Psychologist decries overbearing parents in open letter

Updated 2018-02-02 16:12:01

A university psychology researcher in Beijing attributes the psychological disorder he has suffered since childhood to his controlling parents and vows to break his kinship ties with them, whom he has not spoken to for 6 years.

Wang Meng (alias) sent a 15,000-word open letter to some friends, who already have or may later have children, reminding them how harmful it is to ignore children's wills.

Now in his mid-30s, Wang said that he still cannot come to terms with his past.

Wang, a straight-A student, graduated from Peking University with a bachelor's degree in biology.

He then found a job in a biotech company in Beijing, but quit soon after he found that he could not get on well with his colleagues. He later obtained a master's degree in psychology from a university in the United States.

Yet Wang says he still has a serious lack of self-confidence, and that's only one of his mental problems. In fact, the reason he had applied to research psychology in the U.S., where other psychologists would subsequently diagnose him with post-traumatic stress disorder, was to seek solutions for his own psychological troubles.

His parents' refusal to believe the U.S. doctors' report prompted Wang to bid farewell to them in 2012. He told the Red Star News, a media outlet headquartered in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, that he plans to study for a doctoral degree in psychology at Peking University to continue searching for remedies for his mental issues.

Wang's life had been arranged meticulously by his parents, two civil servants living in a small town in southwest China's Sichuan Province, since the first day he can remember, with zero tolerance for any adjustments or questioning.

Extremely depressed, Wang feels as though he were a puppet who has never been allowed to air his own points of view. Despite his excellent academic record, he lacks the basic ability to take care of himself – he could not even peel a hard-boiled egg until middle school – which made him a laughing stock and an outcast among his peers.

Wang thought going to Beijing for college could spare him of his parents' control. But his parents invited one of his aunts who lived in Beijing to take care of him, which made him desperately disappointed.

It was only after he arrived in the U.S. that he could finally achieve some independence. His parents once again found an old friend of them in the U.S. to look after Wang, but he turned down his parents' old friend soon after.

Now, Wang's parents do not know where he works in Beijing. Although they admit there were some problems with their parenting, they still take pride in Wang's academic record. They wrote him an email last October, toning down their voices, saying that they are ready for a candid talk with him. Wang replied: "You are not the persons I want to have a candid talk."

Wang's mother Liu told her relatives that her son was busy in the U.S. to hide the fact that they have not met for years. Wang's father told the Red Star News he still cannot understand why his son cannot move on from the past. All he can do is give his son enough time to change his mind.

"He left home to go to Beijing at 17. He is 34 now. We have not lived with him for 17 years. The problem is not that we controlled him for the first 17 years, but that we did not do so for the second 17 years, if control, as he said, is the problem," Liu told the Red Star News.

Wang's parents moved four times. They have kept everything related to their son, hoping he will come back one day. But if his parents now suffer, Wang said, they suffer only as a result of their own actions.

Experts say the incident sheds light on the issue of children's psychology, which has long been ignored. Achieving a good academic record is by no means the sole purpose of life, and it must not be taken as the only criterion for evaluating the performance of children, whose development and learning should be based primarily on their curiosity and interests.

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