I’m fine with spanking, and so are most Chinese parents

By Huang Lanlan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/4 18:03:40

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT


"Yesterday at Pudong International Airport I saw a foreign woman rebuking her child, 'Stop making noise or I will spank you! We are in China, a place where parents have the legal right to spank their children!'"

This observation was recently shared on Weibo, attracting many Chinese netizens who commented and shared similar experiences involving corporal punishment of children.

"One of my former classmates and his son returned home from New Zealand," another person wrote. "When I was picking them up at the airport, the boy was lying on the ground and behaving badly. Without any hesitation, his father kicked him, shouting, 'Remember now you are not in New Zealand! No police gonna stop me from beating you!'"

Apparently, Western parents seldom spank their children anymore. They see parent-child relationships as almost equal and thus have no right to beat their offspring. Instead, love, patience and understanding are utilized when a child behaves badly.

Many Western countries have also instituted intervention laws and policies to prevent parents from "abusing" their children. In some American states, for example, one can call the police if they see a parent hitting their child. In many cases, courts have deprived physically abusive parents of custody.

China is quite different. As the old saying goes, "Spare the rod, spoil the child." Yes, spanking children is very common here. To most Chinese parents, corporal punishment is a simple and effective way to make their spoiled only-child obey and behave. It is no exaggeration to say that almost all Chinese children have at some point been beaten by their parents.

On qiushibaike.com there is a topic "When you were a child, which tool did your parents use to beat you?" under which many netizens commented and recalled their "childhood trauma." The tools used against them included high heels, clothesline poles and even shovels.

When I myself was a small girl, my father beat me with metal clothes hangers when I misbehaved, dirtied our home or failed an exam. But I never once doubted the appropriateness of a father hurting his own daughter.

Today, however, younger Chinese parents have been influenced by Western parenting styles. In a poll conducted by the Global Times Metro Shanghai's WeChat account in 2016, 31 percent of respondents said "I will never beat my children."

Personally, I believe it is fine to beat misbehaving children after other methods such as verbal criticism fail. It is important to teach youth that they should be completely responsible for their behavior and also be prepared for any ensuing penalties and punishments. After all, it is a biological and psychological fact that pain is a successful deterrent.

Ironically, in recent years, a growing number of Western families have incorporated the "tiger mother" style of ultra-strict discipline, as made famous by Chinese-American Amy Chua, who shared her "Confucian child-rearing techniques" in her 2011 memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. The book stirred heated debates between Western and Asian parents.

Seven years have passed and Chua's two daughters have grown up. They did not become "mentally ill," as many Westerners predicted. On the contrary, her children Sophia and Louisa, both attended Ivy League universities - one at Yale the other at Harvard. They have to some extent proved that Chinese-style "stick-parenting" is not as terrible as many Western parents believed.

Influenced by Chua and similar Chinese immigrant families who popularized corporal punishment via books, articles and videos, spanking children is actually coming back into fashion in the West. According to an article on US-based website parenting.com, 61 percent of American parents now condone spanking as a "regular form of punishment" for young children.

In American vernacular, the term "generation snowflake" describes millennials with "glass-like hearts" who feel overwhelmed by academic or professional stresses. I'm curious if this term would have ever been invented had the parents of these "snowflakes" simply put them over their knee every once and while for a good, hard caning.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.



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