Mar 072012
 
 March 7, 2012  Posted by  Tagged with: , ,

Photo credit: Christian Ferney

A video showing a Chinese dad forcing his son to run essentially naked in the snow has gone viral recently. The boy cried for his dad to hug him and instead his father told him to do pushups in the snow. It is a “training regimen,” the self-proclaimed “Eagle Dad” told the media, for his pre-maturely born son and that he has cleared this Navy SEAL-like routine with the doctors beforehand.

Quite a regimen for a crying four-year-old.

I’m sure this immediately reminded many of the Tiger Mom, the Yale professor who published a memoir of her controversial Chinese parenting style,* she used to teach at Duke, too. I would be terrified to have her as a professor. In fact, though it is a small sample size and certainly biased (remember, only angry people go online and post), here is her rateyourprofessor profile, with a five being the highest score.

It seems clear that both the Eagle Dad and Tiger Mom want the best for their kids and are implementing measures they consider most effective. It’s just that their measures are…extreme (Chua admitted that she has called her daughters garbage at times).

This certainly draws parallels with the “Botox mom” I wrote about last year, though the botox mom turned out to be a liar and just wanted attention and money, a similar question persists: what do we do in these kinds of situations? What makes Tiger Mom’s and Eagle Dad’s cases different, however, is that the children demonstrated clear forms of resistance.

So how do we determine the “mother-knows-best child abuse?” (Tangled, anyone?)

The Eagle Dad was not teaching his son how to make snow angels, but he has cleared it with the doctors beforehand to make sure his son’s health will be okay. So how do we say “that is bad” and at the same time saying that forcing our kids to take bitter medicine when they are sick is “good?” Or when we force young children to go through the difficult gymnastics training knowing that it is better for them in the long run?

I am certain that the value judgments on these parenting styles differ in cultures as well. Though Eagle Dad has created an uproar in both China and the U.S., Tiger Mom’s book has created varying opinions in the two different countries.

Perhaps the hardest thing to swallow is the fact that these harsh parenting techniques may be working. The Eagle Boy is, as far as we know, currently physically healthy despite pre-mature birth, and the Tiger Girls turned out to be phenomenal according to multiple sources. When I really think about it, it is really hard for me to rationally tell the dad that he is wrong when every part of me wants to put him in jail.

P.S. Some other things to think about: Asians and Asian American students have incredibly high cheating and suicide rates.

 

*Here’s an excerpt from an essay Chua wrote:

“Get back to the piano now,” I ordered.

“You can’t make me.”

“Oh yes, I can.”

Back at the piano, Lulu made me pay. She punched, thrashed and kicked. She grabbed the music score and tore it to shreds. I taped the score back together and encased it in a plastic shield so that it could never be destroyed again. Then I hauled Lulu’s dollhouse to the car and told her I’d donate it to the Salvation Army piece by piece if she didn’t have “The Little White Donkey” perfect by the next day. When Lulu said, “I thought you were going to the Salvation Army, why are you still here?” I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong, I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn’t do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.

 

 

 

Feb 212012
 
 February 21, 2012  Posted by  Tagged with: , ,

Watching this video of a dad chastising her daughter online and then finally shooting her laptop because of what she posted on Facebook, I couldn’t help but grin at the absurdity of the whole episode. The absurdity is not about the fact that the daughter aired her disagreements with her parents to the public, nor is it about the fact that she refused to do what to me would appear to be very trivial chores. It is the fact that the father is doing exactly what his daughter did; going public with his grievances about his daughter. Yes, like daughter, like father. An act he might have intended to be a tough lesson seems to have morphed into an act of retribution.

This video prompts a lot of questions that I do not necessary have opinions on, let alone answers to. Some of the issues are: As a parent, what do you do when your child disobeys you? Do you have a legal or moral right to punish them? As a child, what responsibilities do you have to your parents and where do these responsibilities stop? Should children be able to broadcast to the public what they think about their parents? Or should the dignity and privacy of their family come before their opinions? To what extent are parents responsible for their children’s activities online? Does this responsibility give parents the right to use their technological expertise to spy on their kids online? Does the laptop a parent buys for their child belong to them or the child? Do you as a parent have a right to destroy such property/gifts just because you bought them? And finally, does the right to own a gun give you a right to use it to destroy the laptop you bought your child?

The one issue I would like to touch on is that of parents monitoring what their kids do online. Just as it is natural for parents to want to know what their twelve-year-old child is up to when they go outside with their friends, it would seem reasonable for a parent to also want to know what their child was up to online. Unfortunately, parents can’t just take what their child tells them they were doing to be true. The range of activities that youngsters can engage in online is virtually infinite, creating countless avenues for parents to worry about. As a result, some parents resort to using online monitoring technology in a bid to protect their kids from the obvious dangers lurking behind their screens.

However, many would agree that this concern about their kids’ safety results in parents invading the privacy of their kids. Currently, software that can monitor a child’s chat history in various social media is available to parents at cheap prices, giving them an intimate look into their kids’ actions online. While some would say that this ability to monitor the minutest detail of what their kids do online gives parents greater opportunities to protect their children from online predators, most people would scorn at a parent who tapes a tape recorder on their child’s chest in a bid to monitor who they talk to and what they talk about when they leave the house.

Ultimately, the ethical issues boil down to the level of monitoring parents do chose to engage in, whether they inform their children about it and how they react to what they find their kids have been up to online. Rebuking your child in front of the whole world might not be the best way to get her to listen to you. Neither is such thoughtless display of the powers of a gun necessary.