Last weekend Adam and I were invited to a friend’s for a barbecue. It wasn’t as savagely roasting as 2 days ago but the sun still vigorously beamed down on our faces and limbs at 5 p.m. when we arrived at Mike’s aesthetically delightful residence – a 400-year-old building maintained in a perfect condition.
There were about 40 people scattered in the garden and we instantly mingled with them. Ribbons of smoke spiralled from a barbecue into thick and stifling air and grilled burgers enticed everyone’s nostrils. Adults chatted, savouring chilled wine or beer while some teens and grown-ups clustered around a Ping-Pong table. At the far corner of the garden, a couple of youngsters bounced on a trampoline and a few toddlers ran around with giggles.
Adam and I were contentedly fed and watered before hopping to the Ping-Pong table for a rally. His colleague, Ben, soon threw down the gauntlet to me and I was narrowly beaten – my 9cm stilettos might be the culprit…
After a break, Freya, Mike’s teenage daughter, pronounced her desire for a go. She was a beginner, so Adam and I showed her some basics and tips. I was amazed by how meticulously Freya followed the instructions and reflected on her each move. She took every chance of inviting people to her play, including Mike who was bustling around seeing to his guests, but stopped to play with the daughter for a while. Freya didn’t cease practising until 21:30 when I was exhausted.
I could picture Freya may become infatuated with Ping-Pong and her parents would certainly fully support her, as Mike did at weekend. As a result of that, Ping-Pong may turn into her favourite pastime. In many cases, a recreational and passionate hobby can further develop into one’s dream profession.
I pay homage to the British parents who treat their children as equals, esteem their individuality and encourage their passions to shine. They support and generate opportunities for the kids’ potential to be explored and utilised.
Whereas in China, many teenagers like Freya probably afford no hope to nurture interests as their time and energy have to be used in academic achievements.
Many Chinese parents may believe enrolling into University and pursuing further studies overseas are vital steps to success for their children. They may bow down to top grades but ignore complexity and dimension of success. Some Chinese adults may be reluctant to admit that success can also be achieved in non-academic fields, like sports, music, arts and service industry, etc. The children struggling with school could outshine the top achievers in those areas, but the parents sadly fail to discover it.
There is another bunch of parents who pin hopes on the offspring in order to realise their own old unfulfilled dreams. They decide on everything for their kids - choices of subjects to study, which university to enter and what career to take. The high expectations, restraints and pressure created by these ‘benevolent’ adults could strangle the youngsters’ inspiration and desire. The latter mock themselves being robotic, a slave and possession of the parents.
Sadly, the younger generation forged in this parenting model could excel at school but lack personality, imagination and dreams. They may soon feel demoralised to be upstaged by the Western peers who represent these merits in today’s world where global collaboration intensifies.
So, some of the Chinese parents perhaps need to stop controlling but use a scientific parenting approach to treat their kids as individuals, respect their thoughts, admit diversity of success, encourage them to discover their passions and potential, support their needs and provide right guidance…then let their dreams fly!