s children will continue his business. I think one of his son is a musician.

W: Yes, because he knows everyone is different. He can’t afford to make his children living unhappy lives continuing his legacy if they don’t want to. I realized from experience that most people can’t find what they’re good at because they’re always looking from the outside and not inwardly. They want what seems appealing to the eyes, and get what they don’t have. And so it begins, the dream, and the imagination.

 

“You have a right to your actions,

but never to your actions’ fruits.

Act for the action’s sake.

And do not be attached to inaction.

 

The wise man lets go of all results,

whether good or bad,

and is focused on the action alone.

This is right action.”

                                 — Bhagavad Gita