October 21, 2017
Chinese Parenting, Cruel or Effective?
There are many opinions about the best way to raise successful children. One
controversial way raised in “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan is the idea of strict Chinese parenting.
Tan’s mother was an immigrant who followed the path of strict traditional Chinese parenting.
This way has become more relevant since Amy Chua released her book, Battle Hymm of the
Tiger Mother. Chua holds a strong belief that being a “Tiger Mother” is truly the better way to
raise successful children. The mothers in these two books offer a vivid insight on raising children
this way. However, this Chinese style of parenting isn’t more effective than the American.
American parents can raise successful children without using the strict Chinese approach.
Traditional Chinese parents believe that children should have no choice, no freedom, and
high grades. Chinese parents who follow this strict style are harsh on their children and show
little amounts of affection. In addition, Gwen Dewar, Ph.D. describes that this particular
parenting style has been labeled as “authoritarian” by many researchers. In “Traditional Chinese
Parenting,” Dewar says, “Authoritarian parenting is a style of child-rearing that emphasizes high
standards and a tendency to control kids through shaming, the withdrawal of love, or other
punishments.” Chua calls this authoritarian parenting style being a “tiger mother” because
she assumes the absolute right to “dictate her children’s activities and demand rigorous academic
standards of them at all times, ridiculing them if necessary to spur them on to greater
efforts”(“Tiger Mother’s Book”). Similarly, Tan’s traditional Chinese mother allowed her to
have no choice in her activities and believed that one day her daughter would become a
“prodigy”. However, authoritarian parenting is linked with, “lower levels of self control, more
emotional problems, and lower academic performance”(Dewar).
There are many styles of American parenting that are effective in raising successful
children. An example of one style is “Serenity Parenting”, which economics professor and father
of three, Bryan Caplan describes to be, the belief that parents should stop pushing their children
to learn at a fast rate at such a young age. This kind of parenting believes children should decide
for themselves who they want to be, whereas, Chinese parents believe it’s their job to dictate and
chose what activities their children take part in.
Chinese parenting can eventually lead to negative effects on children. In relation,
developmental psychologist Laurence Steinberg explains that, “Intense parenting such as the
‘Tiger Mother’ have been shown to be related to elevated anxiety, depression, and
psychosomatic problems.” The high expectations Chinese parents, such as Tan’s mother and
Chua hold for their children are overwhelming and can hurt the children.
Even though traditional Chinese parents can raise smart successful children, the affects
this kind of parenting can have on the children are powerful. The mothers in “Two Kinds,” by
Amy Tan and Battle Hymm of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua portray the ways of a strict
Chinese parent. Furthermore, the children are forced to participate in activities chosen by their
parents, and are punished if they fail to meet their rigorous expectations. On the other hand, there
are some American styles of parenting that can raise successful children and not have such a
negative affect on the children. In other words, Chinese parenting is not more effective than
Caplan, Bryan, Amy Chua, and Emine Saner. “Is Strict Parenting Better for Children?” The
Guardian. 10 June 2011.
Dewar, PhD., Gwen. “Traditional Chinese Parenting.” Parenting Science. 2011.
Steinberg, Laurence, and Charles Choi. “Does Science Support the Punitive Parenting of
‘Tiger Mothering’?” Scientific American. 18 Jan. 2011.
Tan, Amy. “Two Kinds.” Literature, The Human Experience: Reading and Writing, edited by
Richard Abcarian, Marvin Klotz, and Samuel Cohen, 11
Shorter ed., Bedford/St.
Martin’s, 2015, pp.306-314.
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