Some readers accuse Amy Chua’s Chinese way of parenting as child abuse while some identify with it. What’s the essential part of Chinese parenting that raises such controversy? To begin with, the demand for excellence imposes great pressure on children, which has a lot to do with the Chinese conception of success. To prepare kids for future success is the grave responsibility of Chinese parents. As Amy claims, “nothing is fun until you are good at it.” The only way to gain fun for everything is through tenacious practice, without which you can never achieve anything significant and therefore you cannot possibly have fun from it. She asserts the value of rote repetition: “Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence” Through rote learning, kids will have a good command of such skills as math, piano or ballet. Only when they get praise or admiraiton can they feel satisfied and confident. And it is the very confidence that makes the once boring activity fun.
Besides the persistence of excellence in school, Chinese parenting ignores kids’ self-esteem in the process of discipline. A typical Chinese parent will scold kids relentlessly while a Western one is more concerned about kids’ psyches. This is because Chinese parents assume “strength” instead of “fragility” on the part of kids’ characters. As a Chinese proverb says, “Jade must be cut and chiseled to become a useful vessel.” Similarly, a successful person should go through a hard time to cultivate the spirit of perseverance and fortitude. Such traditional Chinese philosophy goes down in history and is still deeply imprinted in our minds. As a parent, Amy claims that “one of the worst things you can do for your child's self-esteem is to let them give up.”For her, the best gift for kids is the building up of their confidence, which is to let them know that they can do something they previously thought they couldn't. In her view, the ultimate goal of Chinese parenting is to let kids gain self-esteem instead of losing it. Kids’ loss of self-esteem by Chinese parents’ harsh discipline will eventually go away and be replaced with a new-born sense of pride and satisfaction.
In conclusion, the true essence of Chinese parenting is to protect kids by “preparing them for the future, letting them see what they're capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.” In contrast, the Western style of parenting puts more emphasis on kids’ individuality, “encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment.”
Which is better? To discipline or not to discipline? To what extent can parents discipline kids without overexertion on both sides? One should always remember that love is the answer to everything. Chinese and Western parents use different ways to express their love towards their kids, that’s all. The crucial point is that kids must learn to appreciate the love. Without kids’ appreciation and acceptance of parental love, each way of parenting is futile.