28 October 2016
Silvia Mak Ho Siu-kuen, mother of Miss Hong Kong Louisa Mak Ming-sze, is a pediatric occupational therapist. She believes parenting is both an art and a struggle. Photo: HKEJ
Silvia Mak Ho Siu-kuen, mother of Miss Hong Kong Louisa Mak Ming-sze, is a pediatric occupational therapist. She believes parenting is both an art and a struggle. Photo: HKEJ

How to raise a Louisa Mak

A book about Miss Hong Kong Louisa Mak Ming-sze by her mother made its debut at this year’s Hong Kong Book Fair and was sold out on the fourth day of the annual event.

This isn’t surprising at all, considering that there are so many helicopter parents in the city, and who wouldn’t want to receive advice from the mother of the beauty queen with brains who has achieved so much so early in her life?

The author, Silvia Mak Ho Siu-kuen, is a pediatric occupational therapist with a master’s degree in education and a postgraduate diploma in gifted education.

Having raised a doctor son and a high achiever of a daughter, Mak possesses both the experience and expertise to write about childrearing.

She believes parenting is a delicate balancing act between exercising power over children and allowing them freedom.

Parents ought to reduce their restrictions on their sons and daughters as they grow up, Mak explains.

For instance, when she heard that her daughter signed up for a TV beauty contest, she was not without reservation.

“The first thing that struck me was that it might affect her marriage … it would be a lot simpler to stay ordinary … it would be so much complicated once she set foot on the stage as a contestant in the pageant.

“Quite a number of people asked me why I would allow her to join the entertainment industry. But it’s not up to me to allow or stop her from doing it.”

Mak says parenting is both an art and a struggle.

Many parents find it hard to exercise the right amount of authority to discipline their children – some don’t exercise it at all while others overdo it.

Children’s ability to discover, build up self-confidence and develop independent thinking would be hampered by parents who are overprotective.

Mak points out that some Hong Kong parents see children as adults while some treat their grown-up sons and daughters like kids.

“Some parents treat their toddlers like the way I do with Louisa, but that’s way too early as the children are not equipped with sufficient analytical and cognitive abilities,” Mak says.

“Meanwhile, there are parents who insist on dressing up their kids who are already old enough to do it by themselves. That’s not the way to develop independence, not to mention self-confidence.”

Raising a child is more than helping them improve their academic performance.

Parents should not only focus on developing their children’s intelligence, but also look at the broad spectrum of the personality, such as their ability to concentrate, observe, think critically, create, and deal with adversities.

Mak admits that her daughter’s intelligence quotient and academic performance were average, and that until she reached secondary three, she was rather shy and introverted in social settings.

And so the mother gave special attention to her daughter’s speaking and social skills.

Coming back from a study tour in the summer of 2007, Louisa told her mother that she wanted to pursue her studies at Cambridge.

Mak thought it was too far-fetched, but she encouraged her to win a scholarship.

That partly explains why Louisa scored 10 As in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examinations in 2009. It’s always important to have supportive parents.

Encouraging children to do their best and maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity is also crucial.

In the middle of a public exam, Louisa cried her heart out after failing to answer some of the items under Geography.

Her mother encouraged her to look forward and do her best in the rest of the exams.

Lastly, parents ought to serve as role models, Mak says.

Based on her experience, a child’s disposition is for the most part acquired from their parents.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 4.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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A happy photo of the Mak family. Photo: HKEJ

With the support of her daughter, Silvia Mak has published a book on parenting, sharing with her readers her rich experience and expertise in raising children. Photo: HKEJ

HKEJ writer

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