contributed by: Cara Wickstra
Freedom and Control. In parenting, I’m continuously trying to find the balance between freedom and control with my kids. There’s the obvious power struggles that rise and fall during different stages of growing up. But there’s also the day-to-day freedom and control dance that goes by a different name: “freedom” becomes privileges and responsibilities, while “control” translates as restrictions and consequences. I mention this struggle between freedom and control because I also feel it in regards to my children’s education, and specifically, the immersion program.
I’m an only child, so I think that categorizes me with the personality of an uber oldest child. While I like to think I’m a mellow version of an only child, I still feel that pull of anything less than 100% as failure. (I’m hoping someone can relate, otherwise I sound a little crazy.) When I feel like I’ve failed, even at cooking dinner, I take it to heart more so than I should. Jesus helps me overcome this unrealistic vision of myself, but it is still a battle. I cringed at the thought that my fear of failure would echo into the performance of my school-age kids.
And then came Mandarin immersion.
In Mandarin immersion, I don’t have the battle between freedom and control because there’s nothing I can control about my child’s achievement. I’ve already made the choice to do something well beyond what I’ve ever done. This is a step into the unknown as I relinquish my “control” of my child’s schoolwork into the hands of, surprisingly enough – my child. My sons and daughter will do their best without my edits to homework to make a story sound better. I will have the opportunity to see what they can construct all by themselves and that’s exciting to me.
At first, I was nervous about this freedom from control at school and in parenting. But now I see it as a beautiful thing and I am so thankful. I am able to be present in their lives, encourage them to do their best and listen to them read a language I cannot understand. Knowing that if they have a question, they can ask the teacher and learn how to ask for what you need, not just depend on Mom and Dad for answers.
Even though Mandarin immersion seemed intimidating at first, I now view it as a breath of fresh air. It is so exciting to dream of the possibilities that await these kids whose accent sounds like they’re from China, but they look like they’re from the Netherlands. I am so glad I didn’t let my fears or need for control turn me away from this incredible opportunity.