The rising number of overly protected kids and pampered students became one of the hot issues of debate in universities recently, as schools opened for the fall term.
Liu Hung-en (劉宏恩), an associate professor of law at the Taipei-based National Chengchi University (NCCU), this week wrote a warning to his students: “For those who refuse to grow into adults, you can go back to high school, elementary school or kindergarten. You are not welcome in my class, if you are a pampered child. I don’t want you to take my course.”
National Taiwan University (NTU) Dean of Student Affairs Chen Tsung-fu (陳聰富) also said that more college students these days are being overprotected.
“When parents dote too much on their offspring, these children will never grow up,” he said.
Before school started, as freshmen students were moving into their dorm, Chen said that he often saw parents sweating from the heavy labor of hauling baggage and suitcases, while students were looking down and playing on their smartphones.
For these pampered “mama’s boys,” Taiwanese use the term ma bao (媽寶), meaning “mom’s jewel,” or “mom’s baby.”
For Liu, much of the blame could be placed on parents who spoil their children, transforming them into ma bao.
He often has to deal with these parents, as they make demands on teachers and professors, even asking them to give their sons or daughters higher scores, because they believe that low marks would harm the student’s self-esteem.
“These days, if it is the parents who ask for permission on behalf of their offspring for days off, or for new coursework, I will always refuse,” Liu said.
“Parents also need to grow up alongside their kids,” Liu said.
Parents must try to teach their children self-reliance and independence, he said, adding that when students enter the workforce, they will encounter many of the same challenges as in college.
“The kids themselves must also be aware of the challenges they face. They must have courage to do things on their own. If they want to control their own destiny, then they must learn not to depend on their parents for everything,” he said.
Liu’s advice and warnings to ma bao students were put on his personal social media pages and he has received support and agreement over the past few days.
He said that parental indulgences have become increasingly outrageous.
“One parent called me as the final exam was approaching. He pleaded for his son to take the final exam ahead of time, because the date fell on the same week that he planned to take the whole family abroad for an overseas holiday. I refused his request,” Liu said.
Secondary and Elementary School Principals Association executive council member Chiu Cheng-tsung (邱承宗) said most parents of current college students were born in the 1960s and 1970s and therefore grew up in a more modern society and a more advanced economy.
“Parents are concerned over the state of world economy and the future. Many families have only one or two children, so each one is a pampered child. As parents worry that their child will lose out in competition with other students, they will continue to intervene in the child’s development throughout their education,” Chiu said.
“When parents intervene too much in the day-to-day lives of children, they are denying the child an opportunity to learn how to grow up,” he added.
Chiu suggested that from elementary school on, parents should learn to allow their children to gain the experience of solving their own problems and discovering new ways to deal with life’s challenges.
“Do not carry the school bags for your kid. Let them carry it, so they know how heavy it is. This way, the kid can learn to manage how many books and supplies to bring each day,” he said.
“There is no need to pack each day of the week full of activities, skills learning courses, or cram school classes,” Chiu said.
“Parents should allow time for their kids to play and to explore on their own, so the kids can find their own interests, and enhance their own motivation for learning,” Chiu added.