Hong Kong’s helicopter parents must back off, to allow their children to grow up

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 January, 2016, 3:41pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 January, 2016, 3:41pm

When it comes to the problem of pampered Hong Kong children, many people blame overprotective parents. Being the only child in a so-called ideal middle-class family, I have been raised as a typical Hong Kong child.

I am not going to grumble about my parents, however. On the contrary, I am proud of having parents who take care of me. Nevertheless, it is a fact that this parenting style does more harm than good.

Parents must know the difference between being caring and being controlling.

In 1970s, the “Lion Rock spirit” was strong in Hong Kong people, and our community flourished like never before. People at the time were self-reliant and self-motivated because they were desperate to get out of poverty. They were determined to succeed, and not a few of Hong Kong’s tycoons today are self-made men who worked hard and succeeded beyond their dreams.

Sadly, that kind of spirit appears to be waning and we see a growing trend of “helicopter parents” who are overly protective of their “princesses” and “princes”. The older generations struggled to survive and later to raise their quality of life. Having tasted deprivation, now they want to create the best living environment for their children. They do everything they can – including by trying to control every aspect of their children’s lives – to ensure that their children have the best.

This includes doing everything to make sure their children have a bright and successful future. So parents want to be heavily involved in decisions their children make over which subjects to study at school; most parents think being a doctor or a banker is better than being a history teacher.

They will also force their children to take part in numerous extracurricular activities, as a way to nurture their talent. As a result, more and more children are smothered with those classes.

These helicopter parents have good intentions, but their overprotective attitude is actually harming us. Children must be given freedom when it comes to planning their future. The only role of parents is to offer advice and support to their children, but not dominate their children’s lives.

Children should accumulate the experience of tackling and overcoming problems by themselves in order to cope with the wider society they will live in.

So, let children decide for themselves, or they will never grow up.

Zac Ko Wai-Lok, North Point