‘You just stare at your phone’: Father in China takes out full page advert urging student son to be closer
17 February 2017 • 9:13am
AChinese father who has become estranged from his son since he went to university has taken out a full page newspaper advert to declare that he wants to be close. The father looks back to when the pair used to spend time together, playing chess and table tennis, and now bemoans how the young man looks at his mobile phone or watches television when they are in the same room. “You’ve changed, are reluctant to talk with me, and even ignore me,” said the father, who only gave his surname Guan in the advert that was placed in the Metropolis Express, a daily newspaper in China’s eastern city of Hangzhou. His son, Guan Shaochen, an art student at the city’s Normal University, blocked his father from his social media accounts and often refuses to answer his phonecalls, the advert says. The father, a scriptwriter who lives in Hangzhou, laments at how on the few occasion that his son returns to the family home, the pair spend little time together.
“Every time you just sit on the sofa staring at your phone or at the television,” said the father. “When I go near, you just get up and walk away. It appears there is a spring between us. When I try to get close to you, the further you just push me away.”
The advert shows a picture of the pair in happier times, when the son was a small boy. The open letter calls on the son to start a new relationship with his dad, where the pair can be more like brothers. Families pride themselves on being close-knit in China, and respect for parents is a highly valued in Chinese culture. But busy lifestyles have seen many younger people focusing more on their careers than the emotional well-being of their parents. Additional reporting by Christine Wei.