Hong Kong actor Vincent Wong and experts on the dos and don’ts of apologising to kids
APR 2, 2023
Whenever the conversation switches from his career to hisbest jordan 4s nike air max 90 nike air max terrascape 90 men’s shoes customize jersey baseball glueless wigs best human hair wigs customized jerseys nfl jersey shop best sex toy cheap lace front wigs custom jerseys sex toys vibrators youth baseball jerseys customized jerseys top couples sex toys only child, Hong Kong actor Vincent Wong’s eyes light up and his face softens.
The 39-year-old speaks animatedly about their favourite daddy-daughter activities, such as playing badminton, jogging and eating burgers. He also looks forward to picking her up after school when he is not busy filming.
Ching Qiu, now 11, is his daughter with Hong Kong actress Yoyo Chen, 41, whom he married in 2011.
There have been rumours that Wong and Chen have separated, but neither have publicly acknowledged the reports. The actor tells The Straits Times that they are a tight team when it comes to raising their child.
He appreciates that the girl can chat pretty much about anything with him.
“She is very mature for her age,” he says during a trip to Singapore in early March to attend Mediacorp’s Let’s Talk About Health Fair event. “Sometimes, I’d share my problems with her and she gives me good, inspiring answers.”
His daughter used to keep a distance from him though, he admits, as she had regarded him as a strict father figure.
“She was scared of me,” he says. “She opened up eventually when she was about eight years old. She told me that when she was two or three, I yelled at her.“
He was shocked that she still remembered the incident.
“I apologised to her. I had to because I had made a mistake,” he recalls. “She took some time to digest it and we’ve been good since.”
Wong says it is important for dads and mums to put aside their pride and say “I’m sorry” to their children.
“Growing up, many of us got hit by our parents. And they would never apologise for it, so we always have this trauma that is trapped inside us.”
Sincere apology can heal emotional wounds
It can take courage and practice for parents to apologise to their kids. After all, they are used to calling the shots, Dr Rebecca Chan says.
The lecturer from the National Institute of Education’s Psychology and Child & Human Development academic group says: “It comes at the expense of exposing one’s vulnerability and being seen as incompetent. There is the fear of losing their children’s respect.”
But when parents do so, it helps build a relationship of trust and respect with their kids.
A sincere apology has the power to heal emotional wounds, says Ms Josephine Loh, senior manager for training in the family wellness division of Morning Star Community Services.
An unhappy episode may have happened years ago, but can linger on in a child’s mind, as in the case of Wong’s daughter.
For some people, that much-needed apology will probably never materialise.
Susan McCarthy, co-author of Sorry, Sorry, Sorry: The Case For Good Apologies (2023), talks about her maternal great-grandparents’ generation in her book.
“If it turned out one kid had been punished for something another kid had done, there was no apology from the punishing adult.
“What was said was: ‘Well, you did something else I didn’t catch you at, so let the whipping be for that.’”
McCarthy continues: “Did that make the unjustly punished one feel better? No. That’s why we’re still complaining about it three generations later. Don’t be old-fashioned like that.”
Parents can be wrong too
Housewife Siti Noraisyah Mohamed Rashid, 39, and her husband Muhammad Iruan Karaman, 46, a cyber-security specialist, believe in moving with the times. The couple have five children aged nine to 17.
“When we became parents, we agreed that we didn’t want to bring up our kids like the older generation,” Madam Noraisyah says.
“My parents would never say sorry even if they were wrong because ‘parents are always right’,” she adds.
She laughs about it now but confessed that, back then, “I got mad at them on some occasions”.
Madam Noraisyah and her husband have their fair share of disputes with their kids. But if the youngsters can win them over with their reasoning, they have no qualms about apologising to them.
She recalls yelling at their fourth child Sarah Alia, 11, earlier in the year.
The Primary 5 pupil was struggling with her mathematics homework and sounded agitated in her reply when Madam Noraisyah spoke to her. What ensued was an argument.
“I raised my voice at my mother and she also raised her voice at me,” Sarah says. “After a while, she told me, ‘Sorry, sayang (term of endearment in Malay).”
Madam Noraisyah feels that an apology is necessary because she ought to be more patient and work with her child’s temperament. Sarah, she says, tends to be a perfectionist who can be hard on herself.
More importantly, she and her husband want to be role models for their children and teach them to be responsible for their words and behaviour.
Following her mum’s example, Sarah apologised in return that day. It has also become ingrained in her to say sorry when she feels bad that she did not do her best, such as during the competition rounds of Mediacorp’s Juara Mic Junior, which recently aired from January to March.
Sarah was eventually crowned the winner of the second season of the Malay children’s reality singing show.
Madam Noraisyah told her that she did not have to ask for forgiveness, but it is heartening to see her take the initiative to apologise, an act which requires courage.
Apologising an agonising task for many
A parent-child relationship is complex, dynamic and reciprocal, Dr Chan points out.
“Most parents expect their child to say ‘I’m sorry’ when he or she misbehaves or says something inappropriately. If that is the case, then the child has an expectation of reciprocity – for parents to issue an apology in return because, to them, parents are role models in the family,” she explains.
Ms Loh says that being able to say sorry sincerely is part of positive parenting practices, which more dads and mums in Singapore seem to be embracing.
“Children will learn that it is okay to apologise when they are at fault and be responsible for their words and actions. They will not feel embarrassed or try to hide their mistakes.”
She observes that some parents do so in a forced and awkward manner though, and that can be improved.
“Apologising well is agonisingly difficult for many grown-ups,” McCarthy and her co-author Marjorie Ingall, who are both long-time journalists, share in their book.
“Have you ever received a bad apology, one that made you say: ‘Okay, I was mad before, but now I’m really mad’?” they ask.
The two have been studying and analysing apologies in the news, pop culture, literature and politics since 2012 on their website, SorryWatch.com.
“After you make a good one, you feel a sense of release. There’s relief. A clean feeling. It’s over,” they write. “You don’t have to avoid the subject.”
Dos and don’ts of saying sorry
Like adults, children can detect a false apology, so it has to be heartfelt. Do so when you are ready to and mean what you say, Dr Chan says.
Yet, do not sit on it for too long. “The longer the delay, the harder it gets for parents to apologise,” Ms Loh says.
And be careful not to overdo it as this cheapens the meaning of the word, Dr Chan says. It can be tempting to apologise out of impulse to make the kids feel better, such as “I’m sorry you were not chosen as the class leader because I didn’t help you prepare for the selection”.
But kids should take responsibility for their leadership performance, not their parents. This may teach them to put the blame on others instead of reflecting how they could have done better.
They share 10 more reminders for parents.
- Say sorry by taking full responsibility, without blaming other people, things or situations.
- Exercise empathy by hearing your child out. Learn to see from his or her perspective.
- Explain your viewpoints rationally and clearly. It helps your child to see the conflict’s causes.
- Check for mutual understanding. Have a rational heart-to-heart chat: What could you and your child have done differently to avoid such situations in the future?
- Hug and thank your child for having the conversation with you.
- Apologise when you have clearly done no wrong. Instead, explain the rationale of your decision. For instance, you disapprove of your child’s outing because you want to protect him or her from harm.
- Say sorry on behalf of someone else. That is not your responsibility.
- Be vague about what you are apologising for.
- Be sarcastic to your child.
- Say “sorry, but…” It negates the effect of making amends.