11 January 2011

Chinese Parenting

There seems to be a lot of buzz lately over a Wall Street Journal article by Amy Chua, "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior". She argues that the Chinese (Asian really) parenting technique of "tough love" makes children much more successful than the "just try your best" attitude of most western parents. She explains that Chinese mothers want their children to be the best because academic success reflects good parenting, and if your child wasn't perfect in school, it meant that you were imperfect parents thus causing you to lose face. It also has to do with the Confucian value of filial piety, that children should always respect their elders. She explains that Chinese children owe everything to their mothers for raising them, providing them with food, shelter etc. In return, their children must be the best children possible or they would bring disrespect to their elders.

Many western parents believe that pushing your child to be perfect is bad, and that scolding them for getting a B+ even though they tried their best (as Asian parents would do) is bad for their self esteem. Chinese parents don't take their child's feelings into account. They do whatever possible to make sure their children dont just try their best, but be the best, even if it means yelling at them for their flaws.

While Asian parenting may seem harsh, the numbers don't lie. Asian children rank consistently high in academics and test scores. Statistically speaking, Chinese parenting is superior, however pushing a child so hard can have other consequences. Asian countries have some of the worlds highest suicide rates. Many of them are committed by young adults because they don't feel like they are good enough due to their damaged self esteem or they simply snap under the pressure.

The western way of raising children won't make them score as high as the asian kids, but it will give them more confidence to want to try things they wouldn't normally do, were as asian kids won't want to venture too far from being a doctor or engineer, because that is the typical path their parents want them to  pursue.

I wouldn't raise my children the asian way, but I dont want to give them a free ride either. You should push your child, but not so hard that they fall over the edge.

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