Are Chinese moms better than American moms? Weigh in after reading this article! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 06:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html?KEYWORDS=china+parents

 

An article in the WSJ has all moms weighing in on this lady's opinion of "western moms."  

What do you guys think?

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#2 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 07:22 PM
 
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The entire piece is just so arrogant it's almost comical. I was waiting for a punch line! 

 

With any parenting style there has to be balance and this is obviously just a shock-value piece. The piece should be entitled "Why one snooty law professor who happens to be Chinese-American thinks she's superior to everyone else.." 

 

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#3 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 07:31 PM
 
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While I find some things in the article true, I find her methods extremely harsh and some downright abusive.  I do feel that American parents worry too much about their children's self esteem which, for many parents, causes them to undermine the esteem they are trying to help.  I also wonder what other Chinese mothers would say about this woman's methods.  They may be right on, but I have found alot of information about women in the military, or southern women to totally NOT describe me in any way shape or form.  I have also found alot of information on GD parents, written by other GD parents to not describe my parenting style at all.  So, I would be curious as to what the consesus of Chinese mothers on her article would be.

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#4 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 07:45 PM
 
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Oh my lord, that article was hideous! Thank goodness I was not born into HER family.
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#5 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 08:02 PM
 
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It was so provocative that I initially thought it was fake...and then sadly realized that this lady really believes herself.

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#6 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 08:03 PM
 
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All I can say is...wow. I think a lot of American parents don't expect enough from their children, but...wow.

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#7 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 08:17 PM
 
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Wow, does this make me mad!  Here's what an Asian-American friend of mine posted after reading it:

 

"This article makes me very sad. I did not respond well to this type of upbringing, even though it was far less stringent than the one this author describes, forever tainting my views on: child rearing (I will never have my own children), success (nothing I do is good enough for me), and love (the word is too poisonous for me to use). My mother raised me the only way she knew how, and I live my life the only way I can as a result."

 

That about sums it up for me.  On the one hand, I can see how this could be an "effective" strategy to create "success." On the other hand, is that kind of success really the end result one wants in raising children? And do such ends really justify those means?


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#8 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 08:18 PM
 
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Well, I'm glad that her story on getting Lulu to learn a piece worked so well, however had my own mom spoken to me that way as a 7 year old, I'd still be hurting from all the names and things flung at me as a means of 'motivation.'

 

I agree, I feel a lot of 'western' parents try so hard to keep their children happy and self esteem up that the miss the point about encouraging their children to keep going even when it is hard, but I definitely definitely think that you can get a child through the hard time to the easy proud time without calling them garbage or lazy or threatening to starve them.

 

I also wonder how many children raised the way this woman raises her kids and believes many other Chinese women raise theirs have everything together in their private life.  Sure, they might have good grades and a successful job, but how many are truly happy?  I would assume its like anything where some kids in that environment would be totally fine, and some would struggle a great deal, but how many fall into each category?

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#9 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 08:20 PM
 
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She has some points about some things. However, she also has an incredibly narrow definition of "success". One of the commenters said something about a child eventually choosing whether to have an ordinary life or an extraordinary one...with the underlying assumption that "extraordinary" = "better". What if the child who is playing Carnegie Hall at 12 wants an "ordinary" life? Where is the "success" in being excellent at something you don't even want?

 

I used to get this with parenting articles, too. There'd be all kinds of stuff about being agood parent that basically boiled down to, "if you follow this strategy, your child will go to the best school, get the best grades, and get the best job (ie. make the most money)" and the underlying assumption that "good parent" equals "parent whose child grows up to be wealthy" was never questioned. It makes me nuts.

 

And, I have to admit that I also wonder what would have happened if the one daughter were simply unable to play the piano piece in question.


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#10 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 08:58 PM
 
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Wow. I had a hard time finishing it because it upset me so much. I could really care less if my kid ever plays the piano or any other instrument at all let alone perfectly. At seven, none the less. My idea of success for my kids is a far cry from hers - I want my kids to be happy with the people they are. Whatever "achievements" they make are secondary. I could not sleep at night if I treated my children the way that woman describes. 


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#11 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 09:16 PM
 
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Wow. Lovely.

 

Some of the "Chinese mom" traits remind me of a blog by a Korean woman about her mother. She mentioned the incessant put-downs, in particular - calling her fat, worthless, not good enough and so on. She had a sense of humour about it, but it was definitely tinged with bitterness. I wonder if her mother feels she's "gotten away with it"? I remember a lot of comments on that blog by women from similar backgrounds, and some of them sounded extremely angry and damaged about their upbringing. I wonder if many of these women are too intimidated to confront their mothers - or believe in cultural values of respect to elders, so they feel it wouldn't be right to do so - so that they maintain a respectful, civil relationship and it looks like the system "works"?

 

Quote:
And, I have to admit that I also wonder what would have happened if the one daughter were simply unable to play the piano piece in question.

"Some Western parents would have felt guilty about locking their daughter in the basement for the next five years, but that's what I did. Unconflicted by irrational feelings of overprotectiveness, I spoke to Lulu only once a day through a CCTV system, motivating her by telling her how worthless and lazy she was. Surprisingly, when I boasted of this strategy at a dinner party, I was arrested. Lulu was taken into foster care by a Western family with lax values and soppy sentimentality, and as a result she still cannot play "The Little White Donkey"."

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#12 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 09:36 PM
 
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Oddly enough, though...I did still come away from it feeling that I need to push my kids a little more than I do...wonder if that feeling will stick until tomorrow?

 

The putdowns thing really, really bothered me. I also found her comments about America still having more eating disorders, etc. really misleading. I strongly believe that the prevalence of...crap (sugar, HFCS, trans fats, artificial flavour/colour, etc.) is a factor in the development of so many eating disorders - not to mention the advertising.


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#13 of 40 Old 01-10-2011, 10:00 PM
 
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My mother was much like that Chinese mom, and I don't have much respect for her, or even like her that much. I feel much of my life was stolen from me. I was openly called ugly and such. When I got 1520 on the SATs (there were only 2 tests back then) I was told it was not good enough. When I earned straight A's, not good enough. I was just never good enough.

 

I would never parent like that rotten horrible no good "Chinese mother." Her children might have had great gifts in some areas or passions, but they will never know. Their mother made them in to puppets rather than people.

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#14 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 12:28 AM
 
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You were told 1520 was not good enough?? And that was on the 1600 scale, right?  Wow. IMHO it was good enough!

 

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Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post

My mother was much like that Chinese mom, and I don't have much respect for her, or even like her that much. I feel much of my life was stolen from me. I was openly called ugly and such. When I got 1520 on the SATs (there were only 2 tests back then) I was told it was not good enough. When I earned straight A's, not good enough. I was just never good enough.

 

I would never parent like that rotten horrible no good "Chinese mother." Her children might have had great gifts in some areas or passions, but they will never know. Their mother made them in to puppets rather than people.


 

I walked away with some ideas about how to better parent my kiddo. I think her methods are extreme and harsh and not my style, but I agree that I should expect that my child is strong, not weak, and that my child *can* do things and be more disciplined about practicing. I totally agree that just about anyone can do just about anything.

 

But the other side to this is not everyone in China can get straight A's and that shame they bring upon the heads of their parent's results in a very high suicide rate.

http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/Asia-Pacific/September-October-08/Chinese-Youth-Vulnerable-to-Suicide--Report-Says.html

 

I would prefer to avoid that scenario. I think it brings no shame to be less than perfect. Or even not very good at something. I truly believe that working *really* hard at something, even if you fail, is a what matters.


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#15 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 12:41 AM
 
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Wow, wow, well some differences, quite the conditional love system.
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#16 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 12:57 AM
 
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No thanks. They are beaten into submission. This kind of parenting will ultimately lead to a backlash once the kid has real freedom, if there is any personal confidence, creativity, personality, and critical thinking left. Life is not just about test scores and academic degrees.

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#17 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 02:44 AM
 
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While some parenting "methods" Chua talks about in her article are considered acceptable in traditional Chinese culture (shaming, criticism, name calling, harsh punishment), this woman is not a "Chinese" mother, she's a Chinese-American mother, and she shouldn't fool herself as to just how American her children actually are. For one, they are much more privileged than the average Chinese child. Chua is a Yale professor and both of her parents, while immigrants, came over here as academics. She gives far too much credit for her children's success to her strict parenting methods and not nearly enough to the culture, educational system, and privilege that her children enjoyed growing up in America. Of course not all Chinese children can be number one, that's just ridiculous, obviously. Nor, do I think, most of the parents here expect them to be. Parenting is pretty cultural -- Chinese parents parent the way they do because that's how they were raised, not because ALL Chinese mothers accept nothing but excellence from their children.

 

As for whether or not this sort of parenting is effective, I teach high school here and plenty of my Chinese students are what she would call "losers" and all of the name calling in the world does not make them any better at Chemistry or English, nor will it get them into Yale or Harvard. What happens when those students are called names or shamed is that they just give up completely. I have kids who turn in blank exams, they just don't even try!

 

I should also say that while there's a lot wrong with some of the parenting I see here in China, not all Chinese parents are like Chua. I see lots of loving families here, lots of parents who do try to treat their children with respect, who practice gentle parenting. If you look at the companion article also posted on the WSJ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059720804985228.html  , you'll see that in modern China a lot of parents are turning away from traditional parenting and adopting more gentler, child-centered approach.


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#18 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 02:46 AM
 
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i think like most cultural practices it works ok in a vacuum, when there is no comparison.  It's horrible to be called ugly, but if everyone is called ugly it's not so bad.  unfortunately there is no vacuum any more.

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#19 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 04:28 AM
 
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DS2 is in the middle of college applications.  He took his SATs in the fall and got a couple 800s, which is like meeting a minimum of sorts for the schools that interest him most.  The meaning of the results for him?  Is that the scores won't hurt him!  What PPs said about success has been much on my mind through all this because the numbers are such a presence even though, IMO, they don't reveal all that much about a student.


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#20 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 06:26 AM
 
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I found this article to be extremely interesting (apparently she has a book out too?).  My good friend has a mother that sounds very very similar to the one in the article and I'm excited to talk to her about her reaction.  My friend is very "successful" in that she works 12 hours a day and makes a ton of money.  She doesn't seem like a very happy person - she doesn't have any friends outside of work and has never really dated.  I look forward to discussing this with her.

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#21 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 06:28 AM
 
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Although, I will say, from what I am seeing, most parents seem to spoil their children and expect little of them. At least where I live, that is what I see. There is a middle ground and the middle ground is what I think is best.

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#22 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 06:42 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thelocaldialect View Post

While some parenting "methods" Chua talks about in her article are considered acceptable in traditional Chinese culture (shaming, criticism, name calling, harsh punishment), this woman is not a "Chinese" mother, she's a Chinese-American mother, and she shouldn't fool herself as to just how American her children actually are. For one, they are much more privileged than the average Chinese child. Chua is a Yale professor and both of her parents, while immigrants, came over here as academics. She gives far too much credit for her children's success to her strict parenting methods and not nearly enough to the culture, educational system, and privilege that her children enjoyed growing up in America. Of course not all Chinese children can be number one, that's just ridiculous, obviously. Nor, do I think, most of the parents here expect them to be. Parenting is pretty cultural -- Chinese parents parent the way they do because that's how they were raised, not because ALL Chinese mothers accept nothing but excellence from their children.

 

As for whether or not this sort of parenting is effective, I teach high school here and plenty of my Chinese students are what she would call "losers" and all of the name calling in the world does not make them any better at Chemistry or English, nor will it get them into Yale or Harvard. What happens when those students are called names or shamed is that they just give up completely. I have kids who turn in blank exams, they just don't even try!

 

I should also say that while there's a lot wrong with some of the parenting I see here in China, not all Chinese parents are like Chua. I see lots of loving families here, lots of parents who do try to treat their children with respect, who practice gentle parenting. If you look at the companion article also posted on the WSJ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059720804985228.html  , you'll see that in modern China a lot of parents are turning away from traditional parenting and adopting more gentler, child-centered approach.


Thanks for posting this localdialect.  I think it is important to remember that while some cultural practices may be implemented by some, it bugs me that this is being referred to as "Chinese" parenting.  The article didn't do anyone any service. 

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#23 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 07:34 AM
 
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I don't understand what's wrong with being in a school play, choosing one's own extracurricular activities, or playing an instrument other than violin or piano.  Never mind that there are no playdates or sleepovers. 

 

Although there is something to be said for fostering ability to stick with something even when it gets challenging, why do they have no choice in what that pursuit can be? 

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#24 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 07:44 AM
 
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Children are people, not machines. That whole article seemed down right abusive to me. I pity those children.

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#25 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 07:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigeresse View Post

I don't understand what's wrong with being in a school play, choosing one's own extracurricular activities, or playing an instrument other than violin or piano.  Never mind that there are no playdates or sleepovers. 

 

Although there is something to be said for fostering ability to stick with something even when it gets challenging, why do they have no choice in what that pursuit can be? 


I think the point was that "asian children aren't in school plays, because asian mothers don't allow them to be".

 

TBH, the article made me smile a bit-- it must be tounge in cheek, it just has to be. I wonder what the context of the book was.


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#26 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 07:53 AM
 
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I was kind of expecting it to be from The Onion.

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#27 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 08:43 AM
 
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I haven't quite decided how I feel about this author's POV.  I am inclined to say a dose of everything in moderation.  That there are some good points but obviously this is an extreme case.  I found it food for thought and discussion rather than digusting or repulsive. 

 

But I do have to point that it is a myth that most adults who were very advanced as children and have excelled academically, professionally, and often financially, are unhappy.  There have been many surveys done about this and the majority are happy, well-adjusted adults.  And this is where I would have to agree with the author that this myth clearly comes out of Western culture and I think it does give people an excuse to not push their children.  It goes along with the anti-intellectualism and "don't be too smart or you're a nerd or an elitist" sort of wave that we have been seeing in recent times. 

 

I also think you will find that more people (not all but the majority) will say that they wish they were pushed harder rather then pushed less. 

 

There is one flaw in her particular case though in that it sounds like the father is of the Western mindset.  Therefore, maybe it is the combination and not exclusively the Chinese mothering that is at work in their family. 

 

Lastly, I do think there is actually some overlap here with Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting in that the desired effect is for the child to gain their own inner confidence that is not supplied by anyone else.  She touches on the praise problem too.  Where gushing praise can be harmful and actually undermine self-esteem instead of build it up. 

 

Also has anyone read Joy Luck Club?  I think it touches on this same Chinese mothering culture and the newer generations in America.  I started the book years ago but never finished.  Makes me want to go back and read it.  They made a movie out of it too. 


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#28 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 09:07 AM
 
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I've been following this article and response blogs and was wondering when this would make it to Mothering. I thought I'd find it under Multicultural Families first as a year ago there was a very interesting discussion on this very topic about growing up with this style of Chinese parenting.

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/1175144/if-you-had-asian-parents-did-your-upbringing-help-you-get-ahead-in-life

 

My personal experience with and observation of this style of Chinese parenting is that it often borders on or becomes full blown abuse. When I read Amy Chua's article I was disgusted and a little sick to my stomach, but I understood because Amy was most likely brought up this way. I wonder what Amy's relationship is like with her own parents. While I believe in being honest, direct and straight forward with kids, cruelty (and that was what Amy displayed in her parenting style) really has no place.

 

The end result of this type of parenting?

 

My very successful cousin recently unleashed 40 years of anger at my very bewildered Aunt on Thanksgiving and they both called me during the fallout because they wanted me to confirm if some of the incidents he claimed that happened were really true...unfortunately they were. My Aunt basically whitewashed all the emotional (and occasionally physical) abuse he endured from both parents because all she saw was that she did her job: her son is successful and he owes it all to her.

 

My Aunt can and does go about proudly bragging to all her friends at how incredibly successful my cousin is at her mah jong get togethers. In the very same breath she also curses him calling him ungrateful, a worthless son, and that she "bai yang" literally she wasted nurturing on him because he rarely wants to do anything with her and is not the dutiful son that he should be. In private I know she is lonely, heartbroken, and confused at what went wrong with their relationship when he is so successful.

 

I remember my father often quoting this Chinese saying to me when it came to discipline, "I yell at you because I care and I beat you because I love you" 

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#29 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 10:04 AM
 
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There's so much going on in that article that I'm not even sure where to begin.  The gross stereotyping of both western and Chinese mothers, the idea that success as defined by good grades, artistic achievement etc is the goal of good parenting, the very off-putting self-righteous tone the author uses, etc.

 

One thing that struck me was the author's proud use of name-calling and shaming to manipulate her kids.  I grew up in a strict conservative Christian home.  There were many things our peers were allowed to do that my siblings and I weren't (dating before 16, no video games in the house restricted TV/movies etc)  My parents had high expectations in regards to grades and expected diligence in extra-curricular activities.  They valued and taught us to value hard work, tenacity, and achievement just as Chua brags she taught her kids.  But they did it all without name calling or shaming.  My parents NEVER called me lazy, worthless, garbage or any ting even close to that.  Now if I was being lazy, they were honest and told me so.  But there's a huge difference between, "you're being lazy in this situation. You're not a lazy person, change your behavior." and "You're lazy garbage!"  

 

I have never once doubted that my parents love me and think I'm a good, valuable person. I know, because they've communicated it to me in words and actions since infancy, that I am a blessing in their lives and that they consider my siblings and myself the best things to have come out of their lives.  My siblings and I are all successful in terms of career or education, but we are also confident that nothing, absolutely nothing we could do would cause our parents not to love us.  We could disappoint them, hurt or anger them, break their hearts and turn our backs on everything the ever taught us, but we could never lose their love. I wonder if Chua's kids could say the same.


Kristy, wife to Josh proud mama to Katie: since 3/08 and Emma since 8/12.

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#30 of 40 Old 01-11-2011, 10:16 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pokeyrin View Post


I remember my father often quoting this Chinese saying to me when it came to discipline, "I yell at you because I care and I beat you because I love you" 



How is your relationship with your father, if you don't mind me asking. That sounds like a pretty scary quote.


Momma to DS 1, age 8 and rainbow baby DS2 4-21-11.
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