The Wall Street Journal's most popular article for two solid weeks was about Chinese parenting. Currently it's at #3 almost three weeks after it was first published. Google the essay's title or the essayist's name (Amy Chua), and you will find a viral tiger on the loose. Since many in America fear that we're all going to be speaking Mandarin someday, it certainly piques the interest to find out what's going on in Chinese homes. How did all these Chinese kids turn out to be so far above average?
At a cursory glance one can appreciate the Chinese emphasis on hard work, discipline and demanding success. Upon further reading and thought another conclusion should arise. The Chinese (or at least Amy Chua) have rejected one bankrupt parenting method (the Western emphasis on a child's near-complete autonomy) for another (the Chinese emphasis on the parent's pride - filial piety).
Anyway, the understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud.That leads to this:
Back at the piano, Lulu [the author's daughter] 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...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.Not surprisingly, Ms. Chua is telling us now that we should read the cover of her new book and understand that her assertions have been blown out of proportion and/or misunderstood. Ancient Chinese marketing secret.
Back to the topic at hand... Feel good or succeed? What's a parent to aim for when raising children? The Biblical doctrine of depravity should remind us that children's feelings and natural inclinations are innately anti-God. They shouldn't be celebrated or reinforced. So the common reaction is to swing to another extreme—hard work, achievement, self-discipline, character. That's better, but it's not necessarily obedience, and it may well have little to do with the gospel. [Publisher's note: It may even be antithetical to the gospel.] Obedience is a life lived with God, not the child or his achievements, at the center because the gospel of Christ has transformed the desires and the efforts.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.