Last week, Huffington Post contributor Sue Nador wrote a short blog post about her "tough love" approach to parenting. One year, for example, when her younger son Micah finished in the middle of the pack in a regional running race, Nador said she cursed at him because she had seen him perform better.
"Don't get me wrong — if he really was an average runner I'd be the one cheering the loudest at the finish line and taking him out for double hot fudge sundaes with extra sprinkles later," she explained. "But since he was no average runner, what would it say to him if I was congratulating him for performing average?"
This sort of parenting is common in many contemporary Asian-American families; many of us have grown up hearing more criticisms than compliments. It has also been the focus of controversy, since critics believe that, applied excessively, these techniques can alienate children from their parents and hurt their productivity. But these critics often miss the point.
For many Asian-American millennials, like me, who grew up with strict parents, the benefits of tough love have far outweighed its drawbacks.
Perhaps the most famous recent example of Asian parents who espouse "tough love" is "tiger mother," author, and Yale professor Amy Chua.
Image via Tiger Mom Says.
Chua's vivid descriptions of her strict parenting style in a 2011 essay for the Wall Street Journal titled "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" prompted widespread criticism and a string of articles denouncing or analyzing the meaning of "tiger moms." In describing her daughters' strictly regulated lives, Chua observed, "What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it."
Not all readers agreed. Many non-Asians and Asian-Americans alike argued that in being overly demanding, Chua hurt her daughters' self-esteem. Others suggested that her tiger claws might scar her children for life.
"You see, growing up in a home like Chua's was no piece of cake, and although I'm close to 40 now, I still bear wounds that haven't healed," wrote psychologist and business executive Lac Su in a piece for CNN.
But that wasn't the case for me. While I often felt pressure to succeed in whatever I did and rarely felt appreciated during my childhood, now that I'm much older, I understand that this tough love was necessary, both for my personal growth and the growth of my relationship with my parents.
When I was young, my father would discipline me in ways that many non-Asian milliennials would think of as brutal and unnecessary. One night, for instance, he cracked the back end of a feather duster while hitting me with it because I didn't want to finish a class project that was due the next day. Another time, he made me sit at our dinner table until midnight because I had refused to eat the salmon my mother had cooked.
Naturally, these kinds of discipline led to a lot of friction. I frequently took issue with my father's parenting methods. We would argue vehemently until I finally relented and listened to him.
What I didn't realize I was learning from these incidents was the concept of filial piety, a fundamental Confucian value which Chinese-American, Korean-American, and Japanese-American families often hold in high regard. Under this system, "[p]arents and elders wield greater authority and should be treated with respect and obedience," according to researchers Ruth Chao and Vivian Tseng. "Children often continue to seek their parents' advice and guidance throughout their adulthood."
While I may have disagreed with his methods, I can't argue with my father's results.
When he pushed me to get straight A's in school by occasionally beating me or insulting me, I learned how to become independent and how to motivate myself. By the time I was in high school, I didn't need him to constantly discipline me or to tell me that I could do better in my classes. I disciplined myself whenever I struggled on my own; taking less breaks, hanging out less with friends and spending more time studying. My discipline meant that I got better grades, got into a good college, and eventually landed a job in my desired profession.
As I've grown older, I've learned to appreciate my father a lot more. Looking back, I know he never once thought that I was a good-for-nothing idiot. In fact, he believed I could accomplish great things with an extra bit of motivation.
Sure, he used unconventional means to discipline me, but he never lost sight of the fact that I was his son. Every birthday and Christmas, he would make a sincere effort to get what I wanted. From time to time, he would surprise me with a little gift just to show that he cared.
When I was young, I never understood these little moments of gratitude because I only saw my father as a disciplinarian and nothing more. But now, I reflect on them and my childhood with a sense of understanding and appreciation.
Not everyone had "tough love" parents. Not everyone can understand the value of tiger moms. Not everyone had my experience. And that's OK.
As we young Asian-Americans come of age, many of us are still trying to come to terms with the relationship we had with our parents when we were young — for some, the experience was harrowing; for others, life-changing. But as we grow older, we tend to realize that our parents tried to act in our best interests.
There is a question on whether parents should be strict or not, and how strict they should be. If a parent is strict, many tend to think that such parents are always unfair to their children, but these parents tend to think that the best parents are strict. This is because every parent tries to instill discipline in his or her children. By being strict, parents feel that the children will always take them seriously and, therefore, will act to the teachings of their parents. Children raised by strict parents will always respect their parents as well as other elders.
On the other hand, children prefer that parents not be strict because their strictness causes the children frustration. Teenagers tend to challenge their parents because they are already building their self-esteem and sense of autonomy, which they feel parents interfere with. This brings about controversy between the parent and children, especially the teenagers. Teens tend to be independent and rebellious, and, therefore, make many mistakes that make their parents angry. Most parents understand that the teenage is in a delicate stage of life. They try to give them some added freedom and the responsibility that goes with it.
It is important to instill discipline when children are young because they will grow up with strong values. Therefore, parents should be strict enough to instill values, but they should also be their children’s good friends. The friendship between parents and children should be of paramount importance because children should learn to trust their parents more than anybody else. Caring parents will never lead their children astray, and they will always lead their children on the right paths. Parents and children whose relationship is not the best will continuously have issues that are not good for the family.
Being too strict will drive teenagers away from the parents. This will leave the teenagers unprotected because they will lack parental guidance. Teens should learn to respect their parents and listen to them because their parents have the interest of their children at their heart. If teens are not constantly corrected by their parents they may end up doing things that can lead to various risks that could affect their lives negatively.
The attitude of parents towards their children varies from one parent to another. Although some parents abuse their children in disciplining them, other parents will simply scold their children. The type of discipline practiced by a parent depends on how the parent wants to instill values in the children.
Discipline and punishment are not synonymous.
They are different, and parents should avoid punishment. They should not inflict physical harm on the children. Some parents go beyond too far in attempting to correct their children’s behavior. Some discipline procedures are not legal, and parents can be jailed for harming their children. There are laws that protect the rights of children and help to ensure their safety, and no parents should break those laws. On the other hand, these laws should not influence a parent in being too lenient. This can also be harmful as the child grows into adulthood.
Tips on How to Write an Expository Essay:
The purpose of an expository essay is to express a personal opinion on a topic. As such, it is one of the easiest essays to write. Determine an area of interest. Perhaps a social issue has been hitting the news. Maybe you have a pet peeve. If you have a topic in mind, fine. If not, tune into the current news items and blog topics. See what captures your attention. Once you decide on a topic, determine if you understand the topic well enough to discuss it. If not, do some preliminary reading. What are the issues surrounding that topic? Then, form an opinion and develop it into a thesis statement. You can support your opinion with reasons. You can also provide details with statistics, anecdotes, and explanations. Be sure to organize your ideas in a coherent fashion and to use transitional devices to help you go from one thought to the next. Finally, always proof-read your work.
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