Pressure to perform well at school tops the list of grouses Vietnamese children have against their parents, a national writing contest has managed to find out.
"Dear Mom and Dad, I want to say...," launched by Hanoi-based book distributor Thai Ha, received nearly a 1,000 letters with 87 percent, mostly high-school and junior-high students, expressing unspoken discontent with their parents.
Nguyen Nhat Trang Anh, an eighth grader at Giang Vo Junior High School, quoted her mother in the letter as saying: "Why do you always go to bed so early? Look at other kids! They're studying until 1 or 2 a.m. I spend so much money on you but your studies seem to come to nothing."
Another Hanoi contestant, who wished to be known only as N.H.T., described the gloomy atmosphere at home when he failed an entrance exam at a high school for gifted students.
"I didn't cry because I knew I would make my parents more disappointed."
But his reaction made his mother think he felt no remorse while his father said the failure was shameful and his life "would have much more shame," the boy said in his letter.
His parents compared him with his friends who had passed such exams and told him he would never dare to meet them after they graduated.
"And the more you said, the less I smiled," T. told his parents in the letter.
Nguyen Thi Hai, an 11th grader from the northern Thai Nguyen Province, was unhappy because her family is forcing her to become a teacher while she wants to be an emcee or a newscaster.
"I'm constrained too much. I have no freedom in anything, big or small," she said in her letter.
The letters covered a gamut of family issues, especially children's disagreements with the way they are taken care of and unhappiness with things their parents think are good for them.
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Many letters revealed children's anger at not being treated with respect.
Anh said she was very angry when she found out her parents read her diary and used stuff in it to tell her off.
She wrote to her mother through the contest: "I caught you in my room holding the diary beside my open schoolbag. I was shocked.
"You then called Dad and both of you read it. I ran into the room and yelled like crazy. But you didn't express or show remorse."
Her mother called her diary "trivial" and "nonsense," and blamed it for her bad performance at school, Anh said further.
The letter by eighth-grader Ha Thi Loan, also from Thai Nguyen Province, read: "All other children and I really want adults to care more about us, share things with us, and try to understand what we think, what we want."
Nguyen Thi Thu Hien from the central Quang Nam Province said she wants her mother to spend more time on her.
"Mom, do you know how sorry I felt for myself when my teacher said that only my parents didn't attend the PTA meeting? I beg you, care for me a little bit, just a little bit," she pleaded.
Her family was very happy during hard times but since things became better, her parents have been too busy making money, she complained.
"I know one hour can earn you a lot of money but please spend some time with me. If you still think money comes first, can I buy an hour of yours?"
Nguyen Thi Lan Minh, a psychologist from the Vietnam Association for Protecting Children's Rights, said: "Children should give their parents the chance to talk to them because parents are the most reliable people for children to share their feelings and thoughts with."