Friday, 27 April 2018

Everything I Never Told You

I recently read Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. It is the kind of book I never would have sought out myself but my curiosity was piqued when I heard it discussed over BBC's World Book Club programme. It was said to have addressed racial discrimination and familial relationships.

I did not like everything about the book - I am uncomfortable that premarital sexual relationships are so comfortably described in various media that they appear correct. However, I am taking the time to write about about the book as it caused me to reflect on parenting.

In the story, teenager Lydia lost her life in a lake and as the family grappled with her death, the thoughts of each family member were revealed. Her father, being of a minority race - Chinese, pressured her to make friends. Even the gifts he gave were about socialising. Her mother was less subtle. From when Lydia was five, she made no secret about her desire for Lydia to become a doctor and would buy too difficult books for her. Lydia was always obliging and when her grades dipped, she did not dare to tell her mother. The parents were well-meaning of course, and in no part of the story did they resort to violence or even reprimanding to achieve their goals. Yet, it was clear that Lydia was not allowed to be who she was.

I also pitied Lydia's siblings. Nath, her brother, was a high achiever who even made it to Harvard. Yet, he was overshadowed by his sister, who was surprisingly not as achieving. His father was gruff towards him and once gave him a slap when he enthusiastically spoke of his love for astronomy. Hannah, the little sister, was a silent and acute observer. She was barely noticed by her parents until Lydia's death.

So why was I affected by the book? I realised that I may also have transferred my parental worries to my children and may have asked too many questions about who they socialise with and so on. Although I will support them regardless of which path they choose, I have hoped they will at least be on par with their peers. I think it is not wrong to ensure that the children put in their best effort in all that they do, but I was reminded not to let my concerns rub onto them such that they get overly stressed. I was recently told about a teenager who suffers from panic attacks because of her father's high expectations of her. I pray that all parents, including me, will be wise and patient as they lead their children in the way they should go.
Finally, I was reminded to cast all my cares upon Him for He cares for me (I Peter 5:7). Indeed, when we trust in the Lord with all our hearts, He will direct our paths.

If you are interested in the books I am reading, please hop over to Happy Friday. :)

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