Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Truth is Out

A Chinese Yale law professor wrote about how she raised her two daughters in a book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The Wall Street Journal posted an excerpt.

Americans are horrified, and many Chinese people raised this way have come out to denounce the way they were raised. However, given that the vast majority of Chinese Americans were raised this way, I'm surprised there haven't been more supportive comments.

It is somewhat amusing to me to see all the negative comments from American parents because it's like they have no idea how prevalent this is. Plus, those kids are the ones edging out American kids for college, graduate school, club leadership, and jobs.

Being raised this way was certainly hard and depressing. However, as time has passed, I've become much more supportive of how I was raised. At least, I feel like there were some major benefits and there doesn't seem to have been much permanent damage. It hasn't made me chronically depressed, unstable, or robotic. I think it is a major factor in raising people who are independent, self-reliant, and responsible. Even if people still have personality flaws, at least they are generally not a burden to their family or friends. For many people, it seems to have made people less sensitive to criticism and more easily accept that there is room for self-improvement. The truth is that after going through that upbringing, you realize that the biggest obstacle to achieving something is not having thought of a goal yet. If you fundamentally believe that you are capable of achieving anything you want with hard work, then you can be more creative or ambitious with your plans. For me, my upbringing may have made it easier for me to feel like I have control of my destiny. At the time I felt it was a burden to have to always defend my decisions and explain why I wanted to do something, but now it seems like maybe it was good practice because it only gets tougher in "the real world."

I think I'm reacting strongly because many people are complaining about aspects of the harsh parenting style that are really not the worst parts. I don't think it really stifles creativity, makes robots, or stunts social skills. Not going to sleep overs, playing piano, getting all A's, and not watching TV was not a really big deal. Being called "stupid" or "lazy" made me angry sometimes, but even that's not what really got to me. The most frustrating and degrading part is feeling like there is no way to avoid being yelled at. It is especially irritating if I didn't feel like I was given enough time or help to improve. I just felt it was not fair. The other part of my upbringing that was harmful was feeling like my parents did not trust me. I think this lack of trust damaged my self-esteem more than the language. It also made it difficult to trust other people. I don't think that this is a necessary part of being strict. It has taken me a few years to deal with the negative aspects of my upbringing. Now I'm in my twenties and feel more emotionally stable and ambitious than ever, though, so I suppose it has mostly worked out after all.

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