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Parents Know Best Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 13 October 2017

Parents Know Best

And then I saw what seemed to be the prodigy side of me—because I had never seen that face before. I looked at my reflection, blinking so I could see more clearly. The girl staring back at me was angry, powerful. This girl and I were the same. I had new thoughts, willful thought, or rather thought filled with lots of won’ts. I won’t let her change me, I promised myself. I won’t be what I’m not. –Jing Mei in Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds”

“Parents know best” is the common justification of parents whenever they are correcting a child, disciplining him , do not allow him to do what he wants to or make the child do something that is clearly against the child’s wishes. These sentences convey the impression that they, as parents know what is good for their children; that they allow, restrict or imposed with this goal in mind. Although I believe that most parents (I cannot say all because there are those who do not know what is best for their children for they abuse them) want what is best for their children, they however, do not know what is really best for them.

This is exactly what I see happens in Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds” , where in Suyuen’s quest to make her daughter become famous and successful , she is making her miserable. The lists where parents think they know what is good for their children are endless. Here are the common examples: what school to go to, what course to pursue in college, what sports to play, where to go to work, which race to befriend, what food to eat, what music to listen to, what movies to watch, and of course who to marry.

All of these causes conflicts between parents and children, unless of course it so happens that what the parents want is also what the child wants. But this rarely occurs, for though the child possesses their DNA, he, however, as another unique individual, have his own taste, desire and dreams. And this often parents forget. To be honest, I cannot say that whenever my parents say the magic words “Parents know best” that I fully appreciate it. Not that I believe this to be a lie but that oftentimes I feel that there is something not quite right about it.

When my parents discipline me for doing something that I believe in my heart of hearts is also wrong, I have no problems about this popular phrase. But whenever they correct me or make me not to do something which I believe deep down is what is right for me, I can feel a particular resistance in my spirit, I become “angry” like Jing Mei, angry that a part of me is being stifled or changed; as if something good inside, the “real me”, is prevented from emerging.

And like any normal human being, as I grow older, I come to understand, with perfect clarity, that my parents are not infallible, and this knowledge added to my misery whenever I am stifled inside. Oftentimes, Jing Meis words, “I won’t let [them] change me” echoes through my head (Tan, 2) I am one of those normal human beings who want to find my place in the world. When I say my place, I mean, to be where I want to be and who I wanted to become. That quest of course becomes more and more specific as I age and as I get to understand what psychologist refers to as my “inner self”.

I am fully convinced that when I do live in accordance with who I am, I will find peace, purpose and true happiness. It is another story when it comes to my parents. They have their own peculiar ideas of how I should achieve that peace, purpose and true happiness. Somehow when they look at me, I had the impression that they know exactly who I will become the minute I was born. I do not know if I am more fortunate than Jing Mei, because in her case, her mother had to experiment with several prodigies.

First her mother wants her to become Shirley Temple, then a child genius who memorizes a lot of facts and then a pianist. But we are in the same boat; we are already carved for something even without being consulted first if that is who we want to become. However, in the end, I do feel fortunate than Jing Mei for my parents were able to accept some of my decisions. But I know that conflict with my parents is not yet over. More will come down the road. The good thing however is that conflict seems to lessen as I grow older.

Maybe I changed, or maybe they changed, or maybe both of us changed. In moments of conflict, I have of course tried to put myself into the shoes of my parents. I find this to be not only a wise strategy to prevent myself from screaming but also as a source of comfort. I tried to see their point of view and why they say such. In doing this, I would remind myself that they want what is best for me, that they fear I may make a mistake of which there is no remedy. I figure they see a danger that I am blind to so therefore they just want to protect me.

I am scared to make foolish decisions myself; I have seen a lot of lives ruined by just one false move and I do not intend to follow their footsteps. For example, I know some friends who regretted doing this or that, and wished they listen to their parents. But of course, even if they did get out of their troubles, the damage had been done. So there are times I was glad that I did align my decision to my parents. However, parents should also see that they are not right at all times. They are human beings who commit errors of judgment and at times were pushing their children to the edge (Corwin, 2003, 17).

I find it the hardest when my parents just do not see that I am different from them. That what gives them the greatest satisfaction may not equally satisfy me. And more than that, I become angry that at times they are just being unreasonable. Their decisions were motivated more by fear, insecurities and past failures rather than by wisdom. It was bad that, oftentimes, especially when I was younger, when they do not agree with my decision, my confidence regarding that decision diminishes. Although I am sure they are wrong, I would oftentimes also feel confused and disheartened.

And what makes it worse is that when you do try to follow your own idea, they gave you that disappointed look that lingers on your head for years. The parent/children conflict is inevitable. I do not know anyone who does not go through some conflict with their parents, whether about minor or major issues or decisions. But I know of many conflicts that should have been avoided if two parties had tried to talk things over gently and openly. It amazes me why parents sometimes do not wish to reveal their vulnerability, fears and weakness to their children.

I wonder who told them to always present themselves as if they know everything. Children, on the other hand, are oftentimes on the defensive; acting as if they are always right but needs to convince their parents of that. The truth of the matter is that the opinions of both parties are needed if children get what is best for them. Although parents think they know what is best for their children, they may not know what those best exactly are. Before imagining some future possibilities for their children, they must at first ask who their children really want to become.

If they sense that their child has a lot of potential but is afraid, they should try to encourage him but not mold him into someone of their liking. In the story “Two Kinds” Jing Mei’s mother never asks her who she wants to be. I know it is difficult for parents at times to allow their children to make certain decisions especially if it is not what they had in mind. Parents are always parents and no matter what books say they cannot help but worry about their children’s decision and future (Corwin, 2003, 9). I believe that Parents knows best only to a certain extent.

If parents really want to know what is best for their children they must be prepared to include the child’s dreams and wishes in their decisions. It is a mistake to think that one can make his child into anybody he wants to. When parents do that, they usually destroy the child.


Corwin, Donna G. (2003). Pushed to the Edge: How to Stop Child Competition Race so Everyone Wins. New York: The Berkeley Publishing Group. Tan, Amy. “Two Kinds. ” On line: http://userwww. sfsu. edu/~mmartin/ twokinds. pdf Accessed 2/09/2009.

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