Joe Ma is Not a Stern Father

By on February 15, 2013 in NEWS, Star Interviews


Joe Ma (馬德鐘) and Karen Cheung’s (張筱蘭) 30-year romance have stood the test of time. But as a father to his 14-year-old son, Ma Zaixiang (馬在驤), how does Joe keep up with his son who is growing up in another generation? Joe shares some insights on raising a teenage son and how to maintain good communications.

With the increased influence of the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook, Joe allowed his son to write his own blog. From time to time, Ma Zaixiang would ask his readers to support Joe in his television series. Joe would also publicly congratulate his son on his Tae Kwon Do belts and violin performances on his own blog as well. Joe said that he has always treated his son like a friend instead of a little child. “We communicate to each other via our blogs, but not too often. I think the most important thing was to spend time with him when he was younger and give him a happy childhood, so we have a great father-son relationship.”

Although Joe portrayed a strict SDU officer in Tiger Cubs <飛虎>, he is far from being a stern father in real life. Joe may look tough on the outside, but he is actually very caring and attentive on the inside. Joe shared that he has never hit his son when he misbehaved. In fact, Joe was so emotional that he cried. “I remember there was a time we were getting into the elevator, and there was someone ahead of us that was really slow. My son was extremely impatient and acted very irritated and kept pressing the elevator buttons. At that time, he made me very upset because I felt like I wasn’t raising him properly because he was so selfish to only think about himself. Afterwards I had a long talk with him to make him understand how I felt.”

In terms of education, Joe places heavy emphasis on providing the foundation for his son to get a good education. “I am very strict with Zaixiang with regards to education. He know that I don’t joke around when it comes time for him to study. I’m not grooming him to become a well-paid professional, but I do hope he can graduate from college and experience more of the world around him, such as learning how to fly a plane or boat.”

Source:  I-Kid Magazine #32 via 

This article is written by Natalie for

6 comments to Joe Ma is Not a Stern Father

  1. Funn Lim says:

    Seems like a stern but patient father. Teenagers nowadays can be a bit too low on EQ. Scold a little, they either go out and shoot everyone or hand themselves. They’re not the same as those in the 50s, 60s or 70s.

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    • jayne replied:

      It’s much easier to spoil than to discipline in the proper way. It’s aso a weakness of the parents, or rather less patience to raise kids the right way. Parking them in front of TVs is easier than a lecture on values. It’s a different culture now, where everything is on the go.

      When I see families out eating and the kids use their iphones the entire time and don’t talk to the parents, my heart sinks. Or the parents find their kids annoying so they use the iphone to babysit them. Sharing a meal together without good conversation lacks meaning.

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      • Funn Lim replied:

        It’s the norm seeing everyone on their phones, adults and children alike. BUT if the patriach of the family is strict and respected, not a phone in sight. It depends on the family, the discipline and the values.

        My personal belief is a parent should be a parent. However too many parents strive to be a friend to their children and so fails in every aspect. A good leader leads by example and makes difficult unpopular decisions. Rarely no parents want to be that sort of inspiring leader anymore. I do think this is more westernised way of raising children, which is very polite, hardly scold. Asians used to be better at that until political correctness stripped parents of a right to be parents. Now a slap or a simple caning is called abuse and yet children who terrorises other children because they lack that discipline is not considered abuse to others. I am old fashioned. I believe you give birth, you better teach and teach doesn’t mean reasoning with children. If children can be reasoned with then they can get a job and work and be adults. I don’t believe in harsh punishments but I do believe in not spoiling a child. For all that I’ve seen, if a father leads by example, children usually turns up right. You know, those stern father who takes no nonsense sort but doesn’t abuse that respect the children have in them.

        Unfortunately a lot of parents don’t realise that.

        Very sad.

        As for the meal sharing, I do think if there is a goofy uncle or a silly auntie, the frosty atmosphere will change rapidly. Some children aren’t close to their parents. The situation of conversation filled table is one of a family with very traditional values, a close knit family with close ties with relatives, etc. All these start at the very core point; parents being parents.

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      • Funn Lim replied:

        I guess at the end of the day a child wants to have a parent to look up to. I think perhaps Joe Ma strives to be that example.

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      • jayne replied:

        You mention some good points about the intention behind disciple, but due to isolated incidents in the abuse and deaths of kids, the law aims to be more punishing towards those that hurt the children.

        I’ve been in public places where parents turn angry and grab the children roughly by the cheeks or arm and said, “You’ll feel it when you get home.” Made me feel uncomfortable to be honest.

        There will no doubt be those that beat children out of anger. My sister’s neighbor’s house was visited by cops because he had hit his daughter. He had received a warning from the school previously and she went to class with her face bruised, but she lied to protect her father. She is already a teenager and well-behaved at least when we see her, so I am not sure why her father is hitting her.

        The problem lies in the rational discipline, which requires judgement from the parents part. Parents have now resorted to taking away toys/ liberties/ allowance money in exchange for better behavior from kids.

        “The situation of conversation filled table is one of a family with very traditional values, a close knit family with close ties with relatives, etc. All these start at the very core point; parents being parents.”

        People desire to connect with others. Parents wish their kids are close to them, but it requires a patience that starts from them as you said.

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  2. Victoria says:

    Must say, Joe Ma is a really good father as he and his son get along quite well. His son is also strong and artistic at the same time. Joe also understands the importance of education but does not hold high expectations. Indeed experiencing the world is important. It’s nice to see such a great family cause it really gives one hope.

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