Last Saturday, Seminar “Communication with Teenagers” was held at Sunset Chinese Baptist Church of San Francisco. The full-day event was highlighted when Rev. Wally Yao, Ambassador of Chinese Christian Missions, quoted during his lecture, “The life of the child does not belong to [the parent], but it belongs to God.”
Three parent-child pairs: a mother and her son, a father and her daughter, and a father and his son sat in front of the audience and held debates on the issue of communication through the generation gap. Along the lines of the conversation, two main issues arose: Freedom and Academics/Career of the child.
One particular pair held a long discussion on the issue of child freedom. The mother expressed her frustrations over her son extensively dwelling on Internet, and ignoring his studies. She is troubled on the issue of how much freedom should she give her son. An audience also expressed the same problem within his family; he told the crowd about his child who sticks to the screen ten hours a day, to the point where it becomes addictive.
In a separate discussion, the method which parents enforce academics and career values were brought up as well. The oriental method of pressured education took tolls on the children, and the issues brought dispute in the midst of the seminar. In the parent’s perspective, they feared that their children would face failures in their lives and would struggle to survive in the competitive society, yet to the child, the pressure only result in negativity toward parent and lack of desire to follow parent’s forceful guidance.
Rev. Yao, during his lecture, brought out 19 points to help parents communicate with their children. Among them, he emphasized that parents must work to enter the children’s world, rather than forcing the children to understand their position. Moreover, rather than imposing their lives and will upon the next generation, it is simply realizing that they are not in the position to determine the lives of their children.
To a parent from the audience who said that he still scold his son, at the age of 29, on a daily basis, Rev. Yao replied, “The life of the child does not belong to you, but it belongs to God,”
Rev. Yao also emphasized the importance of communication in the family. Rather expressing to the child only when faults are found, the parents have to communicate often in occasions without assessing judgment. Forming the relationship like friends is the goal of parenthood.
Among a crowd of around 50 parents and youths, the seminar gave an opportunity for open discussion of parent-child relationship where it seems difficult to achieve at home. Seminar coordinator Bill Tam spoke after the event, “As the seminar ended, I felt that parents who came with a one-tracked mind went home seeing a different perspective in parenthood. At times, realizing that children at times needs to walk their own path and learn from their mistakes, yet we should continue to embrace and show unconditional love in their return. I believe that the parents who attended left realizing that pressured education for the new generation is obsolete.”