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Societies across the world value school education. It is crucial to note that parental instructions come before school education. Besides, it is expected to continue even after one is done with schooling. Therefore, parental education may be more important than we think. Childhood is a crucial period that can affect the later pathway in one’s life. Parenting shapes and influences children’s cognition capacity, understanding, and their level of interaction with the environment and other people. Therefore, one would expect all children to have good parenting. However, the realistic situation might not be as optimistic as we think. Due to a huge amount of accidental pregnancies, some people are forced to be parents even when they are not ready at all to take such positions. Nevertheless, there is a need to identify the best parenting styles that can positively influence children’s lives.
Societies have noticeable differences in parenting styles. For example, North American parenting styles differ from those of Chinese parents. The two societies have different historical and cultural contexts. Their value systems also determine their mode of parenting. A comparison of the parenting styles in the two societies unveils mechanisms for drawing conclusions concerning the society that has better parenting approaches. North American parents apply the strategy of positive corroboration and congratulating their kids on enhancing their self-worth while not focusing on other areas such as academic performance or their general conduct. However, in line with Parker’s (2014) arguments, this paper argues that Chinese parents’ authoritative parenting methods have made them superior to their North American counterparts since their (Chinese) kids not only excel academically but also demonstrate interdependence and exemplary behaviors.
The Notion of Good Parenting
Arguing that Chinese parenting styles are better compared to North American approaches requires one to find out whether the idea of good parenting exists in the first place. In fact, this important issue has raised concerns to psychology researchers for a long time. Scholarly research provides evidence of how good parenting affects children. For example, Dallaire, Zeman, and Thrash (2015) reveal how parenting affects children’s characters and personalities and consequently, their pathway in life. Hence, when children are born, they are formless creatures who only gain shape based on the values that parents instill in them. Therefore, a bad parent can only make terrible children. Arriving at such a conclusion attracts counter-arguments. In a recent study, Samenow (2016) disputes the opinion that kids are brought to this world as formless beings who await their parents to shape them into good or bad adults.
After interviewing over a hundred parents of children offenders, the researcher found that many of these parents were not ignorant of their kids’ whereabouts (Samenow, 2016). Many of them claimed that they attempted to attend to their children’s needs, but the “evil” kids somehow hid their true thoughts. However, Samenow’s (2016) counterargument may be refuted. His interviews lack validity because it is easy and subconscious for people to not realize their problems and/or avoid their responsibility. Interviewing the offenders’ parents is not a reliable way of defining whether they are “good” or “bad” parents without any scientific observation. Even the kids’ “hiding” behavior indicates a problematic parent-child relationship. Many of the problems observed later in kids may be avoided if such parents realize their children’s weaknesses and put more effort into building a “healthy and trusty” relationship with them in their early childhood.
According to their experiment that utilized 150 children, Nakao et al.’s (2000) evidence show that the family environment affects children’s personality traits such as extraversion, maturity, and intellect. Similarly, as Dallaire et al. (2015) assert, an increasing body of research finds that parental criminal justice involvement relates to children’s negative health, social, emotional, and economic outcomes. A 2013 study conducted by Lee, Fang, and Luo (2013) found that parental incarceration was associated with poor children outcomes. The above three studies refute the counterarguments raised by Samenow (2016). Hence, one can conclude that parenting shapes children’s personalities. Such a conclusion receives ample support from Freud’s theory that argues how childhood parent-child interaction is important for developing one’s personality. The theory validates the notion of good parenting and its implications to children.
To examine the case of Chinese and North American parenting styles, it is crucial to clarify what constitutes good parenting. McGilloway et al. (2012) argue that good parenting involves the creation of a stable environment for children’s development. Parents who offer good parenting are sources of positive influence. They actively participate in nurturing children. Besides being positive role models, they also offer moral guidance, establish limits and consequences for children’s behavior, take responsibility for guiding children into making healthy life-long decisions, and/or engage in open communication. Hence, the principles of good parenting not only influence children at their tender age but also in their adulthood. Such influences are passed from one generation to another.
Arguments and Counter Arguments
Chinese parenting style reinforces obedience to people, including teachers, as an important value that kids should demonstrate. “Confucianism” has defined the Chinese values system for many years. This school of thought still has an impact on Chinese society even today. The fast pace of Chinese society creates much pressure on parenting. For example, the Chinese examination system and the cramming method of teaching at school potentially make children and their parents more competitive, a situation that leads to a more strict parenting style (Parker, 2014). In this sense, the Chinese parenting style requires children to adhere to strict guidelines concerning obedience to their parents and society.
Socialism in China influences the Chinese parenting style, where some extreme parents see their children as their future “belongings” or “investment”. Such views face opposition. For example, Perrin, Sheldrick, McMenamy, Henson, and Carter (2014) argue that parents should allow children to be what they want to become, rather than influencing and pressuring them to become what the parents want. The argument here is that an investor sets goals and targets in terms of returns on investment. Therefore, if Chinese parents see their children as investments, their parenting may be viewed as focusing on ensuring that children meet goals and targets set by them (parents) without considering the kids’ ambitions.
In fact, the North American parenting style advocates for bringing up children in a manner, which ensures that the life-long outcomes are meet to suit children’s desires. However, this style raises the question: are children able to make sound decisions and/or determine the directions they want to take in their lives? Who should help children in developing mechanisms for making sound decisions that may affect their lives even in adulthood? This responsibility rests on parents. Since Chinese parenting styles pay critical emphasis on the role of parents in shaping their children’s outcomes, it may be viewed as better compared to the North American style that only focuses much on self-esteem (Parker, 2014). However, the Chinese styles have the drawback of limiting parents to demonstrate strict controls that only focus on children’s development. The authoritative nature of Chinese parents threatens kids who happen to be found in the wrong, including failing in academics.
The sharp difference between Chinese and North American parenting styles emerges upon considering the claim that the latter society emphasizes liberty and freedom. For example, in the United States, the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence sets out the American philosophy of enhancing rights, freedoms, and liberties as the foundation of happiness. Such a philosophy is the basis of the U.S. governance system. The belief has been transmitted to many individuals, including parents, hence forming part of the reasons why the U.S. parenting style is less demanding and controlling. Should parents permit children to freely choose their courses of action? Certainly, it should not be the case all the time. In fact, Chinese parenting styles advocate for appropriate interventions to ensure that children only make decisions that best suit their needs and aspirations. This process involves the interventions of parents who are well experienced on some of the things that their children would undergo on making certain decisions. It sounds logical to shout at a child who is about to follow a path that leads him or her to problems, rather than allowing him or her to encounter the predicament before learning the way of getting out of it. This approach is the primary concern of Chinese parenting styles.
Why Chinese Parenting Style is Better
Considering the arguments raised above in support of Chinese parenting styles, the immediate question that emerges is whether evidence is available to support the claim. According to Parker (2014), Chinese parenting is more strict and demanding, while North American parenting involves much of leading and encouraging. In western media, Chinese parenting styles are usually described as “tiger mom” in a more critical way (Parker, 2014). However, amid using Chinese parenting styles, Chua (2011), the most well known “tiger mom”, who was a professor of Yale Law School, claimed that two of her daughters were actually happy and successful in both music and sports field. Other scholars also support and defend Chinese parenting while compared to American parenting styles. For example, Buki, Ma, Strom, and Strom (2003) argue that Chinese parenting includes many strategies, beliefs, and tactics that guarantee superior children’s outcomes.
The Pillar theory, developed in 1960, echoes similar sediments. The Baumrind’s theory, which was received positively in the U.S., states that parenting should consider demanding discipline and a warm emotional support. It argues that parenting should be strict and demanding in some degree (McGilloway et al., 2012). This claim is actually consistent with some of the Chinese parenting ideas and the Chiao-shun, which are rooted in the teachings of Confucius (Chao, 1994). Baumrind suggested the existence of three types of parenting, namely, authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive styles (McGilloway et al., 2012). He also believed that the authoritative parenting would make the best outcome out of all three styles. Should we then adopt the Chinese parenting style in North America?
While control, which is consistent with Chinese parenting style, is necessary to help in guiding children appropriately, it has limitations. Using a longitudinal study involving participants who were born from the 1940s as Cooper (2015) reports, researchers found that people who reported to have been brought up by demanding parents showed a lower score in the survey on happiness and the general well-being throughout their life. Those who reported having caring and warm parents who usually responded to their needs tended to have higher scores on happiness and general well-being. Dr. Mai Stafford of the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Lifelong Health and Ageing Unit at UCL said, “psychological control can limit a child’s independence and leave them less able to regulate their own behavior” (Cooper, 2015, para. 8). To this extent, the claim sounds convincing enough to argue that although Chinese parenting styles are better, their adoption in the American context requires the introduction of new perspectives to ensure control that only serves the purpose of setting the direction for children and then leaving them free to pursue the rest on their own.
The above suggestion is validated by the effect that parental control may have on not only the children but also parents themselves. Perrin et al. (2014) claim that parental strain can make parents easily get mental disorders. A longitudinal study conducted by Borre and Kliewer (2014) evidence that parents’ mental disorders predict negative outcomes in their children one year later. Hence, parental strain can compromise a parent’s ability to effectively attend to his or her duties. The strain arises from factors such as the living environment, life pressure, competition in the society or school, and social expectations. Since the Chinese traditions are founded on high expectations of their children, the pressure may easily make Chinese parents have mental disorders. Therefore, while obedience and humbleness are appropriate aspects, which make Chinese parenting styles better relative to those of the North American counterparts, parental control should be exercised with due care. Nevertheless, its total elimination is inappropriate
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The paper has taken the position that Chinese parenting styles are better compared to those adopted in North America. This thesis introduced arguments supporting it based on the role of the parenting styles in enhancing children’s outcomes throughout their lives. However, inherent problems in the Chinese parenting styles have set the ground for counterarguments and rebuttals. However, upon drawing evidence from various researches that support the thesis, a conclusion is drawn that Chinese parenting style is better, although there is a need to limit its tenets such as control. This suggestion follows the evidence that excessive control has a negative psychological implication to both the parents and children.
Educationalists can further study the differences to find the best way of neutralizing these two parenting styles in China and North America. By promoting the revealed advantages while removing the demerits of each style, a well-developed “parenting theory” might be created and be used to educate parents on how to foster a healthy development of children all over the world. Even though arguments will be raised concerning what should be right or wrong for children in different societies because of different values, the prevailing common knowledge and basic elements in parenting can still benefit young kids to a larger degree. For example, the attachment theory and the “connect” intervention proposed by Moretti, Obsuth, Mayseless, and Scharf (2012) are designed for parents to learn how to communicate and interact better with their children. The two mechanisms help in solving relationship or mental problems. A parenting theory that integrates the strategies for each parenting style while removing any underlying weaknesses may help to lay the appropriate mechanisms that parents can use to enhance their children’s developmental outcomes irrespective of the parenting or cultural context.
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