Destructive Criticism

Past to the future

Past to the future

It’s amazing how many people are commenting on the controversy sparked by the book about eastern parenting styles called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Like most people, I have no experience raising teenagers girls of Chinese decent in America and did not read the book – but read an excerpt called “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”- and some of the reaction are taking on a life of their own.

The theme of the debate is not whether tigers eat their young but instead can be simplified as: eastern (discipline, academics, and obedience) verse western (self-esteem, independent thinking, play) methods of parenting.

In the 1980s, there was a mystique surrounded the principles of “Japanese management,” and today we start to look toward Chinese values (could happen #3) because of the mystique  surrounding China’s Asian miracle of growth and  lifting their people out of dire povertyis admired.  It’s also amazing to watch a sprouting bamboo  grow an astonishing 24 inches a day in the spring, but this is unsustained and the plant levels off before summer.

There is not a single method for parenting and most reach a healthy balance between being demanding and being permissive, with an aim not to prepare children for our world,  but  for the world they will live in. Criticism can be constructive, but it can also stifle creativity and be destructive.  Use of creativity is needed by young adults to adapt to a world that will change beyond their parent’s imagination. Asia has not changed for centuries but is rapidly changing now. I wonder what kind of upbringing those leading the change in China had. Continuing with traditional parenting prepares children for a world that is confined to  (could happen #1) museums.

Perhaps a controlled upbringing with traditional Chinese values, may have been the best way to prepare a child for an agrarian/manufacturing society where collective rights are valued more than individual rights. Of course academics and discipline matter, but so does developing self-esteem and independent thinking to adapt to an unpredictable future. So do you stake-and-tie your tomatoes or let your chickens run free? What do you think?



  1. The Chinese Mother article is so popular because it cleverly reveals one of the mysteries that differentiates the eastern and western cultures, and that revelation seems so shocking.

    I experimented with the Eastern Way this week, and called my very Western 1st grade son a Fat-Lazy-Good-For-Nothing-Piece-of-Crap at what I thought were the right moments to do so, like when I wanted him to practice for his Spelling Bee.

    He didn’t think it was funny, and told me so. Every time.

    I praised him when we practiced his Spelling Bee, and he got every word right.

    But seriously, everyone learns differently, at different paces, and responds to different disciplines. To apply a Western or Eastern way to everyone in the West or East is not optimal for anybody or any culture. The best teachers and coaches know how to teach individual and team, adapting their style to get the most from their players.
    Julie B. recently posted..Spoons Plates and One Significant OrtoMy Profile

    • Hi Julie,
      I’m glad your son got every word right on his spelling bee.

      Thank you for commenting and bring up such an excellent point – that the best learning process for each individual is different. “To apply a Western or Eastern way to everyone in the West or East is not optimal for anybody or any culture.”

      Parents, teachers etc, could do well by looking beyond what works best for themselves and try to learn which methods work best for their children.

  2. Thou i never read the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, there is some thoughts that come out. When it comes to Asian values, i totally respect them thou some cannot.