We wonder: How do you raise a child with so many talents?

Like millions of people worldwide, Raimondians from the Class of 1969 marvelled at the sensational performance of Eileen Gu 谷愛凌 at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The California-born teen represented China, her mother’s native country, and came away with two gold medals and a silver in the Women’s Freeski events in February.

Below is the link to the CBC video on her second gold medal. 

Gu the Olympic champion quickly became a social media phenomenon.

News of her gold-medal win prompted plenty of comments among our 1969 classmates.

Steve Yeung was quick to post a chart showing Gu came from a family of high achievers going back two generations.

“Impeccable pedigree,” Steve remarked.

Gu told the South China Morning Post in May her mother and grandmother are “by far the two biggest influences in my life – both of them are the definition of empowered women, to the max.”

Anthony Kwok made an astute observation:

Joseph Lynn pointed out Gu’s musical talent.

Joe pointed out a YouTube video showing Eileen Gu at the piano.

At 18, Eileen Gu the Olympic gold medalist is also a part-time model with looks that move chic merchandise. Aside from skiing, she was a member of her high-school track team, has an excellent academic record, and is enrolled at Stanford University.

“My question is, how can you raise a child with so many talents?” Anthony asked.

“With good genes, just enabling and nurturing,” Steve said.

Wong Siho said: “And, I would like to add, empowerment.”

Other classmates joined in enthusiastically to share their wisdom on raising children.

The following is a summary of their ideas, organized under several themes. The remarks came separately via different channels over a few days. They are individual thoughts that should not be read as responses to other comments.

Herman Hui offered an observation: “Many times, I find a child is groomed to fulfill the parent’s dream.”

Gabriel Lam said “just let them be themselves. Be supportive, that’s all, no more, 係咁多.”

“We give our children, without their consent, what we think is good to start with, i.e. a family name, a family culture, the kind of milk powder for their upbringing – including a faith, as in my case,” Gabriel said. “Then better to leave them to be themselves and we then remain supportive if we wish, for we do not own them.”

Siho reiterated the importance of empowerment, “but I think enablement and nurture are equally as important for children to realize their full potential without making unnecessary mistakes. Tender loving care from parents can help a positive psychological development.”

Eileen Gu Instagram photo https://www.instagram.com/eileen_gu_/?hl=en

Anthony elaborated on the thoughts that went through his mind:

“When I raised this question, it was from a personal experience. How do we balance parental guidance and nurturing with self discovery (let them be themselves)?

“In my younger days I was very much in favour of personal self discovery for the kids, but as I grow older, I started to wonder if I had provided more parental guidance and involvement when they were young, would they have attained more skills? Just like Eileen Gu would probably not have achieved what she did if not for her mother’s guidance and involvement. The balance is not always easily achieved.”

Willy Wo Lap Lam said: “I remember a story about the physics Nobel laureate and former secretary of energy Steven Chu. He was asked this question when he was in his late 20s or early 30s by his father: ‘When are you going to win the Nobel Prize?’

“I believe this is excessively heavy-handed ‘prodding/encouragement’,” Willy said.

“If I remember correctly, the Chus did the opposite with their own kids — to the extent of not bothering whether they enter college or not.  Anyway, let a hundred flowers bloom!”

“Just let them be!” Willy said.

Siho also brought up an example. “If parents are not adamant about learning Chinese, I think most the second-generation immigrant Canadian- or American-Chinese would not pick up the language by any significant means.”

“Laissez faire sometimes may not be a good idea for early-childhood development. A lot of common sense should be exercised,” Siho said.

Eileen Gu at Women’s Halfpipe at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics in Lausanne on 20 January 2020.
Photo by Martin Rulsch, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Willy agreed with classmates that sometimes it is necessary to enforce discipline. “For example, I believe kids growing up in North America, Australia, etc. should at least master conversational Chinese. It is also highly recommended that children be encouraged to take up a musical instrument or/and a sport. But I don’t think it is good to force anything on them.”

Gabriel mentioned an unexpected discovery. “In one testimony during my wedding anniversary sharing, I was stunned when my daughter said Dad always tells her not to listen to him … she has thus not listened to this statement of her dad, and has then listened to her dad’s way at large. And I am proud of my daughter🤣🤣.”

“Love is all that matters. Love entails free will, not control,” Gabriel said.

“Teaching by example is sometimes more important than telling them what to do,” Anthony said.

Paul Loong said: “Parents who practise what they preach have credibility. Their children may not listen right away, but they know their parents don’t lie. This makes them willing to try their parents’ ideas when the opportunity comes along.”

Lawrence Lee, our “Big Brother” who truly deserves the title, has the last word.

“Each and everyone of us always thinks highly of our children,” he said. “We do have plenty of ‘role models’ amongst our group, and I believe each and everyone of us thinks that it’s all because of us.

“Perhaps we should ask those role models – those children of ours – to tell us what they think was the most successful way their parents had done to mould them to the way they are?”

In short, ask our children which parenting approach works best!

1st final run – Women’s Freestyle Slopestyle at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics in Lausanne on 18 January 2020.
Photo credit: Martin Rulsch, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0