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Parenting Styles: Different Cultures and Different Standards
Parenting is a subject that is rife with controversy no matter which style is chosen. Parents who adopt certain parenting styles often find that they are judged by parents who have chosen a different style. The goal of each parent is to do their best to raise their children, but there are several questions that are raised when trying to figure out what “best” means and whether or not certain tactics are better than others in achieving the best results. This review will detail varying styles of parenting, from strict and overly attentive to a more democratic, hands-off approach.

One of the caricatures of a strict parent is described in Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In Chua’s book, she explains the reasoning behind an overly strict parenting style and makes the case for others to parent the same. In the book, Chua references the parenting style of a quintessential Chinese mother. The tactics portrayed in the book include parenting techniques that would be out of bounds in Western homes – a point Chua makes herself – but the reasoning for the style of parenting is what makes the explanation provocative. In her book, Chua makes sure to point of differences in what Chinese mothers expect of their children and how the same expectations are not mirrored in Western families. Among these expectations are perfection and strength, two traits that are defined differently in many Western families and therefore dealt with in totally different ways (Chua, 2011).[“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

Amy Chua (and by extension, the traditional Chinese way) views success as a standard that must be doggedly pursued. In her book, Chua explains that the standard remains constant for every child and excuses are not tolerated. In order to achieve success, the mantra is that practice must be diligently performed until mastery is achieved. In cases when the challenge appears to exceed the capabilities of the child, in a traditional Chinese home, more practice is the remedy. Chua defines the difference between traditional Chinese homes and Western homes thusly; “The Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America.” (Chua, 2011).

In Western homes, while there is also a desire for children to excel, the focus is more often whether or not the child is “doing their best” or “trying hard.” The reason for this shift in focus stems from a need to preserve the self-esteem of the child. In other words, Western parents are at least as concerned with the child’s self-image as they are occupied with making sure the child is successful. In Amy Chua’s experience, children are only able to harbor a positive self-image if and only when they have accomplished something worthy of a lofty idea of themselves. In fact, Chua goes on to explain that children are not damaged by harsh treatment by their parents if that treatment is aimed at encouraging the child toward their best effort (Edwards, 2011).

In Western homes, mastery is often thought of as something that can happen when passion meets a task that is naturally suited to a child. This means that in order to master a task, the child would have to have a personal affinity for practicing and have an innate aptitude in the subject (McHugh, 2011). Chua’s reply to this notion is that mastery is the result of exhaustive effort and that leaving a child’s mastery of a task to whether or not the child chooses to work diligently toward reaching a level of mastery is a recipe for failure. Failure, in traditional Chinese parenting, is not an option because it can only be found after quitting (Chua, 2011).

The “Tiger Mother” approach says that the hard parts of learning a new skill are often not fun and that fun comes with mastery. This influences the traditional parenting model to push through the difficulty of the initial stages of a pursuit until a breakthrough is reached. Then, and only after being ridden to strive for mastery, the fun will follow (Chua, 2011).

One of the pervasive parenting traits of Western families is to preserve the child’s self-esteem through managing criticism. It is thought that being overly critical of a child’s shortcomings will damage their self-image and lead to failure down the road (Ruan, 2011). In Amy Chua’s experience, children are more resilient and able to deal with sharp criticism. Therefore, if a child in a traditional Chinese home falls short of an established standard, it is common for criticisms – the likes of which would leave Western parents aghast – are deemed appropriate (Chua, 2011). [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

Parent-Child Obligations
One of the more illuminating points surrounding the various parenting styles is the understanding of the parent-child obligation. In traditional Chinese homes, there is an expectation that the child is owed strict standards and care for their basic needs while the child owes the parent respect and strict adherence to the rules. This manifests itself in the ways Chinese parents treat their children (Chua, 2011).

In Western homes, the dynamic is different. Children are viewed more as developing human beings with feelings that need to be considered and points of view that should be respected. The goal of the Western style is to raise a child that is confident and possessive of a spirit that can strive for their own pursuits even if the direction they choose is not one their parents might have chosen for them (McHugh, 2011). [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]

While it is clear that each style of parenting has similar goals and an equal measure of love for the children involved, the methods vary significantly. There are merits to each choice which leaves the choice supremely up to the parents to make. Regardless of the choices that parents make there will still be controversy. Strict parents will receive criticism from more lenient parents and more lenient parents will be thought of as lacking in discipline by stricter parents. One way to appreciate all forms of parenting is to consider that successful adults from all walks of life have been subjected to different styles of parenting. There appears to be no single formula for parenting that is exclusive to raising well-adjusted and successful children.


Chua, A. (2011). Why Chinese Parents Are Better. The Wall Street Journal.

Edwards, J., III. (2011). Are U.S. Parents Too Soft? The Wall Street Journal.

McHugh, C. (2011). Home Truths, Marching On. The Wall Street Journal.

Ruan, V. (2011). In China, Not All Practice Tough Love. The Wall Street Journal.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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