Above: Jimmy Lin and Tian Liang appear with their children in a new reality show about parenting skills.
The new reality show Dad, Where Are We Going? <爸爸去哪兒>, which showcases the interactions between celebrity fathers and their children, has caused the participants’ popularity to rise in a flash. However, fame comes at a price – in this case, being subject to the nitpicking scrutiny of netizens and specialists. Nevertheless, the show offers these busy fathers a priceless opportunity to spend time with and get to know their children.
Embarrassing Fathering Habits Revealed
According to the directing group of Dad, Where Are We Going?, the participants were selected in the hopes of achieving a wide range of fathering styles, from laid-back to iron-fist, from gentle to democratic, and even to absentee. The challenging situations that the participants must face, however, have quickly exposed the weaknesses in every father’s parenting style, which netizens have gleefully pointed out.
For example, director Wang Yuelun (王岳倫) was at a complete loss when it came to taking care of his daughter’s hair. Not only was he incapable of washing her hair without getting shampoo bubbles in her eyes, he did not even know how to tie a simple ponytail. Model Zhang Liang (張亮) had no choice but to lift his son onto his shoulder and carry him back to the house in order to get him to clean up his toys. Even Taiwanese actor Jimmy Lin (林志穎), who has been called an “omnipotent nanny daddy,” was helpless when his son refused to participate in the independent challenge.
After the first episode, diver-actor Tian Liang (田亮) was criticized by a child psychologist for being unable to communicate feelings. In one scene, Tian Liang’s five-year-old daughter, Cindy (田雨橙), cried loudly for more than an hour, during which he was unable to placate her. In the end, his only words were “Did you come here to act out crying?”
Exposing the Problem of Chinese Fathers
According to the child psychologist, Tian Liang’s reaction is typical of “Chinese-style fathers,” who are generally incapable of understanding their children’s feelings. When their child visibly expresses uneasiness in a public setting, their first reaction is to stop the crying, so the fathers will not lose face. The reality show nature of Dad, Where Are You Going? is likely to add to this effect.
Viewers also feel that the show exposes a problem a deep-rooted ideology in Chinese families, in which the father works to make money, while the mother stays at home with the children. Not only do the fathers end up clueless about taking care of the children, the children themselves have to worry about possibly having an absentee father.
This issue is compounded with celebrity fathers, who, the more famous they become, have less time to spend with their children. This leads to situations like that of Kimi, Jimmy Lin’s son, who never wants to leave his father’s side on the show, even during the independent challenges, because he is afraid that Jimmy will leave if he lets go of him. Likewise, actor Guo Tao’s (郭濤) son rarely sees his father, with at least 95 percent of his childhood spent with only his mother.
In a similar way, Tian Liang’s bewilderment about Cindy’s crying is because he never had to worry about the negative aspects of raising a child. He even shared in an interview that he plays with Cindy and reads her books when he is in a good mood, but that bathing, getting dressed, combing her hair, and cooking is not his business.
Holding onto Hope for Future Fathers
Despite the participants’ many weaknesses when it comes to parenting technique, all five fathers revealed that the reason they agreed to appear on Dad, Where Are We Going? was because it allowed them the chance to spend time with their children, as well as learn how to be a better father. “I accept everyone’s criticism and suggestions,” said Wang Yuelun. “I will continue to try hard and fight to become a qualified super nanny daddy!”
According to the show’s lead director, Xie Dikui (謝滌葵), many celebrities turned down the invitation to participate because they did not want to deal with problems ensuing from their child’s debut in the entertainment industry. Thus, the five participants ought to be praised for their courage in stepping out and making themselves vulnerable to criticism.
As for the celebrity fathers’ wives, many of whom are established artistes themselves, there is overwhelming support for the show. Singer-actress Ye Yiqian (葉一茜), who is married to Tian Liang, shared that before Dad, Where Are We Going?, she would always worry when her daughter was left at home with her husband. “But after this training period,” she said, “I can rest assured when I hand over the child to him.”
This article is written by Joanna for JayneStars.com.