In defense of brutally harsh traditional Chinese fathers

With a revamped Chinese study routine, I’m trying to consume as much Chinese content as I can. My teacher had me subscribe to a Weixin reading account, and I quickly found an article that’s valuable to foreigners, IMO, especially foreigners who have kids in China and Chinese friends.

The author defends the traditional harshness of Chinese fathers (as today’s 30-somethings might have experienced it) from a couple different angles. Describing common methods of forcing kids to study, some which would result in neighbours calling the cops in North America and which some Chinese parents say are “the obliteration of the child’s innate nature” (对孩子天性的泯灭), she takes aim at rising Chinese parenting trends associated with “respecting” and “accommodating the innate nature of children” (尊重/顺应孩子的天性), “free development/childrearing” (自由发展/养育), and “happy education” (快乐教育).

One of my brighter former students — she’s around 30 years old now and relatively accomplished — told me, “My father has never praised me, not even once.” To better understand her kind of experience, or people who advocate for that kind of parenting, or people who have to put up with relatives who think this way, I recommend reading through this: 你越弱,越没有人宠你 (pro tip: read in your browser with the Perapera Chinese plugin installed). The author would use my former student’s case as a point in her favour, like she does with the story of the Indian wrestling champion who forced two of his daughters to become wrestling champions (movie pictured above).

This article also demonstrates the advantage of reading “real” Chinese. When you read something written by Chinese in Chinese for Chinese you get exposed to Chinese ways of speaking, composing, arguing and thinking — you can’t get much of that from reading translated content.

For more about harsh Chinese parenting, see:

“Water Brain” — high quality animation depicts the Chinese student experience

Even if you’ve never been to China, you’ve maybe had homestays, or seen all the Korean and Chinese “academies” for after-school English, or at least seen Asian students sweep all the academic awards and high school and college graduation ceremonies (when we graduated, a student from the Mainland that no one even knew was attending our school took all the awards). Now, according to The People’s Daily,

A student-made computer animated short, depicting every child’s urge to be free from the overwhelming pressure by teachers and parents to succeed in school, has brought tears to many college students’ eyes, bringing back memories of sufferings past.

There’s no dialogue, so you don’t need to know Chinese for this film to give you a little better insight into the Chinese student experience:

This is a story about mental pressure. In this story, the kids are constantly forced to bury themselves into their endless homework by those giant monsters behind them. The children’s brains are filled with water that can be heated by tension. If a kid is overstressed, the water in their brain would boil and produce steam, which becomes the food of the greedy monsters and the energy of the whole city. Thus,those poor children repeat their lives day after day, serving as the powerplant of their world, spending their childhood in tragic misery……

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