By Zhang Ju
“Mom, I know your work is very tiring and I also know it is my job to study. But I’m under too much pressure. I’m just an ordinary man who would feel tired and need rest. Could you give me some space and time and let me take a breath? Living like this is so exhausting that I even feel it’d be better to die,” cried my son.
Whenever I thought of these words of my son, scenes of how I forced him to study in the past would replay in my mind …
I became a stay-at-home mom after I got married and had my son. From kindergarten to elementary school, I accompanied my son studying all along. In my heart, his study ranked first because I thought only if he had good grades could he test into a good university in the future and have a good job and a bright prospect. So when my son graduated from primary school, in order to provide a good education for him, my husband and I pulled strings and managed to get him into a good middle school and a good class with an outstanding head teacher.
When my son was in his second year in middle school, which I thought was a critical year, I bought him various sorts of test papers and learning materials to help him solidify his knowledge. Every weekend after my son finished the homework assigned by his teachers, I would supervise him to do these extra exercises. If he didn’t finish them, I would not allow him to read extracurricular books, watch TV, play with the cell phone or hang out with his classmates. Whenever my son got sick of these exercises and lost his temper, I would either ignore it, bearing with his bad temper or coax him with a smile, “As long as you complete this paper, I’ll buy some goodies for you.” And sometimes, I just rewarded him with money. After he completed one paper, I would continue using a rewards method to encourage him to work on another one. I remember once when my son finished one paper and found there was another one waiting for him, he no longer believed me and yelled at me, “Mom, you are a liar. You never keep your word!” At the sound of his complaints and the sight of his resentful glare, I felt as if my heart was pierced by a knife. Many times when I wanted to give up forcing him to study, another thought would come to my mind, “He is still young, so he doesn’t understand I’m doing this for his own good. When he grows up to be successful, he will then understand….”
One day, my son had just stepped into the room after school when I began to urge him to do his homework. “Mom, can I rest for a moment?” he asked. “No,” I immediately declined. “Go get your homework done. Do the math assignment first and then review what your teachers taught today. You cannot go to play before finishing all your homework.” Hearing what I said, my son glared at me while biting his lips, hands clenching tightly. He then slammed his books on the desk and grudgingly began to do his homework. As he was studying, I sat to one side supervising him. However, he just couldn’t focus, and every now and then, he would go eat something, drink water, or go to the toilet. At the sight of this, anger kept welling up in my heart and I yelled, “How could you be so dilatory in doing your homework? Is it that you got good grades in the exam? Show me the result of this weekly test.” Then my son handed his report card to me, and the moment I saw his class ranking didn’t rise but dropped three places, I became boiling with anger and almost went crazy. I just couldn’t accept it, and thought: “Why is my son falling behind in his studies after I have expended so much effort?” At that time, my heart was thoroughly chilled and I just couldn’t believe this was what I got from my painstaking cultivation.
With a timid look in his eyes, my son said in a low voice, “Mom, I’m sorry! Don’t be angry. I promise I’ll do well in the next exam. Please forgive me this time.” However, these words didn’t quench my anger, and I picked up a coat hanger and was ready to beat him. Crying, my son shouted at me, “I’ve apologized to you. Why are you still treating me like this? I also wish to get good grades to please you, but your expectations are too high, and you always compare me with other kids. How I wish I had been born into a different family. You don’t know how I envied other kids when I saw them play joyfully and do what they like. They are all growing up happily, but what about me? You always make a full schedule for me. When I did well in the exam, you never said a word of encouragement; when I didn’t do well, you never said a word of comfort. In your eyes, I’m just a child who is idle and good for nothing. Mom, I know your work is very tiring and I also know it is my job to study. But I’m under too much pressure. I’m just an ordinary man who would feel tired and need rest. Could you give me some space and time and let me take a breath? Living like this is so exhausting that I even feel it’d be better to die.”
These words of my son stabbed into my heart and I couldn’t help but think, “This is how society is—people who lack education cannot have a footing in society. Apart from accompanying him studying, I don’t know what else I can do to help him. But now he told me that studying made him exhausted and want to die. What should I do now?” In my pain and bewilderment, I remembered that I was a believer in God, so I prayed to God silently in my heart.
After praying, I saw this passage of God’s words, “Born into such a filthy land, man has been severely blighted by society, he has been influenced by feudal ethics, and he has been taught at ‘institutes of higher learning.’ The backward thinking, corrupt morality, mean view on life, despicable philosophy, utterly worthless existence, and depraved lifestyle and customs—all of these things have severely intruded upon man’s heart, and severely undermined and attacked his conscience. As a result, man is ever more distant from God, and ever more opposed to Him.” After reading this passage of God’s words, I came to understand that, it was all because I was living by the thoughts and views of Satan that I kept forcing my son to study, depriving him of freedom and making him so miserable. Influenced by the country’s education, these words that “To be a scholar is to be at the top of society,” and “Knowledge can change your fate” had become the maxim of my life, with the result that I especially idolized knowledge and believed that only by being knowledgeable could one have a good fate. Therefore, in order to improve my son’s grades so that he wouldn’t be eliminated by society, I deprived him of his time to do what he liked with no regard for his feelings and acted on my own initiative to buy him all kinds of learning materials, burdening him with endless homework. When my son was unwilling to do those exercises, I tried every possible tactic, soft or hard, to force him to study, subjecting him to such a heavy burden that he lived every day in a tense atmosphere without any freedom or happiness he should have had as a child. As I understood this, I came to realize that it was my wrong pursuit that brought my son so much pain, and I felt so sorry for him.
Later, I watched a video on my cell phone which deeply touched me. There was a girl who was under so much pressure to study that she left a message to her parents, which said, “Every day when I open my eyes, what I see is not sunlight, but a pile of homework books. How I wish I could run around in the sun and grow up happily like other children. I’m really, really tired. I just want to sleep and never wake up.” After finishing this message, she committed suicide. Fortunately, the doctor’s timely treatment delivered her out of danger. Her parents held her in arms crying bitterly with unspeakable regrets. The doctor said to them, “She got depression. Your lack of consideration for her and the high pressure to study made her exhausted both in body and mind. That’s why she finally chose to commit suicide. As parents, you should spend more time with her….”
After watching this video, my face was already wet with tears. The way I treated my son was just the same as how that couple treated their daughter. Living by this view of Satan, “Knowledge can change your fate,” I kept demanding my son to learn knowledge, so much so that he complained that I had never cared about him or given him love and warmth. Whenever I saw his grades dropped, I would beat and scold him, making him feel living was not better than death. Thinking of how I had believed in God but still lived by Satan’s views, how I put my son under so much pressure to study that he lived in pain, I felt I was so lacking in humanity.
Afterward, I saw these words of God, “The fate of man is controlled by the hands of God. You are incapable of controlling yourself: Despite always rushing and busying about for himself, man remains incapable of controlling himself. If you could know your own prospects, if you could control your own fate, would you still be a creature?” Yes, I thought. We are just creatures in God’s hands and our future and fate are controlled by Him. We can never escape the Creator’s orchestrations and arrangements. I, however, attempted to control and change my son’s fate in my identity as his mother, forcing him to strive for the goal I set for him. I really had overestimated myself! What kind of future and destination my son will have and whether or not he can have a footing in this society are all in the hands of God, and what I should do is entrust him to God and submit to His sovereignty and arrangements. It’s because my plan, worry, and anxiety couldn’t exert the slightest influence on my son’s fate, but could only make him more and more miserable. Coming to this understanding, I finally realized I was truly wrong and regretted having treated my son that way. So I decided to make a sincere apology to him.
One day, when I arrived home, I found my son was already there. Upon seeing me, he immediately put down the cell phone, stood up and headed to his room with his schoolbag. I stopped him, saying, “Go set the table. There is no hurry doing your homework. Let’s eat dinner first.” At the table, my son stared at me and said, “Mom, are you sick? Is there anything wrong with you?” “No,” said I. “Why?” “Because usually as soon as I came back, you would urge me to do homework, and would also supervise me by my side and ask me to focus. Today, however, you not only didn’t do that, but even didn’t scold me when you saw me playing on the cell phone. Are you going to give me a good scolding after dinner?” “Just eat your food,” I said as I added a piece of fish to his bowl. “No speaking during the meal.” So saying, I then added a shrimp to his bowl. My son looked at me and a sweet smile crept up on his face.
After dinner, I called my son over and said, “You’re a big boy now and I don’t want to press or supervise you to study like before. So make a schedule for yourself and organize your time properly. You’ve grown up and known what you should do and should not do, so I give you freedom to arrange it all, but you should at least get your homework finished.” Upon hearing this, my son immediately gave me a big hug and said, “Mom, I love you so much. Thank you!”
Seeing the long-absent smile on my son’s face, my heart felt liberated and my pressure was also much relieved. To my surprise, when I let go of my son and no longer educated him based on Satan’s viewpoints, there was an unexpected result …
One day, I had just returned home when my son’s head teacher called and invited me to attend a parent teacher meeting. After I arrived there, the teacher said to me, “Your son has made great progress this month. He is very attentive in class and other teachers also said he behaved well and took active part in classroom activities. I’ve grown more fond of this boy.” Hearing the teacher’s praise of my son, I kept thanking God in my heart.
Thinking of how I had forced my son to study in the past, I felt a little sad and saw how pitiful I was when I didn’t know God’s sovereignty and lived under Satan’s dominion. I also appreciated that it was God’s words that rescued me from Satan’s dominion, allowing me to turn back from my wrong path and no longer force my son to study and give freedom back to him. I thank and praise the practical God from the bottom of my heart. Amen!
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