Letting go seems to be a perpetual lesson that every parent has to learn as their child progresses into adulthood.
For veteran actress Chen Xiuhuan, it was a change from her usual ‘tiger-mum’ approach.
As her daughter Shalynn Tsai, 22, has grown up, Xiuhuan has learnt to loosen the reins to rekindle their relationship.
“When I wanted to re-establish the close relationship we had, I realised she didn’t seem to need me anymore,” the 56-year-old said on the latest episode of the new Mediacorp series A Night Under The Stars.
“But then my husband reminded me that it’s not that she’s rebellious, but she has grown up. He said I need to learn to let go as they’ll stop relying on me eventually.”
Shalynn recounted: “She was a true tiger mum when I was a kid. She was very strict. We had to go home straight after school, we’d have some food in the car.
“Once we reached home, we’d take a shower and practise our violin immediately. We’d have dinner after practice, then do our homework after, and go to bed at 9pm. So, we led a highly disciplined lifestyle.”
However, Xiuhuan explained that she was strict because she cared about them deeply.
“You need a degree in Singapore, academic qualifications are important,” she said.
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A Night Under The Stars sees actor Darren Lim and one of his four children embarking on a two-day-one-night adventure with another parent-child celebrity duo in each episode.
In the episode with Xiuhuan and Shalynn, they sailed around Seletar Island on Darren’s yacht with the actor at the helm.
Letting go may have been difficult for Xiuhuan who previously told 8 Days that she was suffering from “empty nest syndrome” after two of her daughters went overseas to study in 2020.
However, the episode sees Xiuhuan walking the talk when she lets Shalynn cook on the yacht. Shalynn made a prawn dish with her mum while Darren’s daughter Kristen whipped up a quinoa dish with her dad.
“You’re the one cooking today, so you have the final say,” Xiuhuan told Shalynn as the latter refused to let her mum add more butter and salt, or even try the dish before it was done simmering.
“Back then, no one would go against my word in the household… Now, I think I have to think before I speak, which is a huge change as a parent,” she added.
On the second day, the group goes kayaking through the mangroves and as Xiuhuan has never kayaked before, she takes the back seat with Shalynn in the front.
“It’s hard to describe the feeling when I followed her lead. I learnt from the way she did it,” Xiuhuan said. “In fact, there are so many things that we can learn from our children.”
To Darren, Xiuhuan may have been a tiger mum in her earlier years, but she has since moved on to the “next stage of parenting”.
“Moving from a mother-daughter dynamic to something closer to a friendship is a lesson that all parents should learn,” he said after observing them.
“How do we let go and stop interfering gradually? How do we not interfere even if we see them making a mistake? That is something we all need to learn.”
This article was first published on AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.