Thursday, September 20, 2012

Training = Spanking

So besides the basic requirements such as sending their children to learn how to play instruments, pressuring their children to get only A’s in school, and asserting the “do as I say” attitude, what else are there about Tiger Moms?

Aside from all the well-known and infamous qualities of an Asian mom, I am here to reveal the other secrets of the tiger mom that you never know about. Mentioned in previous posts, Tiger Moms believe that they know 'best' from their experiences, and based on their knowledge they have gained in life, they are setting their children up for the best future possible. They are doing this for the children’s good, and they should not question but rather be thankful. Do Western parents not care for their kids then?

Personally, I think the main difference between Western parenting and Chinese parenting is that Chinese parenting is based on fear while Western parenting is based on rewards. For Chinese parents, it is acceptable to hit their children if they did something wrong or didn’t achieve the expectations. However, as the society becomes more aware of domestic violence and individual rights and freedom, Chinese parents no longer spank their children like they did before in order to not get in trouble with the law.

Unluckily, I did experience the spanking era. Amazingly enough, as the Westerners will soon find out, the spanking was not only at home, but also in schools. Before attending the International School, I went to a private local school in Taiwan. Ever since first grade, spanking was already a common way to “tame” the youngsters. So when exactly did the teachers spank the students? From being late, to showing a slight attitude, to even wanting to use the restroom too often. Pretty much whenever the teacher felt was appropriate and necessary!

You may wonder, are parents against this? You may be surprised to find out that parents are actually all for this. Parents often ask the teachers to be stricter and spank their children. Chinese parents believe that the teachers are “disciplining” their children for them so that they would be more obedient in schools and homes. Teachers would spank students when they are loud in class, talk without permission, and most importantly, when students get a lower grade than a 90%.

The rule was, one percent lower than 90% was equivalent to 1 spank on the hand. Forgot your textbook? That means another spank on the hand, sometimes even worthy of two hits! I still remember in first grade when tests were returned, every student with a grade lower than 90% had to stand in front of the class in a line with their palms facing up as the teacher spanks each student with a ruler or sometimes worse, a wooden stick. Besides these, parents and teachers would utilize other tools as well to spank such as hangers, kitchen utensils, even with a belt. In American universities, students try to find out which professors are more fun, give out less homework, or make easier exams. But in my elementary school, teachers were known for how strict they are and how often they use physical punishments, or even what tools they used.

The pain does not end in school. Back at home, parents also use fear as the means to “training” their children. What are some common ways Chinese parents utilize besides spanking? Think locking you in a dark room, or outside on the balcony. Sometimes it may just be facing the wall for an hour standing, as it is a time of reflection on what you did wrong. I remember when I was young I was always scared to do something wrong, because that meant pain and punishments! However, I was also rewarded if I did well in school. I remember when I first learned the alphabetical order my mom would be holding a hanger and spanking me whenever I got an alphabet wrong. Only when I finally got everything correct, I was rewarded with a trip to McDonalds.

On the other hand, Westerners use reward as encouragement for what their children have done right. If they do well in school, they will receive rewards. If they didn’t do well in school, parents were encouraging and would try to find ways to help. I still remember when I first transferred to Taipei American School, I was so happy that there was no physical punishment and you were rewarded for everything that you do right. “Life was so easy and free,” I thought to myself.

Are you surprised to hear about how rough Chinese parenting styles are? Coming in from a background of Chinese and American education, I am now more aware of the different educational styles and can fairly assess both styles. While it is not my job to say which system is better and more productive, it is my job as a cub to reveal the secrets behind the Tiger Moms.

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