A Guest post from Hannah in China (first appeared as a three part series with Modern Chinese Parents and Children – Part 1, which appeared on May 29, 2011)
Before I start to talking about Chinese parents and children, first let us have a look of the currently pretty hot arguing book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which is a Chinese-American Yale law professor mom that wrote about how she was strict with her two daughters by making a lot of can’t doing rules, and she was acting like a wicked witch to push them to study.
I will not comment on which parenting method is better, Chinese or Western.
What I want to say is the book’s author Amy Chua’s way of parenting is typically Chinese though she is 4th-generation American.
Note from Blog host: Evidence of this may be found among reviews and comments on Amazon.UK. Rosie in the UK wrote, “I am Chinese now living in the UK and I admit I was outraged when I first read theWSJ excerpt of her (Amy Chua’s) book. My first thoughts were I can’t believe anyone would do something like that to their children. However, as I thought more about it and I guess living out here in the UK I’ve been so used to the numbing and dummying of our children’s perceived fragile self esteem and always making sure that their feelings and wants are met for fear of damaging them emotionally, I forgot that, hey, I was brought up pretty much the same way.”
Hanna says, “We Chinese have a long history of parents being strict with their children. From old days, the Ke Ju Kaoshi (official examination) was the only chance for people to change their fate and life.
“To achieve this, they must study really hard. We have an old saying about this “Shi Nian Han Chuang Ku Du Ri, Jin Chao Jin Bang Ti Ming Shi”, which means “Ten years of study at a cold window only for the day of passing the examination.”
“To study, students must be pushed even by using the stick.”
In addition, modern Chinese are also having many new chances but this still won’t change the way most Chinese parents raise children, because China now has the “Gaokao”, which is the high school examination to get into a university or college.
Because of the competition, parents can’t afford or wouldn’t dare to let the child just play and have fun. Children don’t know what is best for them.
Parents must force them to study but spoil them at the same time. When the child gets the great score, that means everything to parents. The kids don’t have to do anything else in life but study. Therefore, the story is the boy went into a famous college but didn’t know how to peal the eggshell.
Note from Blog host: Another review from Amazon.UK supports what Hanna is saying. The reviewer wrote, “I know how appalling some of those things sound to many. Not me, since I am Chinese myself and I have been brought up that same way, if not more strict.…. However when I grow up (now 40), I see the vast difference of parenting among other people in different countries (I live in UK now with my English husband), and what repercussions it has on the kids when they grow up. I am glad I was brought up the way I was.”
Hanna says, “Chinese parenting is not about ‘feelings’, but it’s not to say that the parents do not care.”
The child has to finish the school homework to 10 pm at night five days a week. Then after school, the child goes to the special training to develop other skills such as piano. This is not about what the the child is interested but it’s what the parents decided based on what they believe is necessary. What we learn in China is that the children have to attend eight different hobbies classes. There’s no free time.
In fact, in China, children should not argue with their parents and the child must do what the parents say.
When the child is good at studying, it means “Guang Zong Yao Zu”, (bring honor to your ancestors).
When you get the low score (100% score is best. 60% means you barely passed the exam. 90% is good. However, even just 1% lower and the child gets the “cold face”).
This not only means teachers calling parents endless times for meetings and punishment from the parents but it embarrasses your ancestors too.
This means when children are doing the homework, parents watch them until they finish to insure no mistakes.
Another recent review from Amazon.US points out an interesting thought. “The (Amy Chua) book raises an important question: Is America’s assumed educational mediocrity really the fault of our public schools (as some believe) or is it the fault of an epidemic of indulgent parenting (as others believe)? Asian kids seem to do remarkably well in the public schools… and raising little complaint about the quality of the schools.”
As for myself, Hanna writes, I think I’m the lucky one born in a family offering more freedom. Luckily I was a good student so my parents didn’t have to pay as much attention to me.
Did they spoil me? Sure. Did they care about my feelings? Yes, because they allowed me talk and argue with them.
If your child is no good at school, you must still love them. However, being strict so they have a good future is not worth it if they hate you later. No matter what kind of family you live in – strict or spoiled – the important thing is to love. Then the world can be better place.
Chua says, “My memoir — seen in the West as a story about “extreme” parenting — is being marketed the opposite way in China, as a story about the importance of giving kids more freedom. Amusingly, the book’s title in China is Parenting by a Yale Professor: Raising Kids in America, and I was asked by one Chinese women‘s magazine to give its readers tips on “how to be friends with your kids.”
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