Attitudes / Children / Emotions / Expat Life / Hong Kong / Living in Hong Kong / Parenting

Peer Pressure Mums…

Mums. We’re a ruthless lot. We’re opinionated, judgemental and single minded. Especially when it comes to our kids.

You know we are.

We know what we want for our kids.

The problem is, here in Hong Kong at least, a lot of mums seem to know what is right for other peoples kids as well. To the point that pressure is applied to “comply”.

Not since my days in high school have I been subject to the constant barrage of harassment to conform on a number of topics. And interestingly enough I never encountered this in Australia with the mums group I was a part of.

Let me give you an example:

“Oh – why do your kids have so few after school classes?”

Shrug.

“Why don’t your kids do extra math class?”

Um…

“Oh you’ve left it a bit late to do music classes haven’t you?”

Sigh.

For the record, at the moment, my kids do Mandarin class once a week, swimming once or twice a week and Muay Thai once a week. Mitchell is also doing cricket twice a week too.

“You really should think about making them do more classes…”

I get this persistently from several different mums from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

The looks of scorn I get for not having my children engage in daily activities is frustrating. Not only that, but almost every chance they get they bring it up time and again.

My thing is … why should I make my kids do after school activities every day? They’ve got homework to get done, and I want them to play. I want them to discover themselves and have a bit of choice in how they use their free time. I want them to sleep at a reasonable hour and be fresh and ready to make the most of school during the day.

I don’t turn around to said mummies and ask why their kids don’t go to bed until after 10.30 pm. Nor do I ask why they don’t let their kids just… play. It’s tempting. It really is… but it would be petty and make me just as bad as those applying peer pressure to me.

Are my kids being disadvantaged by not doing bucket-loads of classes? I’d like to think not. I’d like to think the down time they do have allows them to just be themselves. As I type this my son is on the floor of his room using his imagination to create a world of Angry Birds and Autobot Transformers fighting Decepticons, hot wheels cars and planes. It looks like several bombs have dropped in there, but the sounds, voices and fun I see taking place can’t be bought by extra lessons.

My daughter is quietly reading a New Zealand novel in her room. She loves to read. It is one of her passions (other than shoes). I couldn’t and wouldn’t deny her that luxury by forcing her into lessons I’m not sure she needs, wants or that we can’t afford.

Back to the topic at hand, why do mums feel like they have to tell other mums how to manage their children’s lives?

Are they insecure about their own abilities as mums? Are they so single and absolute minded they can only see their way as the right way?

Want a few more examples of comments I’ve had slung at me?

“Your daughter shouldn’t be playing with boys…” (My daughter has good friends of both gender… apparently this is odd and not encouraged)

“You should be taking the kids on holidays more often…” (My kids have more flight miles than most adults I know in the US, NZ and Oz… I think we travel PLENTY)

“You need to buy your kids (insert toy/console game device/phone/etc) so they don’t feel let out.” (Because it isn’t necessary and they can have whatever it is when they need/deserve it if we think it is valid)

“You need to give Bethany a Facebook account. All the other kids have one.” (Hell NO! She can join Facebook when she is 13 and NOT before.)

“Why do you let your son have so many toys?” (If he’s been good and he is passionate about it… why not?)

“Your daughter is too fat.” (WTF? She’s actually the perfect weight for her age according to both the Hong Kong and Australian health checks just so y’all know!)

I seem to encounter it a fair bit here. Am I just unlucky? Is it an Expat/Hong Kong thing? Or am I really such a bad mum that people want to tell me what to do?

I have my opinions. I’m opinionated – just ask my husband… but I try not to force my ideals on others. I might make a comment when asked, however I’m not going to tell other mums how to raise their kids or point out what I think they’re doing wrong.

The whole point of being a parent is to bring our kids up the way we think is best. We’re not perfect. After all we’re only human. I do listen and apply ideas I think are good or worthwhile. Being lectured on how I should be doing things however, I just don’t deal with well.

Do you ever experience peer pressure in your adult life? How do you deal with it?

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4 thoughts on “Peer Pressure Mums…

  1. I think it’s just part of Hong Kong culture to dish out unsolicited advice. I think underneath it all, it’s how they show concern.

    I was born in HK but moved to New Zealand when I was a baby. I had music, art and sports extracurricular as a kid (no extra maths though) and I’m not sure if my parents ever felt the need to force me to do more. I wasn’t a huge fan of playing instruments, I guess it was a love/hate.

    You know what’s best for your kids, just let the HK locals speak their opinions. No amount of convincing will shut them up.

    The weight issue is a worry though. I remember visiting HK and my youngest cousin who was only about 7-8 years old at the time was sad because she thought she was was too fat. She was not fat at all. It made me sad that a perfectly normal, healthy little girl was worried about her weight at that age.

    Have you seen Dove’s real bodies ad before? In most countries, it shows a group of women in their underwear, all different body shapes. In Hong Kong the same ad shows women with all the same body shape: thin. The ad really lost it’s meaning.

    • Thanks for popping by and commenting.
      I think body image is a big deal here in Hong Kong. People want to be thinner even when they are already healthily thin. They want to be whiter even though their skin is beautiful just the way it is. It is quite sad in many ways that many people here aren’t happy with who they are.
      Having said that, these comments don’t come exclusively from locals. The expat community here is just as guilty of it. Perhaps it is something that rubs off on them and changes their mindset when they land on these shores.
      I don’t remember my mum ever being pressured about me growing up in NZ and I was the perpetual fat girl…

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