Today I am very proud to present my second ever advice column!
As a fairly unimpeachable blogger and parenting expert, people are always asking me questions. How do I get my child to do this or that? How do I get my child to stop doing this or that? What’s is the best way to achieve lasting peace in the Middle East? Which is the best way to true happiness?
Well today I will answer some but not many of these issues. Here is my problems page which appeared in this month’s That’s Beijing magazine, with a few more shiny bits, like the photos. It’s actually a niche Q&A page for parents who have everything, except half a clue how to raise children; the rich, famous and sometimes infamous who populate China’s new money belt.
I hope this also helps you, Dear Average Reader, with any issues you may be having with your little ones.
Dear Tiger Father,
I’m having trouble with my daughter. She is a teenager, and we all know what a handful they can be! But still – for her approaching 18th birthday, she has insisted I engage Beyonce to perform for her and her friends at our villa. She is selfishly seeing things only her way and doesn’t seem to care what other people will think. Her mother and I feel booking out our private club - the Workers’ Stadium - would be far more extravagant, not just in our view but in the eyes of everyone. How can we get her to see this?
“Terrible Teens”, Beijing.
The path to enlightenment and cordial daughter-father relations is frequently marked with potholes. Or, to put it another way, she sounds like a right little cow. Try taking her toys away for a week, or suspending her from playing computer games. If that fails, consider withholding other privileges, such as her private jet. Remember the ox is slow but earth is patient, whatever the hell that means.
Dear Tiger Father,
How can I get my son to knuckle down? Each day his school gives him four hours of homework. But last week he stayed outside playing until well after dinner time three days in a row. Making matters worse, on the third night he crashed his Ferrari! His favourite Ferrari! We are very worried about his attitude, especially since he is enrolled at a new school in a few weeks, at Yale in the United States.
“Wits’ End” – Beijing
Don’t be too hard on yourself. I get similar letters from over-anxious parents all the time. It sounds like there has been a communication breakdown between you and your son. But the problem is not insoluble. So long as it doesn’t affect your home’s Feng Shui, try setting up a naughty corner. Otherwise, make a star chart. For each week that goes by without him crashing a sports car, he gets a star. If he gets 10 stars he wins a reward, say an extra hour of TV that week, or a yummy treat! Kids will knuckle down if they know there’s something good at the end of the rainbow.
Dear Tiger Father,
I’m a worried mother having trouble getting our eight-year-old to eat his dinner. Last night we served him a healthy meal he’s always loved – braised Siberian tiger with truffle noodles and shark fin soup – made by his favorite chef flown in from Yunnan. But he pushed his plate away and made us order McDonald's. On top of this he treats me, his father, his ayis, drivers, manicurists, and masseuses appallingly. We’ve tried everything, including bringing his bedtime forward to midnight, but nothing seems to work.
At this age, the “carrot or stick” question often arises. Decades of research in the west has shown corporal punishment to be detrimental to a child’s personal development and his long-term relationship with his parents. But not in China it hasn’t! I’d give the little turd a good clip round the ears to show him who’s boss. If that strategy fails, try taking a slipper to his backside. You have to remember there’s only one form of negotiation these Little Hitlers understand!
Dear Tiger Father,
I am vexed by my relationship with my 15-year-old daughter. I have always tried to make time for her, despite the pressures of a very busy career. But to be perfectly blunt, it’s as if she’s now embarrassed by me – to the point of not even wanting to be seen with me in public. My friends say this is normal for her age. But I’m scared she sees me as a failure because I was recently laid off from my job. This followed my appearance in a so-called sex tape scandal seen by millions of people through Weibo and around the world. Please help.
“Charlie” - Chongqing
Whoops! It’s a common but nonetheless awkward moment when we accidentally see our parents making love. As usual, talk is the key. Try sitting with your daughter and explaining that for parents to express affection physically is perfectly natural and even encouraged by Confucius. But bear in mind that when it’s just one parent, and the other person is some nubile 18-year-old out to blackmail him, and it’s plastered all over the internet, and the parent gets fired and publicly humiliated - I have got the right "Charlie" from the Chongqing Municipal Government haven't I? - well then, matters can become complicated. Usually I’d suggest some harmless ‘bribery’, if you’ll pardon the allusion. At her age a private zoo typically works well. But this will be hard as you now have no income and are basically unemployable, facing as you do a lifetime of ridicule. But time heals all wounds. You’ll have plenty of that on your hands now, right?
LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS
|A typical scene in certain suburbs of Beijing ending in|
the suffix "Heights".
|Here's another trashed Lamborghini Gallardo in China.|
This time, however, its condition wasn't caused as a
publicity stunt, nor by another example of innovative
|Party People: An under-cover Tiger Father operative took|
these candid shots inside a private 16th birthday party for
the daughter of a leading Communist official last week.
Factories were ordered shur for the day to guarantee
|The lavish fancy-dress shindig featured organised line|
|... and ended with an intense rendition of|
"Happy Birthday" from an all-male choir.
|Chinese with problem children could do worse than send|
them away to school, such as at this one located in the
rural town of Oxford in the United Kingdom. One of its
recent students was Mr Bo Guagua, son of former
Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai.
|Here's that father-and-son team in front or a portrait of|
Xilai's father, venerated Communist Party elder Bo Yibo,
at his state funeral in 2007.
|And here is Bo Guagua (centre) at Oxford, where he earned|
renown as a student with the highest regard for
|What is it with Chongqing? This is Communist party official|
Lei Zhengfu, seen here before his recent sex scandal.