by Mary Ann Mok ( Mui & Cowboy Mum )
My younger son’s nickname is “Cowboy” and hence my friends called me “Cow Mum”. I wonder if you know I was once a Tiger Mum which I regret so much.
I regret being once a Tiger Mum which leaves deep and lasting scars in my children’s memories. This indelible taint in my life prompted me to learn to be a “good mother” from now onwards.
It took me a very long time before I can get rid of this nightmare. Even today, I cannot forgive myself forcing my kids to take supplementary lessons which they are drilled like mechanical robots. In order to put my daughter into the Catholic Primary School that I admire, I once had a dilemma whether I should deprive the choice of my daughter to choose her own religion. I had a very traumatic experience teaching Cowboy academic subjects every night when I came back from my work. I was really mad at him when he did not do well academically. I lost my temper and beat him up fiercely. This nightmare went on for a long time until I found Cowboy having no response to my yelling and beating.
Parenting has always been a very difficult thing, and it is even harder to be a parent in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a highly competitive city and people living here is under constant pressure. Toddlers who don’t even know how to speak in a sentence were already forced by their Tiger parents to learn other languages apart from their mother tongue. However, the irony is that no matter how many languages that the child mastered, they don’t even have half an hour conversation with their parents. This might probably due to the fully-packed extra-curricular activities that the child had to attend each day, not to say parents were degenerated to be mere drivers and were over-exhausted. Quality time between parents and children were totally deprived.
Take your kids to the beach. Beach activities are good for both the mind and the body. Having fun under the sun can relieve the child‘s stress and emotions, making them more cheerful and positive.
Motivate your children to take up a sport. Exercise can keep them strong and healthy. It enables them to express their feelings and build their esteem, self confident, boost friendship and build relationship with their peers and adults.
Children draw inspiration from the beauty, color and the natural aspect of the beaches. Beaches enable them to display their creativity.
In the 1960s, the economy of Hong Kong was still behind and people were not so well-off. Parents in those days were very contended if they can make a living and provide food for their family. It is a luxury for people who have a chance to study at University. In those days, once a child becomes a doctor or a lawyer, the quality of life can be improved tremendously. Therefore, it is fully understood that why parents of the old days were so keen to send their children to universities.
However, Hong Kong has become very rich nowadays. Today, parents are more educated than their predecessors. Why do they still use the same set of thinking and only blindly believe that their children will have a brilliant life after graduating from the top universities? They kept saying that they should let their children grow up happily, but had they thought about what they were doing every day are merely things they want to satisfy their own self or the community, or whether they are really thinking from their child’s point of view.
Both the Chief Executive of HKSAR, Mrs Carrie Lam (right) and Mui (left) are past students of St Francis’ Canossian College who have their own vision and dream. A good school needs to nurture their students’ all-round development as well as their intellectual development. Its focus on teaching children how to become independent, self-motivated learners. It ensures that they meet each particular child’s developmental needs and interests. The goal of education is to prepare children not only for school but for life.
No one knows how to be a competent parent when he comes to this world. Every parent is learning every day ever since his child is born. Having an unpleasant experience of being a Tiger Mum, I wish to remind my dear friends and other parents not to fall into the abyss of “Tiger Parent”.
I recalled the bad memories when I was a Tiger Mum. During those days, I was really mad and exhausted both physically and mentally. There were only yelling and crying at home and the family was getting more alienated. I am fortunate to wake up from the extremely frustrated and lost state by picking up “windsurfing”. The sport strengthens both my body and mind so that I can cope with the hectic office work and the household chores. When I windsurf on weekends, I can release my pressure and relax. I can fully enjoy my personal time and refresh myself.
Through contact with Nature, I rediscover my true self. While I go windsurfing, I keep a clear head and don’t have to bother about the saying of other people. I can clearly hear the voice from my heart telling me what is true happiness, what is my core value of life, what are the most important things for my children and what are their real interest etc......
I feel so shameful that I have never cooked a decent meal for my family until last year when my domestic helper was on a long vacation. I discovered that happiness can be just as simple as a hearty chat among family members at the dinner without cell phone interruptions.
The bond between my children and their grandparents are strong and loving. They will go “Yum Cha” (Chinese style morning tea) with their grandparents whenever possible. Thanks to this bond, they get to experience more affection and developed a stronger and happier person. Grandparents offer their grandchildren a unique perspective that comes with life experience.
The most fascinating aspect of windsurfing is that we have to face different environmental factors every time we go to sea. It is because every time we windsurf, the climate, wind speed, current and geographical condition will not be the same. We only count on our past experiences, technical knowledge, judgment and endurance to manoeuver the sail and board in harmony with nature and the sea.
From windsurfing, I gradually realize the importance to maintain “balance” and “harmony” in life. In the past, I only stubbornly used my own perspective and method to deal with things. But now, I will try to think more from the perspective of my husband and children. I will put “family harmony” in the first place and try my best to balance the needs of all parties. At times when my children cannot accomplish a certain task or get rid of their bad habit, I will tell myself to relax and don’t be too long-winded. I have learned to allow more time and personal space for one another.
Mui (middle) pictured with Lee Lai San (right) Hong Kong’s first Olympic gold medalist and Sam Wong (left) well-known Hong Kong windsurfer at a sports event. Mui loved both diving and windsurfing when she was a kid. Eventually, when she has to focus on one sport, it was all her decision to go for the later.
Parents need to take time and patience to help their children explore their interests. Parents are encouraged to escort their children to discover the fun in the activities and help them through the tough times.
Mui (right) like other kids took piano lessons when she was young. She was lucky that I did not put pressure on her to complete examinations. She found it so easy to pick up the Ukulele when she suddenly fell in love with this musical instrument. Music and art are for enjoyment and appreciation. It loses its meaning when the parent forces their children to take music/art lessons aiming to achieve higher scores at school.
Ever since I put this practice into my daily life, to my surprise, there were significant changes in my family. Family members have begun to communicate more with one another and there was growing intimacy in the family. Recently, I was so pleased to find Cowboy has become more mature. He is no longer just a guy who only indulged in eating, sleeping and playing computer games. Finally, Cowboy discovered his interest, drawn up his personal goal and has great incentive to learn.
Once children find their true passion in life, they will set their own goal. Having a clear goal makes him work harder, focus more and perform better.
(From left) Cheng Kwok Fai, Chan Hei Man, Mui and Leung Ho Tsun are four lucky athletes who find their true passion for windsurfing and set it as their life goal. Windsurfing enables them to travel the world, broaden their horizons and make new friends.
Finally, I hope that all parents can slow down, and spare some time to think about if you and your family are living happily. If you really love your family, may I invite you and your family to experience windsurfing this summer?