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[Opinion] Parents on Strike

Posted December. 13, 2004 22:45,   


A career woman who holds a doctorate degree doesn’t usually do favors for her kids. From an early age, they teach their children to fend for themselves. But this is not necessarily because these women are heartless, cold-blooded mothers. “I was determined to teach them to do things on their own since I have neither the time nor the capacity to cater to their every whim.” The average Korean woman, who would be eager to rush to the end of the world and beyond, should her child wish it to be so, would shake her head at this sort of eccentricity.

Recently, two American parents went on strike as their children refused to do their chores such as cleaning and preparing the meals. If American parents, whose kids leave their nest at age 18, had felt this way, imagine what it would be like for Korean parents who support their children even beyond marriage. We, for one, truly hope that these parents on strike would at last claim victory against their children, as a triumph for all parents around the world.

A recent SBS soap opera by Kim Soo-hyun, titled “The Autumn of Chief Hong” drew nods of empathy from Korean parents. There is a scene in which the children start begging for the congratulatory money earned from a recent wedding, a request that the usually mild-hearted mother refuses adamantly. “I’m not giving you the money. It’s all mine. I want some money in my bank account for once. You all should learn to be more grateful. We provided you with everything, even your spouses; what more do you want from us? You’re just a bunch of crooks.” The words rang an oddly satisfying bell for Korean parents.

There is an old English proverb: “Children are the worst type of insurance.” Today’s kids do not know the gift of gratitude. Parents may be quick to discover any little quality that their children excel at, but kids are quicker to point out any little fault of their parents. It’s a world where children feast on the table of plenty, while their parents gnaw on the leftovers. What other society wields such a free hand on their offspring? As in the words of one economist, “Cut down half of what you spend on your kids, and you will have a secure future.”

‘Parents of the world, unite’.

Oh Myung-chul, Editorial writer, oscar@donga.com