In 2009, everyone was waiting in anticipation what the new First Lady would wear on the President’s inauguration night.
Michelle Obama didn’t tell anyone which dress she picked until that night itself.
In the end, as you might already know now, she wore a glorious white one-shoulder gown.
And the designer is the then 27-year old Jason Wu (吴季刚).
Merely getting your dress shortlisted by the First Lady is a far-fetched dream for many designers out there, let alone being chosen and worn.
However I am not interested in Mrs Obama’s dresses, what she wears and what not.
But what intrigued me is the little-known story behind this young Taiwan-born fashion designer.
Here’s the thing:
If his mother would have done what other parents did, there might be a strong reason that Jason would NOT have become what he is today: a famous icon in the fashion world.
Since he was very young (probably 5 or so), Jason liked to play with dolls. He liked to dress up dolls with beautiful dresses. It’s so “bad” that until one stage, Jason’s teacher had to summon his mother and told her to stop him from playing and concentrate more on studies.
After all, for a boy, playing with dolls is very unsexy.
Now imagine this: If you had a boy who was indulging in a girly activity so intense that it affected his academic performance, what would you do?
In today’s dog eat dog world, this would be the standard reply, “Son, you’d better drop your dolls and pay more attention to your studies. That girl-girl thing would not make you a lot of money. You’d better study hard and become a doctor, or else…”
Fortunately for Jason, her mother didn’t say that.
In fact she did the opposite. She stopped Jason from going to “mainstream” school in Taiwan that didn’t see her son’s special talent. She took 9-year old Jason and migrated to faraway land Canada to let him hone his skills in dressing up dolls: fashion design.
Most parents would have done it the other way around.
But his mother knew the importance of discovering a child’s talent and let it shine. His mother knew doing what the majority was doing was not going to help his son. His mother knew to be happy and successful, one had to follow his passion – no matter how silly it may look.
The rest is history and Jason Wu has become one of Mrs Obama’s favorite designers ever since. And he is only 30 this year.
If there’s one person that you want to give credit for Jason’s success, I think you will agree with me it would be his mother.
If you just focus on academic excellence and nothing else, and you child is not the academic type, you child can’t compete with others and the chances of being great are very slim. When he feels that every thing he does is inferior compared to his peers, his self-esteem goes south. And he feels that he is someone who is not “favored” and he is useless.
You can’t put a square peg in a round hole. You don’t ask a dog to be a lion.
In the same manner, forget what the school tells you. What we need to do as parents is to groom our child based on his strengths, talents, and passion. Just like what Jason’s mother did to him… and nothing else.
Of course, not every parent can abandon his home country and travel far for his child’s sake. But the least we can do is observe, listen, and give what your child craves. Help him nurture his natural talent, and not the one that you impose on him.
You won’t go wrong by taking this unpopular path.
Note: In my new book “The Uncensored Guide to Parenting,” every tip is geared toward helping your child bloom (like flower) to be what he is born to be – not necessarily academic wise.
To get notified when the book is ready, join the notification list.