Not so long ago, I had read from newspapers how teenagers were treated by their parents in the East and West.
Just last month, many parents in China were almost hysterical when their child sat for the college entrance examination. They would put up at hotels next to the school so that they would not be late by the morning traffic. Reported incidents were common on rifts between motorists and parents who self-volunteered as traffic warden to stop cars from coming near school to prevent noise getting into the examination hall. Many parents would take leave from work to stay at home to coach the children and accompanying them to school. June is the most stressful month for parents with children taking “Gaokao” which is the college entrance examination.
In the West, parents do concern very much about their off-spring performance in school. They would work very hard to save enough money to see their children to have the highest education possible. However they would not act in a very protective manner like the Chinese.
Some parents even encourage their child to take up very dangerous endeavor. Young teenage girls from US, Australia and Netherland had their parent consent and encouragement to make solo sail around the globe. There is an America teenage boy attempting to be the youngest person to scale Mount Everest. He had already successfully reached many of the top peaks in the world. His parents are in full support for his courageous attempt.
Such support from parents to fulfill the dreams of their off-springs in these dangerous feats is unimaginable by the Chinese parents. My mom told me that I would always be her boy as long as I am a bachelor. I remembered how my mom told me not to go near water, road, etc for my own good when I was a child. I have seen this attitude very common in China after living here.
I see the subtle difference in upbringing between America and China. In China, the parents attempt to provide everything to the child and are very protective; while in America, the child is given more freedom to develop on his or her own. The Chinese businessmen would like the son to take over the business while the young American has the option to choose otherwise. Bill Gates does not leave all his fortune to his children. The paternal culture in China is analogous to giving fishes to the fisherman while American parent teach the son to fish.
This is a much generalized statement. I have seen some Chinese parents allowing their sons and daughters to strike out on their own while some Western parents are as protective as the Chinese parents. I am comparing the general trends that I have seen in both countries.
Another observation is how school conducts its education. In China the parent would fault the school if it does not provide sufficient homework. The Chinese education is to read more books, do more homework, remember more data and figures and score more points in examinations.
The America education, on the other hand, put less emphasis on final examination results and wanting the student to develop his or her ability. From primary schools to colleges, American students would stand in front of the class to relate their experience and insights while the Chinese students would take whatever the teachers say. Just sit there and listen. I guess that is the reason why you find the American articulating very confidently in public speeches or business presentation. If you attend a seminar dominated with Chinese audience, you will find very few raising questions. They are just not comfortable to stand up to speak.
When a Chinese has a tragedy and become paralyzed, he would expect his family members to take care of him. Many Americans having the same ill fate do not want to be treated as a handicapped person. They want to be independent and some of them have even tried to perform feats such as running hundreds of miles, swimming across the channel, scaling some heights, etc. Their perseverance and zeal are admirable.
And when it comes to mass mobilization, the Chinese outdo everyone. The precision display in its 2008 Olympics Opening performance demonstrated to the world on its militarized discipline of the soldiers and students. Few countries could match her achievement in such large scale performance.
The Chinese way of disciplining the young to follow orders and acceptance of filial piety as one own responsibility has helped to develop a harmonized society. The Confucius ideology is deep rooted in Chinese culture and has transpired the Chinese to be humble, righteous, polite and filial. The Chinese emphasizes on society (country) over self has produced many heroes and heroines against the enemy and natural disasters since ancient time. The numerous heroic acts and generosity shown two years ago in Sichuan earthquake is a classic Chinese behavior. This could not have happened without the unique Chinese upbringing.
Take a look at the park. The expatriates would leave their children to explore while watching from a distance. The Chinese parents would stick close to the children and offer every hand to help the children to climb.
Interesting result arises from this difference. The adult Chinese could easily have their parents to stay with them even after marriage. It is common to find three generations living together under one roof. While in the US you will find the child move out and stay on his own even if he is single. The American wants to be seen that he is now independent. There is no lack of love between the parents and off-springs in both countries. It is just a matter of upbringing.
I am not criticizing the Chinese way of upbringing nor adoring the American way. The Chinese has produced many talented scientists and engineers while the US has her problems on the rampant juvenile delinquency. There are merits and shortcomings in both systems and environments. We should learn from each other the good and discard the bad. There is something we can adopt in between from the Chinese to manage the masses and the American way of promoting individualism.
Posted on 5 Jul 2010