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我的亚裔猫爸猫妈

更新时间:2016-10-19 11:00:23 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

My Asian Pussycat Parents
我的亚裔猫爸猫妈

The day I received my letter of acceptance to New York University, I was ecstatic. It was my dream university, and my parents were pleased for me. But they also hadn’t pushed me to get into such a competitive school. In fact, the best thing they ever did for me was to discourage my perfectionist tendencies – indeed, when I was in elementary school, my dad offered to buy me a present if I got a C.

收到纽约大学(New York University)录取通知书那天,我欣喜若狂。它是我梦寐以求的大学,我的父母都为我感到高兴。不过,他们此前并未鼓励我进入这样一所竞争激烈的学校。其实,他们做过的对我最有益的事情,是给我的完美主义倾向降温——事实上,爸爸在我念小学那会儿曾答应我,如果我得到“C”,他就给我买礼物。

It happened when I was in third grade. An only child in an Asian family, I had just moved with my family from Taiwan to Los Angeles. Months into third grade, I developed a consuming worry about getting subpar grades. Seeing my anxiety, Dad said, “Kate, tell you what. If you get a C or lower, I’ll buy you a present. If you score higher than that, I won’t buy you anything, because you won’t need it.”

那是我小学三年级的时候。作为一个亚裔家庭的独生子女,我当时刚刚随家人从台湾搬到洛杉矶。在三年级读了几个月,由于担心成绩达不到平均水平,我被一种强烈的焦虑折磨着。看到我的焦虑,爸爸说,“凯特,听我说,如果你得到“C”或“C”以下的分数,我就给你买一件礼物。如果你的分数在“C”以上,我就什么礼物都不给你买了,因为你并不需要。”

Clearly my dad wasn’t the stereotypical Asian tiger parent, pressuring me to work tirelessly for the best grades, and neither was my mom. They didn’t want to push me. They wanted me to be happy and healthy. Dad’s offer of a “failing grade” gift did wonders to quell my worries and it took the pressure off. What’s more, I ended up getting A’s and B’s throughout high school, but without the added stress and fear of failing.

我爸爸显然不是刻板印象中的那种亚裔虎爸虎妈,他不会向我施压,让我为了取得最好的成绩而不知疲倦地学习,我妈妈也不是。他们不愿逼迫我。他们希望我快乐健康。爸爸许诺的“不及格”礼物带来了奇迹,我的焦虑得到了缓解,压力烟消云散了。此外,在不必承受额外的压力,也不用担心不及格的情况下,我整个高中时期的成绩一直都是“A”或“B”。

At New York University, I started out pre-med, aspiring to be an anesthesiologist. One late night, holed up in the library, studying for the dreaded organic chemistry midterm, I went 22 hours without sleep. When my parents heard of this, they tried to dissuade me from my medical school plans.

在纽约大学,我起初念了医学预科,梦想着成为一名麻醉师。有一回,我连续22个小时不眠不休,泡在图书馆里埋头苦读,为可怕的有机化学期中考试做准备,一直学到深夜。我的父母得知此事后,竭力劝说我放弃上医学院的计划。

“You don’t have to break your neck to make a living,” my dad said via Skype.

“你不必为了谋生累断腰杆,”我爸爸在Skype上对我说道。

Eventually, I did switch out of the pre-med track, not at my parents’ persuasion, but because I realized I didn’t enjoy the subjects. I switched to psychology, after falling in love with the Intro to Psych class I took my sophomore year, and graduated with an honors in psychology.

最终,我的确没有再念医学预科,并不是因为被父母劝阻,而是因为我意识到,自己并不喜欢相关科目。大二那年上“心理学入门”时,我爱上了这门课程,随后转攻心理学,毕业时拿到了心理学荣誉学位。

I think it was my parents’ lack of emphasis on grades that gave me room to foster my own desire for achievements. I developed a strong work ethic of my own accord, instead of doing it to placate my family. Intrinsic motivation, as it’s known in psychology, is doing something because that activity is inherently rewarding. Extrinsic motivation is doing something for outside rewards — praise from parents, money or recognition, for instance. Goal pursuit directed by intrinsic motivation is not only more powerful, but exponentially more fulfilling. I believe that when parents oppressively push their children toward academic success, it prevents them from forming intrinsic motivation for scholarly accomplishments.

我觉得,正是因为我父母不那么强调分数,才让我有了自行培养进取心的空间。我自觉地建立起强烈的敬业精神,而非为了取悦家人才这样做。在心理学中,所谓的内在动机是指因为自然而然地认为做某件事是有益的而采取行动。而外在动机是指为了获得外部奖励——比如获得父母的赞赏、金钱或者认可——而做某件事。受内在动机驱使,一个人在追求目标的过程中不仅会充满力量,也会格外地感到充实。我认为,如果家长以一种带有压迫感的方式督促子女去取得学业上的成功,会让子女的内心难以形成取得学业成功的内在动机。

That’s not to say the harsh tiger parenting tactic isn’t effective. Statistics show that Asian-Americans tend to excel academically. They make up just 5 percent of the United States population, but constitute about 20 percent of the student body at Ivy League colleges.

这并不是说严厉的虎爸虎妈式家教没有效果。统计数字显示,亚裔美国人的课业表现通常很出色。他们只占美国总人口的5%,但在常青藤盟校学生中的占比却达到了20%。

This academic edge, however, comes at a hefty cost. Asian-American students have higher rates of suicidal ideation than white college students, and these pernicious thoughts translate into behavior. At Cornell University, there were 21 on-campus suicides from 1999 to 2006, 13 of which were Asian students. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where 16 percent of students are Asian, Asians accounted for 42 percent of student suicides in the last 15 years.

然而,要取得这种学业上的优势,必须付出高昂的代价。在美国的大学里,比起白人学生,亚裔学生的自杀意念产生率要高一些,而且这种有害的意念会转化为行动。在康奈尔大学(Cornell University)的校园里,从1999年到2006年共有21名学生自杀,其中13名是亚裔学生。麻省理工学院(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)的学生有16%是亚裔,但在过去15年间,亚裔学生占到了自杀总数的42%。

I now realize I was mistaken when I thought I didn’t receive a present from my dad that day. He gave me two invaluable gifts: the space to cultivate my own desire for excellence, and the healthy psyche to pursue it.

我当初以为自己没从爸爸那里得到礼物,现在才意识到我错了。他给了我两样无价的礼物:一样是自行培养追求卓越的精神的空间,另一样是追求卓越所需要的健康心理。

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