Can you have too much domestic help?

At lunch last week, we saw a young boy (5-ish) eating his lunch. At regular intervals their helper would lift the cup of water to his lips so he could have a drink. Ok it was 'helping' him drink, but it didn't seem like much help towards growing up.

Or what about the older boys I see who stand a good foot or more taller than their helper, and yet the helper is carrying their school bags.

How much help is too much?


 PS As Gweipo notes, sometimes it's not just children that can have too much help!

Can you have too much domestic help? Yes.

Few things get me more steamed up than seeing the frequently unhealthy and often bizarre interactions between HK domestic helpers and kids. I recall that one of the very first posts I ever wrote recounted one such incident.

Since then I've witnessed many others. One particularly egregious one involved a schoolgirl, likely about 7 or 8, who was going along the street wearing a big heavy schoolbag on her back. No problem there (other than the schoolbag issue); the catch was that the girl herself was draped on her family's helper, piggy-back style! The helper was so small, and the girl already so big, that the girl's feet were barely clearing the ground.

Hey that's really funny -did

Hey that's really funny -did you get a picture? or even better get it on video and post on Youtube

yes and no

since I'm spending a month on holiday here in Spain without a helper (yes, I"m one of the few HKpeople it seems who doesn't take their helper on holiday with them) I can give some response to that.

Yes, I do think people are over reliant on their helpers, and I do think that a lot of HK children are less self sufficient as a result.  My own included.  The large battle this holiday has been to get my son to eat by himself, to put on his shoes and to buckle his own seatbelt.  Seems like small things, but they are important.  

I am really enjoying having the house to myself.  I am not enjoying the endless cooking and cleaning, but we're all pitching in, which is good.

I am also really enjoying playdates and birthday parties where everyone present is a parent, rather than there being 2 or 3 parents and 20 helpers.  Nothing discriminatory intended, but that is just  a personal preference.

I do not enjoy the fact that we went out on Friday night (first time without the kids) and had to rush back to minimise the babysitting bill, and as it was it cost us the equivalent of nearly a weeks wages of our HK helper!!!!

It is hard to strike a balance in HK.  Our going away for a month a year and coping with 'normal' life is a good way.  It is also important for our children to see how people in Europe treat their hired help.  With respect and dignity.  We do that at home in HK, but they see many children and adults around them who do not.  It is also a reality check that workers are only working 40 hours a week.  That was the most surprising thing when we came to HK, we tried to find out what the statutory workinghours were in HK for helpers and we were literally laughed at.  We try to maintain 40 hours in our household, and our helper is free over the weekends unless it's an emergency or exception, but I know many people find us crazy...