I do think that maybe, even subconsciously, a lot of parents in the West are wondering, have we gone too far in the direction of coddling and protecting – you know, you see kids, sometimes that seem very rude and disrespectful. And the more important thing is they don’t seem that happy.
Instilling a sense of self-discipline and focus when the kids are younger makes it so much easier by the time they get into high school.
You know, parenting is so personal. And we’re all afraid that we didn’t quite get it right. And it feels like the stakes are so high. By we – what if we made a mistake?
China is doing lots of things right. It’s investing in education and R&D, it’s opening up, it’s more cosmopolitan than it’s ever been. I think it’s very likely that China will continue to explode economically and certainly become a superpower.
When I was little, my parents really only wanted me to be a scientist or a doctor; they had never even heard of law school. I think even these days if you were to tell your mother you want to be a fashion designer, or an artist or a writer, a lot of Asian parents would be alarmed because they don’t think that’s a secure career.
In Chinese culture, it wouldn’t occur to kids to question or talk back to their parents. In American culture, kids in books, TV shows and movies constantly score points with their snappy back talk. Typically, it’s the parents who need to be taught a life lesson – by their children.
The Romans thought of themselves as the chosen people, yet they built the greatest army on Earth by recruiting warriors from any background.
I see my upbringing as a great success story. By disciplining me, my parents inculcated self-discipline. And by restricting my choices as a child, they gave me so many choices in my life as an adult. Because of what they did then, I get to do the work I love now.
Some parents let their kids sleep at other people’s houses, where they drink alcohol, watch TV for hours and God knows what else. But if you say you have to get all A’s and practice the violin for two hours, then they consider that abusive. That upsets me.
Westerners often laud their children as ‘talented’ or ‘gifted’, while Asian parents highlight the importance of hard work. And in fact, research performed by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has found that the way parents offer approval affects the way children perform, even the way they feel about themselves.