My half-Asian husband forwarded me this article written by a Chinese mother about why they are superior to Western-style mothers.
It is fascinating to read and I see so much of this in how my husband was raised. But I also see her depiction of the Western parent – ME!
Here are excerpts from the article. I beg you to take the time to read the entire thing!! It is really worth your time! (You HAVE to read the story about her daughter and the piano and it’s toward the end.)
“A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
• attend a sleepover
• have a playdate
• be in a school play
• complain about not being in a school play
• watch TV or play computer games
• choose their own extracurricular activities
• get any grade less than an A
• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
• play any instrument other than the piano or violin
• not play the piano or violin….”
“Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are tons of studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting. In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that “stressing academic success is not good for children” or that “parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun.” By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way. Instead, the vast majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be “the best” students, that “academic achievement reflects successful parenting,” and that if children did not excel at school then there was “a problem” and parents “were not doing their job.” Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are more likely to participate in sports teams.”
“What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it’s math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more.”
The author says that she sees three major differences in the Chinese view of rearing kids and the Western view.
1. Western parents are very concerned about their children’s self-esteem.
2. Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything.
3. Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and that overrides all of their children’s own desires and preferences.
I am all about their egos and wanting them to be happy whole people. Don’t get me wrong, I want and expect them to have As (I know what their IQs are! They had better get As!) However, it is important to me that they are happy and feel good about themselves.
I would have absolutely sided with Jed on the piano example. Maybe the child just wasn’t mature enough to do it. That mom was hardcore! That’s just not me. But does that mean Western kids will be failures? Should we not worry about their egos so much? Or is that how kids get into drugs and such when they feel badly about themselves? (See I immediately go to they are going to do drugs or have sex and get pregnant.)
OK, so what do you guys think? Do the “Chinese” mothers have the right idea? Are Western parents going about this all wrong? What role should their ego play? How much should you push? How much choice do they have?
If you are not a crazy strict parent, can you become one? Is that going against your own grain? Will that somehow backfire — like you’re working against the personality that God intended you to have with your kids?