“Should Parents Let Their Kids Pursue Their Dreams?”: Shaun Chen & Zoe Tay Say Yes, Guo Liang Says See How
Should parents allow their kids to pursue their dreams? That was the question Zoe Tay and Guo Liang sought to answer on the latest episode of The Zoe and Liang Show, along with guests Shaun Chen and JJ Neo.
Guo Liang first shared a tip that has helped him communicate well with his 24-year-old son, Marcus.
“This is my own method, maybe it’s not scientific. [But] since he was young, I would always make it a point to talk to him about his day when he got home from school. It could be about [anything]. Sometimes, he can be very talkative. When he grew up, he would sometimes ignore me, but I’ve been persistent,” said Guo Liang.
A crucial part of his method requires neither him nor his wife to overreact or react negatively about anything their son had to say.
Guo Liang listed smoking and relationships as examples of topics a parent could easily overreact about, and said he has always managed to remain calm in the face of whatever his son was willing to share. They would then have conversations about the topic.
As such, Guo Liang's son has always felt like he could approach his dad for help about his problems.
The host then moved on to the topic of the day: “Should [we] let our kids pursue their dreams? To put it plainly, [your] kid’s dream may be unrealistic, and they may find it difficult to making a living out of it. Should you allow it?"
Shaun, who is a dad to two girls, Nellie, seven, and Neia, five, was the first to share his thoughts.
“There should be some control lah. But if she has her own way of thinking and has her own dreams, we should let her [pursue them]. But if her dream is very impractical, for example, she [says that] she likes to clear rubbish, and wants to be a cleaner in the future, then she can, but I would [ask] that she becomes the ‘king’ of cleaners. Like opening a cleaning company, and maybe she will think ‘Eh I can also become a boss if I want to be a cleaner, then it’s different,” said Shaun before joking that his daughter could “potentially contribute to society by keeping it clean”.
Inspired by Shaun’s comment, Zoe asked the rest to guess her son's ambition.
Though she didn’t specify which of her three sons she was referring to, Ah Jie revealed that one of them wants to be a farmer.
While both Shaun and Guo Liang agreed that it was a good ambition, Zoe said her son's teacher asked her if she wanted to “help him edit” his dream job.
“Everyone else was saying they want to be the president but he said he wants to be a farmer. I said it’s okay, it’s up to him,” she shared.
Guo Liang then mentioned that while it is “adorable” for little kids to have such dreams, the problem arises when the child is in university, and wants to quit school to become a farmer. “I think this dream will pose a challenge to many parents,” he said.
“Or maybe he has a year left in his studies to become a doctor, and he or she wants to change careers to become an actor,” he continued with a laugh, with Shaun chiming in to say that such things have actually happened.
Basically, what Guo Liang wanted to know was what the others think of kids pursuing dreams that have nothing to do with their studies, and when said dream could end up with them not earning much and leaving them “hungry”.
“I will give them my opinion, but I won’t stop them. I won’t be able to stop them, because they would have made up their minds. They would be grown up, and definitely have their own thoughts and dreams they want to fulfil,” said Shaun.
“What if they have no talent [for what they want to pursue] at all?” asked JJ.
Shaun replied that he would let his children learn the lesson themselves.
The question was then posed to Zoe, who said: “My thinking has changed a lot from how it used to be. When I was younger, I thought it was important for one to get qualifications in order to have a place in society. But looking at society now, you don’t necessarily need to study to earn money. [Kids] need to have their own ideas and dreams, but as parents we still need to watch them and give them guidance."
Zoe is of the opinion that “there is value in youth”, and if it’s not “too bad an idea”, she would let her kids “try it out”. She, however, advises them to give themselves a time frame to try out their plans, and to always have a Plan B.
JJ shared that she was “lucky” as she was never pressured by her parents to take up something different.
Her mum, who is former Mediacorp host Lucy Chow, simply asked that she attend university. JJ was also given the freedom to choose her major. She picked philosophy, a subject which Guo Liang, rather rudely we must say, described as "can't make money".
JJ had an issue with the word 'allow' though.
“In the question “Should parents allow their kids to pursue their dreams?”, allow is the key word here. The precursor to that would mean that parents actually have a choice,” she said.
Zoe, Guo Liang and Shaun, were impressed with her point, with Zoe mentioning that they were looking at kids from an “emotional” standpoint, while JJ was being more “logical” about the topic.
“Of course, [we] have to look at their ambitions and the practicality of it. As parents, you guys would undoubtedly want to share your life experiences with them, but sometimes…” JJ didn’t continue her sentence, but admitted that the question “was too difficult to answer”.
As for Shaun, he thinks that Nellie will probably pursue a career in the creative field. She attends drawing lessons, but he doesn’t think that it limits her to only being an artist.
“Drawing can cultivate her talents in creation, so maybe she could be an interior designer in the future. But I feel like she still has to work hard and have her own career. She can’t just depend on her partner,” he said.
Guo Liang also posed this scenario to Zoe: “Let’s say your son wants to be a farmer, and you let him. But your close friends who have watched him grow up are telling you that he can become a top surgeon in the future, and you’ll be at fault for not nurturing him, and he will hate you for it in the future. Zoe, what would you do?"
Zoe was confident that she wouldn’t be caught in such a situation.
“When my son asks me what he should do, I always tell him that he already has the ability to be independent, and can make decisions for himself. But when he does make his decision, he can’t resent me for it. Like when I signed them up for piano lessons when they were younger, [and they wanted to quit], I said okay, but they had to tell their teacher themselves. The next week [they would still be there attending lessons]. Kids are fickle. When they have to take responsibility [for their choices], they will find it tougher to bring up,” she explained.
Just as we thought Guo Liang was done with the hard hitting questions, he again asked Zoe: “If your son scored very well in his exams, and had the option to study philosophy or medicine, and he chose the former?”
Zoe pondered over the question for a second before answering: “He has to choose himself. Philosophy then philosophy lor.”
“[He can be a] doctor leh,” countered Guo Liang.
“I’m telling you, there are too many doctors in Singapore,” said Zoe, before Guo Liang interrupted her again.
“There are never too many," he said. "Once war happens, lawyers are useless, doctors are useful everywhere. Even the enemies won’t attack him. In emergencies, have you seen people looking for doctors on the plane or train? Doctors are important in these situations, even if you’re a veterinarian,” he insisted.
However, Zoe was sure of her decision. “Every parent wants their kid to become a doctor or lawyer. But being a doctor is not just a profession, you need to have the spirit. You [need to] have passion to help others and the spirit of sacrifice to put everything else second. Being a doctor sounds good in name."
Guo Liang then got everyone laughing when he said: “I won’t [give him the choice]. I will grab onto his leg while saying “if you dare to study philosophy I will break your leg. You can be a doctor who knows philosophy, I’ll accompany you”.”
We're pretty sure Guo Liang was joking... right?
To find out more about the stars’ take on their kids becoming influencers, watch The Zoe and Liang Show on meWATCH, or catch it below.