By Carolyn Webster-Stratton
IY Developer, Carolyn Webster-Stratton, speaking at the Parenting in the 21st Century International Conference in Hong Kong.
I was invited to give a plenary address October 20-22, 2016 in Hong Kong at an International Conference entitled Parenting in the 21st Century. The faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Hong Kong in collaboration with the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals hosted this event to discuss ways to support Hong Kong parents who work long hours and feel pressure to help their children succeed academically amid the stress of insufficient child care, poverty, high unemployment and a high cost of living. Hong Kong is a city of 7.5 million people living in 427.5 square miles. It is the world’s fourth most densely populated territory.
Major changes in the Hong Kong family over the past 50 years such as more gender equality, later marriages, decreased fertility, and more women than men enrolled in university are associated with increased divorce, more non marital childbearing and a wider discrepancy between the privileged and less privileged social classes. The widening achievement gap and socioeconomic inequality echoes the problems in the United States and seems to be a global phenomenon. And like the US, the middle class families struggle trying to support their children for higher university education without the financial resources to make this happen. In turn the youth experience the stress and competition of school as well as the future challenge of caring for their elderly parents. All of this sounds remarkably familiar to me.
Parenting in the 21st Century International Conference in Hong Kong, October 20-22, 2016.
Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, the Hong Kong secretary for labour and welfare talks in his presentation about the 3 C’s Caring, Compassion, and Cohesiveness. Certainly this interdisciplinary Hong Kong conference coordinating committee demonstrate the 3 C’s in their every action. They manage a typhoon closing down the conference midstream for one day with grace and calmness. While my presentation is delayed until the next day I am surprised on a Saturday to see a full room of participants. I hoped to make the case in my presentation for the importance of responsive and caring parenting as an antidote to all the other stressors that parents and children are coping with. Most important seems finding ways for families to give children more playful and loving child-directed time and attention rather than too much pressure to perform.
Earlier in the year we had offered an IY parent training workshop in Hong Kong picture of group and I was thrilled to talk with Kitty Heung, a social worker about her experiences delivering the program.
IY trainer, Julie Andersen, and new IY group leaders.
From left to right: Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Terri Au, Sandra Tsang, Kitty Heung.
She reported that parents were engaged and drop out rates pretty low. Also I got to meet Maureen Kong a psychologist who had done her dissertation evaluating the Incredible Years basic parenting program as well as her professor Terry Au. Happily, Maureen has some nice results. The conference concluded with an amazing second Dim Sum lunch. The conference co-coordinators Professor Samson Tse and Dr. Margaret Wong have done a fantastic job with organizing this conference and their kite theme seems an apt way to depict the idea of letting children fly safely with parental emotional support, play, and flexibility.
Maureen Kong and Carolyn Webster-Stratton.
Samson Tse and Margaret Wong.
Wishing Hong Kong continued support with flying their kites of promoting evidence-based programs with success including families and schools.