Mr Clive Chan, Headmaster

Mr Chan has extensive experience in teaching English to people of all ages and abilities. He returned to Hong Kong after spending years studying and working in Australia. He has taught English in different secondary schools and Business English at a university in Hong Kong.

“Entitlement isn’t really a disease, but it has hit epidemic levels in our society.  And it’s certainly not only rich kids who are afflicted.  The entitlement problem spans classes and cultures.  It’s also not only about stuff.  Entitled kids believe the world revolves around them.  They expect things to be done for them, a path to happiness cleared and smoothed, without putting in much effort themselves.  They feel that something is wrong if they’re not happy.  At any given minute they should be having the time of their lives because after all, you only live once.” 

-          Amy McCready, “The Me, Me, Me Epidemic”

 Dear parents,

Two good friends of mine have recently witnessed the birth of their first grandchild, and they said it was both an exhilarating and miraculous experience.  Their son is about 26, and has been living in their home with his girlfriend since graduating from a British university four years ago.  As the girl got pregnant, they decided to get married, and a wedding banquet has been scheduled for next year together with the 100-day celebration of the newborn baby.  Who is footing the bill?  Of course it is the proud grandfather.

In fact, such arrangements have become the norm rather than the exception.  Young adults are often seen accompanied by mid-aged parents when purchasing new flats, for without the parents’ financial support, they will not have been able to come up with the huge sum of down payment. Surprisingly, parenting has now become a life-long financial commitment not only for rich parents because according to a recent research by the HSBC, about 50% of the respondents have to provide for their adult children aged 18 or above, and intriguingly, almost 30% of them are still supporting their adult sons and daughters who are older than 30! 

Education, as expected, is the number one concern among these loving parents.  Faced with the choice of retirement savings or their children’s education, two-thirds of them will opt for the latter.  A friend of mine has recently sold his flat to pay for his niece’s university education in the United States.  Another good friend is paying one million a year, which is almost his yearly income, to support his two children’s education expenses in two top American schools. 

Besides education, these wonderful parents also pay for their adult children’s electricity bills and other household expenses (47%), medical and dental fees (30%) and even overseas travel (18%).  Enlightened by the research, I now understand why my son Jonathan complained about not having enough allowance to do weekend trips when he was in Connecticut as an exchange student.  As his room and board had all been paid for, I gave him enough money for his daily expenses but told him he had to work for his own weekend trips, which for his friends were all fully funded by their parents.

So, am I a bad parent who has failed to provide the best for my sons?  If our ultimate aim is to raise independent children who can stand on their own feet when they reach adulthood, I would agree with Amy McCready that my sons are entitled to my unconditional love, not unlimited financial support.   Indeed, largely because of his work experience during college years, my son got hired by an international company as a manager candidate almost immediately after graduation.  In my view, he should be happier than my friend’s son who has just become a young father.  Failing to get into the banking industry he had desired, he spent the first year lazing at home until my friend got him a job through some business connections.  Though successful at work, he quit after two years as he couldn’t stand the company politics.  After idling at home for more than a year, he finally resumed working a month ago. 

I assume your children are still young, and so you are faced with two choices.  The first is to strive to become ultra-rich so as to provide the best education for your child, buy her a flat and leave a huge estate so that you may even provide for your grandchildren after you are gone.  If  this is a remote possibility, it may be wise to rid the sense of entitlement of your children by giving them the due care and attention while maintaining positive discipline thereby they learn to delay gratification and work hard for their goals  rather than relying on you to clear every path for them.

 


Yours sincerely,


Clive Chan