Thought: how to raise a child debate


Being pregnant at almost 34 weeks, I’ve been thinking beyond the first few weeks of breast feeding struggles and sleepless nights. I began to think the kind of education I want to give to my baby. I know it’s still too early to think about it… but it’s a complex subject, I’d better start early rather than later.

I just read “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior” from WSJ. It’s about tiger moms. It’s about the differences in chinese and western way of raising a child. For some, the chinese way of raising the child by being extremely strict and demanding is a way to garantee success in life (measured by good career) isn’t healthy for the child and the parents; for others, probably most of chinese parents, that is The way to love the child because they’re doing everything for the best interest of the child. In the middle of this debate, I feel lost.

Let me put two examples, me and Star. Although both of our parents are chinese, they raised us very differently.

My parents are not educated, none of them has a college degree (although not by choice but by the cultural revolution). I don’t remember them ever helping me in my studies. We emigrated to Argentina when I was 9, and from then on I was pretty much on my own in everything related to studies and career. They never gave me advice on what to study, what not to. I decided on my college degrees, coming to the US to get a Ph.D all by myself. To be fair, they always supported me, partly becaus I was making wise decisions, at least they sounded good; partly because they didn’t know much about education to give me good advices. Fortuantely I’ve always been a very responsible student and child. I didn’t have rebel period. I never did anything that would scared them. It was a good dynamic, they trusted me and I behaved responsably. I got to choose what to do with my life and therefore I do it with passion.

Star’s parents gave him a very different education. His father is high school physic teacher and her mom a primary school teacher. His father was his family teacher when he’s not at school. Star had to study materials of the next semester in advance during summer break. He didn’t have time to play. He had to be #1 in math/physic/chemistery at school most of time. He had to participate the Olympic Math competitions and win prizes. He was a great student and finished college degree at the age of 20. Obivously he is a smart guy, but most importantly, as he confenses, is the discipline his dad gave him. If his dad didn’t “force” him to study as hard as he did, he wouldn’t do it. And just like the article describes it:” you need to practice hard until you master it. Once you get the praises, it becomes fun”. Star would agree that he continued to study hard when his dad stopped being so strict to him because he didn’t want to dissapoint his teacher and everyone that praised him.

Summing up: I am where I am by my own decision and disciple. Star is where he is by his effort and his Dad’s strict and demanding rules. Which education is better? Hard to conclude.

Pros on “laissez affair”

  • An independent and responsible child because no one will tell him what to do and how to do it. If he/she wants to do something, he/she needs to figure it out without anyone’s else.
  • Less job for the parents, at least it saves the energy in setting rules and pushiment mechanisms.
  • The child gets to enjoy more the childhood, something that these days in China it is rarely possible. They’re too busy attending all kinds of extracurricular activities.
  • Idea forming. A big difference between chinese and western way of raising a child is that chinese education tend to impose things on the child; they want to mold the child’s tastes and preferences. However, in western society, parents encourage creativity and individuality. Opinions are encouraged and respected. It let children to have their own opinion and preferences.

Cons on “laissez affair”

  • Easy to detour. If the kid is not responsible and no one impose any discipline, he/she could get lost and do nothing.

Pros on strict rules:

  • Guided path. Parents set a path for the kid and “force” the kid to do whatever it’s neccesary to stay on the course. If the path chosen is a correct one that ultimately makes the child to have a happy and successful life, then it could not be a bad thing.
  • Promote discipline. I cannot say enough on how important is to have discipline. All successful people are very disciplined. If the child is not disciplined by nature, making him to follow certain rules and customs can help him to realized the importance of discipline.
  • Higher chance of success in their career. It’s not garanteed but it’s more likely. Why? Simply because these children get to study/practice harder than the rest, which is always the way to sucess. 

Cons on strict rules:

  • Loss of freedom for the child. The child might feel restricted, forced to do things they don’t like. They might even hate their parents.
  • Loss of freedom for the parents. These parents would devote all their attention and energy on the child. They won’t have time for themselves. They put all the hope in the success of the child.
  • Wrong set path. If the parents set a wrong path, meaning a path that would not ultimately make the child happier in life, then it’s a wrong path and it would cost the life of the child to realize it.

So, as you can see, both ways of raising a child has pros and cons. Which one I’m more inclined to? I don’t know. I need to think about it more. What about you? Which kind of parents are you or do you want to be?

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Thought: how to raise a child debate

  1. I don’t think I’m very strict at all. In fact, sometimes I think I could be more strict when it comes to school. However, I think it’s important for kids to be kids….playing in the park, running around with friends, participating in activities they enjoy, etc. I’m of the belief that if you get “too” strict with your kids, they will rebel when they’re a bit older and the parent hasn’t got much say anymore. That being said, kids definitely need to have boundries and rules set up….they need this whether or not they know it!

    Take my kids, for example. They’re both very different. Sarah (13yrs) loves school, to read, dance and listen to music. Things like that come easy to her. Noah (10yrs) is much more hands on….puzzles, lego’s, buliding things…concentrating on “traditional” school work is difficult for him. So I would say that your parents style is best for him whereas Star’s parents style would be better suited to Sarah. Does that make sense??

    • balancejoyanddelicias

      Yes, I agree. The right way is the way that fits the personality of the child! 🙂 it’s so interesting that the same parents got two kids with opposite personalities. 😉

  2. I like this post a lot!

    You and Star’s upbringings are similar to mine and Bobby’s. Though both my parents have degrees, they were relaxed like yours – they let me do whatever I wanted – and I got where I am today through my own desires and drive. Bobby’s parents (his mom is a tiger mom) pushed and pushed and pushed him – so he is where he is because they made him do everything. I don’t know what is better. We talk about this a lot and I think it might be something in the middle.

  3. We are still trying to figure out our parenting styles, but in general we are somewhere in between each of these extremes. We both believe in discipline and limits, but we’re not necessarily going to be pushing as hard for achievement and forcing our kids to do things. My parents were very strict, and although it brought the intended result in terms of achievement, emotionally and mentally I suffered from all the stress of needing to be the best. There is such a fine balance. I agree that it depends on the personality of your child as well. It’s a continuous learning process…our daughter is very independent already, and we have learned along the way the best way to nurture, motivate, and discipline her. It’s great that you are thinking about these things already! 🙂

  4. Interesting post & very interesting topic!

    I think I’m somewhere in the middle. I was a very driven child and student and always expected to be the best. I was punctual (while my parents are not!) and dependable. My parents really didn’t have to push me at all… In fact, they often made fun of how serious I was.

    My older son definitely doesn’t have my personality when it comes to studying, and I had to push him quite a bit at times. He now thanks me for it, but it was exhausting while we went through it… I also had quite strict rules when it comes to activities (for example, if he started a sport, he had to finish the season “no matter what”). With my second child, I’m rethinking some of these “rules”… I’m definitely a more “relaxed” parent today. I realize that there is only so much I can influence and that it is important to let kids be kids (within reason and taking the individual child in consideration).

    I think your child(ren) will teach you what parent to be… 🙂

  5. Pingback: Thoughts: tiger mom? | Balance, Joy and Delicias

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