Parents supporting children following idols

By Pham Nga   July 11, 2023 | 05:29 am PT
Phuong Trang was “crazily happy” when her father managed to buy her tickets to the upcoming Blackpink Hanoi concert so highly anticipated by young fans across the capital.

All the 42-year-old Hanoian father Nguyen Ba Thao knew about K-pop concert ticket buying was how competitive it is, so he used his Facebook account to ask people what the best way to do it is.

His 11-year-old daughter told him she wanted to see Blackpink in Hanoi as soon as the superstar girl group announced that they would perform at My Dinh National Stadium at the end of the month. He promised to get her tickets at any price. So when tickets officially went on sale to the public on July 7, Thao spent almost two hours on his computer maneuvering to buy the tickets.

At first he became hopeless when he found himself in an online queue of over 6,000 people. But his patience paid off and he managed to get two tickets at VND6.8 million (around $288) each. Now he’s excited to take his daughter to the concert.

"I must have lived well in my previous nine lives to be your daughter," Trang told her father when he texted her that he had bought the tickets.

Thao says he sees no problem in supporting his daughter’s hobby this way. He considers it a way for him to stay connected with Trang, as he and his former spouse got divorced five years ago, and Trang is living with her mother in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. Despite the distance, he and Trang talk to each other on a daily basis.

"Everyone has their own hobby," he says. "When I make her happy like this, she will identify with me even more."

Thao and his two sons welcome Trang at the airport on June 20, 2023. Photo courtesy of Thao

Thao and his two sons welcome Trang at the airport on June 20, 2023. Photo courtesy of Thao

The parents of Tu Van, 22, from the southern province of Tra Vinh, also support their daughter's passion for the Korean boy band EXO. Van’s father once took her all the way to Hanoi to attend an EXO concert, and her mother even took Van all the way to South Korea to see the band perform.

"My parents bought me all of the albums ever released by EXO after I passed the high school entrance exam," says Van, now a student at the HCMC Foreign Trade University.

"My father made me a shelf so that I can put the albums and other merchandise there," she tells VnExpress.

Every time EXO releases a new song, Van’s parents listen to it and watch the group’s on TV with her. They give her money to buy albums and other merchandise of her choice.

"My parents understand that it is my personal hobby, just like how my father likes researching cars and my mother likes shopping for clothes," she says. "Thanks to that, I’m comfortable sharing everything with them."

Van (far L) and her family. Photo courtesy of Van

Van (far L) and her family. Photo courtesy of Van

Ha Quynh Phuong, 19, of the southern province of Dong Nai, recalls: "My parents surprised me with their decision to let me go to Thailand to watch a [Korean boy band] BTS concert in 2019."

She was accompanied by her mother, who had never traveled overseas. The mother-and-daughter got up early in the morning, dressed up, and brought banners to the concert venue to show their support. Her mother even took photos of Phuong enjoying the concert and sent them to their father so that he could enjoy the fun as well.

Similar to Van’s parents, Phuong’s parents, both in their 60s, listen to her favorite songs with her.

"They say the songs are catchy. If they see merchandise relating to my idol somewhere, they call to ask if I want it," Phuong says.

La Linh Nga, director of the Psychological-Pedagogy Research and Application Center in Hanoi, says supporting children in their love for pop music stars is not common, but not rare either, among parents.

"There are parents who have young souls and thus, are interested in popular phenomena among the youth," she explains. "Others want to better connect with their children this way."

The British Council 2020 Next Generation Vietnam report points out that 75% of young adults surveyed say their parents have given them the opportunity to live their own lifestyles, be independent and autonomous: "Qualitatively, respondents feel that now parents do not interfere as much."

This is often an effective way to bridge the generation gap between parents and children. Trang, Van, and Phuong have all grown in their close connections and relationships with their parents.

"Despite living apart, Trang gets me updated in every aspect of her life, from how she suffers from her period every month to her relationships with her classmates," Thao says.

Meanwhile, Van’s and Phuong parents help them shoot TikTok videos and register accounts on social media platforms that their daughters use to better understand their concerns.

Phuong and her mother attend a BTS concert in Thailand in 2019. Photo courtesy of Phuong

Phuong and her mother attend a BTS concert in Thailand in 2019. Photo courtesy of Phuong

"Sometimes children and young adults can learn good things from their idols and get more motivated in their lives," Nga says, adding that parents can encourage their children to lead better lifestyles by supporting them in following successful artists.

However, Nga warns that parents should support their children’s hobbies in accordance with the family’s financial situation.

"Parents shouldn’t support their children if they spend too much time or money on this hobby," she says.

Being encouraged by their parents, Trang, Van, and Phuong have all improved their academic performances. Their parents say they are financially stable enough to support their children’s hobbies as well.

Thao made Trang promise to put more effort in her studies when he informed her that he successfully purchased the Blackpink tickets.

"That’s my secret to make sure my daughter lives well, despite not staying together with her," he says.

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