The strict parenting style advocated by Amy Chua, the Yale law professor, in her latest book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, is still popular in the country today, according to a recent survey.
Among 1,795 people polled online by China Youth Daily's social research center, 94.9 percent said they know women who are strict mothers, and 55.1 percent said they see merit in Chua's parenting.
A majority of the respondents, 63.8 percent, said they are parents themselves, and 41.5 percent said they were born in the 1980s, China Youth Daily reported on Thursday.
A Beijing high school teacher, surnamed Liu, was quoted as saying that his wife had enrolled their daughter in violin and ballet classes at an early age and had resorted to scolding and spanking when the girl refused to go.
The report quoted Liu as saying that Chinese families often contain a strict mother and a gentle father and that discipline and guidance from mothers are essential in putting children on the path to future success.
But 41.2 percent of the respondents said the parenting of Tiger Moms is flawed and another 18 percent said Tiger Moms deprive their children of childhood fun and thus lack motherly qualities.
As for Chinese mothers, about 70 percent of the respondents said they subject their children to expectations that are too high and to unreasonable amounts of stress. They said Chinese mothers worry too much about good grades and not enough about tending to the development of children's personalities, and that they are ignorant of parenting techniques.
Li Chenguang, a 23-year-old employer at China Telecom in Beijing, said he came home late for dinner once when he was still a primary school student. Seeing him, his mother grabbed a broom and administered a spanking that left a bruise on his chin. He said the punishment still puzzles him to this day.
"I just don't understand it," he said. "I didn't get back really late. There was no need to spank me to remind me of what she expected me to do."
Zeng Xiaodong, a professor at Beijing Normal University, warned that strict parenting can backfire, especially if parents place tough demands on their children but fail to set good examples themselves. A lazy mother is very likely to face contempt and resentment if she pushes a child to wake up early and study and to play more sports.
Many people born in the 1980s are just having children and have yet to deal with the chief difficulties of parenting. Zeng called on them to learn to be good parents by spending time with their children, instead of relying heavily on the social services provided by restaurants, schools and day-care centers.
"Strict parenting is also a tradition in other Asian countries, such as Japan and South Korea," she said. "It has merits in raising smarter children and preparing them better for harsh competition in the future. And I am sure Chua's conflicts with her daughters were exaggerated in her book and rarely happened in real life."
(China Daily April 15, 2011)