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Where Are the Fathers?

Beijing Review, February 25, 2014 Adjust font size:

A popular TV show has sparked public introspection into the role of fathers in children's education

Xinxin, a 12-year-old student from Beijing, enjoyed his winter vacation with his father in Singapore. During their visit, he even had the chance to explore some of Singapore's sights by himself while his father was busy with other things.

Xinxin's first adventure alone in Singapore was at a water park near their hotel. He enjoyed swimming and diving into the water by himself, and then returned to the hotel before a time in the evening that was set by his father.

The boy also made a trip to Universal Studios Singapore without a guardian. He had already been to the park with his father two times during the trip. Xinxin volunteered to make his third trip by himself. His father gave him some pocket money to buy lunch, and then Xinxin rode the shuttle from their hotel to the studios. He spent a whole day there and had a fantastic time.

In an interview with Beijing Evening News, Xinxin's father said that since he was too busy to spend all his time with his son, he decided to give him the opportunity to develop a sense of independence. Had Xinxin's mother been there, she would not have let Xinxin out of her sight, the father commented.

Although they experienced a few difficulties during their trip, such as missing breakfast at the hotel, forgetting to bring extra clothes and getting lost for while, Xinxin enjoyed his holiday.

"I used to travel with my mother, who didn't allow me to do anything risky or touch anything dirty. I couldn't enjoy myself freely," Xinxin said. This winter, since his mother was too busy, he could finally fulfill his wish to travel with his father.

Xinxin and his father made their Singapore trip after watching the popular reality TV show Where Are We Going, Dad?, which was premiered on Hunan Satellite TV on October 18, 2013 and aired every Friday in the following three months. The 12-episode show depicts the adventures of five celebrity fathers and their children as they traveled together.

The popular show has inspired many fathers to travel with their children during this winter vacation. Several travel agencies have launched father-child tours, which are very popular.

The show has also sparked discussions about the roles and involvement of fathers in the raising of their children.

Popular program

Where Are We Going, Dad? has been a hit nationwide. According to statistics released by China Central Television on December 18, 2013, the audiences tuning in for the 10th episode of its first season was the second highest among all TV programs aired last year.

The five father-child pairs featured in the show are the Olympic champion diver Tian Liang and his 5-year-old daughter Tian Yucheng (Cindy), actor Guo Tao and his 6-year-old son Guo Zirui (Shitou), director Wang Yuelun and his 4-year-old daughter Wang Shiling (Angela), model Zhang Liang and his 6-year-old son Zhang Yuexuan (Tiantian), as well as the Taiwanese singer, actor and professional race car driver Jimmy Lin Chih-ying and his 4-year-old son Kimi.

Together, they traveled to six countryside locations across China, including villages in Beijing, southwestern Yunnan Province, eastern Shandong Province, central Hunan Province and northeastern Heilongjiang Province, and a desert in northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

During their time on the show, the fathers were assigned a range of tasks, such as cooking, digging for lotus roots, fishing and selling groceries, while their children were also required to find cooking ingredients and help their fathers selling groceries. The fathers found taking care of their children without help from their wives challenging.

In the show, the fathers each exhibited their own unique personalities and parenting styles. Lin impressed the audience with how he communicated with his son Kimi. For instance, when talking to his son, he often squatted down to meet the boy at eye level, and he managed to keep his voice upbeat even in frustrating situations.

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